What’s important to know about tile types, sizes, styles and grout
If you are renovating your home, then choosing the right ceramic tiles for your home can get really confusing. The sheer variety the vast universe of ceramic tiles offers is staggering.
Ceramic tile flooring and wall products come in a wide range of textures, patterns and sizes. They can be used in coordination with any style of home décor, and offer a host of different grout and glaze options. The key is to be able to decide the best blend of aesthetics, style and performance, that is within your budget.
Here we attempt to tell you about various ceramic tiles and their types, and how to combine various options to produce the desirable effect. A seemingly endless array of ceramic tile styles awaits you, so that you may design your floor beautifully and economically.
The Basic 3: Transforming, Timeless and Tasteful
Ceramic tiles are divided into three main categories: glazed, unglazed porcelain tiles. Below we explain each type:
Glazed ceramic tiles have a top coating of glass applied on their surface which makes them smooth, shiny and prevents them from scratching. The applied glaze works well to protect the tile from water, and to also add colour to the tile. They are available in an eye catching glossy finish, or a matte finish.
The best advantage they offer is a high resistance to stains and moisture. Also, if you wish for a non-slipping glazed tile, you should for opt the matte finish. Glazed tiles are offered in many colours and patterns.
The disadvantage of glazed tiles is that glossy finish tiles tend to be slippery.
Unglazed ceramic tiles are basically outdoor tiles and come with special surface treatments and textures. They differ from the glazed tiles in that they lack the reflective glass-like coating. They, however, are very hard and dense.
The advantage they offer is good slip resistance, and their strength. Since they get stained easier than their glazed counterparts, they require sealing to prevent them from staining.
Porcelain tiles are highly water resistant and non-porous. Also, they are the hardest and densest tiles available. Even when they get chipped, the pattern or colour on these tiles is not affected because, the colour goes all the way through.
The main advantage of porcelain is the durability they offer. They are highly resistant to temperature changes, and are can withstand a lot of pressure.
Sizes, and selection, abound
The size of tiles plays an important role in defining the look of your floor. There are many sizes available, ranging from one inch to twenty-four inches square. A few things to keep in mind are that ceramic tiles are packaged and sold by the square foot, and not by the individual tile sizes. Another thing to note is that tile size is generally referred to by its nominal size and not its actual size.
Be aware that the ceramic tiles shrink by about 10% during the firing process, and become smaller than the size you bought, so plan accordingly. If you look at the current trends, larger tile sizes such as 13” by 13”, 16” by 16” and 18” by 18” sizes are the most popular.
Tile size takes its cue from the room size:
If you are wondering how you should decide upon the size of your tiles, then you should probably take a good look at your room size. You should go for an appropriate size, which will make your room look less cluttered and visually appealing. Contrary to the general belief, larger tile size in a smaller room makes your space look bigger. Larger tiles mean lower grout lines, imparting a clean look to the floor surface. But, size also depends on the design or pattern you are trying to create. Therefore, your best bet will be to strike a balance between the two extremes, to produce the desired effect.
Ceramic can take on many disguises. Tiles are okay, but the look of natural stone is serene and elegant. A lot of people wish to use stone flooring, but their hands are tied due to budget and maintenance constraints. Don’t worry, ceramic tiles are versatile and take on many forms. For example, they are offered in some textures and colour patterns that make them look like natural stone, but with all the benefits ceramic tiles have to offer!
Now you can decorate your home in the slate, travertine, marble and many more authentic stone textures. They are available at the cost of ceramic tiles, so you can beautify your home within your budget. Possibilities don’t end here and many other stone characteristics can be implemented; such as heavy texture, chiseled, hammered edges and tumbled stone. The smoothness or roughness of the tile, naturally, is adjusted according to the stone texture it portrays.
Ceramic is right at home, outdoors
Ceramic tiles are found everywhere; from patios, and outdoor walkways to living rooms, kitchen and your bathroom. They are available for almost every setting and every condition, featuring many designs. For example, walkways around pools require the tiles to resist slipping under wet conditions. Such tiles are resistant to frost, minimizing damage due to cracking, chipping and other effects of water expansion caused by temperature falling below freezing point.
Let your imagination run free, ceramic will keep up to it
Using decorative inserts such as medallions and mosaics, beautiful and elegant patterns can be created on ceramic tiles. The creative possibilities are endless. You can design your own patterns, and have them laid using mosaic. Mosaics basically are small tiles, which are smaller than 2”x2”, and come in various shapes. They are used with different colours to create patters, or as decorative inserts.
It is really exciting to be able to design your own floor, so don’t limit your imagination to traditional designs, and take a chance to create something that is entirely your own. Employ simple and subtle variations in colour, or use bright and vibrant colours, it’s up to you, as your creation reflects your personality. Note that, the prominent tile which is used throughout the largest areas is called the “field tile”
You can give a theme to your room with your floor design, and then accent it by using countertop and wall products, such as wall tiles. This will create an aesthetic balance. Wall tiles, are lighter and glossier than the floor tiles, because they don’t need to be slip resistant.
What you need to understand about grout
When tiles are laid, some space is left between adjacent tiles, which will look shabby if not filled. This is where grout comes in. Grout is a type of cement that is used to fill the space and provide support in tile joints. The good thing is that grout serves a decorative purpose too. They can be pigmented to create a plethora of colours and shades. Pigment is added to the cement at the job site when the grout is mixed.
Two main types of grout are; Portland cement based and Epoxy based. To provide greater strength, sand is added to the grout. Sanded grout is recommended for tile joints 1/8th of an inch and larger. Unsanded grout is typically used in joints that are smaller than 1/8th of an inch. Grout colour and thickness changes the appearance of the floor and room dramatically.
Using a white or a light coloured grout highlights the colour in tile. Choosing a dark grout with a light tile, or light grout with a dark tile will emphasize the geometric pattern of your layout. So be wise and plan accordingly.
A leader in style, design options and performance
Ceramic tile is the popular choice of homeowners across the country and around the world. With the knowledge shared here, we hope your ceramic flooring shopping experience is more complete, comfortable and confident.