Magnetic tiles are awesome:
- they keep kids entertained for hours
- they encourage both solitary play AND group play
- they are a STEM toy
I have tried many brands and can help you decide. When I first started trying out different brands, I had the goal in mind that I wanted to find the "perfect" magnetic tile. Now I realize that there is no perfect brand because everyone has different preferences.
Magnetic tiles are all basically ABS plastic that has been welded or riveted (or both) around magnets. Most of the sets sold on Amazon conform with all applicable toy standards (contact the seller/company for a double confirmation).
Appearance-wise, there are two types; smooth and concave.
I like the completely smooth ones but many people like the concave ones because they minimize scratching. The lattice work varies among brands.
Here are some of my brand recommendations for each type. I consider all of these brands as competitively priced. Their magnetic strength is also similar.
Smooth surface magnetic tile brand recommendations:
Playmags: This brand has the strongest magnetic power of all the brands that I have tested. The company has good customer service and the tiles have a 1-year warranty.
ShapeMags Magnetic Stick N Stack: This brand is one of my favorites because it has so many different sets, especially super cool add-on sets like long tunnel peices and hexi-gates. They also have recently released sets with Power+ magnets, which are supposed to be super strong, making them strong competition with Playmags (I have not tried any of their new sets yet so cannot confirm). It is also one of my favorites because every tile is 100% life-time guaranteed. They have replaced several of my pieces.
Concave surface magnetic tile brand recommendations: