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.

Porosity

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).

Firing

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.

Friday, 22 January 2010

Protecting Floor Tiles

Of all the tiles that we use in our house of floor tiles are probably the most vulnerable tiles. They are different from many of the other flooring surfaces. When your floor tiles leave the factory, they have been through a barrage of treatments. In their initial stage as molten clay, aluminum powder may have been added to strengthen the tiles. Next, they may have been treated with a glaze to add a layer of protection and enhance their appearance. From there, your tiles were fired to immensely high temperatures, essentially cooking the tile, and further sealing the glaze. Finally, your tile is treated to a sealer which will protect it, both in transit to your home and then again once it's set in place in your home.

After all these steps it's your responsibility to look maintenance of these tiles and prolong their life. The companies have done their part and took every step to ensure that your floor tiles keep looking the best for times to come. A solution of mild soap and water applied the surface of the tile on a regular basis is generally enough to keep your floor clean and looking its best. But from time to time, depending on the level of household traffic, it may be necessary to spruce your floor up with a few readily available treatments. There are ways to ensure that your floor tiles lasts for long in good condition, although it is impossible to avoid wear and tear that comes with time. This article is about some of the tips that can help you protect your floor tiles :

1) Stains – These are the biggest problem with floor tiles. Stains from kitchen mishaps or dirt from shoes can imbed themselves in pores of your tiles and can make them look ugly. There are many household cleaners that make the claim about removing stains from your tiles, but most of them not even come near to time honored method of diluted muriatic acid.

Dilute the acid to a 60/40 acid/water solution and carefully remove the stains. Eye protection masks and heavy gloves are imperative.

2) Be very careful when moving anything heavy over floor tiles. This can break your tiles and make them look ugly. Avoid dropping something heavy on tiles too.

3) Be very careful with ceramic floor tiles and avoid using acidic or alkaline cleaner. These kinds of cleaners can lessen the gloss of your tiles. Avoid using soap and vinegar too for similar reasons.

4) Although a bit costly lamination or protective coating can be used to protect the floor tiles. They help floor tiles against weathering, cracking, oil, chemicals and other moisture.

5) If tiling yourself make sure that you handle tiles properly. Improper handling may cause it to break and you might get hurt.

6) Sub floors usually help floor tiles lasting longer by preventing them from loosing and breaking.

7) Remember to clean stains immediately to prevent them from setting into the tile flooring.

I hope this article is clear some basic doubts about floor tile maintenance.

1 comment:

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