Everything you need to know about tile.
Before you buy.
Smart shoppers take their time and collect all the facts before making a decision. Especially when it comes to the finishes you put in your home. Choosing the best tile for your home is really about knowing the right combination of characteristics, aesthetics, performance and budget to best meet the needs of your lifestyle.
The beauty of tile is the flexibility you have with design options, especially through the use of the accent pieces: trim work and decorative tiles.
Steps for trim work and decorative tile use
- Identify the room and its application
- Select the type of tile
- Then its colour and shade
- Then its texture and size
- Finally, a layout pattern is designed
- The trim and decorative patterns are determined
- Grout colour and type are chosen
Floor Tile Trims
- One rounded finished edge on the tile for a finishing
- Sometimes it is also used as a substitute for cove base
- Two rounded finished edges on the tile to be used to complete a corner
Sanitary Cove Base
- Rounded finished top like a bullnose to cover up the body of the tile
Colour, texture and shading
- Tiles are intended to show colour and texture variations
- Glaze also varies, different tile styles will also exhibit different gloss levels
- Solid colour tiles provide a consistent look
- Shade variation is inherent in all fired ceramic products
- Certain tiles will show greater variation within their dye lots
- Shade variation is usually listed on the back label of each sample
- Low, moderate, high or random rating
- Colour of the body of the tile is determined by the color of the clay
- Quality of the tile is more related to the quality of the manufacturer, not the color of the body
- Colour variations will also be present between manufacturers’ samples
Moisture absorption and tile density
As the composition of glaze varies, different styles of tile will exhibit different gloss levels and surface textures. This is important to note when choosing your tile flooring. 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.
- As the density of the tile increases, the amount of moisture that tile can absorb becomes less
- As the weight or the density of the tile increases, it becomes a stronger tile
- Density of the tile increases the moisture absorption rate becomes less
- Tiles that absorb 7% or more moisture
- Suited for indoor use only
- Tiles that absorb from 3% to 7% moisture
- Applicable for indoor use only
- Tiles that absorb less that 3% moisture
- Referred to as frost resistant tiles
- Cannot be used in exterior areas where freeze
- Thaw conditions could cause tile cracking
- Tiles that have less than .5% moisture absorption
- Frost proof
- Can be used in exterior areas or on the outside of building facades
- Typically mixed on site
- Slight colour variations can occur within different areas of the same installation with the same grout colour
- Can vary from the manufacturer’s sample
- Attributed to variations in temperature and humidity at the time of grouting
- 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
- Select a colour that blends in with the overall colour of the tile to minimize the appearance of the grout
- Select a grout colour that is lighter or darker than the tile
- In high traffic areas, you may want to select a darker grout
- Exact layouts, type of grout and grout joints widths are determined by the tile setter at the time of installation and are governed by the actual size and shape of the tile, and the exact dimensions of the areas to be covered
- Your responsibility to maintain all caulked areas
- May also darken over time in areas with heavy water use
- Changes of season can cause cracking and separation
- No subfloors are perfectly level
- May hear hollow sounds where your subfloor’s surface dips and ridges
- That this does not affect the integrity or installation
- Hollow sounds are normal and are not considered defect
Cost of ownership – Potential additional expenses
- Furniture removal/replacement
- Demolition/disposal of old floor covering
- Subfloor preparation
- Product delivery
- Ceramic tile installation
- Materials required to complete the installation
Before Installers Arrive
The arrival of new ceramic tile flooring is no exception, especially when one realizes that tile, like any floor covering, impacts interior beauty, design, décor, comfort, livability and upkeep. It’s a truth of housing: floor coverings can make, or break, a home. Being ready for the installation of your new ceramic tile will make the entire process go faster, more efficiently, and hopefully eliminate any “surprises.” Knowing what to expect and being prepared will also be a lot less stressful on you, your family and your home.
Use a professional
- This type of floor is heavy, difficult work
- It’s labour intensive and extremely exacting
- Not for the do-it-yourselfer
- Installing tile flooring is a skill that is developed through years of experience
Process begins with foundation preparation:
- Prepare and level the substrate
- Cement subfloors can apply the mortar directly to it to lay the tile
- Wood subfloors require a CBU (cement backer unit)
- Movement in the substrate material can sometimes occur
- For example, water penetrating the grout and/or freezing and thawing temperatures can sometimes cause tile to rise, crack or chip
- Area gets measured
- Snap chalk lines for an accurate layout
- Determine which pieces of tile will need to be cut to fit the area
- Tiles that need to be cut are measured and marked with a pencil
- Then use a wet saw with a diamond blade to cut through
- Begin setting the tile
- Thinset mortar, which is a cement-based adhesive, is applied to the surface with a trowel
- Tile then placed into the thinset and pressed firmly into place
- Imperfections in your subfloor will require differing amounts of mortar to be applied
- This installation, known as a medium bed installation, is more time consuming and costly
- Once the tiled floor has been set, left to fully cure (12 to 24 hours), grout is applied
- Quick set grout is also an option for smaller areas
- After tiles are set and the thinset mortar has fully cured, joints are filled with grout
- Sanded and un-sanded grouts are used
- Type of grout used is determined by the tile, grout joint and width
- Mixture is spread over the tiled area to fill in all the joints
- Sponge is used to remove excess grout from the surface of the tile
- Mortar and grout need 24 hours to cure before walking on
Before installation day
- Relocate furniture
- Empty china cabinets and closets
- Consider removal and disposal of old floorcovering
- Remove it yourself and leave 1 day before install
- Moldings and baseboards need to be removed for stone installation
- Installers not responsible for damage or breakage due to dry or brittle wood
- Painted baseboards, woodwork and paint may need retouching ( this is your responsibility)
- Existing sub floor may need to be prepared to receive the stone
- Possibility that doors may not clear the new floor and swing free
- Installers may remove doors and re-hang for an additional cost
- For clearance issues, arrange for a qualified carpenter to shave or cut down
- Waste will be produced
- Waste collected and disposed of by installers at an additional cost
- Be home and available
- Be prepared for questions
- Presence insures the right wood is installed in the right areas
- Exact time of arrival cannot be guaranteed, only a time frame
- Installers use tools and techniques that can be hazardous
- Make sure that children and pets are out of the work area
- Follow through with a walk-thru
- Prior to completion-walk thru to ask questions and be clear on any final details
After installation day
- Establish good ventilation for 48 to 72 hours
Sooner or later, time and traffic, life and living, will take its toll on any floor covering. Tile is no exception. But take heart, keeping your tile as clean and beautiful as its first days in your home just takes know-how. In fact, understanding the best methods to care for your tile flooring will help maintain its beauty and keep it close to its original condition. Plus, knowing what’s expected of you regarding upkeep can be a determining factor in which type of tile to purchase. Knowing how to care for and maintain your tile will help keep your investment beautiful, durable and a source of pride for years to come.
- It’s important to sweep a tile floor regularly.
- Use walk-off matsat all exterior entrances.
- Remember to shake the mats often to remove the dirt.
- Tile floors should be damp-mopped regularly using the manufacturer’s recommended grout and tile cleaners.
- Textured tiles may require mild scrubbing with a soft brush or electric polisher/scrubber.
- For soft water situations you may need to use an all-purpose cleaner.
- Use cleaning products available from your local grocery store or flooring retailer for heavier cleaning tasks.
- Consult the cleaning product’s instructions to make sure the cleaning product is compatible with your type of tile.
- After cleaning, rinse well and wipe dry
- Avoid using steel wool, scouring powders, or other abrasives.
- Don’t use bleach or ammonia based cleaners.
- Do not clean glazed tile with oil-based cleaners.
- Try to clean up spills as quickly as possible.
- Tile can crack under extreme force or pressure.
- Take the proper precautions when moving heavy objects across your tile floor.
- Cover furniture and table legs with protectors.
- Keep extra tiles after the installation.
- Areas exposed to water need to be caulked on a regular basis.
- Seal your grout for added protection.
- Grout colorants are available for stained, damaged or undesired colored grout.
- Consult the manufacturers’ recommendations.