eco-friendly tile options in porcelain and ceramic

15 eco-friendly wall and flooring options

Ideas for walls and flooring that look great, perform well and are kind to the planet

By Paula Woods | 22 December 2021

Looking for sustainable flooring and eco-friendly tile options? There are now more than ever, from sustainable cork flooring to FSC-certified hardwood and ceramic tiles made with recycled materials to boost your home renovation project’s eco-credentials.

1. Sustainable porcelain and ceramic tiles

Is porcelain tile sustainable? What about ceramic tile sustainability? The eco-credentials of hardwearing, low-maintenance porcelain and ceramic tile is boosted by ranges made with recycled materials. Try Alusid, Domus, Parkside and CTD Architectural Tiles. Pictured below: Three-D plain and relief ceramic matt wall tiles made from 62% recycled ceramic waste, 200x50mm, £48 per sqm, CTD Architectural Tiles (available via an architect or designer).

eco friendly tiles made from recycled porcelain in pastel shades from ctd architectural tiles

Photo: CTD Architectural Tiles

2. Recycled glass tiles

Recycled glass tiles are made using material otherwise destined for landfill and require less energy to manufacture than other tile types, making for a lower carbon footprint. Pictured below: Confiserie Blush Triangle mosaics, made with recycled glass, 280x280mm, £79.88 per sqm, Trousdale Terrazzo porcelain tiles, 600x600mm, £56.95 per sqm, Claybrook.

recycled glass tiles from claybrook are great eco friendly tiles

Photo: Claybrook

3. Recycled plastic wall panels

Wales-based firm, Smile Plastics uses 100% recycled and recyclable waste plastic to make wall panels and work surfaces – a great eco-friendly tile alternative. It operates zero-waste production and buy-back scheme for offcuts and end-of-life products. Pictured below: Alba panels made from recycled yoghurt pots, from £120 for a 500x500mm, 5mm thick splashback, Smile Plastics. Interior design by Indie & Co.

wall panels and work surfaces made from recycled waste plastic are eco-friendly tiles alternatives

Photo: Smile Plastics / Indie & Co

4. Plastic-free natural paint

Natural paint is made using ingredients such as clay, minerals and natural pigments. It is plastic free, non-toxic, non-polluting and low VOC. Try brands such as Edward Bulmer, Graphenstone, and Bauwerk Colour. Pictured below: Lime Paint in Silversky, from £30 per litre, Bauwerk Colour.

Lime natural paint from Bauwerk Colour. Natural paint is made using ingredients such as clay, minerals and natural pigments. It is plastic free, non-toxic, non-polluting and low VOC

Photo: Bauwerk Colour

5. Clay plaster

Clay plaster offers a beautiful depth of colour and texture. It is natural, non-toxic, and has zero emissions. The finish regulates humidity due to its moisture-absorbing properties, making it a great eco-friendly tile alternative for kitchen walls, and ceilings. Pictured below: Smooth Finish natural clay plaster in WHI0, £20 per sqm, Clayworks. Project by Architect Studio, Magri Williams.

clay plaster walls are natural, non-toxic, have zero emissions and regulate humidity

Photo: Nicholas Worley

6. UK-made natural tiles

Help to cut your carbon footprint by choosing handcrafted tiles made as close to home as possible using natural and sustainable materials. Pictured below: Residence Manoir Mint Patchwork ceramic tiles, handmade in Devon, 129x129mm, £280.25 per sqm, The Winchester Tile Company.

eco friendly tiles for the kitchen or bathroom: patchwork mint green coloured tiles

Photo: The Winchester Tile Company

7. Timber terrazzo panels

If you want to add the character of terrazzo surfaces to your scheme, look for products made with recycled timber scraps, stone or glass chippings – and VOC-free resin binder. Pictured below: London Collection FSC-certified timber terrazzo panels in Bianco Mono, from £450 per sqm, Foresso. Project by Rise Design Studio.

timber terrazzo kitchen wall panels made from recycled timber are great eco-friendly tiles alternatives

Photo: Foresso / Rise Design Studio

8. Cork flooring and wall panels

Cork is a renewable bark that can be made into tiles and planks for floors and walls. Naturally anti-microbial and soft underfoot, it also dampens sound and helps retain heat. When sealed, it needs little maintenance, so you can even have sustainable cork flooring. Pictured below: Bespoke stained oak kitchen with Ceasarstone upstand and black stained cork wraparound panel, from £35,000, H Miller Bros.

cork tiles and floor planks are renewable and sustainable, shown here in a kitchen upstand and wraparound

Photo: Ceasarstone / H Miller Bros

9. Biodegradable linoleum

Linoleum is made from linseed oil, wood flour, pine resin and environmentally responsible dyes. It comes in a wide range of colours and can be cut to create decorative designs. Warm and durable underfoot, it is also biodegradable, making it a great sustainable flooring option. Pictured below: Grey and white linoleum, from £69.30 per sqm, and bespoke hand cutting service, Sinclair Till. Interior design by Smith Creative.

Linoleum kitchen flooring in a zig-zag pattern. It is biodegradable and durable. Made from linseed oil, wood flour, pine resin and environmentally responsible dyes, it comes in all sorts of designs

Photo: Sinclair Till / Smith Creative

Looking for sustainable flooring and eco-friendly tile options? There are now more than ever, from sustainable cork flooring to FSC-certified hardwood and ceramic tiles made with recycled materials to boost your home renovation project’s eco-credentials.

1. Sustainable porcelain and ceramic tiles

Is porcelain tile sustainable? What about ceramic tile sustainability? The eco-credentials of hardwearing, low-maintenance porcelain and ceramic tile is boosted by ranges made with recycled materials. Try Alusid, Domus, Parkside and CTD Architectural Tiles. Pictured below: Three-D plain and relief ceramic matt wall tiles made from 62% recycled ceramic waste, 200x50mm, £48 per sqm, CTD Architectural Tiles (available via an architect or designer).

eco friendly tiles made from recycled porcelain in pastel shades from ctd architectural tiles

Photo: CTD Architectural Tiles

2. Recycled glass tiles

Recycled glass tiles are made using material otherwise destined for landfill and require less energy to manufacture than other tile types, making for a lower carbon footprint. Pictured below: Confiserie Blush Triangle mosaics, made with recycled glass, 280x280mm, £79.88 per sqm, Trousdale Terrazzo porcelain tiles, 600x600mm, £56.95 per sqm, Claybrook.

recycled glass tiles from claybrook are great eco friendly tiles

Photo: Claybrook

3. Recycled plastic wall panels

Wales-based firm, Smile Plastics uses 100% recycled and recyclable waste plastic to make wall panels and work surfaces – a great eco-friendly tile alternative. It operates zero-waste production and buy-back scheme for offcuts and end-of-life products. Pictured below: Alba panels made from recycled yoghurt pots, from £120 for a 500x500mm, 5mm thick splashback, Smile Plastics. Interior design by Indie & Co.

wall panels and work surfaces made from recycled waste plastic are eco-friendly tiles alternatives

Photo: Smile Plastics / Indie & Co

4. Plastic-free natural paint

Natural paint is made using ingredients such as clay, minerals and natural pigments. It is plastic free, non-toxic, non-polluting and low VOC. Try brands such as Edward Bulmer, Graphenstone, and Bauwerk Colour. Pictured below: Lime Paint in Silversky, from £30 per litre, Bauwerk Colour.

Lime natural paint from Bauwerk Colour. Natural paint is made using ingredients such as clay, minerals and natural pigments. It is plastic free, non-toxic, non-polluting and low VOC

Photo: Bauwerk Colour

5. Clay plaster

Clay plaster offers a beautiful depth of colour and texture. It is natural, non-toxic, and has zero emissions. The finish regulates humidity due to its moisture-absorbing properties, making it a great eco-friendly tile alternative for kitchen walls, and ceilings. Pictured below: Smooth Finish natural clay plaster in WHI0, £20 per sqm, Clayworks. Project by Architect Studio, Magri Williams.

clay plaster walls are natural, non-toxic, have zero emissions and regulate humidity

Photo: Nicholas Worley

6. UK-made natural tiles

Help to cut your carbon footprint by choosing handcrafted tiles made as close to home as possible using natural and sustainable materials. Pictured below: Residence Manoir Mint Patchwork ceramic tiles, handmade in Devon, 129x129mm, £280.25 per sqm, The Winchester Tile Company.

eco friendly tiles for the kitchen or bathroom: patchwork mint green coloured tiles

Photo: The Winchester Tile Company

7. Timber terrazzo panels

If you want to add the character of terrazzo surfaces to your scheme, look for products made with recycled timber scraps, stone or glass chippings – and VOC-free resin binder. Pictured below: London Collection FSC-certified timber terrazzo panels in Bianco Mono, from £450 per sqm, Foresso. Project by Rise Design Studio.

timber terrazzo kitchen wall panels made from recycled timber are great eco-friendly tiles alternatives

Photo: Foresso / Rise Design Studio

8. Cork flooring and wall panels

Cork is a renewable bark that can be made into tiles and planks for floors and walls. Naturally anti-microbial and soft underfoot, it also dampens sound and helps retain heat. When sealed, it needs little maintenance, so you can even have sustainable cork flooring. Pictured below: Bespoke stained oak kitchen with Ceasarstone upstand and black stained cork wraparound panel, from £35,000, H Miller Bros.

cork tiles and floor planks are renewable and sustainable, shown here in a kitchen upstand and wraparound

Photo: Ceasarstone / H Miller Bros

9. Biodegradable linoleum

Linoleum is made from linseed oil, wood flour, pine resin and environmentally responsible dyes. It comes in a wide range of colours and can be cut to create decorative designs. Warm and durable underfoot, it is also biodegradable, making it a great sustainable flooring option. Pictured below: Grey and white linoleum, from £69.30 per sqm, and bespoke hand cutting service, Sinclair Till. Interior design by Smith Creative.

Linoleum kitchen flooring in a zig-zag pattern. It is biodegradable and durable. Made from linseed oil, wood flour, pine resin and environmentally responsible dyes, it comes in all sorts of designs

Photo: Sinclair Till / Smith Creative

Image: Natural paint is plastic free, non-toxic, non-polluting and low VOC. Photo: Lime Paint in Silversky by Bauwerk Colour

10. FSC-certified timber

Is hardwood flooring sustainable? It can be. FSC-certified timber comes with the reassurance that the wood has been sourced from a well-managed forest. Solid and many engineered timber floors can be sanded and refinished to prolong their life and so the floor doesn’t need replacing when you want to redecorate. Pictured below: Shanklin Rustic hand grade collection, FSC-certified engineered timber floor, from £262.74 per sqm, Havwoods.

sustainable timber kitchen floor: FSC-certified timber sourced from a well-managed forest

Photo: Rory Gardiner

11. Bamboo flooring

Fast-growing bamboo looks like wood but is a member of the grass family. It has minimal environmental impact as it regenerates every five years and grows back even faster after cutting, so its a very eco-friendly flooring option. Pictured below: Oxwich Herringbone Natural Strand bamboo floor, L450mm x W90mm x D12mm, £89 per sqm, Woodpecker Flooring.

sustainable bamboo flooring with bamboo chairs and deep blue walls

Photo: Woodpecker Flooring

12. Quality stone floor tiles

A quality stone kitchen floor should last a lifetime. Do your due diligence on the sustainability of stone flooring by checking the material’s origins and extraction practises before buying from suppliers, or deal direct with UK quarries such as Burlington Stone, Farmington and Berwyn Slate. Pictured below: Wychwood limestone, 600mm random-width floor tiles, £85 per sqm, Pottery porcelain wall tiles, 75x200mm, £73.16 per sqm, Artisan of Devizes.

sustainable tile flooring: quality limestone floor tiles should last a lifetime

Photo: Artisan of Devizes

13. Natural rubber flooring

Water and slip-resistant rubber flooring is comfy underfoot, but avoid synthetic versions that are slow to degrade and choose biodegradable natural rubber that’s also recyclable. ‘Our rubber flooring is made using natural materials and carries eco certification,’ says Lena Corner, director at The Colour Flooring Company. Pictured below: Rubber sheet flooring in Mildmay, with Blue Angel environmental certification, £63 per sqm, The Colour Flooring Company.

sustainable rubber flooring: choose biodegradable natural rubber that’s also recyclable

Photo: The Colour Flooring Company

14. Eco-friendly laminate

Replicate the look of stone or timber with eco-friendly flooring lookalikes. Quick-Step laminate floors are entirely made from residue found in the forestry and wood industry, and are Ecolabel certified. Pictured below: Signature Brushed Oak Natural water-resistant laminate flooring with glueless Uniclic fitting system, from £31.99 per sqm, Quick-Step.

sustainable timber flooring: replicate the look of timber with eco-friendly lookalikes like laminate floors made from forestry residue

Photo: Quick-Step

15. Resin replicas

For a different look, resin can be used to replicate concrete flooring, without the environmentally taxing processes and huge quantities of water and chemicals needed to produce cement. Warm and stone-like, resin floors and wall coverings are water resistant and durable. Senso floors and wall coverings, made using renewable plant-derived resins, are compliant with LEED or BREEAM certified buildings. Pictured below: A project designed by Remy Meijers using the Senso Fusion Collection.

resin floor by Senso

Photo: Senso


Eco labels explained

Céline Erlam, founder of interior design studio, Indie & Co, breaks down the small print on eco labels to help you find the perfect sustainable flooring and eco-friendly tiles:

  • The EU Ecolabel is a guarantee of eco-sustainability. It is awarded to products or services that meet high environmental standards throughout their lifecycle – from raw material extraction to production, distribution, use in the home and disposal.
  • FSC certification ensures qualifying paper, wood and bamboo comes from sustainable managed forests. The PEFC scheme endorses third party certification – and covers rubber as well as wood products. Both international schemes have the same goals so neither is better than the other, and some products carry both labels.
  • Ask about products that come with an Environmental Product Declaration (EPD). This voluntary document is independently verified and registered, and provides information on the environmental impact a product will have over its life cycle.
  • To limit off-gassing and ensure good indoor air quality, look for products with Greenguard certification. This guarantees low chemical and particle emissions, with Greenguard Gold being the most stringent standard. Though even this can be improved upon, as products that carry the ‘M1 emission classification of building materials’ label do not emit any toxic substances and require no extra ventilation.
  • Cradle to Cradle certification assesses the safety, circularity and responsibility of materials and products – they are rated Basic, Bronze, Silver, Gold or Platinum.
  • All of the schemes covered can also contribute towards gaining BREEAM or LEED green building status. Both operate a points system to assess the environmental, social and economic sustainability of a project.
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