Choosing Tiles

Choosing Tiles

Types of Tiles

Ceramic Tiles are made from clay with a colour or design baked onto the top layer. They are easy to keep clean, relatively light and easy to cut to shape. Porcelain Tiles are also made from clay but the process is different resulting in a denser more hard wearing material. As a result they are heavy and difficult to cut and shape without the right tools and some experience. These are not porous making them suitable for exterior as well as interior applications. Porcelain tiles are longer lasting than ceramic so should be considered for high wear areas and commercial floors. Some porcelain tiles are coloured the whole way through meaning scrapes and chips are not easily visible – but some only have a  coloured glaze so check before you buy. You can buy stone and marble cut into tile shapes. They are beautiful but tend to be expensive and very heavy. The need treating to seal the tile and prevent staining so make sure you understand what is needed before you start work.  Remember there are alternatives to tiles that are waterproof and hygienic which can be used in conjunction with tiles to add interest. Metal and resin splash backs are great for behind sinks and hobs, plastic and resin sheets can be bought to line showers and wet rooms.

Stone Tiles
Stone Tiles

PEI Rating

This is a rating commonly used for tiles which gives an indication of how hard wearing a tile is. For walls the lower numbers (1-3) are fine. Floor tiles should have a rating of 3 or more and very high wear areas or commercial floors should use tiles rated as 5.  Read more about PEI ratings.


Tile Size

Large tiles make a huge room appear smaller and small tiles make small or busy rooms appear more spacious. If you have lot of cutting and fitting round things to do – smaller tiles are better. They are easier to cut, you are more likely to use offcuts and this results in a faster job and less wastage.  If you do not have much cutting to do large tiles in a single colour can make a small room appear bigger.



Try not to use high glass smooth tiles for floors. They are slippy!  Instead find a textured tile that will provide some grip. If you have a simple design with few colours textured tiles will also add some warmth and interest to an otherwise stark design.  Floor tiles that look like wooden planks have been developed to a high quality recently and you can now buy convincing wood effect tiles.  The best ones also have a texture to them which makes them idea for floors.



Light colours will make a small room appear bigger. The same colour floor, wall and ceiling will also give the impression of more space.


Kitchen Splash Back
Effective Kitchen Splash Back


Don’t forget to think about your grout. Matching the colour to the tile will give  a modern, seamless and spacious effect. You can buy sparkly grouts which can also give an otherwise simple design scheme a lift.  Contrasting grout can also delivery a really good effect – but it should be used with care.


Best Brochures For Inspiration

No money has been received for these mentions. These are the brochures we think provide the best ideas for those planning to use tiles. We are not endorsing or promoting any of these companies but we do think their brochures are very useful.
Topps Tiles brochure is full of good ideas and different tile effects. You can see examples of different grouts, tile sizes and textures. You can download the brochure or request a hard copy.
Homebase have a large brochure you can view online. There are loads of realistically sized rooms showing different tile effects and colour combinations.


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