How to Pick Out the Right Floor Tile

July 31, 2012

How to check ratings to find the best spot for your tile. 

What to look for when shopping for tile flooring in wet spaces like bathrooms and laundry rooms. 

It's important to know if your tile is rated for floors or walls, and if it's suitable for potentially slippery spots. 

floating shelves above washer

I picked out this octagon shaped tile for our basement laundry room at Lowe's: 

white octagon tile

This post may contain affiliate links for your convenience.
I may earn a small commission when you make a purchase through links. 
See my policies and disclosure page for more information.  

I wanted something a bit different, something that was fun, but wouldn’t break the bank. (It’s called American Olean Sausalito tile.) But as time went on (and it was closer to the time of installing it), I got cold feet.

The tile is really thin, and I thought it was supposed to be used only on a backsplash. Even the guys who have been working on the basement were worried about using it.

I was so bummed, because I had planned on this stuff for half a year. :) So I did two things...asked some blog friends if they had used it, and went to Lowes to find out more about it.

The first bit of info I learned was from my friend Cassity at Remodelaholic. She told me that typically tile that is made for wall applications (like a backsplash) is white or cream on the back. Tile that is made for the floor is dark or clay colored on the back. Mine was dark on the back!

I had no idea! Good to know, eh?

Then Lowe’s guy showed me indicators on the tile box that helped a ton:

tile ratings for water

It was a wealth of information! I looked up what the codes mean and found this helpful tile rating pdf from Home Depot:

  • The grade for this tile is a 1 (the highest quality) and you want to use grade one or two for floors, a three for walls.
  • The PEI (stands for Porcelain Enamel Institute) is a three – this indicates the tile’s resistance to abrasion. This one is fine for moderate wear and suitable for home use.
  • The little umbrella icon is for water absorption, which is something you want to think about for a spot like a laundry room! This one falls between low and moderate absorption so it was fine for this space.
  • Finally, one I didn’t even consider but is nice to know – the C.O.F., which is basically the slip factor. My tile was rated at .65, and anything above .60 exceeds ADA (Americans with Disabilities Act) guidelines – which means it’s too not slippery.

I was honestly surprised to see that my pretty tile passed every test with flying colors!

SOLD! :)

Because I have limited experience with tiling, and because the mortar had to be spread as thin as possible to avoid it seeping through all of those grout lines, I didn’t DIY this project.

The room had turned into a second storage room over the past few months, so I cleaned it out and got the floors cleaned up:

concrete floor before tile

I went back and forth on an underlayment in here, since the tile was going directly on cement floors. I talked to about four contractor-type peeps and every single one of them said it wasn’t needed. So I didn’t do it, but I’ll let you know in time if that was a good idea or not. ;)

Edit: It has held up wonderfully for ten years!

Because I didn’t want to worry about keeping bright white grout lines clean, I used this light gray grout color:

warm grey sanded grout

This is the product I picked out (from Lowes) and it’s a sanded grout called warm gray. 

One thing to consider -- one bag was more than enough for the square footage of this room, but obviously those tiles have more than average grout lines. So we needed two bags of the grout to get it done.

I am SO thrilled with the result:white octagon tile

The gray grout will be easier to take care of, and I LOVE how it shows off the pretty shapes of the tile. They would be lost with white grout!

After it was grouted and wiped down, I cleaned it well one more time, let it dry for an hour, and then used this spray tile sealer:

one hour spray grout sealer

Other sealers I’ve used in the past can’t be applied till about three days after the grout is done. This one can be applied after just an hour. 

It was the easiest sealant I’ve ever used! I just sprayed it down on the tile, working my way across the room.

The floor will be super wet when you’re done, so work your way out of the room. Let it sit five to ten minutes then just wipe it clean! I got down on my hands and knees with two rags and wiped as I went through the room. 

It says you can do a second coat 30 minutes later, but I soaked this floor so I didn’t think it was needed:

white tile gray grout

Isn’t it pretty? It turned out just as I envisioned.

Here’s the after with the tile:

white octagon tile gray grout

This room already looks SO much different now! I’ve been busy in here and I can’t wait to show you more!

This tile cost more than basic ceramic tile, but I thought for the unique look it wasn’t too bad -- the whole room was less than $140. I’ve seen this look for WAY more so I’m thrilled with it!

Have you tried this pretty octagon-shaped tile in your home? Have you ever tiled a floor? Any tips?

Never miss a post by signing up to get posts via email. 
Email subscription form header
Your email:*
Please enter all required fields Click to hide
Correct invalid entries Click to hide


  1. Love the tile!! I've never done any floor of any kind and probably won't ever! Too chicken! But, yours looks great and I really, really..... like the hexagons! Good job of picking the tile out cause those kind of decisions intimidate me!

    Also, thanks for the pointers regarding the info on the box of tiles. Good to know! Now, I want new tile!

  2. Looks Great!
    I've tiled before-its not hard but it's time consuming.

    Here are some tips:

    Rent or buy tile/carpet layer knee'll thank me later.
    Use spacers!
    Dry fit everything first.
    You will need a tile saw. (You can rent 'em, but we bought one because it was relatively cheap.)

    Like I said, it's not hard-especially if the room is "normal" sized and the layout is, too. Weird stuff need a pro.

    I've done a bathroom floor and a kitchen backsplash. Have a go at it-its fun!

  3. LOVE! I want hexagon tile in our bathrooms very badly. :)

  4. Love the tile, it turned out beautifully! I've done some tiling before, it's not terribly hard, and I actually enjoy it. I would tile my whole house if I could. (The OCD in me has to point out, though, that the tiles are actually octagons :) )

  5. Knee pads, knee pads, knee pads!!! My husband brought some home 2 days into a floor tiling project I was undertaking. Getting those was like getting a pony for Christmas, my knees were so sore. Susan and Mark are right about that! I used an inexpensive tile scorer/breaker type of cutter, and took a couple of trickier cuts back to the hardware store where I bought the tile to have them do it for free. Along with all the other great tips above, make sure to get out your handy level so there are no raised corners while you are installing each tile and you can be a pro at this too! It's fun! Good luck Sarah, can't wait to see your work! Jules :)

  6. This is the OCD coming through, but...those aren't hexagons :). It's octagon-and-square tile. Hex tile looks like this: I like both, but my understanding is that octagon-and-square tile hails from the '30s or '40s, and hexagonal is a bit older. So I'm hoping to use hexagonal tile for my upstairs bathroom someday (hope!) 'cause my house is really really old. I used penny-round in my powder room (and I used darker grout too - "natural gray"). I do love penny round tile, but the contractors did not lay it evenly :(. I don't know whether non-OCD people can tell, but I can, and I haven't decided whether I've adjusted to it yet. Your people did a PERFECT job!

  7. I LOVE this look! We are finishing out basement and will eventually be needing to pick tile for the new laundry room and I am a huge fan of this pattern! You did a great job! Love it :)

  8. YAY! I'm so glad you got to use that tile because it is Awesome!! And smart about the grout ... might as well match the dirt to begin with. lol

    I have tiled a bunch, it's super simple. The cuts around the edges will be the hardest part and the grout will be pain in the neck. You can do it!!

  9. I like it! I think you are right about the gray grout showing your tile off a bit more. It really transformed that space--looks like a real room now!

  10. I've always loved that style of tiles for bathrooms and laundry spaces. It looks awesome in there!

  11. We used this exact same tile in our previous home's bathroom. We loved it. Very classic look to it. We also used ther smaller hexagon tiles in the upstairs bath in the same house. One of the advantages of using these hexagon tiles on the mesh is they are essentially flexible and can conform to the floor better than larger square tiles. Any inconsistencies in the level of the floor aren't an issue.

  12. Oh, my gosh, I did a double-take when I saw this because it's the same tile we're getting installed in our master bath right now. We're going for a black and white look, though (black grout). So excited to see how yours turned out. Love it! :)

  13. I have this tile on my stand up shower floor. I just assumed it was floor tile! Yay for you, being careful like that.

  14. I've always loved this tile! The gray grout really does help to show it off, doesn't it? Looking forward to seeing you further purdy up the space! :)

  15. I considered that tile for our bathroom floor, but my hubby felt it was more grouting than he wants to do. I can't blame the man. We (let's be honest- mostly he!) will be totally redoing the main bath the last 2 weeks of August, and I don't think he wants to spend all of that time grouting the floor and shower walls! But you do present a tempting case! Looks lovely.

  16. Thank you for explaining what those identifications were on the side of the tile box. Always wondered but since we weren't ready for tile I never asked the sales associate. I love learning new things even if it's how to read what type of tile goes where!

    Can't wait to se the finished laundry room as well as your new updated mud room in the future.

    Liz VanKirk

  17. Love it!! I wanted something like this so badly in our bathroom/laundry room, but it's over 100 square feet so it wasn't in the budget at all. We ended up with basic square foot tiles. Oh well!

    I did manage to score some tile that looks similar to yours, just the little pieces are black and the big pieces are marble for a song off of Kijiji (Canada's Craigslist?). We plan on putting it into our tiny entry hall. :)

  18. I love the tile. It looks so great! Good to know on the dark back - I had no idea either. Can't wait to see this room all finished up - maybe it will motivate me to do something about the hideousness that is my current basement laundry room! ;)

  19. Just FYI, be careful with that sealer. I used it on my grout and it is filthy. It really didn't stand up at all in performance tests when I started looking into it. You may have better luck because you used gray grout, but if it starts looking dirty clean it really good and get a better sealer, like AquaMix Sealer's Choice Gold (at HD). By the way, I love the tiles you chose!

  20. The picture of the unfinished floor looks like it has a small crack. Did your contractors fix that or level that before they installed the tile?

  21. Clarification needed :) The Grade you said for the tile was a one. One and Two can be used for floor ... and Three was for what again? You said floor but did you mean wall?

    Love the tile by the way! How exciting to see it getting finished :)

  22. LOVE that tile! It is gorgeous! And the gray grout is a really nice touch!

  23. Very pretty!!! I love the hexagon pattern. I am going to attempt a backsplash in the kitchen this weekend so fingers crossed :)

  24. That floor looks FANTASTIC! Love the tile you picked.
    We just did our first try at tiling with our bathroom shower. Wasn't as hard as I thought it would be, just had to stay in the "slow & steady" mind-set (I'm always too impatient!)

  25. We have this exact tile in our master bath and love it! We've had it for a few years now and while we do have one tile that has cracked I think that is due to things being dropped on it vs. the quality of the tile. Good call on going with the gray grout. We went with white and the tiles do sort of get lost, plus its is a pain to clean!

  26. I love it! I bought one sheet of it for my bathroom to see if I liked it and I love it. Still need to buy the rest for the room. I too want to use gray grout so it doesn't get yucky! Actually seeing it just seals the deal for me:)

  27. my mom and I just did my backslash in the kitchen and it wasn't too bad of a job. Our big challenge came in that my tiles were i think 20" long and my walls were quite uneven so you would put on one tile, get the next in place and they would be severely uneven so then you have to pull it off fix both put them back on etc. I would be willing to tackle a tiling project again in the future but I would not personally do floors. There is nothing worse than uneven floor tiles that catch your foot all the time plus if you don't get the mortar quite right you will end up with loose tiles.

  28. Hi Sarah
    We used this same tile in our powder room and have loved it for 5 years now....

  29. We have that exact same tile in our bathroom, which fits perfectly with our Craftsman-style home. We also have white 2" square white tile in another bathroom, with a black tile inset border. I love the look of white tile, but I HATE GROUT!! I like low maintenance and tons of white grout is definitely not that, so next time I may have to steal your grey grout idea...since it ends up turning that color anyways! :)

  30. We put this exact tile in my daughtet's bathroom and LOVE it. Such a great impact for very little cost, and the design made the room look more designer while still being neutral so it can grow with her and the space.

  31. I have this very tile in our laundry room. It has been down for a year and is working out great. i intended to have gray grout, instead of the white that I got, but my builder had a brain fart and forgot I wanted gray. We sealed the grout really well, and I am the only person who goes in that room (unfortunately) so, if it gets dirty, it's my fault.

  32. This looks SO cute! I am thinking of using these exact same tiles (and doing it myself) in my bathroom with a dark gray grout and was googling and found this post. I'm a little nervous about doing it myself. Let me know how it goes if you decide to do it! Also, I read online that these tiles cut really easily and you don't even need the wet saw. Someone said you could just use the nippers to cut them. Who knows...

  33. We have this exact same tile in our master bath (complete with the grey grout) great minds think alike! My hubby and I laid all the tile ourselves (and I was 7 months pregnant at the time) definitely give it a go yourself, it wash cinch! Although grouting it all required some major patience :)

    W haven't sealed ours yet so thanks for the great tip!

  34. LOVE the tile!!!! Thanks for this info! I had no idea about those codes...I feel totally confident in make my next tile purchase!!!


If you have a specific question I will do my best to answer you back here!

You can find our paint colors and links to items at the "Our Home" tab at the top of my site.

THANKS so much for reading!