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Green Tile

Did you know?
  • Ceramic, porcelain, and glass tiles can be made with a portion of post–consumer or post–industrial recycled content.
  • Many green tile installations can help you qualify for LEED points and certification.
  • Glass accounts for approximately 7% of solid waste from households. Many of these glass products can be recycled and used to make glass tile floors.
  • Recycled tile flooring can be installed using green, eco–friendly adhesives, sealers, grout, and other installation products, creating a green flooring system.
Want to know more?
Visit our FAQ's & Glossary.

Ceramic tiles (which includes porcelain) and glass tile flooring is available in a number of different options, made by different materials and manufacturing methods, so naturally one type of tile may be considered a greener tile than another. If you have looked over any of our other green flooring sections, you already know that a floor product's eco–friendliness goes well beyond the materials it's made of. The same criterion for greenness applies with tile as for any other flooring type. Source materials, transportation distance, recycled content, materials used for the manufacturing and installation process, and products used for cleaning tile all come into play – as does the tile floor's disposal after its useful life. In addition to the environmental aspects of a particular floor, it must also contribute towards a healthy indoor air quality (IAQ) once installed and have no negative health impacts for it to be considered green.

All of these aspects must be taken into consideration when determining the eco–friendliness, or "greenness" of a particular type of ceramic, porcelain, or glass tile. Sounds like a lot to know, but don't worry, that is why FindAnyFloor has created this entire section on green, eco–friendly tile flooring to help.

Intro to Green Ceramic, Porcelain, and Glass Tiles

Photo of a mosaic of recycled

Ceramic tiles have been around for several centuries and are made from clay and other materials such as talc and different minerals. Porcelain tiles, a type of ceramic tile, are made with the same components as other ceramics, but are fired at extremely high temperatures, creating very dense, moisture resistant tiles. Glass for glass tiles is made of silica from sand or powdered sandstone, mixed with sodium bicarbonate and lime from limestone. All of these materials are natural resources, but are not necessarily infinite in quantity. Rather than manufacturing tiles from new resources, many tile manufacturers are using post–industrial and post–consumer content to manufacture eco–friendly, recycled tile flooring.

Because there are so many vastly different types of floor tiles available, there are many possible "shades of green" that eco–friendly tiles can take on. Throughout these sections on green tile floors, we will cover some of the positive and negative environmental aspects of glass tile and ceramic tile floors and talk more in depth about eco–friendly manufacturing, installing, cleaning, and recycling of recycled tile floors.

Note: For information on other types of tile such as stone, cork, vinyl, rubber, and concrete, visit the corresponding green flooring sections on™.

Positive Environmental Aspects of Tile Floors

Image of Cermic Tile

  • Tile floors are often very durable and have a very long lifetime, often much longer than carpet, hardwood, and laminate flooring. Longer lifetimes mean fewer replacements over time, which results in less material use and energy use in producing new tiles.
  • Another green advantage of tile flooring is that in the event of irreparable damage to part of the floor, you do not usually have to replace the whole floor, just the damaged tiles. This means fewer replacement materials are needed, saving you money in the long run.
  • In most cases, floor tiles are waterproof and not very porous, making them easy to thoroughly clean. This is great for those suffering from allergies or other health issues as mold, mildew, and other allergens are unlikely to take root here. In addition, tile floors are naturally low in toxic materials and often have low to no VOCs, meaning they are usually a safe choice for your home or business.
  • The low maintenance of tile means less money need be spent on different cleaning and restorative products to keep your tiles looking new. In the long run, this also helps to save on consumption of resources and energy.
  • The materials used to make ceramic and glass tile flooring are fairly readily available which can mean shorter transportation distances. In addition, with tiles being available using both pre–consumer and post–consumer recycled content, manufacturers can eliminate the need to mine new resources all together.

Negative Environmental Aspects of Tile Floors

  • One of the less–green aspects of tile flooring is that they are often rather energy intensive to manufacture, which can contribute to pollution and global warming. In addition, tile raw materials and finished products are heavy and require more fuel to transport than lighter floor coverings, On the other hand, as previously mentioned, the materials used in most tiles are fairly readily available, which can mean shorter transportation distances.
  • Naturally, a big part of gauging a tile floor's greenness relates to the materials used when installing the floor. For example, adhesives can adversely affect indoor air quality – often more than the floor materials they are being used on. When having floors installed, make sure that any adhesives used have low VOC* levels. The same applies for grout, thin–set mortars, self–leveling underlayments, and any other product used for your tile installation.

Throughout this section we will look more in–depth into these two popular floor coverings – ceramic tile (which includes porcelain) and glass tile, and when they are and are not considered green.

*VOCs (short for volatile organic compounds) are carbon–based chemical compounds that can be found in certain flooring materials, adhesives, cleaners, and many other products.

Alternatives to Tile Flooring – Other Green Flooring Options

Between ceramic and glass tile flooring, this green flooring can be popular in a number of places in and around your house. Ceramic might look great in an entryway or on a verandah. Porcelain tiles often work great both indoors and outdoors – perhaps on your front porch or pool deck. Recycled glass tile can even be a talking point in a feature room as there are tons of unique designs available. There are many types of tile that can function in various ways throughout your home. Nevertheless, here are some alternatives:

Other Green flooring options to tile: Hardwood and Recycled
Terrazzo Flooring

  • Sustainably harvested hardwood. Hardwood is often thought of as "un–green" but this is not necessarily the case. Much hardwood is now reclaimed from old buildings and various other post–consumer or post–industrial sources and completely refurbished as flooring. Hardwood flooring is relatively low maintenance and can be finished with water–based, low–VOC finishes.
  • Recycled Glass Terrazzo. Terrazzo flooring can be extremely eco–friendly as up to 95% of its content is recycled. It will last for decades without requiring a great deal of maintenance. And its bonus feature is that it is resistant to the growth of bacteria, mold and mildew.
Tile Flooring Information | Help
  • Questions – There is more to consider than color when buying green tiles. Find out what questions to ask your local flooring store.
  • Lifecycle – Learn about the environmental impact of your tile flooring's lifecycle.
  • Tile and LEED – Learn about using green tile flooring to earn LEED points and certification.
  • Buyer's Guides – Everything you need to know before you buy tile flooring.
  • Flooring Estimator Tools – Calculate the amount of tiles needed for your project with this tile flooring calculator.
  • Installation Guide – Professional instructions on installing your own tile floor.
  • FAQs – Find answers to frequently asked tile flooring questions.
  • Glossary – Consult our glossary for common tile flooring definitions.