Tile & Stone Store
Tile - Before You Buy
The good news is that ceramic flooring offers you a multitude of styles, textures, patterns and price points. However, all that variety, and decisions, can be real challenging for the unknowing shopper.
In this section we’ll introduce you to information on topics such as ceramic tile trim, color and shading, moisture absorption and grout. All in our effort to make you a smarter shopper long before you open your checkbook or get out the charge card.
That way your final decision not only creates a warm, beautiful living environment but also delivers what ceramic floors are noted for: excellent durability and easy maintenance.
So we invite you to read on. Come learn the ins and outs, the tips and hints, the delights and discoveries of this unique product called ceramic tile.
The beauty of ceramic tile is the flexibility you have with design options, especially through the use of the accent pieces: trim work and decorative tiles.
However, if you’re interested in applying trim work and decorative tiles you should know that there is a definite step-by-step procedure.
The correct order of this process is to first identify the room and its application, select the type of tile, then its color and shade, and then its texture and size.
Finally, a layout pattern is designed, the trim and decorative patterns are determined, and the grout color and type are chosen.
Adhering to this process will ensure a smooth installation without any missing elements.
To help you insure a smooth understanding of floor tile trim terminology, allow us to cover a few definitions.
Bullnose. It has one rounded finished edge on the tile to give a nice finishing touch. Sometimes it is also used as a substitute for cove base.
Corner Bullnose. It has two rounded finished edges on the tile to be used to complete a corner.
Sanitary Cove Base. It has a rounded finished top like a bullnose to cover up the body of the tile.
Many of today’s popular styles of ceramic tile are designed to look and feel like natural stone, emulating their rugged surface and color variations.
It’s important that you understand these variations when designing with ceramic tile.
These tiles are intended to show color and texture variations, just like natural stone. Since the composition of the tile’s glaze also varies, different tile styles will also exhibit different gloss levels.
You should also be aware that solid color tiles provide a consistent look, however shade variation is inherent in all fired ceramic products and certain tiles will show greater variation within their dye lots.
Color variations will also be present between manufacturers’ samples of the same color and throughout installed countertops, wall tile or ceramic floors.
Color consistency is something you should understand and carefully consider when selecting ceramic tile. Our sales associate will be happy to review with you what to expect from different ceramic tiles.
As the composition of glaze varies, different styles of tile will exhibit different gloss levels and surface textures. This is important to note when choosing your ceramic tile flooring.
For example, in areas that are used while wet, such as your shower or bathroom floor, they should have low moisture absorption and good slip resistance.
Moisture Absorption means that, as the density of the tile increases, the amount of moisture that tile can absorb becomes less.
Tile Density means that, as the weight or the density of the tile increases, it becomes a stronger tile.
Tile density and moisture absorption have an indirect relationship to each other. What this means is that as the density of the tile increases the moisture absorption rate becomes less.
Tile density and moisture absorption is important for you to understand when selecting tile for different applications. Here is some information to help in your decision making process.
Non-Vitreous Tiles are tiles that absorb 7% or more moisture. They are suited for indoor use only.
Semi-Vitreous Tiles are tiles that absorb from 3% to 7% moisture. They are applicable for indoor use only.
Vitreous Tiles are tiles that absorb less that 3% moisture. They are referred to as frost resistant tiles but cannot be used in exterior areas where freeze- thaw conditions could cause tile cracking.
Impervious Tiles are tiles that have less than .5% moisture absorption. These tiles are frost proof and can be used in exterior areas or on the outside of building facades.
Grout is typically mixed on site, but slight color variations can occur within different areas of the same installation with the same grout color, and can vary from the manufacturer’s sample you saw in the store.
This can be attributed to variations in temperature and humidity at the time of grouting and it’s just a fact of life.
It is also common to see grout variations when comparing the grout color in a tile floor and the same grout color on the tile countertop or wall.
When choosing a grout color you can select a color that blends in with the overall color of the tile to minimize the appearance of the grout.
Or you can select a grout color that is lighter or darker than the tile.
If the tile is installed in a high traffic area then you may want to select a darker grout.
Exact layouts, type of grout and grout joints widths are determined by the tile setter at the time of installation and are governed by the actual size and shape of the tile, and the exact dimensions of the areas to be covered.
Once the tile has been laid and grouted, it is your responsibility to maintain all caulked areas to guard against water damage. Grout may also darken over time in areas with heavy water use.
Also, changes of season can cause surfaces adjoining the tile to expand and contract, causing the grout to crack and separate.
No subfloors are perfectly level. So, you may hear hollow sounds where your subfloor’s surface dips and ridges.
Be assured that this does not affect the integrity or installation of the ceramic tile. Hollow sounds are normal and are not considered a product or installation defect.
The “cost per square foot” of your ceramic floor is just one component of the entire project cost. To ensure there are no surprises, and the ceramic you select fits within your overall project budget, be sure to ask us to calculate the total cost of your floor covering project.
Here’s a list of potential additional expenses you may incur:
Also, don’t forget to ask the retailer and consult the manufacturer’s warranty and care guide for directions on how frequently your floor should be cleaned and the cost to clean it.
There’s a lot to know and consider before buying your ceramic tile floor, but it’s well worth the effort.
If you’re a smart and knowledgeable ceramic tile shopper it will put us in fine spirits. And, hopefully, put your home into showcase status.
Tile | How It’s Made
Being familiar with ceramic tile construction helps you understand and evaluate its performance aspects: why certain ceramic tile floors wear better and longer. The main ingredients of ceramic tile and its general manufacturing process have not changed that much throughout the centuries. All ceramic tiles are created from natural products extracted from the earth that are shaped into tiles and then fired in kilns at extremely high temperatures.
Blending and Mixing
If the tile is to remain unglazed it skips this step and goes directly to the firing kiln.
After the finished tiles have been inspected for quality assurances, they are packaged, crated and ready to be shipped.
Class 1: no foot traffic
Class 2: light traffic
Class 3: light to moderate traffic
Class 4: moderate to heavy traffic
Class 5: heavy/extra heavy traffic
Slip Resistance Rating
Tile | Installation
The arrival of new ceramic tile flooring is no exception, especially when one realizes that tile, like any floor covering, impacts interior beauty, design, décor, comfort, livability and upkeep. It’s a truth of housing: floor coverings can make, or break, a home. Being ready for the installation of your new ceramic tile will make the entire process go faster, more efficiently, and hopefully eliminate any “surprises.” Knowing what to expect and being prepared will also be a lot less stressful on you, your family and your home.
Use a professional
Tile - Maintenance
Ceramic Tile Maintenance
Sooner or later, time and traffic, life and living, will take its toll on any floor covering. Ceramic tile is no exception. But take heart, keeping your tile as clean and beautiful as its first days in your home just takes know-how.
In fact, understanding the best methods to care for your ceramic flooring will help maintain its beauty and keep it close to its original condition.
Plus, knowing what’s expected of you regarding upkeep can be a determining factor in which type of ceramic tile to purchase.
All reasons why we called on our years of experience and created this section on ceramic upkeep.
It’s important to sweep a tile floor regularly. Dirt can adhere to the surface of tile, particularly styles with a textured surface. Regular sweeping loosens and removes most of this dirt.
Don’t forget those labor saving devices, either. Feel free to use a vacuum cleaner to sweep, but be sure to use one without a beater bar to avoid dulling and scratching the tiles.
However, the attachments that accompany vacuum cleaners are useful to collect dirt along edges or in between tiles.
Be sure to use walk-off mats to minimize and contain dirt being tracked in at entryways. And shake them often.
This reduces the amount of dirt being tracked across the tile floor, and reduces the wear to the finished surface.
Ceramic tile floors should be damp-mopped regularly using the manufacturer’s recommended grout and tile cleaners.
For heavier soil, you can spot clean the floor with a sponge or clean cloth using the recommended cleaners.
Rinse well and wipe dry for more shine. Textured tiles may require mild scrubbing with a soft brush or electric polisher/scrubber.
After cleaning with a mild detergent rinse thoroughly with clean, warm water to help remove any leftover residue. If needed, wipe dry with a clean towel to remove any film.
For soft water situations you may need to use an all-purpose cleaner.
Apply to the floor, let stand for 3 – 5 minutes, lightly scrub with a sponge, rinse well and you’re home free – dirt free too.
For heavier cleaning tasks there are cleaning products available from your local grocery store that can be used to remove soap scum, hard water deposits, and mildew stains.
You’ll want to consult the cleaning product’s instructions to make sure the product is compatible with your type of tile.
After cleaning, rinse well and wipe dry for optimum shine. And maximum pride.
Avoid using steel wool, scouring powders, or other abrasives that can scratch the finish of the tile.
Don’t use bleach or ammonia based cleaners, as these products can discolor your grout if used too often.
Also, do not clean glazed tile with oil-based cleaners.
Be fast on your feet. Try to clean up spills as quickly as possible so that the grout or tile doesn’t become stained.
While ceramic tile is considered very durable, it’s not indestructible and may crack or chip under extreme force.
Take the proper precautions when moving heavy objects across your tile floor. Get a small army to help you move that grand piano.
Cover furniture and table legs with protectors to guard your floor against damage.
Keep in mind that if a repair is necessary in the future, the replacement product may be a slightly different dye lot and/or texture than the initial installation.
However, the good news is that, with time and usage, the repair will blend in with the original product.
Once the tile has been laid and grouted, it’s your responsibility to maintain areas exposed to water by caulking.
Caulking will prevent expensive subsurface damage, as well as keep the tiled areas looking their best.
Depending on your lifestyle, sealing new tile and grout may be an option.
After the installation process is complete and the grout has had ample time to cure, sealing the grout and tile can provide protection from dirt and spills by slowing down the staining process.
Today there are also innovative grout colorants you should be aware of.
These products can transform the original color of grout and in some cases can act as a form of sealant. Please be aware that non-epoxy grout joints should be treated with a silicone sealer.
Knowing how to care for and maintain your ceramic floor will help keep your investment beautiful, durable and a source of pride for years to come.
For more maintenance information specific to your ceramic tile flooring, remember to consult the manufacturers’ recommendations.