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Floor tiles: We all know them, we all love them, but who are they really?

Floor tiles can be beautiful and stylish, adding color and interesting patterns to a room. But 90% of the time, they're anonymous squares that you never even think of unless you're stuck home in quarantine.

My question is: Do floor tiles have any practical advantages over any cheap alternatives like plain concrete?

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    There are sooooo many reasons that floor tiles exist. I feel this is just too broad to be a good fit for the site. – JPhi1618 Apr 7 at 16:08
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Really the main reason is the ability to swap out the tiles. Whether this is for aesthetics or to clean them or replace old/damaged tiles. There are no advantages beyond this because everything else comes with a big con asterisk.

On a side note my grandma had an auction house with square 2x2 carpet tiles. They were in about 6 different colors and she had the business name spelled out in the middle. Myself and 3 other grandkids moved the tiles around to make a checkerboard. (It was common to take a few tiles out back and hit it with a pressure washer and some soap - the auction house ran banquets and wedding too so there were spilled drinks, mud, whatever...)

Advantages:

  • You can clean them by removing. Good for things like daycares, workout rooms, places that have high flooring damage
  • You can make designs
  • In offices they can be coordinated with flooring pullups to be able to access electrical and conduit
  • They will not stretch with heavy furniture on them
  • An advantage over concrete sound reduction. You could not have concrete floors on a floor with 200 cube workers. The sounds would be bouncing everywhere.
  • Any idiot can install them

Disadvantages:

  • Often looks like an idiot installed them
  • Unless you go super high-end you often see the seams which doesn't look good
  • Unless you glue them (which kind of defeats the purpose) they can be pushed or scrunched over time
  • The edges will eventually fray
  • Hard to hide any under flooring issues
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  • I'd be interested in hearing about these con asterisks, if you have the time to expand on them. – Ram Rachum Apr 7 at 18:06
  • I think you're thinking of carpet squares, not the porcelain/ceramic stuff that's more normally called "floor tile" – ThreePhaseEel Apr 7 at 23:29
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"Floor tiles can be beautiful and stylish, adding color and interesting patterns to a room."
I think you answered your own question.
Edit
Responding to your rephrased question.
Most floor tiles are very functional and can take a lot of abuse which is one reason they are used in commercial settings. Same in homes. In playrooms, kitchens, etc. that get a lot of hard use they will wear better than linoleum or carpeting.
I think in many applications it's functionality/durability over beauty. Again, they can also be very attractive but beauty is and always will be subjective and personal. Flooring is always a balance of durability, beauty and cost.

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  • Yeah but that's the exception, most of them suck. – Ram Rachum Apr 7 at 16:25
  • @RamRachum ok, you're suffering from the yeah-buts. HoneyDo answered your question but you've rejected it and not even noted why you rejected. My guess is that you're unclear about what you want out of this. Perhaps your question is more along the line of 'why do tiles not always look pretty' or 'why do I not like tiles'. – Ack Apr 7 at 18:03
  • Here's another way to phrase my question: "Are aesthetics the main reason that floor tiles are used, or are there other reasons as well?" – Ram Rachum Apr 7 at 18:05
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Floor tiles has many advantages over other floor coverings-

1) They are pretty much impervious to moisture & water, which is why they are favored in kitchens, bathrooms, & entry halls.

2) The stand up to a lot of abuse. Yes, they can crack if you drop something heavy on them. But if the installer provider extra tiles, it's relatively easy matter to replace the cracked tile.

3) Real wood is a disaster waiting to happen in rooms like kitchens and bathrooms. Yeah, I know people do it, but they must be a lot easier with where the water goes than in my house.

4) Same thing is true of carpets. When was the last time you saw wall to wall carpeting in a bath or kitchen? Throw rugs, maybe.

5) Most laminates just look artificial (I know, this is an opinion). I have them in some rooms, but that was more a decision based on trying to match the heights of a new and existing floor.

And no, they don't have to be anonymous squares, unless this falls into your description. This is a kitchen makeover I did myself.

Kitchen Makeover

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