With so many types of tile on the market, choosing the right one can be confounding. If you’re looking to renovate your bathroom, kitchen, or outdoor patio, you have a lot to consider: different price ranges, materials, and, of course, styles.
So how do you decide between ceramic or porcelain, cement or terra cotta? It all comes down to where you want to install the tile, the amount you’re willing to spend, and your personal taste.
Whether you’re looking to line the shower in your newly updated bathroom or the floor of your back porch, deciding on the perfect tile is all about knowing what’s out there. Here’s a guide to some of the most popular types.
Price: $2 to $15 per square foot
Pros: Porcelain is considered a low-maintenance tile, and it’s waterproof too, making it a hit for homeowners.
Lee Handelman, owner of Ideal Tile in Stamford, CT, says porcelain tile is the most durable.
“It’s ideal for flooring and walls in residential and commercial properties,” he says. “Porcelain works great in modern, transitional, and classic homes, and is wonderful in bathrooms, kitchens, entryways, mudrooms, and basements.”
Cons: There tend to be fewer options for colors, textures, and finishes.
Price: $3 to $30 per square foot
Pros: Another waterproof tile that’s fairly durable, ceramic tile is often recommended for use on indoor walls such as your shower wall or kitchen backsplash. It also boasts the largest range of colors, patterns, and finishes of all types of tile on the market.
Cons: Because ceramic is softer than porcelain, Handelman says, it’s not the best option for use on heavily trafficked floors.
Price: 99 cents to $18 per square foot
Pros: If you prefer a natural look, look no further than stone tile.
“Tiles made of natural stone offer durability and the beauty of color variation,” says Matt Michaels, an expert from Lowe’s Home Improvement. It’s hardy and durable, too, and especially good for use in showers and outdoor surfaces.
Cons: Although stone tile is recommended for water-logged areas such as the shower, if you don’t seal it before use, it won’t be stain- or water-resistant. Michaels says you need to take that extra step (and cost) into account.
Price: 88 cents to $3.79 per square foot
Pros: Terra-cotta tiles are made of the same material as clay garden pots, which offers a gorgeous, earthy color to the tile. They can be used in floors, counters, and walls, and they tend to last a long time if you take proper care of them.
Cons: Terra-cotta tiles require some serious care.
“The tiles are very absorbent and should be treated and sealed for indoor use,” Michaels says. It’s especially important to ensure your seal job is well-done if you’re going to use terra-cotta tiles in your kitchen, lest they be damaged by water.
Price: 98 cents to $40.74 per square foot
Pros: These are available as both mosaic collections with a mesh backing and as individual tiles. Available in countless colors, glass tile is often used for kitchen backsplashes and as a decorative accent.
Cons: Glass is among the most expensive tile, and is generally difficult to install. You’ll probably need to hire an expert to handle the job, which increases the cost of the project.
Price: $14 to $30 per square foot
Pros: One of the most popular types of tile right now, cement tile is typically poured by hand, ensuring that you’ll wind up with a unique product. Available in a variety of colors, Handelman says cement is cropping up in both modern and traditional homes these days as it offers rich, dramatic colors for floors and walls.
Cons: Cement tiles need to be sealed, and require ongoing maintenance—including the need for special neutral cleaning materials.
Price: $10 to $50 per square foot
Pros: Another favorite of homeowners who adore bringing textures from the outdoors in, a natural stone marble can add a lot of depth and richness to a space. A great match for any decor, marble comes in a variety of colors, and there are now mosaic tiles on the market to add texture too.
Cons: Marble is a porous material, with requires sealing and similar upkeep to cement. Also: At the high end, these tiles can be seriously expensive.