The tile guide

When it comes to Tile Flooring, your options are endless. From size to color, texture to style… there is a vast array of choices and combinations. Choosing the right tile for your project can seem overwhelming. What are the differences between the endless tile options out there, and how do you know what to choose? Our Tile Guide will help you explore the differences and options available to you, and help you make an informed flooring decision.


Tile is rated on a PEI (Porcelain Enamel Institute) scale. They are ranked from 1-5+, with one being the lowest. Here is the breakdown:

1: No foot traffic. Tile with a 1 rating is best used for backsplashes or wall tiles. NOT floors!
2: Light traffic. Suitable for wall tiles as well as  areas like guest bathrooms, or areas that do not have direct access from outdoors.
3: Moderate to light traffic. For use in most residential purposes, where people are using normal footwear – not to include kitchens, entry ways and other heavy traffic areas
4: Moderate to heavy traffic. These tiles can be used for ALL residential purposes, as well as medium commercial usage.
5+: Heavy to extra-heavy traffic. Floor coverings for heavy traffic, can be used for ALL residential purposes and heavy commercial uses such as schools, stores, public walkways etc…

A lot of porcelain tile is classified as a 4 or a 5. This makes it a great choice for a family kitchen.

When choosing tile for flooring, it is important to take into consideration what you will be using it for. What is daily life like in your household? Do you have small children? Pets? Does your husband work from home as a mechanic? Make sure you are choosing a tile that is appropriate for what you will be using it for.

Natural stone is great for slippery surfaces like a bathroom floor because it has a high coefficient of friction.


Tile is a great choice for flooring because of its durability. Not only that, but it is simple to clean and water resistant! These features all make tile flooring an excellent choice for kitchens, bathrooms and entryways.

Kitchens –
Tile flooring is a natural choice for kitchens because of its durability, but it also is great for resisting stains! Porcelain floor tile has sand added to the clay mixture and is made with heat and pressure to produce a tile that’s harder, denser and less porous than regular ceramic tile. It’s a good choice for high-traffic areas like kitchens. Porcelain is always a popular choice for the kitchen because it’s impervious to spills.

High Traffic Areas-
For high-traffic areas in your home, we suggest using durable porcelain tiles. These tiles will resist scratching and chipping. Ceramic tile is also good fit in bathrooms or other moisture-rich environments. It’s easy to clean and install, it’s waterproof, sturdy, and is a great value for the price. Designers also like ceramic tile because its surface is ideal for paint or decal ornamentation.

When it comes to choosing tile for areas such as your bathroom and entry way (if it gets wet fairly often) you will need to keep in mind that smooth surfaces become slippery when wet! You should use a textured tile for your shower floor, instead of a smooth tile. In your entryway, textured tile can be a bit more difficult to clean.

For basements we suggest a wood-look porcelain tile. This will give the space a more relaxed homey feel, but provide durability and moisture resistance that comes with ceramic tile. You should make sure to wait a year or so before installing tile flooring in a basement to ensure that the house has settled, and prevent cracking.

Outdoor Use-
Porcelain tiles are NOT made for outside use, as they are more porous and won’t last long against the elements.  Natural Stone is a great option for pathways and pool patios as it is more textured and you will have less chance of slipping!

Now that you’ve figured out WHAT tile to put WHERE, let’s move on to my favorite part… COLOR!

Color is an important factor to consider when choosing tile flooring. Not only does it affect the overall feel of the room, it can also hide dirt! Choosing the right color is a key element to getting the most enjoyment out of your new tile floor.

Dark colored tiles can help add warmth to any room. If you decide to go with a darker tile, you will want to ensure that it Is an open space, with lots of light, to keep the tile from overwhelming the palette of the room. Chocolate brown, navy and Slate are great options for tile in a large kitchen space.

On the flip side, if your aim is to make a room appear larger, you are going to want to stick with lighter hues. Creams and pastels will make a guest bath or small kitchen seem larger.

In areas where there will be heavier foot traffic, you will want to consider varying the shades. A slight contract in your tiles can help hide dirt! Mixing browns and tans, gray and white or using flecked tiles are all great options for busier areas in your home. This is especially important if you have pets or children (or just a messy spouse!).
Using a color wheel is a great way to get color inspiration. To add a bold energetic feel to your room, select a color on the opposite side of the wheel as your existing décor. For a more tranquil relaxed feel, use a shade that is adjacent to the color of your walls.

Keep in mind – the tiles on your floor don’t have to be a solid color, or the same color! The next step in the tile buying process is picking an attractive pattern for your floor!

Flooring tiles are available in many different patterns (that are surprisingly affordable!) and will help compliment your home’s design.

If you are going for a subtle, understated look, consider using a stone-patterned tile, or lighter colors. This can match quite a few different décor types. Just make sure that the stone you choose doesn’t clash with your home's personality. For instance, a Marble surface creates an austere elegant look, but it may not be the best for a kids bathroom or the kitchen in your log cabin.
Choosing a bold pattern can be a fun way to add character and style, but depending on the existing style of the room, they can be too ‘busy’. Stay away from patterned tile flooring if you already have a strong pattern on your walls. They may clash, and throw the entire room off. Whereas you may be going for a “bohemian Greek” look, you will end up with “hoarder hobo”.

No matter which option you go with, you will also need to consider size when picking out the perfect flooring tile.

Choosing the right size for your tile flooring is actually much more involved than just “what will fit in my space”. There is a wide array of size options you can use in your home. Different sizes can impact the overall feel of your room, and can enhance the look and feel you are wanting to create. They can also ruin a room if not properly selected.

The easiest way to pick what size tile to use for your flooring is to choose a tile that is relative to the size of your space. Do you have a large, open living room? Then a large tile would look phenomenal in this space. For a medium space like a bathroom use… you guessed it… medium sized tiles. And for small spaces… small tiles!

Larger tiles can help make a room appear larger! They help expand the space and make it feel more open. Larger tiles also have fewer grout lines, and can assist with an open, clean feel.

You can use small tiles to create a border around larger tiles to cozy up a space, add interest, and create the illusion of a rug.

Tile layouts can be as simple or as complex as you want to make them, depending on the feel you are going for with your room. You should always take your existing décor into consideration when choosing a tile pattern. Do you already have bold prints and colors? Then you may want to consider a simpler tile pattern.

To help assist you with your selection, let’s go over some of the more popular options, and how to best use them in your home!


An Offset tile floor pattern is a classic.  It is beautiful, but blends in to a space rather than becoming the focal point. This is a great option to use if you already have bold designs in your space. Not only are they a timeless design, they will last a lifetime and won’t go out of style when design trends change.


Moroccan layouts can add a fun pop of color and interest to your room. These patterns work best in rooms where the majority of the room is fairly neutral, and allows for the floor to be the center of attention.


Hexagon flooring patterns offer a wide variety of versatility. You can choose from a multitude of sizes and patterns to fit your design style. They also come in just about any color you can imagine! Hexagons work well as a blend of colors, or one solid color with an accent hue mixed in.  Hexagon tile for flooring will also leave room for a border along the edge, which will create an artful, dimensional layout in your floor.


Another classic choice for tile flooring patterns is Herringbone. A herringbone layout can match any design and be personalized based on size and color! Herringbone patterns have been used in flooring for ages, and you can find   This pattern has been used on floors for ages, and will always be in style.


Parquet offers a sophisticated look, and will add dimension and style to any space. This pattern often looks best in a traditional space, and works best in a single hue.

Finally in your tile journey… you will want to consider how you space your tiles.


Now that we have chosen your tile type, color, pattern, size AND layout… its time to get them installed!

Most people don’t put a lot of thought into how spacing the tiles can affect the floor’s appearance. When laying tile there really is no ‘set’ rule for how thick the grout line has to be, or how far your tiles are spaced apart. This is really more a matter of personal preference than a requirement. That being said, there are a few important facts and some guidelines you should know when trying to decide how thick your grout lines should be.

You may have seen floors where the tiles are so close they look like one piece. This is done by using rectified tiles. Rectified tiles are evenly cut and uniform on all sides.  The average tile may look the same, but they are almost never exactly the same shape and size throughout. Rectified tiles have been put through the extra step in the process to ensure they are even, but they also will cost more.

In general, floor tiles should have grout lines of 1/8 inch or larger, depending on the type and size of tile. Special types, such as slate or quarry tiles, often do not have edges uniform enough to look good with tight spacing. These tiles usually are spaced with grout lines 3/16 inch (or wider). Some really large tiles look good with very narrow grout lines that are filled with a grout colored to match the tile. This is a great technique if you want your floor to look like a single slab of stone.

The farther you space your tiles, the thicker the grout line will be between the tiles. To camouflage your grout lines, use a grout that matches your tiles to give your floor a clean, cohesive look.

If you are wanting to draw attention to your floors, try a colored grout to really make those individual tiles POP! Grout comes in a plethora of colors, which allows you to choose if you want a dramatic contrast, or a calm transition.


Another big factor to consider when choosing tile is cost. What is your budget? There’s a wide range of prices for tile. Some general estimates (not including installation):

• Ceramic tile ranges from $2-$20 per square foot.
• Natural stone ranges from $7-$20 per square foot.
• Glass tile ranges from $7-$30 per square foot.
• Porcelain tile ranges from $3-$25 per square foot.


While tile is a great, durable option, it does require some maintenance. Sweep or vacuum your glazed tile floors regularly to keep them from getting dull. Tiles may be resistant to dirt, but sand and grit can dull glazed surfaces. The grout between tiles can get dingy with age. One of the most important things in knowing how to clean tile floors is keeping the grout clean. Dirty grout equals dingy-looking floors. Grout is porous and easily absorbs dirt, grease and other materials. Spray the grout with a commercially prepared grout cleaner.

Tips for Preventing Damage straight from Mohawk Flooring

  • Test scouring powders and sealants on a small area before cleaning the full area.
  • Use a sealer on grout joints shortly after installation and use products compatible with cleaning grout joints.
  • After cleaning, rinse the entire area with clear water to remove any cleaning solution residue.
  • Have any damaged or broken tile removed and replaced only by a qualified tile contractor.

And of course, you don’t have to go through the entire tile selection process alone! Our design experts are here to assist you with your tile flooring selections and every step of the way!