Cooling Tiles: Flooring Options to Keep Your Home Cool
If you live in a warmer climate, chances are cooling down your home could be costing you an arm and a leg, especially during the hot summer months. While there are several energy-saving things you can do to reduce your electricity and HVAC bill, tile floors naturally cool down your home while enhancing your home’s aesthetic.
Below, we cover which cooling tiles and radiant cooling keep the temperature in your home down.
Which tiles are best for cooling?
Tile flooring has a high rate of heat conductivity, meaning that when you walk on or touch tile, the heat from your body transfers to the tile at a high rate, helping to regulate your body temperature and feel cool quickly. In fact, tile is the best flooring material for cooling your home and comes in a variety of different styles and options.
Porcelain tile is made from feldspar (or crystal powders) and non-porous clay materials. It’s practically waterproof, making it a good option for warm, humid climates since it doesn’t absorb moisture and is naturally cooling.
This cooling tile is particularly good for high-traffic areas because it’s prone to scratches and has a versatile aesthetic, as porcelain can come in various designs that mimic the look of wood or other natural materials through lightjet printing.
Travertine is another naturally cooling tile that is known for its unique old-world look, as this stone was used in Ancient Rome. Made from calcite and other natural minerals, travertine often has swirls in the tiles, giving it a unique and distinctive appearance with colors that can range from white to red. While it can be polished for a more elegant look, there are also several types of matte finishes that can help you achieve a more rustic, timeless look. Some common matte finishes include:
- Honed: A texture achieved by grinding and buffing one side of the stone, giving the tile a smooth finish without any shine to the appearance
- Brushed: A texture created when the surface of the stone is brushed with a wire wheel to create a “brushed” and rustic look
- Tumbled: Created by putting the tiles in a barrel with other stones, sand and minerals, then spinning them to create a natural, worn finish as the stones brush against each other
Marble is a natural metamorphic rock formed under heat and pressure — a pressure that creates a natural wavy pattern that makes marble tiles so distinct. Because it is 100% natural stone, marble tile is one of the best conductors of heat, making it an excellent cooling tile for warm weather climates. Not only are marble stone tiles elegant but they’re also very unique in design, as no two pieces of marble tile have exactly the same pattern.
Marble can be both light-colored like calacatta or dark with light patterning, as seen with nero marquina or bardiglio variations. This can allow light to glimmer off the surface, adding to the elegance of the floors. Marble is a bit more on the high-maintenance side, as it needs to be resealed often and requires special cleaning products, but it’s one of the best cooling tile flooring options as well as a great conductor of heat for people looking to add a heated flooring system to their tile floors during the winter months.
Slate is another excellent cooling tile option made up of thin sheets of clay, shale and quartz, so it’s naturally darker in color than other tile flooring options. Not only is slate cool to the touch but its rough texture makes it rather slip resistant and a good tile flooring choice for high-traffic areas.
Slate is one of the strongest tile flooring materials but it does need to be sealed on a regular basis to prevent stains — during both the installation process and ongoing afterward.
Non-porcelain ceramic tiles are generally made from clay and fired to create a very durable, hard surface. These tiles are cool to the touch and typically used in bathrooms and kitchens for their water resistance, though they can be found in other areas of the home as well.
Ceramic tiles can have a matte, semi-matte or high-gloss finish (depending on what aesthetic you’re going for) and tend to be on the cheaper end of cooling tiles, so they can be good for those on a budget.
Radiant cooling for floors
You might be familiar with radiant heated floors, especially if you’re considering tile and live in a climate that gets cold during the winter. While not as common, radiant cooling floors are also an option if you’re looking to keep the temperature down in your home and reduce energy usage during the hotter months.
What is radiant cooling?
Radiant cooling works similarly to radiant heated floors, where water-filled tubing is installed beneath the tile flooring to control the temperature of the tile — making them cooler than they’d naturally be. Water in the tubed cooling system is generally around 55-58 degrees and distributes this cool temperature throughout the floor.
How it works
Radiant cooling floors work when PEX tubing (a flexible type of high-density polyethylene) is laid in either a concrete subfloor or a grooved subfloor beneath the actual tile flooring. Your flooring material is then installed on top of the tubing system. Cool water is pumped through the PEX tubing, cooling down your floors.
Considerations of radiant cooling
While radiant cooling systems might seem simple, there are a couple of important considerations to keep in mind when deciding if this cooling system is right for your floors.
- Dealing with dew point: Radiant cooling systems do not remove humidity and condensation from the air the way air conditioners do, so on a humid day you could end up with condensation on your floors, making them slippery. While many radiant cooling systems have a dew point sensor that will raise the temperature of the water in the tubing to correct this, it’s likely that you could end up dealing with more condensation than you expected and need to invest in a dehumidifier to counteract this.
- Maintenance issues: Because radiant cooling systems are not as common as radiant heating systems, it might be difficult to find a plumber or installation company in your area. This could pose a problem if you need the system maintained or serviced at any point in the future.
Tile floors are naturally cooling and a great way to keep your energy costs down during the summer months, so a radiant cooling system may not even be necessary for your floors. If you’re not sure what kind of cooling tile options are best for your home, we recommend speaking to a flooring installation team, who can help you choose between ceramic, porcelain, slate, marble or other naturally cooling tiles.