If you’ve just started your search for the perfect tile, and have found yourself completely overwhelmed by the sheer selection at hand, you can finally relax. We’ve put together a super simple guide to the different tile types that is not only easy to digest, but will have you walking away with the confidence in choosing your flooring, backsplash or whatever it may be.

Here are the different types of tile we will explore in this article:

  • Ceramic
  • Porcelain
  • Waterjet
  • Mosaic
  • Glass
  • Natural Stone
  • Pearl
  • Metal

Are you ready to get educated and to continue your tile search with confidence? Let’s get to it.

Types of Tile

The Classic One: Ceramic

Bayou Marine Ceramic Tile in blue used as a bathroom backsplash on wall
Bayou Marine Ceramic Tile

Ceramic tiles are a classic. They’re made from clay that is baked at high temperatures and then a glaze is applied as a finish. The body of the ceramic can vary depending on the type of clay used or if other natural materials such as sand have been added into it. They are known for their array of color options, durability, and slip resistance, making them a great option for floor tile.

One of the most popular styles of ceramic that can be found is subway tile. This style is a traditional favorite thanks to its rectangular shape and ability to be laid in multiple lay options, giving it an essence of individuality. Ceramic subway tile is a popular choice for bathrooms and kitchen backsplashes.

Aside from its ability to fit almost any design, ceramic also is a solid choice since it can be used in pretty much any space within the home. Its durability makes it a great option for kitchens, bathrooms, or entryways. Plus, it’s a budget-friendly option with a price match for most anyone’s project.

The Durable One: Porcelain

moisture resistant Nolita Porcelain Tile black and white pattern used on wall
Nolita Porcelain Tile

Porcelain tiles are one of the most durable options offered. This tile is a favorite for its higher capacity for moisture resistance. The reason for the tile’s durability stems from the process by which it is created.

Porcelain is made from a clay that is baked at very high temperatures and given a glaze; this glaze it what seals the tile and lets it be impervious to liquids. As a result, it’s a great option in the home as a backsplash or to install on the outdoor patio by the pool.

With porcelain’s heightened durability, you can use it both indoors as well as outdoors. Its bread and butter? Being used in high-traffic areas like the kitchen floor or bathroom.

The Unique One: Waterjet

Luxurious and artistic Vanessa DeLeon VZAG White Gold Waterjet Tile. Stone based with metal inlay.
Vanessa DeLeon VZAG White Gold Waterjet Tile

Waterjet tiles are a luxurious, and artistic choice. They are stone-based and can include a gorgeous metal inlay like brass, steel, or mirror. Due to the nature of the materials, they undergo a special cutting process. The stone is cut precisely with high-pressure water jets and without any damage to the natural appearance, resulting in beautiful design. This process is what makes the waterjet tile so unique.

These artistry-level tiles can find themselves welcomed into almost any design. Contrary to what many believe, waterjets with brass inlay can be used as a floor tile, so long as it is through-body. This means, that the brass goes through the entire body of the tile leading it to be secure and without the risk of popping out. These types of tile also work well as accent walls in the home or as a backsplash.

The Eclectic One: Mosaic

Nirvana Snow Rimmed 1" Penny Round staple tile used on bathroom floor as an example
Nirvana Snow Rimmed 1″ Penny Round

Mosaic tiles are another staple like subway style. Mosaic tiles differ from regular tiles because there are multiple pieces that appear on each sheet. Mosaics come with a mesh backing and consists of varying size tile pieces, finishes, and materials all on one sheet. This type of tile provides an easier application than most since it has a mesh backing. That makes laying the tile a bit less messy and it also allows the ability for tiles to be separated, adding to style flexibility.

Mosaic tiles make the perfect match for walls or shower floors thanks to the increased number of grout lines. Plus, mosaics are known for their vibrancy often coming in mixed color palettes that captivate the eyes. You can enhance any space with almost any color imaginable with options ranging from turquoise blues to sandy beiges.

They’re the perfect type of backsplash tile and we highly recommend giving this time-tested look a try!

The Clear One: Glass

Loft Super White Polished Glass Tile
Loft Super White Polished Glass Tile

Glass tiles are an extremely versatile option due to the nature of the material. It’s glass, after all. While it may seem like a more basic tile, it is quite the opposite. Glass tile can be found in handfuls of tile shapes from mosaics to subway tile and comes in opaque or reflective options with frosted or shiny finishes.  There’s a wide range of styles that glass can be used for including modern, retro, and traditional.

These tiles can be used in a wide range of applications. You can find them working well as a shower tile in the bathroom, or as backsplash in the kitchen since its stain resistant. Though, avoid using glass on floors since its prone to chipping in high traffic areas.

The Sophisticated One: Natural Stone

natural stone tile Michael Habachy Barcode Entero White Carrara

Michael Habachy Barcode Entero White Carrara 

Natural stone is the most time-tested tile. It has been an elegant, captivating, and luxurious option since ancient times. On the higher end of the categories, natural stone comprises of:

  • Marble
  • Limestone
  • Sandstone

It can be transformed into any shape, and can be found polished or matte. In recent times, it makes a superior option as a large format tile.

This beautiful tile option can be placed indoors or outdoors. Give life to any of your designs with natural stone. It can work well on patios, or inside as a backsplash option in your kitchen or bathroom.

It’s worth noting that natural stone tile is porous so you’ll want to make sure it is sealed and resealed to maintain its beauty.

Aside from just these main categories, there are a couple sub-categories that are worth mentioning.

The Pretty One: Pearl

Pearl Oyster Shells Tile in high-shine used as a luxury bathroom wall tile
Pearl Oyster Shells Tile

Pearl Tile is a high-shine option that is used in luxury tile options, such as waterjet. It gives a natural, shell-like appearance to the tile. Made from Mother of Pearl, an exquisite, timeless material that has been captivating people for centuries. The pearls are sourced from oysters and while they’re seen as delicate, they’re rather durable. This makes them a great option for interior design. In some cases, they are a better option than glass tile for wear and tear reasons!

You can use pearl tile in most areas. Create a captivating statement wall behind your bathroom’s vanity, or a unique trim line in your kitchen. No matter how you choose to style it, it is sure to impress.

The Industrial One: Metal 

Metal Terrapin Tile used on wall
Metal Terrapin Tile

There are two versions of metal

  1. Metallic-look is derived from a metallic paint that’s laid on the tile as a finish.
  2. Actual metals such as brass or steel.

The paint is coated on porcelain tile; the metal is used as an inlay for waterjet tile. These types are often used to bring modern or industrial styles to a space. Metallic tile is perfectly suited for any accent walls or kitchens within the home.

So there you have it – the different types of tile, defined. Are you feeling confident as we promised? If not, shoot us a comment below or contact us with any questions you have! We’re here to help you get your dream tile. If you’re ready to start shopping, browse our full tile selection here.