Exploring Tile Selection for Every Room

By sharon-leach April 23, 2024

For those contemplating tile as their next home enhancement endeavor, the options are vast—ranging from striking glass backsplashes and intricate shower walls to elegant marble floors and sturdy granite countertops. Yet, not all tiles are suitable for every space.

Factors to Ponder While Selecting Tiles

Amidst the myriad tile options, initiating the selection process can be daunting. Before delving into the top six tile types, it’s vital to grasp key considerations such as durability, size, color, location, and cost for each tile variant.

Tile hardness is categorized by the Porcelain Enamel Institute (PEI) from 1 to 5.

  • Class I tiles are suitable for low-traffic zones, primarily for wall applications. 
  • Class II tiles are designed for areas with light foot traffic, including walls and bathroom floors.
  • Class III tiles are ideal for light to moderate traffic spots like countertops, walls, and residential floors (though not recommended for kitchen and entryway flooring).
  • Class IV tiles, catering to moderate to heavy traffic, are versatile for installation across all home areas, including kitchens, halls, and entryways.
  • Class V tiles are reserved for heavy to extra-heavy traffic flooring, mostly in commercial settings.

Tile Endurance

Besides hardness, tile durability hinges on porosity—the amount of moisture a tile absorbs. There are four moisture absorption ratings for tiles:

  • Impervious tiles (extremely dense) have a water absorption rate of 0.5% or less, suitable for kitchens, bathrooms, and outdoor applications.
  • Vitreous tiles (high density) absorb 0.5% to 3% moisture, fitting for bathrooms or outdoor use.
  • Semi-vitreous tiles (medium density) absorb 3% to 7% moisture and are unsuitable for bathrooms or outdoors.
  • Non-vitreous tiles (low density) with over 7% moisture absorption are not recommended for flooring.


Each tile type flaunts its distinct style through color, shape, size, and texture.

Selecting tile colors establishes the ambiance of a room—light hues create an illusion of spaciousness, while darker tones add warmth. Shapes and patterns like subway, hexagon, herringbone, and penny round are in vogue, ideal for smaller areas like backsplashes or shower walls. For broader flooring applications, simpler rectangle or square tiles are preferable.

Size plays a crucial role too. Large tiles visually enlarge compact spaces, while smaller tiles foster intimacy. Size also influences installation complexity and maintenance efforts, with smaller tiles demanding more grout lines and time for installation.

Texture is another factor based on location. Smooth tiles are easy to clean, and suitable for walls and backsplashes but may not be ideal for bathroom and kitchen floors due to slipperiness. Textured tiles offer durability and scratch resistance for high-traffic floor areas, albeit with slightly more challenging cleaning requirements.


While durability and style are pivotal, aligning tile selection with budget constraints is equally crucial. Tile costs are typically per square foot or sold in cases, with installation costs added separately.


Lastly, considering the practical upkeep of tile is vital.