Tile Choice

Tile choice for walls and floors

When planning any tiling project, the first task for you to do is select the appropriate tiles. The type of tiles you select will depend on the surface you are tiling. The sort you use on the floor is unlikely to be the same as those you would choose to use on the walls. Tiles that are slippery, particularly when wet, should be avoided for use on floors. The type of room to be tiled is also likely to affect the choice of tile.

Types of tiles

Before selecting the tiles for either walls or floors it is important to know the various options that are available. 
Unglazed tiles: These are particularly popular for floors as they are non-slip. These tiles make them useful for flooring that is likely to become wet. Unglazed tiles are also very hardwearing, which is important, as they will have to withstand a great deal of wear and tear in the years ahead.

Glazed tiles: This type of tile is often seen on walls, particularly in kitchens and bathrooms. They are very easy to wipe clean and are available in a wide range of colours, both plain and patterned.
Glazed tiles are sometimes used for flooring in conservatories. However, they are not suitable for floors that are likely to become wet, as they will become far too slippery underfoot.

Porcelain tiles: Porcelain tiles remain extremely popular both for walls and floors. The big attraction for this type of tile is they are sold in an extensive range of designs, styles and colours. They are heavy and durable, as well as hard and water resistant. This makes them ideal for rooms and areas susceptible to moisture, such as kitchens and bathrooms. Porcelain tiles are also available as unglazed, glazed and polished.

Ceramic tiles: The advantage of using this type of tile is that not only are they very decorative, they are also durable and easy to clean. Glazed ceramic tiles are not particularly popular for floors, because they become slippery when wet and are relatively thin; however they look delightful on walls. Modern tools enable even the amateur DIY enthusiast to cut this type of tile without any difficulty.

Quarry tiles: These tiles are hardwearing and slip-resistant, making them ideal for floors, both internal and external. Manufactured from natural clay, some have frost resistance properties, so they are ideal for external floors, for example patios.

Natural stone tiles: These are made out of a wide range of natural stone, such as marble, limestone, granite and sandstone. Some need specialised adhesives and grouts for fixing. Also, the properties of natural stone tiles do vary; depending on the type of stone they are made out of, so it is advisable to ask the retailer for guidance before purchasing.

Terracotta tiles: These tiles, which are made out of natural clay, are suitable for internal floors. Because the water absorbency varies and due to the fact they are not frost resistant, they should not be used for external floors. They may also have to be surface sealed before and after fitting.

Mosaic tiles: These are attractive tiles made out of ceramic, glass or natural stone. They are sold attached to paper facing or mesh backing, which makes them much easier and quicker to fix.

Selecting and purchasing the tiles

Having decided on the type of tiling you wish to use, the next step is to determine the size of tile required and the quantity you need. The size of the tiles chosen is important, as it will determine how best to proceed with the project.

The first thing to do is measure the floor or wall area you intend to tile. Next, it is case of calculating the number of tiles per square metre. For example, if you are purchasing 100 x 100 mm tiles, it will take 100 to cover a square metre. For 250 x 250 tiles it will take 16. It should be understood that these figures are only approximate, so it may be best to give your dimensions to the dealer when assessing how many to buy.

Even if you have a chart to help determine the number of tiles required, it is important to understand that sizes may differ between tile manufacturers. So it is often best to treat your own calculations as merely a ‘guestimate’ and double-check them with the supplier.

Tiles are not sold singly, but in boxes. It is therefore absolutely essential that you purchase enough to ensure the job is completed. This will more than likely mean that you have tiles left over, but they will not go waste, as they can be used to carry out repairs in years to come, so store them away safely. It is advisable to add around 10% to the exact quantity required, in order to allow for breakages and cutting waste and spares; however, the exact number purchased is a personal decision.

The size of tiles

While people tile floors and walls for quite practical reasons, they are generally installed to enhance how a particular room will look. That is why they are produced in such a wide selection of colours and styles. The size of tiles used will also determine the overall look of the room.

The size of tiles can have a dramatic effect on changing the appearance of any space. With careful planning, when selecting the tiles, you can create a range of effects. For instance, if you have a small room, such as a bathroom, by using large tiles you can make it look much bigger.

Also remember that tiles are heavy and today’s popular large format tiles, in particular, are very heavy and will have an impact on the tools you use, especially wall battens.

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