Why Choose Tile? -- Pre-NTD

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It's Durable and Sustainable


Ceramic tiles have been used in buildings since the ninth century BC. A long-lasting material results in a lower consumption of resources in the long term, and a lower environmental impact. Unlike carpet, vinyl, or laminate flooring which have to be replaced periodically, properly installed tile will last a lifetime. 

It's Resistant


Ceramic tiles are highly resistant to weathering, as they are inert and are not affected by exposure to water, fire and even ultraviolet radiation. They do not release any toxic substances when exposed to high temperatures, which is one of the main risks in the event of fire. Due to the use of natural minerals fired at temperatures over 2300 degrees F, ceramic tile will never fade and is not affected by UV rays. 

It's Versatile


Ceramic tiles can be used on horizontal or vertical surfaces, flat or curved, indoors or outdoors, in wet or dry areas. They can have reflective surfaces to provide lighting, or have materials and colors that absorb radiation to control the temperature naturally.

It's Low Maintenance


Unlike other organic materials or textiles, ceramic tiles require little maintenance to keep them clean and in good condition. This is done using procedures and materials that have a low cost and little environmental impact, reducing maintenance costs over their lifespan. Tile is also highly scratch-resistant and simple to clean.

It's Energy Efficient


The ingredients that make up ceramic tile - compressed raw materials like sand, clay, and glass - are all easily recyclable, and as naturally renewable resources, create a low environmental impact. Tile can reduce the amount of energy needed for heating and cooling because of its exceptional thermal mass.  

It's Healthy


Since tile is fired in kilns to extremely high temperatures, there are no volatile organic compounds (VOCs) in the finished product that can be released into the air we breathe. VOCs contribute to a wide variety of health problems and are a significant cause of "sick building syndrome." In addition, there are adhesives and grouts available that contain zero, or very low VOCs. 

Ceramic tile costs less per year than all other floor finishes over the life of a building. In fact, all tile is less than $0.40 per square foot per year. Carpet and vinyl are significantly more expensive due to their shorter expected life. 

Life-Cycle Costs for Floor Finishes (per square foot)


Because a tile installation will last as long as the building it’s installed in, its environmental impacts are minimal when compared to other surface coverings that would have be to replaced numerous times over the life of the building. This also means tile costs less per square foot over the long haul, whereas carpet, vinyl, and other floor coverings are significantly more expensive due to their replacement, maintenance, and refinishing requirements.

The comparison of life-cycle costs* of various flooring types shows why ceramic tile is the natural choice for sustainable design and long-term value. The per year cost for each flooring type includes installation, maintenance, and removal costs.

Floor Finish Installed Cost Life Cycle Cost Expected Life (y) Cost Per Year
Quarry Tile $6.83 $16.13 50 $0.32
Glazed Ceramic Floor Tile $7.00 $16.30 50 $0.33
Glazed Porcelain Tile $8.34 $17.64 50 $0.35
Mosaic Tile $8.20 $17.50 50 $0.35
Unglazed Porcelain $8.30 $17.60 50 $0.35
Natural Hardwood $9.31 $20.80 50 $0.42
Travertine-Turkish $12.50 $21.80 50 $0.44
Marble $21.00 $30.30 50 $0.61
Laminate $8.84 $17.77 25 $0.71
Man-Made Hardwood $9.58 $18.51 25 $0.74
Portland Cement Terrazzo $14.88 $24.27 30 $0.81
Stained Concrete $12.40 $24.60 25 $0.98
Carpet $3.22 $6.50 6 $1.08
Resin Terrazzo $8.50 $16.53 15 $1.10
Sheet Vinyl $6.90 $13.90 10 $1.39
Poured Epoxy $8.18 $15.18 10 $1.52
VCT $3.91 $18.35 10 $1.83


*Chart provided by Scharf-Godfrey (a Division of Phoenix Engineering, Inc.) c/o Tile Council of North America. The costs above represent an appraisal of actual initial installation costs, custodial maintenance expenses, and removal costs for each material over the product life cycle. In all cases, the developed costs reflect high standards for installation and good maintenance practices. 

Scharf-Godfrey is an independent construction cost consulting organization with no vested interest in ceramic tile or any other floor finish. The 2005 study was conducted and this report was prepared by Scharf-Godfrey staff members without special regard to one type of finish over another. 




The handbook Ceramica Amica aims to provide all the information needed to make an informed choice and purchase of Italian ceramic tiles. It also offers helpful tips on installation, cleaning and maintenance as well as ideas for using a product that combines extraordinary versatility and safety. 

For more than 10 years, Tile of Spain has devoted a significant amount of energy and resources to continuing education within the U.S. ceramic tile industry. 

The mission of the Tile Council of North America (TCNA) green initiative is to quantify and communicate the sustainability of ceramic tile and related installation materials and their environmentally-relevant attributes. This is achieved through research, consensus-building, and educational programs—many of which are spearheaded by TCNA—in cooperation with the global ceramic tile industry and the domestic and international green building communities. 

Learn More about Ceramic Tile


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