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Tile

Tile: A buying guide

Think Tile

Whether you are installing a tile floor or a shower wall, you'll want to consider how much wear and tear it will face on a daily basis. Apart from selecting the materials that are best suited for your application, you may also wish to take into account the following:

  • Tile size required for application
  • Installation method - grout, floating, glue-down or peel-and-stick

Choosing the Right Tile

Ceramic Tile

Ceramic tiles are made from clay and fired at high temperatures until they solidify. Because they're stain- and water-resistant, ceramic tiles are ideal for indoor use in practically any location (on or above grade). When properly cared for, they can last a lifetime with minimal care.

Porcelain Tile

Tiles made from porcelain are extremely hard and impermeable, making them highly resistant to moisture, stains and wear. They're also easy to install and can withstand temperature extremes, making them suitable for both interior and exterior applications.

Porcelain tile is available in a large array of colours and textures and is divided into two main categories:

Full-body porcelain tile has a colour pigment mixed with the clay body powder, giving the finished tile a consistent colour throughout the body of the tile.

Glazed porcelain tile has a coloured glaze added to the surface of the tile.

Natural Stone Tile

Natural stone tiles such as granite, slate and marble are cut from large blocks of stone mined from quarries. Depending on variety and climate, they can be used for interior and exterior walls, floors and tabletops. Natural stone is known for its luxurious appearance and adds value to any home.


Most stones are porous and readily absorb liquids and moisture. Tiles made from natural stone may vary greatly in colour and veining.

Granite is extremely durable and features flecks of quartz, feldspar and mica for unique character; it is ideal for interior and exterior walls and heavy-duty floors.

Slate resists fading, abrasion and chemicals and is ideal for interior and exterior floors, walls and tabletops.

Marble has a smooth high-polish surface and tumbled marble bears a weathered and distressed surface to capture the look from centuries past. They are suitable for interior walls and moderate-duty floors.

Glass Tile

Glass tiles are made of impervious glass and are a good accent choice for walls, kitchen backsplashes and vanity borders. Because of their durability and resistance to water, glass tiles can be used indoors and outdoors, and their translucent nature captures and diffuses light.

Mosaic Tile

Mosaic tiles are small tiles, generally 2"x2" or smaller, and always less than six square inches in area. Mosaic tiles may be made from porcelain, tumbled marble, glass or metal. These tiles are most often mounted on paper, mesh or dot-mounted sheets to facilitate easier handling and installation.

Laminate Tile

High-quality laminate tiles are embossed and micro-bevelled to provide a realistic look and feel of wood or stone. They are durable, easy to install and will not fade over time.

Vinyl Tile

Tiles made of vinyl are economical and durable because the material provides cushion-y comfort, then springs right back into form. Modern vinyl designs can mimic stone, ceramic and even metallic tiles. Vinyl offers versatile installation options; it is available in sheets (glue-down installation), planks (floating installation - where the planks attach to one another) and tiles (peel-and-stick installation).

Enjoy the Warmth of a Heated Floor!

The True Comfort floor warming system is installed under the floor's surface and is compatible with most flooring. Its ability to distribute heat evenly and reduce in-home allergens earns this product The Home Depot Eco Options designation.

Helpful Hints

  • Ensure that all of the tiles you purchase are from the same dye lot. Dye lots determine the colour and size in ceramic, porcelain, and natural stone tiles and the colour and pattern in vinyl tiles. The average allowable size difference for ceramic, porcelain, and natural stone tiles within the same dye lot is 1/16th of an inch; the size difference between dye lots may be greater.
  • Coefficient of friction (COF) refers to the smoothness of the tile. It is rated on a scale of 0 to 1 with higher numbers, 0.6 and up, representing more slip resistant surfaces.
  • Glazed floor tiles should not be used where there is a consistent presence of water, oil, or grease unless the COF exceeds 0.60.
  • Ramped surfaces, irrespective of the slant of the incline, require a more slip resistant surface. It is recommended that a tile with a minimum of 0.80 COF be installed on these surfaces.
  • Proper maintenance is critical. Improper maintenance and improper maintenance products can result in a contaminant build-up on the surface of the tile causing the tile to be slippery.
  • PEI (Porcelain Enamel Institute) Wear Rating is the tile's resistance to abrasion:
    • I and II - not suitable for floors (walls only)
    • III - all residential
    • IV - residential and light commercial
    • IV+ - commercial and heavy traffic
  • Water absorption is measured in proportion by weight:
    • Non-vitreous - more than 7 percent
    • Semi-vitreous - 3 to 7 percent
    • Vitreous - 0.5 - 3 percent
  • Only vitreous and impervious tiles should be used outdoors or in wet locations.

Frequently Asked Questions

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