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A tile is just a tile; you may argue it that way and wonder why people differentiate them. Indeed, manufacturers classify them in terms of their strength and durability, but contractors use these classifications to group tiles as either wall tiles and floor tiles.  

You may not notice much difference when you stand on any tiles; however, each type has different uses based on various factors. For instance, one class may withstand the heavy traffic in a busy shopping centre, while another may not bear any weight and can only be used on the walls of any room.  

The following are factors that differentiate floor tiles from those used on walls only. 

Bathroom tiling job done in Bendigo with white cermaic tiles

Strength and Durability  

Glass and natural stones tiles can be used as a floor finish. However, they must be designed to withstand heavy foot traffic. Floor tiles can be installed on walls, but wall tiles can’t be installed on the floor since they are softer, thinner, and more decorative. More so, they are not as durable as their floor tiles and can’t bear foot traffic.  

The following is the classification of tiles based on their strength. 

The most commonly used scale is the Porcelain Enamel Institute (PEI) rating, which applies a zero to five rating scale on tiles. Tiles are profiled based on their resistance to wear, as shown below. 

  • Group 0 – Tiles can only be used on walls because they are reasonably small, can’t bear a lot of weight, and are mostly made of ceramic. 
  • Group 1- Tiles used in rooms with less foot traffic, and the user should walk on them without shoes. They should not be used on a family bathroom floor with several users but can be used on ensuite bathrooms. 
  • Group 2- Tiles suitable for everyday residential traffic, usual bathroom, and places where ordinary footwear is used. However, bulky boots or shoes should be avoided in these areas. These tiles shouldn’t be used in a hallway or kitchen.    
  • Group 3- They can be used in almost all rooms, for they can bear reasonable traffic of any footwear. However, go for a higher rating when there are many people regularly using these areas. 
  • Group 4- Tiles that can stand significant traffic, thus suitable for residential hallway, commercial areas like exhibitions, restaurants, showrooms, and hotel rooms. However, there are limited in styles. 
  • Group 5- They are used in commercial entrances, shopping centres, industrial workplaces, and hotel lobbies. The tiles can bear substantially heavy traffic and are generally very expensive.  

Therefore, heavy industrial tiles shouldn’t be used at homes because they are more inclined towards functionality than appearance. They are very commercialized than decorative. 

Materials and Colors 

There is a massive range of materials used to make modern tiles. You can purchase tiles made from natural stone, glass, and porcelain, among others. 

For many years, homeowners have been using porcelain tiles on the floor because they are durable, stain, and water-resistant as well as secure. Ceramic tiles and porcelain tiles are manufactured using the same raw materials and processes. However, porcelain tiles are stronger or harder because more refined clay is used, thus the sturdy surface which is not present in ceramic tiles.   

Therefore, ceramic tiles are suitable for walls, for they have more decorative options with handmade textured surfaces and vibrant colours.  

Floor tiles have more colour options, sizes, shapes, and textures than tiles used on walls only. It’s hard to find highly polished tiles for walls, but they are numerous options for floor installations. 


There is a wide selection of tiles based on the sizes and shapes suitable for horizontal and vertical installation. Smaller tiles are mostly recommended for walls since they are more decorative in shape, texture, and the materials used. 

On the other hand, small-sized mosaic tiles can be used for flooring because they provide an incredibly versatile solution. They can be used on walls and swimming pools for they are available in a wide range of colours. 

Thinner and lighter tiles are mostly used on the walls to eliminate unnecessary excess weight, while floor tiles are strong to withstand any pressure. They are generally larger, while wall tiles are smaller. However, you can install floor tiles on your walls if you want large tiles to create a minimalist, dramatic effect. 

Slip Resistance 

The slip resistance score seeks to establish how slippery the tiles are when they are in contact with contaminants or water. The Australian Standards govern the type of tiles that will be used in a residential project in areas such as landings, stair nosing, and ramps. Therefore, you have the freedom to choose tiles for other areas, but you need to observe the tile’s specifications. 

Take into consideration the texture and shape as tiles with raised surfaces can pose a trip hazard when used on the floor applications. Floor tiles should be safe to walk on the surface. For instance, a residential environment may use porcelain tiles with a smooth and high gloss finish, however, it’s advisable to have floor mats in wet areas such as in front of the doors where moisture could be an issue.  

Tips for Matching Floor and Wall Tiles 

Large-Format Tiles

large tiles create an illusion that the room is bigger and brighter than it is in a real sense. They have fewer grout lines that influence your visual field. Therefore, their dramatic and luxuriant appearance gives the room a sleek look. Run the same tiles on both the floor and wall to create a sense of calm. This can be achieved more by ensuring that grout joints run continuously from the floor to the wall without breaking.   

Matching Style

You can use tiles of the same style and colour but not the size on both floor and walls. For instance, you can use 12X12 square tiles and 12X24 rectangles tiles on walls and floor surfaces. That means that you can use the bigger tiles on the floor and the smaller tiles on the walls to create a unified, monochromatic effect. Breaking up the tile sizes is meant to generate greater visual interest.   

Different Shapes

Most people are used to rectangular and square shapes; however, tiles are also available in honeycomb or hexagon shape of differing sizes. Thus, you can use the large hexagon tiles on the floor and walls to create a vivid interest or different sizes on the two surfaces to bring out a dynamic, fluid look. 

Texture and Color Variations

As stated, tiles have varying colours and texture. For instance, natural stones like marble, granite, slate, and travertine have diverse colours and textures. Thus, use tiles of different colours to differentiate the floor from the walls or different textures to make a fabulous feast for your eyes. 

Bathroom newly updated in Bendigo with granite tiles

Highly Polished Tiles

These tiles are relished for their luxuriant look that generates a wow effect. Restrict their mirrored appearance on the floor, and the reflection will be seen on the walls. You can also use two or more colours in the bathroom and reserve the polished marble tiles for your kitchen splashback. 


What differentiates the two sets of tiles is the material used, thickness and size, strength, and durability. Bendigo Tiling and Waterproofing will be happy to guide you through an extensive collection of walls and floor tiles to find the ones suitable for your project. 

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