Tile flooring is attractive, durable, and easy to clean. Some tiles can be installed by the homeowner. There are floor tiles to suit every use, every taste, and every pocketbook.
Stone flooring has been in use for millennia. Today, stone floors create a feeling of luxury. They can create of mood of great formality or relaxed informality, depending on the type of stone. Generally, marble floors are the most formal and flagstone floors are the most informal. The natural variation in color and pattern make stone floor tiles very beautiful, and they are very durable as well.
Terrazzo tiles are formed from marble or other stone chips embedded in concrete. The surface is polished to a high sheen. Terrazzo floor tiles are beautiful and easy to maintain. Clay has been used for floor tiles from ancient times. Today, the clay can be processed in a number of different ways, resulting in several categories of tile.
Terra cotta is clay that has been fired but not colored, the same material used for garden pots. It is usually left unglazed. The color can vary, due to variation in the mineral content of the soil, but usually has an orange cast. Terra cotta floor tiles absorb liquid, so they have to be treated before use indoors.
Ceramic tile is made from clay fired in a kiln. Then a colored glaze is added, and the tile is fired again, making the colors very vivid. Ceramic tile can be slippery, so they are usually treated with an abrasive if they are to be used a floor tiles. Unglazed ceramic tiles, called quarry tiles, are also available. They stain easily, so they should be sealed for use as flooring.
Porcelain tiles are clay tiles fired at very high temperatures. This creates a dense tile that is quite resistant to moisture. The Porcelain Enamel Institute rates the hardness of porcelain tiles for use in light traffic areas, group I, to extra heavy traffic areas, group V.
Mosaic floor tiles are usually made from porcelain, ceramic, or glass formed into squares of less than two inches (2.5 cm). The squares can be arranged to form a picture or a repeating pattern. Artisans create unique floors using mosaic tiles. The tiles are also available in standard patterns, which can be purchased attached to a backing for easy installation.
Vinyl tiles were developed after World War II. Today, the process is so sophisticated that vinyl floor tiles can mimic any other material, from hardwood to porcelain. They are inexpensive and easy to install.
Linoleum tile is increasing in popularity because it is made of natural materials with low-energy processes. It contains no toxins and is mildly antibacterial. Early linoleum was only available in muted colors, but today bright, vibrant colors are also available.