Decorating Tips: How To Choose Wall & Floor Tiles

Making changes in your home by adding tile on the walls and floor can not only increase the value of your home but also make you fall in love with it all over again! Tile makes cleaning easier, gives you a rich look to your rooms and certainly can help in retaining heat in the winter and providing coolness in the summer – I can not tell you how many times my pups will come in from a long summer walk and only make it as far as the tile floor before crashing belly first to cool off.

There are basically two (2) categories of tile:  Hard and soft!

Hard as you can imagine would be harder type tiles. Ceramic, stone, marble porcelain, slate, etc. There are so many different colors, finishes, textures and patterns. They are the most durable type of material regardless of what you compare it to – drywall, hardwood floors, carpeting, laminate – and they can last your lifetime with some care. They are a bit more difficult to install but with some training or a handy contractor you will be able to use these products with ease.

Soft tile is going to be things like cork and vinyl tiles. These will be less expensive than hard tiles, way easier to install, they will feel softer under your foot and will be easier to clean and lay. There is a huge range of designs and colors too. But remember they will not last as long as ceramic or stone and they really are not going have as much strength.

The biggest thing to keep in mind before you make your decision about what type of tile to use is making sure it’s going to work for the location and the style. For instance, not all subfloors are going to be sturdy enough to bear the weight of quarry tiles, and not all ceramic tiles might be used on kitchen area counter tops or in showers. If in doubt, constantly ask the tile retailer for suggestions.

Buying Tips

Most tile suppliers will send you samples of your chosen tiles, so you can see how they look in the intended setting before you buy. Check how the tiles look in both natural and artificial light before making a final decision.

If buying several boxes of tiles, check that they are all from the same batch – this is indicated by a code number on the box. Colors sometimes vary between batches. If tiling a large area, you may need to buy from two or more batches and mix them together.

Always allow a few extra tiles in case of mistakes in measuring or laying. Ask the tile retailer if they have a return policy, in which case you will be able to get credit for unused boxes of tiles.

Floor Preparation

Floor tiles need to be laid on a sound, dry, and level floor, or they are likely to lift or wear unevenly.

You can fill cracks and hollows on concrete floors using a cement mix, but on a very uneven floor you need to apply a self-leveling compound.

On a plank floor, secure loose boards and make sure that protruding nails are firmly punched below the surface. For a perfectly flat finish, nail sheets of plywood or hardboard to the floorboards before laying the floor tiles.

Note that some types of floor tiles – generally heavy, hard flooring, such as quarry, stone, and terra cotta – should always be laid by an expert. Your retailer will advise you.

Ceramic Tiles

Hard wearing, water-resistant, and easy to clean, ceramic tiles are a practical as well as an attractive finish for walls, floors, and other areas in the home, such as countertops and fireplaces. Prices range from budget to expensive, depending on whether you opt for a mass-produced or handmade tile. The tiles are sold singly, by the square yard (meter), or in boxes of various quantities.

Types of Tile

Ceramic wall tiles are available in a vast range of designs, shapes, sizes, and finishes. In addition to basic plain and patterned wall tiles (known as “field tiles”), many coordinated designs offer matching individual decorative tiles with smooth or relief designs; tile panels or plaques to create a feature; border tiles; listello or slip tiles; and wainscoting and cornice tiles to give a well-finished look. You can also buy stronger, heat-resistant countertop tiles and fireplace tiles.

Ceramic floor tiles are thicker than ceramic wall tiles, and fired at a higher temperature to make them stronger. Like wall tiles, they are available in an extensive range of types, shapes, and styles, mass-produced and handmade, glazed and unglazed (unglazed tiles must be sealed before use). Border and inset floor tiles are available to add interest to the main floor tiles.

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