Ceramic tiles, porcelain tiles, subway tiles, terracotta tiles, Moroccan tiles, and more…

Which tile should you choose and why? When working on your home renovation projects, first-time homeowners may easily get confused as to which tiles to buy and where to use them.

There are so many types of tiles to begin with. Can ceramic tiles be used on both wall and floor covering? Are porcelain tiles only applicable to the living room and not the bathroom? What about gloss finish tiles and matt finish tiles? What are the rules and how should you go about it? 

Fret not, in this article we’ll share our expert guide on choosing the correct tiles when renovating your home.  

Let’s dive in.

Popular tiles in Malaysia 

When it comes to selecting the right tiles, most homeowners in Malaysia usually go with the more popular tile choices, which are ceramic tiles and porcelain tiles. This is because they are considered the essential ones. 

Other tiles such as subway tiles or Moroccan tiles are considered more for aesthetic purposes rather than being a functional one.

So instead of going through all tile types, in this article, we’ll explore choosing between porcelain tiles and ceramic tiles when working on your home makeover. 

What are the differences between porcelain tiles and ceramic tiles?

This is one of the most frequent questions we’d receive from homeowners. As both tile types have similar design and appearances, it can be pretty hard to tell the differences.

Even for us at HOMA2u we won’t be able to differentiate the tiles by just looking at them. However, their major difference is actually the durability between the tiles. 

Porcelain tiles are more durable than ceramic tiles, making porcelain tiles the ideal choice to install in areas with heavier foot traffic – like your living room area or car porch area. We explore all the differences between them in this article here

Ultimately, there is no wrong or right way to choosing the best tiles for your home. It all depends on your preference and where you want to install them. 

Floor & wall covering – which tile to choose? 

A general rule of thumb when choosing the tile for your floor covering – go with porcelain tiles.

While both porcelain and ceramic tiles are suitable for floor (again, it comes down to your preference, color or the design you want), porcelain tiles are usually the preferred choice because of their high durability. The tiles are less prone to cracking (especially with high foot traffic area) and will require less maintenance work as compared to ceramic tiles.

In general, porcelain tiles can last more than 50 years while ceramic tile can last anytime between 3 to 20 years

If you think about it, you’re actually getting more value for the money you spend on porcelain tiles. And you do not need to worry about maintaining your floors for a very long time! 

On the other hand, for the wall covering, both tile types are suitable and will really depend on the design you want to go with. 

For bigger or smaller rooms – which tile size is more suitable? 

One of the most common questions we receive; should I use smaller size tiles for smaller room areas or is it the other way round? What if I want to renovate a big wall – should I use smaller size tiles or the bigger ones? 

Again, there are no exact answers around these.

Bigger size tile will make your living room look bigger and wider – so it’s very suitable for the living room area or bigger space areas.

As for bigger walls, it is perfectly fine to install smaller size tiles on it. But the wall will definitely look more crowded. So, you have to play around and match the color or pattern to make it fit the space.

Protip: Sometimes using smaller size tiles will require more cutting than usual which will result in wastages (which means more costs on your end). 

Tiles used on wall and floor
Image Source: Harmony

Matt finish or gloss finish tile – which to use?

While it’s easy to think about the design or cost of the tiles, the finishing on the tiles is important too and oftentimes, gets overlooked by homeowners. 

Both matt and gloss finishes have different visual effects with their pros and cons too.

Pros of matt finish tiles:

  • Has a rustic vibe to it
  • Require low maintenance 
  • Non-slippery 

Cons of matt finish tiles:

  • Not suitable for darker room or areas with a darker color tone
  • Stains are harder to remove
An example of gloss finish tiles

Pros of gloss finish tiles:

  • Brighten up the room (due to its glossy features)
  • Make smaller rooms appear larger (as the tiles have a reflective nature)
  • Very easy to clean (again, because of the finishing on the tile) 

Cons of gloss finish tiles:

  • Showcase defect more easily (the gloss tends to draw attention to any stain or scratches on the tile)
  • More slippery than usual

To many homeowners, the glossy feature and reflective nature of the gloss tile are the very reasons they go for it. Even though the surface is more slippery, homeowners are willing to trade it off for the aesthetic touch of the tiles.

Plus, with the glossy surface, in certain ways it makes the floors look cleaner as well! 

Protip: Bathroom floor can go with gloss finish tiles too. The bathroom area doesn’t necessarily mean it has to go with matt finish tile! 

5 steps to choosing the correct tiles for your home

Now that you know more about the difference between porcelain tiles and ceramic tiles, the tile size you should choose and also the different types of tile finishing, let’s look at the 5 crucial steps we outlined for you when choosing home tiles.

1 – Build a mental model of your home style first

Before you jump straight in into selecting any tile, we usually ask homeowners to determine their general home style first. Or what we usually say at HOMA2u – your wow factor (a must-have in your home).

This wow factor will then serve as your home’s focal point and then you build the design around it. It could be a kitchen cabinet you love, that accent furniture you like or that rockchair you saw from IKEA

So, start looking around home magazines, join Facebook groups in Malaysia or get some inspiration from Pinterest. Take a mental note on what you want for your home. 

2 – Determine the tile size for each room size

As mentioned earlier, there are no fixed rule to choosing your tile size. 

Bigger tile size will result in a bigger and wider space while smaller tile size will result in a crowded pattern. Depending on how you want to design the space, a crowded pattern could in fact complement your design.

Color and size of tile affects space design
Image Source: The Home Depot

3 – Colors of the tiles

After determining the style and tile size you want for the room, it’s time to think about the color scheme of the room.

Consider the general feel or vibe you want for the space. Here are some basic rules you can consider:

  • Lighter color tones will make the space look larger 
  • Darker color tones add warmth to the room and is good in hiding dirt or imperfections (scratches or stains)
  • Neutral color schemes 

4 – Texture of your tiles 

Up next, the tile finishing – matt finish or gloss finish tiles.

Matt finish tiles are recommended for areas more prone to moisture (like the kitchen and bathroom area). But it’s perfectly fine to install gloss finish tiles in the bathroom area as well.

As for gloss finish tiles, if you’d like to brighten up the room or make the space look bigger, then this could be your go-to tile.

Remember, after combining all your design requirements, think about how the tile finishing can affect the style you want and determine if they are a fit or not.

5 – Grout or not grout

Lastly, after you have all the designs figured all out, don’t forget about the grout lines too. 

Grout lines are a great way to help you create a cohesive look. But if used stylishly, the lines could create a contrasting feel that immediately makes the tiles pop! 

Stylish grout lines make tiles pop
Image Source: My KunKun

And there you go, all the steps you need in order to select the best tiles for your home! If all these feel a tad bit overwhelming for you, you can always hire home improvement professionals to help you get the job done! 


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