Ceramic floor tiles are made from natural clay, which is fired to take out its moisture content and then glazed to create a moisture resistant surface. Tiles can range in size from 4-inches by 4-inches to 2-feet by 2-feet and come in a variety of colors. Mosaic tile patterns are mounted in mesh panels for easier installation. Ceramic tiles can be slippery when wet, so choose floor tiles with a slip resistant surface, or smaller tiles with lots of grout lines that will absorb the moisture and be less slippery.
Porcelain tiles are created from denser clay with minerals added for strength. Fired at higher temperatures than ceramic, porcelain floor tiles are stronger and more durable. Ranging in size from 4-inches by 4-inches to 2-feet by 2-feet, they come in a variety of colors. Mosaic tile patterns are mounted in mesh panels for easier installation.
Natural stones often are cut into tiles as large as 24-inches by 24-inches or mosaic patterns and used on bathroom floors. Installation of larger or oversized tiles may be challenging as any unevenness in the subfloor may cause cracking of the stone. Sealing will reduce staining and add life to the stone.
• Marble is the most commonly used natural stone, installed most frequently in white as sheets or as tiles. The veining in the marble adds an aesthetic not found in other materials; realize the veins will not match up when installed. Marble is a soft stone and will react to acids in lotions, cleaning solutions, etc. Sealing marble will reduce water absorption.
• Serpentine is a natural stone often mistaken for marble. Serpentine is available in gray, white, green, yellow, or blue-green. Since it is a different mineral structure, it is more resistant to acids and abrasions. Although, serpentine will flake so installation must be done with extra care using an epoxy-based adhesive.
• Onyx, another rock mistaken for marble, is a sedimentary rock that has a translucent property, making it a very desirable stone. Usually thought of as black only, onyx floor tiles are available in a milky white, black, and a variety of earth tones. It is a soft stone with little resistance to acids and abrasions.
• Granite is a dense rock making it very durable for use as flooring tiles inside and outside. It has a very low absorption rate and holds up to stains and abrasions. Granite tiles come in an assortment of colors from white to black, beige and tan to green.
• Travertine is a sedimentary rock available in earthy tones. Its characteristics make it adaptable for bathroom installations.
• Quartzite is another hard stone used to create floor tiles. Honed quartzite provides a better surface on the floor; polished quartzite is too slippery.
• Soapstone naturally is a light or darker gray with white marbling. It is highly heat resistant and works well with radiant heat; it is not slippery when wet.
Slate tiles come in a range of colors and are strong enough to be used as floor tiles in bathrooms.
Pebble and Rock mosaics are created with tumbled pebbles and other stones to create a natural outdoor look inside.
Vinyl tiles are a less expensive alternative to natural stone or even ceramic or porcelain. Newer designs imitate natural stone or even wood and can create a spa-like ambiance desired by homeowners. Vinyl tiles are easy to clean, resilient, slip-resistant and cushiony to the step.