Choosing Flooring: Tile

Tile continues to grow in popularity as a floor covering, with good reason.

  • Tile has a natural, handcrafted look that's durable and easy to care for.
  • Tile works well in areas with high foot traffic, and it's especially suited to entry areas where water and dirt enter the house.
  • Design patterns are limitless when using all of the possible combinations of size, texture and color.
  • You can further expand your creative toolbox with hand painted tiles and colored grouts.

By combining various geometric layout and numerous trim tiles your design options are practically limitless.

Selecting Tile

Finding a tile you like is easy. Just make sure it's the right one for your floor and choose a tile that's rated for the area you where you plan to install it. Entryways need a hard, abrasion-resistant, moisture-proof tile. Baths require a moisture-proof non-slip material. Slip-resistant tile is treated with an abrasive material to "rough up" the smooth surface for safety. Some tiles are rated for indoor or outdoor use only, others can be used in either application.

Floor tile is usually 1/2" to 3/4" thick, manufactured in squares measuring 4"x4" up to 24"x 24". Other shapes, such as octagonal and hexagonal are available. (Wall tile is thinner and comes in squares from 3"x 3" up to 6"x 6".)

Mosaic tiles are two inches square or smaller and can be installed individually. Mosaic tiles are also available in pre-mounted paper or fabric mesh sheets.

Tile Ratings

All tile feels hard, but some types of tile are actually harder than others. Tile is rated by a series of standardized tests. The tests evaluate a tile's relative hardness (the Moh scale), its ability to stand up to wear and the percentage of water absorbed.

The Porcelain Enamel Institute hardness ratings are:

  • Group I - Light Traffic: residential bathroom floors where bare or stocking feet are the norm.
  • Group II - Medium Traffic: home interiors where little abrasion occurs. Don't use in kitchens or entries.
  • Group III - Medium-Heavy Traffic: any home interior.
  • Group IV - Heavy Traffic: homes or light to medium commercial areas.
  • Group V- Extra Heavy Traffic: use it anywhere.

These ratings are important, but don't get too bogged down in analysis — they serve to help you find the right tile for your application.


Pay closer attention to the ratings test that measures the percentage of water absorbed, or porosity. A tile's porosity is critical especially when choosing tile for kitchens and baths, since these areas need moisture proof flooring. Porous tile should not be used outdoors where cold weather produces freeze/thaw cycles. The classifications for the porosity of tile are: Impervious (least absorbent), Vitreous, Semi-vitreous, and Non-vitreous (most absorbent).


The hardness of tile is affected by the firing process. Usually, the longer and hotter the firing, the harder the tile will be. The raw tile material, called bisque, is either single-fired or double-fired.

  • For single-fired tiles, the glaze is applied to the raw material and baked once in a kiln.
  • Double-fired tiles are thicker. Raw material is baked a second time after additional color or decoration is added.

Installing Tile

On the do-it-yourself project scale, installing tile ranges from easy to challenging. Tiles usually require some cutting to fit. They're applied with mortar or other adhesives, followed by a final application of grout.

As with all types of tile, areas that require precision cuts may be more difficult. Flooring presents its own set of concerns. Since tile is not a resilient material, it requires a very stable subsurface. Subfloors frequently have to be built up to the thickness required for tile flooring.

See the chart below for some common (and some less common) floor tile.

Thursday, 16 June 2016

Ancient Tile

saved from

Tuesday, 15 May 2012

Installing Glass Tile Flooring

Glass Tiles from RG Tile

Posted: Friday, December 24, 2010

Have you ever considered glass for your floor? It's certainly not the first thing that pops into your head when considering your flooring alternatives, but it's something to consider. Floor-rated glass tiles can bring beauty and strength as well as reflective light into spaces that will make rooms seem larger and more open. There's not a great deal of difference between installing glass tiles and ceramic tiles, but there are a few things to be aware of.
Basically, you will first want to prep your subflooring. It's incredibly important for the floor to be even and plumb with no cracks or "gives" because any amount of unevenness in the floor can cause your tiles to crack. And of course it needs to be free of dust, dirt, and debris.
You need to install a crack suppression membrane first and then apply a flexible thinset mortar to lay the tiles down. Mastics have often been used, but they have also been shown to be less reliable over time, and the bonds can lose hold, especially when used in flooring. And epoxies do not provide enough flexibility.
The mortar should be color appropriate for the look you're going for and fast-setting and flexible. You apply the mortar just as you would for ceramic tile, with a notched mortar trowel, making sure you don't use too much. Always apply a small amount of mortar to the backs of the tiles and firmly pound the tiles into place, because any air pockets left between the subfloor and the tile can cause shifting or cracking. Depending on the opaqueness of the glass, any pockets might also be noticeable if left.
If you need to cut glass tiles to fit into spaces that won't hold a complete tile, you can use a scoring tool (which is a bit difficult and not recommended unless you are experienced in their use) or use a wet saw. Be sure to remember that you are working with glass here too. It's vital to wear eye protection during construction, especially when sawing, scoring, or notching, in case small shards of glass could be flying through the air. Also make sure to handle cut pieces of glass tile with care because the edges can be extremely sharp.
After you lay your glass tile floor down, you need to let it cure for a minimum of 24 hours, though 48 is better. You can then grout the tiles as you would ceramic tile. Check with your manufacturer on grout selection because sanded grout is often not recommended for use with glass. While you're grouting, remove excess grout with the edge of the grout float and then clean up with a damp sponge. The following day you can clean the surface with water and a gentle cleanser to remove haze. Finally, apply a grout sealer, and you're finished.

Friday, 20 April 2012