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What is the Difference Between Floor Tiles and Wall Tiles

While hunting down your new tiles, you will come across many different types and formats that are listed as being suitable for either floor or wall application, or sometimes both. There are several differentiating factors including material differences, durability and glazes that mean a particular tile will be suitable for vertical or horizontal laying, making it a crucial factor that must be considered when making your selections. 

The following factors come into play when determining the difference between floor tiles and wall tiles:

Porcelain vs. Ceramic Tiles

Modern tiles are available in an enormous range of materials, from porcelain to glass, natural stone and plenty more. Porcelain tiles however, have long been a favourite floor tile choice thanks to their incredible longevity, water and stain resistance, as well as their renowned durability. Although porcelain and ceramic tiles are in essence manufactured of the same raw materials and fired in a kiln, porcelain tiles are known to be significantly harder than their ceramic counterparts as the clay used to produce them is much more refined and therefore, creates an immensely sturdier surface.

ceramic wall tiles

As ceramic tiles are most often restricted to wall use only, there are many more decorative options available. The Nue ceramic tile collection includes an exciting collection of rich colours with a handmade textured surface.


Ceramic tiles that are specified as suitable for wall installation only will normally be softer and lighter than porcelain tiles. This factor is usually a bonus during installation, especially when laying new bathroom wall tiles: The softer ceramic wall tile will allow better ease and speed of installation, minimising labour time while also being simpler to work with when installing your new bathroom fittings. Although highly durable in themselves, ceramic tiles do not possess the same level of water and stain resistance as porcelain tiles, again making them a much better fit for vertical installation.


You will also find some natural stone and even glass tiles that can be used as a floor finish; these tiles are usually quite thick with a smooth, un-textured surface, ensuring a sturdy finish that will last a lifetime with the right installation and care. 

Floor tiles will inherently be much more durable than wall tiles as they have been specifically designed to withstand heavy foot traffic. Although floor tiles can also be installed on vertical surfaces, the same cannot be said for tiles specified for wall use only as these pieces will usually be thinner, softer and often more decorative than their more durable floor tile counterparts and cannot withstand the same amount of wear and foot traffic. 

Slip Resistance & Glazes

Slip resistance is another crucial factor to consider when selecting your new tiles, especially for commercial projects. A tile’s slip resistance score refers to how slippery the surface of the tile is, especially when in contact with moisture or other contaminants that can potentially compromise the tile’s grip underfoot. 

In a residential project however, Australian Standards regarding a tile’s slip resistance only apply to flooring for stair nosings, landings and ramps meaning that you will have much more freedom in your tile selection for other areas of your home but will need to pay close attention to a tile’s specifications when making selections for your stairs or ramps. 

biscuit collection

Tiles that include a raised surface, as demonstrated in our delightfully playful Bsicuit collection, are of course, always recommended for vertical installation only as the surface texture and shape can pose a trip hazard if installed as a floor finish.

Tiles are available in an enormous amount of textures and glazes, with only certain types being suited to floor applications, ensuring the finished surface is safe to walk on. Smooth, high gloss finished porcelain tiles for example, are usually suited for both floor and wall installation in a residential environment however, it is often recommended that floor mats be used in wet areas or in front of any doors leading to and from the outdoors for example, where moisture is more likely to be an issue. 

Size & Thickness

Modern tile designs include an immense array of shapes and sizes, most of which are perfectly suited for both vertical and horizontal installation however, certain varieties of smaller format tiles are most often restricted to wall use only as these tiles do often tend to be more decorative in their texture and use of materials. That being said, there are still many smaller sized tile varieties that are suitable for flooring, such as select pieces from out Bisazza mosaic collection for example.

Bisazza mosaics

Pictured here in a trend setting soft orange tone, the Bisazza Smalto glass mosaic collection provides an incredibly versatile and varied tile solution that can be used for both floors and walls, and even in swimming pools! Available in a virtual rainbow of colours, view the range here.


Tiles that are designed strictly for wall applications are normally thinner and lighter than their floor tile counterparts so as to not put your walls under added stress from supporting the unnecessary excess weight. As mentioned above, a floor tile can also be used as a wall tile however, a tile that is specifically noted as a wall tile only cannot be used as a flooring solution. 

In general the key difference between floor and wall tiles comes down to the materials used, the product’s durability, size or thickness, as well as the specific glaze or finish featured on the tile’s surface. Our team at Perini Tiles will be able to guide you through our immense collection of both floor and wall tiles to find suitable solutions that will meet your project’s specific requirements.