The advent of tiles date back to some of the oldest civilizations in the world. From ancient Mesopotamia to the remains of Kalibangan and Balakot in the Indian subcontinent and even Europe, tiles have adorned walls, floors and rooftops. While they do add to the structural integrity, the primary function of different types of tiles is to add aesthetic appeal to spaces. Today, most interior designers in Chennai incorporate tiles onto floors and walls. However, before you decide to get tiled, here are some basics you need to know:

  • Is there really a difference between wall and floor tiles?

To answer simply, yes. Walls and floors have different functions. While walls hold up your house, floors need to hold you up. In other words, floor tiles need to be durable enough to support a constant flurry of feet. No one wants their floor to crack after a few months of installation. This is why denser material like porcelain, or natural stones like marble or onyx work best for floors. Lighter material like ceramic or glass, that come in a variety of funky colours and designs are more suited to kitchen or bathroom walls. 

Tiling 101: Walls Vs. Flooring

  • PEI ratings

The International Organisation for Standardisation has come up with a Porcelain Enamel Institute (PEI) rating that grades various types of tiles for their usability as floor or wall tiles. The ratings range from 0-5, classifying tiles on the basis of their durability, strength, and how much wear and tear they can handle. Group 0 or unrated tiles are exclusively wall tiles while any grade above that is suitable for floors in the different parts of the house. Keep an eye out for this when choosing tiles for your home. 

  • The Types of Tiles

While porcelain, ceramic and stone are most commonly known, all tiles can be grouped into four basic types: ceramic and porcelain, stone, quarry, and glass. Ceramic tiles are more porous than porcelain, meaning they may not work well for floors. Strong stones and sturdy quarry tiles make great floors. As you may have already guessed, glass tiles may not work well as walking surfaces, though they can make glossy bathroom walls. 

The Verdict

Now that you have the basics sorted, it’s quite clear that exclusive wall tiles cannot be used as floor tiles if you want strong, resistant and safe floors. However, floor tiles can still work very well as wall tiles. Mosaic porcelain walls make for a pretty sight, as do rugged stones! Still, there are some factors to consider when you switch out wall tiles for floor tiles:

  • Floor tiles are thicker than wall tiles, which means cutting and installation will be harder. This will leave you with lesser leeway to shape and fit. 
  • Cleaning a stone-tiled wall will require more effort and material than wiping off a shiny glass or ceramic tile. 
  • If you’re going for a slick and delicate look on your wall, floor tiles may dilute that. 

At the end of the day, this decision boils down to personal choice and what you want your walls to look like.