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9 Popular Tile Types To Spruce Up Your Space

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Photo: umarmunir via 123RF

Home Sweet Home is presented by The Washington State Housing Finance Commission

Tile adds an eye-catching decorative element to indoor and outdoor spaces. It comes in many colors and patterns that suit various design schemes. With all the different types of tiles, figuring out which kind to use for which application might seem overwhelming.

Whether you’re planning a project or looking for remodel inspiration, here’s a comprehensive guide to tile types and ways you can use them.


Ceramic tile is durable, handles moisture well, and holds up under heavy traffic, according to HGTV. It is clay-based and kiln-fired. So, ceramic is less dense, softer, and more porous than porcelain tile, according to Bob Vila. This makes it one of the least expensive tile types—which is fantastic if you’ve got ample space and need a lot of it.

There are countless ceramic colors and patterns. The versatile material is also easy to cut and maintain. Typical uses include kitchen and bathroom walls, backsplash, flooring, and borders.


Porcelain is a clay-based tile, but it is more refined than ceramic. After kiln-firing, these tiles remain in their natural state or are modified to look like wood, concrete, stone, and more, according to Bob Vila. Porcelain’s high density makes it highly durable, and it is water-resistant.

It’s available in glazed and unglazed varieties. Unglazed porcelain is chip-resistant and long-lasting. However, its hardy composition makes it more challenging to cut.

Popular applications include patio, laundry room, and bathroom walls and floors.


Glass tile can create a stunning aesthetic in the right space. Endless color combinations offer a wide range of decorative possibilities, from clean and simple to vintage eclectic charm. You can buy glass tile in individual tiles or as a mosaic collection with mesh backing.

Glass tile comes in opaque and translucent finishes in various shapes. It’s also highly stain-resistant, but you also must take care not to scratch it. Executive Director of the Ceramic Tile Education Foundation, Dave Gobis, told HGTV that installing this kind of tile “is not a do-it-yourself project.” The material and installation are both expensive.

Typical uses include bathroom walls and backsplashes.

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Marble is thousands of years old. Craftspeople mill, machine, and tumble the metamorphic stone for various uses, according to Houzz. Each slab contains unique color and veining, and much of it originates in Italy, like Carrara marble.

Marble looks luxurious and is easy to work with. However, it stains easily, and acidic cleansers and products can etch it. Its mineral content also makes it subject to rust.

Popular applications include kitchen, bathroom, and entryway for backsplashes, countertops, and flooring.

Natural Stone

Beyond marble, various types of natural stone include granite, slate, limestone, and travertine, according to The Spruce. They can be expensive due to the amount of work in crafting different stone tiles for different uses. However, stone sealers now make this aesthetically-pleasing tile stain and water-resistant. Natural stone is durable and comes in an array of colors.

Common uses include walls, floors, countertops, and shower floors (with a sealer).


Centuries-old Zellige tile offers trendy-yet-timeless appeal. Craftspeople make each traditional Moroccan clay tile one at a time, according to Riad Tile. This means no two tiles are ever alike, and their random color variations and imperfections add a ton of character to your space.

Glazed Zellige tiles work well in multiple applications, such as bathroom and kitchen floors and walls, shower walls, backsplashes, and exterior floors around swimming pools.

Terra Cotta

Terra Cotta tile is the same material as clay garden pots. The timeless material offers a warm, earthy, rustic appeal in red or brown clay hues. The material is highly durable and bacteria and mold resistant, according to Houzz.

Unglazed Terra Cotta is porous and subject to stains and wear, Houzz adds. Glazed Terra Cotta tiles, however, offer water and stain resistance. For indoor use, always opt for glazed/sealed tiles.

Popular uses include indoor and outdoor flooring and walls.


Cement tile is another ancient material. To make the material, pigmented cement “is hand poured into molds (similar to cookie cutters), molds are removed, then the tiles are compressed under 2,000 pounds of pressure,” according to HGTV. This process yields tiles of different shapes, sizes, and colors. With so many design choices, cement tiles can bring some wow factor to your space.

Typical cement tile applications include kitchen, bathroom, and laundry room floors and walls.


Terrazzo tile looks speckled because it is made of small pieces of glass, marble, quartz, and other materials set in concrete, according to HGTV. The durable material is long-lasting, and its eclectic color and pattern mix offers a throwback ‘70s vibe. Yet, Terrazzo never loses its trendiness.

Standard applications include walls, countertops, and floors.

Using any of these popular tile types in your next remodel will enhance your home décor and help you create your dream space.

Home Sweet Home is brought to you by the Washington State Housing Finance Commission’s Washington Homeowner Assistance Fund. The Homeowners Assistance Fund helps homeowners who have fallen on hard times because of the pandemic. Call 1-877-894-4663 for more information on how they can help.