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From Ceramic to Glass: Exploring the Most Popular Tile Types and Their Advantages

Posted by Mike Belk on Aug 28, 2023

From Ceramic to Glass: Exploring the Most Popular Tile Types and Their Advantages

From Ceramic to Glass: Exploring the Most Popular Tile Types and Their Advantages

When it comes to interior design and home improvement projects, choosing the right tile can make a significant difference. Tiles not only enhance the aesthetics of a space but also play a crucial role in defining its functionality and durability. Belk Tile, a reputable tile company, offers a wide range of tile options to cater to various preferences and requirements. In this blog post, we will explore the most popular tile types - Ceramic, Porcelain, Natural Stone, and Glass - and delve into their unique advantages and best applications.

Belk Tile has been serving customers with top-quality tiles for years, and their expertise in the industry has led them to understand the diverse needs of homeowners and businesses alike. Whether you seek timeless elegance or modern sophistication, the right tile can transform any space into a work of art.

Ceramic Tiles

Ceramic tiles are crafted from natural clay and minerals, which are molded into various shapes and sizes. These tiles are then fired in a kiln at high temperatures, resulting in a dense and durable product. The surface of ceramic tiles can be finished with glaze or left unglazed, each offering distinct visual effects.

Ceramic tiles are available in various types, such as:

Porcelain Ceramic Tiles

  • Porcelain ceramic tiles are a subtype of ceramic tiles with a denser composition.
  • These tiles are highly durable and suitable for both indoor and outdoor use.
  • They have a low water absorption rate, making them resistant to moisture and stains.
  • Porcelain ceramic tiles come in a wide range of styles, from polished to matte finishes.

Terracotta Ceramic Tiles

  • Terracotta ceramic tiles offer a rustic and earthy appearance.
  • These tiles are unglazed and showcase the natural reddish-brown hue of fired clay.
  • They are often used for creating a warm and inviting ambiance in traditional or Mediterranean-style spaces.

Advantages of Ceramic Tiles:

  • Durability and Resistance to Wear: Ceramic tiles are known for their exceptional durability and resistance to wear, making them ideal for high-traffic areas.
  • Low Maintenance and Easy Cleaning: The glazed surface of ceramic tiles repels stains and moisture, making them effortless to clean and maintain.
  • Versatility in Design and Style: With a plethora of colors, patterns, and textures available, ceramic tiles offer endless design possibilities for any interior theme.
  • Cost-Effectiveness: Ceramic tiles present a budget-friendly option without compromising on quality or style, making them a popular choice for both residential and commercial projects.

Best Applications for Ceramic Tiles:

Residential Spaces

Ceramic tiles are perfect for bathrooms, kitchens, and living areas, where their durability and ease of maintenance are highly valued.

  • In bathrooms, ceramic tiles create a water-resistant and hygienic environment, essential for this high-moisture space.
  • In kitchens, the diverse design options of ceramic tiles allow homeowners to express their creativity while ensuring a functional and easy-to-clean surface.
  • In living areas, ceramic tiles offer a stylish and low-maintenance flooring solution that can withstand heavy foot traffic.

Commercial Spaces

In offices and retail stores, ceramic tiles provide a balance between aesthetics and practicality, enduring heavy foot traffic with grace.

  • In office spaces, ceramic tiles create a professional and inviting environment that can withstand the demands of a busy workplace.
  • In retail stores, ceramic tiles offer a durable and visually appealing flooring option that complements various product displays.

Porcelain Tiles

Porcelain tiles are a subtype of ceramic tiles with a dense and impervious body. These tiles are fired at higher temperatures than traditional ceramic tiles, resulting in increased strength and water resistance. Porcelain tiles come in both glazed and unglazed varieties, each with unique advantages.

Advantages of Porcelain Tiles:

  • Exceptional Durability and Strength: Porcelain tiles' dense composition grants them unparalleled strength and resistance to chipping and cracking.
  • Water and Stain Resistance: The low porosity of porcelain tiles makes them virtually impermeable to water, making them an ideal choice for damp environments.
  • Frost Resistance for Outdoor Applications: Glazed porcelain tiles with a high frost rating can withstand freezing temperatures, making them suitable for outdoor installations.
  • Low Porosity and Hygienic Properties: The non-porous surface of porcelain tiles prevents the growth of bacteria, making them hygienic and easy to clean.

Best Applications for Porcelain Tiles:

High-Traffic Areas

Porcelain tiles are the go-to option for spaces with heavy foot traffic, such as commercial buildings and hallways.

  • In commercial buildings, porcelain tiles provide a durable and low-maintenance flooring solution that can withstand constant use and foot traffic.
  • In hallways, porcelain tiles offer an attractive and practical flooring option that can endure the wear and tear of daily use.

Outdoor Spaces

Patios and pool decks benefit from the frost resistance and low maintenance of glazed porcelain tiles.

  • In outdoor spaces, porcelain tiles add a touch of elegance and practicality, creating inviting and functional areas for relaxation and entertainment.
  • Around pools, the slip-resistant surface of porcelain tiles ensures safety while enhancing the pool area's aesthetics.

Natural Stone Tiles

Types of Natural Stone Tiles: 


  • Marble tiles come in various colors and patterns, from classic white Carrara marble to richly veined Calacatta marble.
  • The polished surface of marble tiles reflects light and adds a luminous quality to any space.


With its earthy and rustic appearance, travertine tiles add warmth and character to any space.

  • Travertine tiles feature natural pits and voids, giving them a distinctive textured look.
  • These tiles come in various finishes, including honed, tumbled, and brushed, each offering a different level of texture and sheen.


Slate tiles are prized for their natural cleft surface and durability, making them a favorite for high-traffic areas.

  • Slate tiles showcase rich colors, ranging from deep blacks to stunning greens and purples.
  • The natural cleft surface of slate tiles provides excellent slip resistance, making them suitable for both indoor and outdoor applications.


Known for its stunning appearance and superior strength, granite tiles are a popular choice for both residential and commercial projects.

  • Granite tiles feature intricate patterns and a range of colors, from soft neutrals to bold blues and reds.
  • These tiles are heat and scratch-resistant, making them ideal for kitchen countertops and high-traffic areas.

Advantages of Natural Stone Tiles:

Unique Aesthetics and Elegance

Each natural stone tile boasts distinct patterns and colors, providing a one-of-a-kind appearance.

  • The natural variations in marble and granite tiles create unique and luxurious surfaces that add value to any space.
  • Travertine and slate tiles offer earthy and textured appearances, ideal for creating cozy and inviting atmospheres.

Durable and Long-Lasting

Natural stone tiles are exceptionally durable and can last for generations with proper care.

  • With the right maintenance, marble, travertine, slate, and granite tiles can maintain their beauty and functionality for many years.
  • The robustness of natural stone tiles ensures they can withstand heavy use and foot traffic.

Natural Variation and Beauty

The inherent variations in natural stone tiles create a captivating visual appeal, adding charm to any space.

  • The unique veining and color patterns in marble tiles create exquisite artwork on floors, walls, and countertops.
  • The textured surfaces of travertine and slate tiles add a rustic and natural element to interiors and exteriors.

Increases Property Value

The inclusion of natural stone tiles enhances the value and desirability of any property.

  • Marble and granite countertops and tiles are often considered luxurious upgrades that attract potential buyers.
  • The natural beauty and durability of natural stone tiles can increase the overall appeal and resale value of a home or commercial property.

Best Applications of Natural Stone Tiles:

High-End Residential Projects

Natural stone tiles lend a touch of luxury to upscale homes, particularly in foyers, bathrooms, and kitchen backsplashes.

  • In foyers, marble tiles create an impressive and welcoming entrance, setting the tone for the rest of the home.
  • In bathrooms, natural stone tiles, especially marble and travertine, create elegant and spa-like retreats for homeowners.

Luxury Commercial Spaces

Hotels and restaurants benefit from the sophisticated ambiance created by natural stone tiles.

  • In hotels, marble and granite tiles in lobby areas exude opulence and set the stage for a memorable guest experience.
  • In upscale restaurants, the use of natural stone tiles adds an air of elegance and exclusivity, enhancing the overall dining experience.

Glass Tiles

Glass tiles are produced by fusing glass particles and pigments under high heat to create unique and reflective surfaces. The translucency of glass tiles allows light to pass through, creating an eye-catching luminous effect.

Glass tiles are available in various types, such as:

Mosaic Glass Tiles

  • Mosaic glass tiles come in small, individual pieces that can be arranged to create intricate patterns and designs.
  • The versatility of mosaic glass tiles makes them ideal for adding decorative accents to backsplashes and walls.

Subway Glass Tiles

  • Subway glass tiles feature a rectangular shape, resembling traditional subway tiles, but with the added shimmer and shine of glass.
  • These tiles are popular for creating modern and stylish kitchen and bathroom backsplashes.

Advantages of Glass Tiles:

Stunning Visual Appeal and Luminosity

Glass tiles add brilliance and sparkle to any space, making them a popular choice for decorative accents.

  • The reflective surface of glass tiles enhances the play of light in a room, creating a visually captivating environment.
  • Glass tiles can make a space feel brighter and more open by amplifying natural and artificial light.

Reflective Properties and Light Amplification

Glass tiles reflect light, brightening up darker areas and making spaces feel larger and more inviting.

  • In small spaces or rooms with limited natural light, glass tiles can visually expand the area and create a more open atmosphere.
  • The reflective qualities of glass tiles are particularly effective in small bathrooms, making them appear more spacious and luxurious.

Easy to Clean and Maintain

The non-porous surface of glass tiles ensures effortless cleaning and maintenance.

  • Unlike natural stone tiles, glass tiles do not require sealing to maintain their shine and luster.
  • Regular cleaning with a mild glass cleaner keeps glass tiles looking pristine and beautiful.

Impervious to Water and Stains

Glass tiles are resistant to water and stains, making them suitable for areas exposed to moisture.

  • Glass tiles are an excellent choice for kitchen and bathroom backsplashes, where spills and splashes are common.
  • Their non-absorbent nature also makes glass tiles hygienic and easy to maintain.

Best Applications of Glass Tiles:

Backsplashes in Kitchens and Bathrooms

Glass tiles create a mesmerizing focal point in kitchens and bathrooms, amplifying their visual appeal.

  • In kitchen backsplashes, glass tiles add a vibrant and contemporary touch, complementing various kitchen styles.
  • In bathrooms, glass tiles create a striking feature wall behind the vanity or bathtub, adding a touch of luxury and sophistication.

Accent Walls and Borders

Glass tiles are ideal for accentuating specific areas and introducing splashes of color and shine.

  • In living areas, glass tile accent walls add a touch of modernity and personality to the space.
  • Along with traditional ceramic or natural stone tiles, glass tile borders can create stunning and unique design elements.

Comparison and Considerations

When selecting the right tile type for your project, consider the following factors:

Durability and Longevity

  • Porcelain and natural stone tiles are highly durable and can withstand heavy use and foot traffic.
  • Ceramic and glass tiles offer moderate durability and are better suited for specific applications.

Maintenance and Cleaning

  • Ceramic, porcelain, and glass tiles are relatively easy to clean and maintain.
  • Natural stone tiles may require more maintenance to preserve their beauty and longevity.

Aesthetics and Design Options

  • Ceramic and glass tiles offer a vast array of design options, suitable for various interior themes and styles.
  • Natural stone tiles present unique variations and textures, perfect for creating timeless and elegant spaces.

Budget and Cost Considerations

  • Ceramic and glass tiles are more budget-friendly options, making them ideal for cost-conscious projects.
  • Natural stone tiles, especially marble and high-end porcelain, may require a higher investment but offer unparalleled beauty and sophistication.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

Are ceramic tiles suitable for high-traffic areas?

Yes, ceramic tiles are an excellent choice for high-traffic areas due to their exceptional durability and wear resistance. They can withstand constant use and foot traffic without losing their visual appeal.

Can porcelain tiles be used for outdoor applications?

Yes, glazed porcelain tiles with a high frost rating can withstand freezing temperatures, making them suitable for outdoor installations. They are also resistant to moisture, making them ideal for patios and pool decks.

Do natural stone tiles require sealing?

Yes, some natural stone tiles, such as marble and travertine, may require sealing to protect them from staining and water absorption. It's essential to follow the manufacturer's guidelines and maintain regular sealing to preserve their appearance.

Are glass tiles easy to clean?

Yes, glass tiles have a non-porous surface, making them effortless to clean. Regular cleaning with a mild glass cleaner will keep them looking pristine and beautiful.

Can glass tiles make a small space look bigger?

Yes, the reflective properties of glass tiles can create the illusion of a larger space by amplifying natural and artificial light. Using glass tiles in small bathrooms or kitchens can visually expand the area and make it feel more open.

Are natural stone tiles suitable for high-moisture areas like bathrooms?

Yes, natural stone tiles like marble and granite can be used in bathrooms. However, it's essential to choose the right type of natural stone and maintain proper sealing to ensure the tiles remain resistant to water and stains.

How do I clean and maintain natural stone tiles?

Natural stone tiles should be regularly cleaned with a mild stone cleaner and a soft cloth or mop. Avoid using abrasive or acidic cleaners, as they can damage the stone's surface. Additionally, ensure that any spills or stains are cleaned promptly to prevent permanent damage.

Can glass tiles be used for kitchen backsplashes? 

Yes, glass tiles are a popular choice for kitchen backsplashes due to their stunning visual appeal and easy cleaning. They can add a pop of color and shine to any kitchen design, making them a focal point of the space. 

Are porcelain tiles suitable for outdoor use in freezing climates? 

Glazed porcelain tiles with a high frost rating are suitable for outdoor installations in freezing climates. They are specifically designed to withstand freezing temperatures without cracking or deteriorating. 

What is the best tile type for a luxury hotel lobby? 

For a luxury hotel lobby, natural stone tiles like marble or granite create a grand and opulent atmosphere. Their unique patterns and colors exude elegance and sophistication, setting the tone for a memorable guest experience.


In conclusion, the world of tiles offers an array of options to cater to diverse preferences and requirements. From the timeless elegance of marble to the contemporary allure of glass, each tile type presents distinct advantages and enhances the beauty and functionality of any space. At Belk Tile, you will find an extensive collection of top-quality tiles to bring your vision to life and create a space that exudes style and sophistication.


  • The Tile Council of North America (TCNA): The Tile Council of North America (TCNA) is a trade association representing manufacturers of ceramic tile, tile installation materials, and allied products. Their website provides valuable information about different types of tiles, their characteristics, and installation guidelines. It serves as a reliable resource for technical specifications and industry standards.
  • Marble Institute of America (MIA): The Marble Institute of America (MIA) is a leading resource for information and education in the natural stone industry. Their website offers insights into various types of natural stone tiles, including marble, granite, and travertine. You can find detailed information about the qualities, applications, and maintenance of natural stone tiles from this authoritative source.
  • National Kitchen & Bath Association (NKBA): The National Kitchen & Bath Association (NKBA) is a non-profit trade association that provides valuable resources for professionals in the kitchen and bath industry. Their website contains educational materials on kitchen and bathroom design, including information on tile selection and best practices for tile installations. It serves as a reliable reference for understanding the use of different tile types in interior design.
Mike Belk Author BELK Tile

By Mike Belk

Founder & CEO

A graduate of Ohio State University with an MBA in Business, Mike Belk has been in the tile and stone industry for over 20 years. Mike is the owner and founder of Belk Tile. He has become one of premier tile experts in the nation. Not only does Mike love every aspect of his job, he strives ensure your experience is the very best. He runs a successful blog and, when not immersed in the world of tile, is an avid golfer and wine maker. Mike enjoys interacting with customers and wants to hear from you today.