Green Materials Report: Ceramic Tile

Ceramic tile

This post is part of the Green Materials Report series.  GBE is providing information on various building materials and what makes them green.  Each post focuses on one material.  We will be looking at the ingredients in the material, how it is used, what makes it green, and any green product certifications that it has earned.  We hope to develop a database of information to help consumers make informed choices about what goes in their buildings.  Enjoy the series!

Ceramic tile

Ceramic Tile

Ceramic tile is made of clay, sand, feldspar (a natural mineral), quartz, and water.  These materials are mixed and put into a dryer.  The dried materials are put into a hydraulic press and out comes a tile.  The tile is further dried, until all moisture is gone, then a glaze is applied.  The tile is then fired in a kiln.

Patterns are produced through the use of the press and shaped forms.  Colors are produced by using colored glaze.

What makes it green

Ceramic tile is made of all natural ingredients, without added chemicals or volatile compounds.  Many brands of tile are made with recycled content, some even with recycled ceramic tiles.  Certain manufacturer’s offer reclamation programs that allow consumers to return the tiles at the end of their useful life.

Ceramic tile certificationsGreen product certifications

Green Squared is North America’s first sustainable product program written exclusively for tiles and tile installation material. Criteria for certification include environmental product characteristics, environmental product manufacturing /raw material extraction, end of product life management, progressive corporate governance, and innovation.

The FloorScore seal tells you that the products have been independently certified by SCS to comply with the volatile organic compound emissions criteria of the California Section 01350 standard. Any product that has met these stringent standards is a product that will contribute to good indoor air quality.

Environmental Product Declaration

Health Product Declaration

Health Product Declaration for Emser Tile Times Square line

Pros Cons
Lots of colors, shapes, sizes, and patterns Sensitive to ambient temperatures
Durable Slippery when wet
Easy to maintain Grout can discolor
Fire/heat and water resistant Hard surface, tough on feet
Flexible, can be used on floors or walls

Sources: How Stuff Works, WFCA, and

Photo: Ceramic tiles of different sizes and colors from Shutterstock


Are there other green materials you would like to see us look at?  Let us know in the comments.  Thanks.

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