Gone are the days when marble, natural wood and granite were popular choices for flooring. Due to their durability, ease of installation, low maintenance and affordability tiles have taken over as the most common option for flooring in Indian homes. What are the different types of tiles to consider for the flooring? Which are the best tiles for flooring for the Indian conditions? We present this guidebook with the different types of floor tiles and to answer the questions related to them.
Ceramic tiles comprise clay and minerals, mixed with pigments, water and chemicals. They are shaped and baked at high temperatures to form the tile. Additionally, depending on the type of treatment, the finish of the tile can be matte, semi-matte and glossy. While glossy tiles look beautiful and shiny, they have the disadvantage of being extremely slippery. Therefore, from a safety perspective, matte finish ceramic tiles are among the best tiles for flooring.
The advantage of ceramic tiles is that they are economical and easily available. They are also low maintenance and easy to clean. However, these tiles can chip and crack if heavy objects fall on them. Therefore, during the time of installation, you need to get them installed by a professional tiler to ensure that the damage to the floor is minimized. A word of advice – when opting for ceramic tile flooring one should buy a couple of extra boxes to have a stock for replacing tiles in case of any future damage. One should also be aware that the grade of the tile determines its durability. In general, grade 4 or grade 5 tiles are ideal for residences and in areas that have moderate foot traffic. An expert tiler will usually recommend the grade of ceramic floor tiles that are suitable for an area.
Many homeowners think that ceramic and porcelain tiles are the same, but this is not true. While they are a part of the same family, porcelain tiles are made from higher quality clay, have more chemical additives and are heated at much higher temperatures than ceramic flooring tiles. Due to the way in which they are processed, porcelain tiles are stronger, denser and less porous than ceramic ones.
Their strength makes them suitable for areas with high foot traffic. They are considered one of the best tiles for small bathroom floors as they are more resistant to chipping, staining or scratching, compared to ceramic tiles. Unlike in earlier times, when the choice of colours and designs of porcelain tiles was limited, nowadays with digital printing gaining popularity, one can find porcelain floor tiles in a wide variety of design options.
Get tips on the best tiles to use for the bedroom flooring.
For homeowners who are looking for the best tiles for flooring in terms of durability, strength, low porosity and resistance to stains, vitrified tiles are another option to consider. While vitrified tiles are also a part of the ceramic tile family, they have a composition of 40 per cent clay and 60 per cent silica. These tiles are manufactured using a process called vitrification (which gives them their name), which makes them strong and with a finish that resembles glass. They come in four different types:
1. Soluble salt tiles – In this process, the tiles are screen printed and then polished.
2. Double charged – Their surface is printed with two layers of pigment, and they are usually, 3-4mm thicker than other tiles.
3. Full body – These tiles have the same colour through their entire body. The advantage of this is that scratches and chips on the surface don’t show up, making them perfect for areas with high foot traffic.
4. Glazed – These tiles have a glaze on the surface and come in a variety of designs, including those that resemble the texture of wood, stone and slate, among other options. Earlier the laborious process of printing floor tiles designs on the surface made these tiles very expensive, but nowadays with digital printing, the cost of glazed vitrified tiles has considerably reduced.
Made from marble, granite and quartz chips, which are blended with concrete or resin and a pigment for colouring, terrazzo tiles are easily identifiable by their speckled appearance. The advantage of this type of tile is that with regular polishing, it can last a lifetime. The disadvantage is that it is porous. While coating the surface can make it resistant to moisture and stains, it is best to invest in pre-polished tiles that are relatively low-maintenance. Besides being an economical option, mosaic or terrazzo is considered one of the best tiles for flooring because of their durability if maintained well.
Another unconventional option among the tile flooring options for Indian homes is cement. These tiles aren’t always in a dull grey shade. They were once a popular flooring option in houses around the world. They have made a comeback in recent years and are a great option for bringing old world charm to a home. Their disadvantage is that the material is porous and need to be regularly coated with sealants to keep them looking as good as new.
The prices of the different types of floor tiles vary depending on the quality and the finish.
Easily the best tiles for flooring from a value-for-money perspective, ceramic floor tiles start from INR 25 per square feet and can go up to as much as INR 180 per square feet for premium quality tiles. The prices also differ depending on the type of finish and the grade of the tile. While they aren’t as cheap as cement or mosaic tiles, they have the advantage of being low maintenance and easy to clean.
They are almost as cheap as ceramic tiles on the lower end as one can find standard printed tiles from INR 25 per square feet. Premium digital printed porcelain tile prices can go up to INR 475 per square feet.
While they are marginally more expensive than ceramic and porcelain tiles, vitrified tiles are still affordably priced, ranging from INR 45 to INR 180 per square feet.
Mosaic or terrazzo tile flooring is much cheaper than ceramic, at starting prices as low as INR 7 per square feet. However, unlike ceramic tiles, they need to be regularly coated to prevent the porous surface from absorbing moisture and stains.
Plain cement or encaustic floor tiles cost around INR 30 per square feet. Those with exquisitely handcrafted patterns are more expensive that single-toned ones.
With the variety of options available in the market, it’s not easy to decide on the best choice for the floor tiles. We recommend consulting an interior architect or designer who can help by assessing the lifestyle of the family, the foot traffic in the various rooms, the design style of the home and the budget before suggesting suitable tile flooring ideas that meet the requirements. Additionally, the professional will provide details regarding the maintenance one needs to undertake regularly to keep the tiles in good condition.