Night on the Tiles; Sustainable wall and Floor Covering

Interior Design

Shopping for tiles can feel like a game of Connect 4, trying to get the right design style, colour, size (or mixture of sizes) to suit the space.  It can leave you questioning, what was I actually looking for?  There are different types and styles of tiles available on the market, the majority of which are considered to be sustainable.  This is due mainly to tiles being durable and highly recyclable.  Sustainability and wellness should be at the core of every design project.  Therefore, protecting and promoting the health and wellbeing of you and your family and the environment.  

Many tiles comprise natural materials, for instance porcelain tilles consist of natural minerals.  In addition, natural stone tiles, are sourced straight out of the ground.  This is what contributes to them being identified as a sustainable product.  However, overall sustainability can be affected by the finish of a tile.  For instance, the paint and glaze used may not be sustainable.  In addition, manmade products like polyvinyl, comprises plastic polymers (chemicals) and potentially off-gas during the product life.  This has a negative effect on the internal air quality of your home. If unsure about what a tile is made from or finished with, check with the manufacturer.

It’s not only the tile you should consider when creating healthy and sustainable interiors, but also the type of adhesive and grout used to secure the tiles to the surface.  Therefore, select a tile adhesive and grout which is made from natural materials and is non-toxic.  This will contribute to the healthy internal air quality you want for your family.  Auro 380 Natural Floor and Tile Adhesive is a good example of this.  Always check the tile adhesive and grout you are selecting is appropriate for the area you are tiling.

Porcelain Tiles

Porcelain Tilescomprise a special type of clay: kaolin.  Kaolin clay is considered to be much lighter than the clay used in ceramic tiles. Porcelain tiles are fired at a temperature of 2200-2500 degrees Fahrenheit.  The tiles are considered to be much denser in comparison to ceramic tiles, making them more hard-wearing.  Additionally, porcelain tiles are more water-resistant than ceramic tiles, making them a better option for floors and walls in areas such as bathrooms and wet-rooms.  They come in an array of different styles ranging from contemporary through wood effect, making them a great wall or floor covering for a number of different types of design styles.  


Ceramic tiles are made from a much coarser clay than porcelain tiles and comprise only a small amount of kaolin clay.  The tiles are fired in a kiln heated to 1650 degrees Fahrenheit. Ceramic tiles are identified as having good heat resistance properties, making them a good option for countertops.  Ceramic tiles are a good option for wall coverings in areas less exposed to water and come in an array of styles and colours to complement your chosen design.

Recycled Tiles

Just like the majority of things these days, you can buy recycled/reclaimed tiles.  These can come from properties, not just in the United Kingdom, but from overseas to; Mediterranean countries are a rich source of recycled tiles.  Maitland and Poate, company based in London, who sells recycled tiles, writes, “our tiles are old and made from cement, sand and marble dust as well as natural pigments”. 

Tiles made from Recycled Raw Materials

Fireclay (based in the United States of America) produce tiles made from recycled clay and covered in a lead-free glaze.  The company offers a range of tiles made from the recycled materials.  The tiles can add charm and inject colour, and come in a variety of shapes and sizes.  The company deliveries globally.  Check out their website;

Image provided by Fireclay, California
Photograoher Samantha Ushiro
Tile, Picket In Desert Bloom

Recycled Glass Tiles

The glass tiles are made from recycled glass bottles, jars and old windows.  The process involves: sorting the glass into its own respective colours; heating the glass to form the tiles; and then cooling them.  Glass tiles come in array of colours and can reflect light around a space.  They can be used in both interior and exterior spaces.  


Slate is mined from many locations around the world, making it available internationally.  Slate comes in a variety of different hues from pale grey to black.  Its variations in colour can add texture and contrast to a design.  Its surface can be uneven, but it is a great option in areas which have heavy traffic flow.  This could be a really practical choice of flooring if you have pets.  Slate flooring works especially well in bathrooms, hallways and kitchens.

Image provided By Getty Images


Probably one of the most expensive types of natural stone flooring.  It is extracted from a number of mines located around the globe.  Marble flooring is typically expensive however, its durability and sustainable properties far out-way its cost.  Marble flooring can be used in areas of high volumes of traffic and is pet friendly and will last at least as long as your property.  It comprises a smooth surface, which can become slippery when wet.  Marble flooring\wall covering comes in a number of different colours and detailing.  Marble complements most spaces in your home including: bathroom, kitchen, hallway, stairs and dining room. 

Image Provided by Getty Images


A natural product mined worldwide, limestone does not require any additional products in its manufacture and is easily extracted from the ground.  Limestone comes in slabs, which can vary in colour and surfaceevenness, from one piece to another.  However, this will add texture and intrigue to your floor design.  One such type of limestone is Travertine, formed by minerals from springs.   Limestone can complement both modern and traditional design styles.  It is great in areas such as hallways, kitchens and bathrooms.

Terracotta TilesTerracotta means ‘bakes earth’ in Italian.  It is considered a sustainable tile due to being made from clay, a natural product, which has a high iron content.  Terracotta tiles are known for being permeable (absorbant) to water.  I recommend some kind of glaze or finish is applied to help decrease the absorption of water or other liquids.  It can be used internally and externally.  Its reddish orange tones add warmth to a design, it is ideal for rustic or Mediterranean design styles

All of the tiles listed above are unique in their own way.  When you are planning to include tiles in a design, consider what is the space going to be used for?  You do not want to lay a tile, which is porous in a shower room.  Who is going to use the space?  Will the space have high volumes of traffic?  You don’t want to lay a tile, which is difficult to keep clean.  What ambience are you trying to create?  Tiles can help create ambience, for instance: dark slate tiles create a calming, natural and grounding atmosphere; tiles can inject colour and create funky, up-beat designs.  When including tiles in your design project, consider how they complement the overall design of the property.  Will the design flow from one space to the next?  Sometimes we can get carried away and before you know it you have numerous different design styles in one property.  Don’t forget, not all tile finishes are sustainable.  If in doubt, check with the supplier.  All the tiles mentioned in this article are considered to be sustainable.  Also, ceramic tiles are not the same as porcelain tiles, this can be confusing when searching for tiles.  And finally, when selecting grout and tile adhesives make sure it is non-toxic.  

Happy tiling.

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