Ceramic Flooring - What to Know Before You Buy

Before You Buy Ceramic Flooring

So you’re considering ceramic tile for your floors? Excellent choice! Ceramic tile is a beautiful and durable product that dates back thousands of years. But before you sign any contracts or make any purchases, know this before you buy:

Do Your Homework

There is a defined step-by-step procedure for applying trim and decorative tiles to your ceramic tile floor:

1.    Identify the room and its application,

2.    Select the type of tile

3.    Select the color and shade

4.    Select the texture and size

5.    Design a layout pattern and/or a decorative pattern

6.    Select the grout color and type

Sticking to this process will help guarantee a smooth installation.

Terminology: Trims

Bullnose has one rounded finished edge to create a nice finishing touch. Sometimes it’s used as a substitute for a cove base.

Corner Bullnose has two rounded finished edges, enabling it to complete a corner.

Sanitary Cove Base has a rounded finished top like a bullnose to cover up the body of the tile.

Color

Many of today’s ceramic tiles are designed to look and feel like natural stone, emulating their rugged surface and color variations. These tiles are intentionally designed to show variations in color and texture, just like the real thing. Since the composition of a tile’s glaze can vary, different tile styles will also exhibit different gloss levels. Solid color tiles create a consistent look, but shade variation is inherent in all fired ceramic products and certain tiles will show greater variation within their dye lots.

Color Consistency

Color consistency or shade variation is typically listed on the back label of each ceramic tile sample with a low, moderate, high or random rating. What’s the difference?

Low            Consistent shade and texture

Moderate    Average shade and texture variation

High            Extreme shade and texture variation

Random      Severe shade and texture variation

You’ll notice color variations between a manufacturers’ sample and the same color installed on countertops, wall tile or ceramic floors.

The color of the clay available in a manufacturer’s geographic region determines the color of the body of a tile. Look at the tile to see if its color is red or white. The quality of a tile is more about the manufacturer than the color of the tile, itself.

Density

In the same way that the composition of glaze can vary, different styles of tile exhibit different gloss levels and surface textures. For example, in areas that get wet, like a shower or bathroom floor, the tile should have low moisture absorption and good slip resistance.

By moisture absorption, we mean that as the density of a tile increases, the amount of moisture it can absorb becomes less. Similarly, by tile density, we mean that as the weight or the density of the tile increases, it becomes stronger.

Here’s some terminology to help you decide:

Non-Vitreous Tiles absorb 7% or more moisture. They’re best suited for indoor use only.

Semi-Vitreous Tiles absorb from 3% to 7% moisture. They re best used indoors only.

Vitreous Tiles absorb less that 3% moisture. They are referred to as frost resistant tiles but can’t be used in exterior areas where freeze-thaw conditions might cause tile cracking.

Impervious Tiles have less than .5% moisture absorption. These tiles are frost proof and can be used outside or on building facades. If you have serious winter weather, these are the tiles for you.

Grout

Grout is usually mixed on site, but slight color variations can occur within different areas of the same installation. In fact, grout color can vary from the manufacturer’s sample you saw in the store. This is due to variations in temperature and humidity at the time of grouting. It’s also common to see grout variations when comparing the grout color in a tile floor with the same grout color on a tile countertop or wall.

When choosing grout color, it’s a good idea to select a color that blends in with the overall color of the tile to minimize the appearance of the grout. Though if the tile is installed in a high traffic area, then it may be wise to select a darker grout to hide dirt.

Exact layouts, types of grout and grout joint widths are determined by a tile setter at the time of installation. These decisions are governed by the actual size and shape of the tile you chose and the exact dimensions of the area to be covered.

Once your tile has been laid and grouted, it’s up to you to guard all caulked areas against water damage. Grout may darken over time in areas with heavy water use.

Also, weather can cause surfaces adjoining the tile to expand and contract, causing the grout to crack and separate. Ain’t nothing you can do about it.

Leveling

No subfloors are perfectly level. Nope — not even yours. As a result, you may hear hollow sounds where your subfloor’s surface dips and ridges. But fret not. This won’t affect the integrity or installation of your ceramic tile. Hollow sounds are normal and aren’t considered a product or installation defect.

Cost

“Cost per square foot” is just one component of the overall price tag for ceramic tile flooring. Ask your retailer to calculate the total cost of your floor covering project. Here’s what he or she may include beyond the cost of the ceramic tile, itself:

  • Furniture removal/replacement
    Some retailers or installers may charge to remove (and then replace) furniture in the installation space.

  • Demolition/disposal of old floor covering
    Unless your home is brand new, there’s probably an old floor covering that is going to need to be removed and properly disposed of.

  • Sub-floor preparation
    Depending on its condition (after removal of the old floor covering), your subfloor may need to be prepped for ceramic tile installation.

  • Product delivery
    Delivering your ceramic tile may not be included in the “cost per square foot” price.

  • Installation
    There will most likely be a “cost per square foot” to install your ceramic tile flooring..

  • Materials required to complete the installation
    Additional materials may be required to properly install your ceramic tile.

  • Financing
    Many retailers offer financing as an option of payment. Be sure to check the interest rate, minimum payment due and any finance charges if you choose to pay your purchase off over time.

Ask your retailer and/or consult the manufacturer’s warranty and care guide for directions on cleaning and maintenance for your new ceramic tile floor.

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Overall Rating: 4.3 stars - 8 reviews

By:
Date: August 22, 2014
Page Rating: (5.0/5)
Comments:
Thanks for the info - I have visited a tile company twice in the last week and have gotten more info from your article - Again Thank you!
By:
Date: December 5, 2013
Page Rating: (5.0/5)
Comments:
very good
By:
Date: September 3, 2013
Page Rating: (4.0/5)
Comments:
right to the point,informative ,an easy read. Thank you
By:
Date: May 31, 2013
Page Rating: (4.5/5)
Comments:
I really appreciate the color consistency explanation because been puzzing on why my sample tiles do not look at all alike. I still need more knowledge. I need a tile thats not slick. Thanks...
By:
Date: April 11, 2013
Page Rating: (4.0/5)
Comments:
Very helpful article.
By:
Date: February 12, 2013
Page Rating: (3.5/5)
Comments:
Thanks for this informative article. However, I still havent found out if tile color has a bearing on how the tile is heated by overhead radiant panels.
By:
Date: December 2, 2012
Page Rating: (4.5/5)
Comments:
Good overall understanding. Plan to do a whole house..good idea? Will be used over in floor heating so want a good tile.
By:
Date: November 19, 2012
Page Rating: (4.0/5)
Comments:
Really rather good, though I would have wanted to know if I will get better tiles from a tile store or are they all the same. Does thickness matter? Is one type less likely to get slippery and make Grandma Judy fall? Will they last much less if I have a handyman install them

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