Buying ceramic tile can be challenging, unless you know this
Ceramic flooring offers you a plethora of styles, textures, patterns and price points. The flip side is that all these choices tend to confuse you. Every other choice seems better than the last, and you find it hard to finalize any particular one. Things that we discuss in this section will help you in making up your mind. We’ll tell you about various terms and nomenclatures used in the tile industry.
Before going out to select tiles, you should be aware of things such as ceramic tile trim, colour and shading, moisture absorption and grout. Shop smart and buy only what’s best suited to your needs. Keep in mind that whatever choices you make in the tile store will have an effect on the environment of your home, so research as much as you can and choose wisely.
Here in this section we introduce you to the diverse world of ceramic tiles, and tell everything you need to know before you go out shopping for tiles.
For those who love to customize, here are the ceramic rules
Ceramic tiles offer you a great deal of flexibility with design options. For example, different combinations of different accent pieces: trim work and decorative tiles produce different looks. However, if you’re interested in applying trim work and decorative tiles you should follow the following procedure:
First of all, select the room. Then choose the type of tile you wish to use. Next, choose the colour and shade of your new flooring and then, its texture and size. Finally, a layout pattern is designed, the trim and decorative patterns are determined, and the grout colour and type are chosen.
To help you insure a smooth understanding of floor tile trim terminology, allow us to cover a few definitions
Floor tile trims
BULLNOSE: These tiles are made by adding a rounded edge finishing touch. This makes the tile edges smooth, and can be used as a substitute for cove base.
CORNER BULLNOSE: It’s a ceramic floor tile trim that has two rounded finished edges on the tile. Such a trim is applied to tiles that are used to complete a corner on the floor.
SANITARY COVE BASE: It has a rounded finished top like a bullnose to cover up the body of the tile.
Important tips on variation, texture, shading and colour
Nowadays, tiles that look and feel like stone are getting popular. Manufactures have almost reached a level of perfection, and it is hard to tell the ceramic tiles from natural stone. The ceramic tiles are imparted rugged surfaces and colour variations that make them look just like stone. You should be familiar with all these types of variation, before you begin designing you floor, so that you have a better idea of the final outcome.
The gloss level of a tile is determined by its glaze. Also, obviously solid tiles provide a consistent look, but shade variation is inherent in all fired ceramic products. Within their dye lots, certain tiles show even greater variation.
Here’s a key that will help you in understanding the shade variation, listed on the back label of the tile sample:
LOW: Consistent shade and texture
MODERATE: Moderate shade and texture variation
HIGH: High shade and texture variation
RANDOM: Very high shade and texture variation
The actual colour of a tile depends on the colour of the clay used, and the colour of the clay depends on the place the clay came from. The colour is not an indicator of the tile’s quality. The quality depends on the manufacturer and what processes are being used by them. So in a nutshell, colour variations are found in all tiles, even between the manufacturer’s samples of the same colour and throughout installed countertops, wall tile or ceramic floors. colour consistency is something you should understand and carefully consider when selecting ceramic tile. Our sales associate will be happy to review with you what to expect from different ceramic tiles.
One of the most useful things to know about a tile is its moisture absorption coefficient, and its density. These two things will instantly tell you how much water would the tile absorb and how durable it is. For example, in areas that are used while wet, such as your shower or bathroom floor, they should have low moisture absorption and good slip resistance. Slip resistance depends on the type of glaze applied on a tile; on the other hand, the tile density determined its moisture absorbance. So, please note these facts when choosing your ceramic flooring.
For your reference, given below is a key that tells you about the various moisture absorption levels:
NON-VITREOUS TILES: are tiles that absorb 7% or more moisture. They are suited for indoor use only.
SEMI-VITREOUS TILES: are tiles that absorb from 3% to 7% moisture. They are applicable for indoor use only.
VITREOUS TILES: are tiles that absorb less that 3% moisture. They are referred to as frost resistant tiles but cannot be used in exterior areas where freeze- thaw conditions could cause tile cracking.
IMPERVIOUS TILES: are tiles that have less than .5% moisture absorption. These tiles are frost proof and can be used in exterior areas or on the outside of building facades.
All you need to know about grout
The first thing you need to know about grout is that slight colour variations can and will occur within different areas of the same installation with the same grout colour. Therefore you should not freak out if the final colour is actually a little different than the sample you saw in the store. The variation creeps in mainly because of the temperature and humidity variation at the grouting process. Since, these factors are out of our control and therefore we will just have to accept the variation. Similarly, it is also common to see grout variations when comparing the grout colour in a tile floor and the same grout colour on the tile countertop or wall.
When choosing a grout colour you can select a colour that blends in with the overall colour of the tile to minimize the appearance of the grout. Or you can select a grout colour that is lighter or darker than the tile. But, if the tile is installed in a high traffic area than you may want to select a darker grout.
The tile setter formulates the exact layout, the type of grout and grout joint widths. He determines all these things based on the size and shape of the tile, and also the exact dimensions of your room area.
Once the tile has been laid and grouted, it is your responsibility to maintain all caulked areas to guard against water damage. Grout may also darken over time in areas with heavy water use. Also, you should be aware of the fact that change of season can cause surfaces adjoining the tile to expand and contract, due to which the grout can cause cracks in the grout.
A word or two about subfloors
If while walking on your new floor, you hear hollow sounds somewhere in your room, don’t worry that just means that the subfloor is not perfectly level at that point, and is nothing to worry about. It is impossible to attain a perfectly flat surface, so the tile setter will just try to do the best he can.
Be assured that this does not affect the integrity or installation of the ceramic tile. Hollow sounds are normal and are not considered a product or installation defect.
Get on top of the bottom line. Be alert while discussing the total cost of ownership. Getting a new floor installed may incur a few hidden costs, and this section will tell you what to expect.
Get the entire cost of the operation calculated from our experts, and not just the “cost per square foot”, which is only a part of the total cost. This will help you know what the actual expense you will have to bear, and it that it is in you budget.
For your convenience, we prepared a list of the extra expenses you should expect:
Demolition/disposal of old floor covering. Depending on the existing floor covering, this can be an expensive item; also, be sure to include the cost to dispose of the old floor covering.
Subfloor preparation. Depending on the condition of the subfloor, it may require additional work.
Installation. Determine the cost per square foot to install it.
Materials required for completing the installation. Your new floor may require additional materials to install it properly.
It goes without saying that a brand new ceramic floor will definitely brighten up the look of your house, and enhance your life in multiple ways. So investing in a new floor can be a smart thing to do. We hope that with all the information that we provided in this section, your whole experience of installing a ceramic floor becomes easier and economical.