Gray Matter


Floor Covering: Ceramic Tiles, Vinyl Tiles and Linoleum

floor coveringWhen you buy a new home, you usually give little thought to the floor covering in your kitchen or in your bathrooms. Most of the time, the choices have already been made for you.

Contractors tend to lay linoleum in these rooms because it’s the cheapest floor covering they can use, and it’s probably the easiest to install. When you decide to remodel or just replace that linoleum, it is then that you may decide on your preferred kind of floor covering.


While it’s colloquially called “linoleum”, it isn’t true linoleum. It’s actually made of polyvinyl chloride (PVC), just like modern water pipes. In most hardware or building supply stores, it’s called vinyl plank flooring. True linoleum, though still being made, is rarely used in homes because it’s more expensive than other kinds of floor coverings.

In my previous home, the floors of the kitchen and the bathrooms were covered in this stuff. The one thing I noticed when I was getting ready to sell the place was that the flooring had pits and cuts in it, and it was very noticeable. I ended up replacing it with vinyl tiles, even in the upstairs bathrooms. Because that floor was wood, a thin sheet of cement had to be laid, and it had to dry and harden before the tiles could be laid.

While I consider vinyl tiles to be a better floor covering than linoleum, they’re still not the best way to go, in my opinion.

Vinyl Tiles

Vinyl tiles are easy to work with because all you need to lay them is an adhesive. Some vinyl tiles come with the adhesive on the tiles themselves. I don’t know the exact composition but when I see the word “vinyl”, I automatically think “plastic”.

With the right preparation, vinyl tiles can be used to cover any number of floors. It’s most often used to cover cement floors, but it can also be used to cover the cheap wood flooring found under wall-to-wall carpeting. I would never dream of putting any kind of tiles over finished hardwood or bamboo flooring. That would be crazy.

Ceramic Tiles

The only thing better than ceramic tiles, in my opinion, is porcelain tiles. While porcelain tiles are harder and stronger than ceramic tiles, they’re also more expensive. I think it would be overkill to use them in a house anyway.

Ceramic tiles are made from clay, and they’re covered with a glazed finish. Both the downstairs and upstairs floors of my house are covered in ceramic tiles. The only thing the construction workers had to do was to make the concrete finish a little thicker so that it doubled as the grout between the tiles. My wife doesn’t like the color of the grout (the color of dry cement), but I’m fine with it.

Floor Covering Cost Considerations

I searched and reviewed prices at a few different websites where all three types of floor covering are sold. The price per square foot appears to be about the same for all three unless you order something exotic. Ultimately, whatever you cover your floors with is a personal choice.

If being environmentally friendly is your thing, your best bet is ceramic tile. Vinyl floor covering releases toxins and other chemicals when it ages or burns. The only part of a ceramic tile you’d have to worry about would be the glaze, but not any more so than your average house paint.

Photo Attribution: Alexander from Pixabay
Edited and updated. Originally published at one of my other websites in February 2014.

Author: RT Cunningham
Date: September 29, 2020 (UTC)
Categories: House and Home

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