Understanding the difference between wall and floor tiles
Pankaj Poddar, co-founder of Hipcouch, shares how to pick the right tile depending on its application
Tiles form an integral material when designing a house and its interiors. They are mostly used in water-prone zones such as toilets, kitchens, terraces, etc. To merge its functionality with aesthetics, tiles are available in numerous sizes, thickness, designs, details, composition, etc. These can instantly make a space convey the right message through its designs, details, and application.
The market boasts of a diverse and wide range to fulfill different functional and aesthetic needs, whether it's for floors or walls. When out in the market to select, there are certain basic pointers to remember. Floor and wall tiles are different in their compositions, sizes, and thickness, which defines their application surface.
Aesthetically, larger tiles are preferred on floors because they result in fewer joints and look seamless. On walls, however, it may look overpowering. Hence, smaller size tiles are preferred for walls and larger sizes for floor.
The thickness of a tile is dependent on the function it is supposed to be performing. Floor tiles are meant to take wear and tear of human traffic and be load-bearing - hence, are thicker. In comparison, wall tiles serve a protective function, mainly from water seeping in from the walls, and do not require any load bearing capacity. Hence, walls tiles are usually less thick. While floor tiles can be used on the wall, wall tiles should not be used on the floor.
Every tile has a level of friction, meaning resistance to movement, which in normal terms would determine if the surface is too smooth to walk on. Floor tiles are determined safe to use if they provide a level of friction to walk on, which means it prevents skidding or slipping. This factor need not be considered for wall tiles for obvious reasons.
As stated earlier, floor tiles are meant to be load bearing and need to pass levels of durability and hardness. This is determined by a rating called PEI (Porcelain Enamel Institute), which ranges between one to five – five being extremely durable and one being the least. Therefore, maximum rating implies greater durability. Tiles rated one to three can be used for walls, whereas three to five-rated tiles are ideal for floors.
Aesthetic forms a primary reason for choosing tiles. The design has to sit with the sensibilities of the rest of the house. Floor tiles come in every colour and design, and can be cut in any pattern to install. Wall tiles, too, are available in different styles, and smaller sizes can be experimented with to create mosaics, intricate details, etc.
Installation of floor and wall tiles is more or less the same, but since the thickness of floor tiles is more, cutting them to shapes usually takes longer. Wall tiles, on the other hand, can be cut quickly.
Both tiles can cost the same depending on factors like size, thickness, material composition, and pattern. The cost of both can be very close since cost point of floor tiles depends on size and durability, whereas for walls, it depends on aesthetics.
Wall tiles and floor tiles have the same life span if installed correctly. If properly installed, tiles do not sustain any damage for years to come.