60.Michael-Graydon

How To Choose And Maintain Tile

Find the right flooring material for your entryway, kitchen, bathroom and more, including ceramic, slate, mosiac and stone tile options.

In this article:
Stone
Slate
Marble
Ceramic tile
Glazed tile
Unglazed tile
Quarry tile
Mosaic tile

Stone

Description

  • most commonly used stones for flooring include slate, marble, granite, sandstone and bluestone
  • available in geometric or irregular shapes
  • an expensive flooring material with a hard and noisy character
  • solid and earthy in appearance but can be cold underfoot if the floor below is unheated
  • installation must be in a cement bed or on to a concrete subfloor

Uses

  • because of its expense and weight, stone is used mainly in smaller areas of the home such as entrance ways, halls, around fireplaces and in kitchens
  • when considering stone as a possible flooring material, the floor on which it will rest must be able to adequately support the load or overstressing of structural frame may result

Maintenance

  • requires little maintenance, minimal sweeping and mopping
  • very durable, although any cracks or chips may be difficult to repair

Slate

Description

  • dense, fine-grained stone with a slightly rippled surface
  • colours: dark grey (most common), purple, green, green-purple, black, blue-black
  • surface finishes: clear stock (solid colour throughout), ribbon stock (darker bands are predominant)
  • moderately expensive

Uses

  • most appropriate in main living areas or as an accent
  • take caution, is slippery when wet
  • not advised for bathrooms

Maintenance

  • highly durable and stain resistant
  • regular sweeping and occasional wet-mopping, joints may require scouring
  • can scuff in high traffic areas

Marble

Description

  • smooth and opulent stone that is usually veined
  • certain marble veining allows for creation of specific patterns (slide slip, end slip, book match, quarter match or diamond match)
  • available in slabs (up to 40” square) or tiles (1/2” thick and between 8” to 12” square)
  • available in almost any colour, most common: black, brown, grey, rose, blue, white
  • most common types with own specific markings: dolomite, travertine, onyx, serpentine, calcite
  • surface finishes: polished (glossy, high gloss) and honed (satin, smooth with little or no gloss)
  • most expensive of all floor coverings

Uses

  • anywhere a formal or elegant character is desired: principal bathrooms, dining rooms, entrance hallways
  • can be used as an accent with other flooring
  • only a contractor should install large slabs; tiles can be laid easily, although the tiles themselves are difficult to cut
  • take caution: slippery when wet

Maintenance

  • regular cleaning and polishing
  • moderately durable but varies depending on type
  • frequent resealing required to prevent staining and scratching

Ceramic tile

Description

  • once relegated exclusively to bathroom use, ceramic tiles are now welcome in all areas of the home
  • versatile and available in a huge array of colours which makes them appealing for use in kitchens, family rooms, dining rooms, utility rooms and entrances
  • water- and stain-resistant
  • bring relief from hot weather in the summer
  • cold to the touch and potentially a source of discomfort in the winter
  • high gloss and glazed tiles are especially slippery when wet
  • prices are moderate to expensive with the most costly being those with multi-colour glazes and textured surfaces

Uses

  • because of their slippery nature, unglazed or non-gloss ceramic tiles with roughened surfaces should be used in high-moisture areas

Maintenance
(see types of ceramic tiles below)

Glazed tile

Description

  • high-fired, dust-pressed clay available in square, rectangular and hexagonal shapes
  • most common sizes are 6” by 6” to 10” by 10”
  • floor tiles are thicker than ceramic wall tiles because they must withstand harder wear
  • surface can be glazed (colour derived from glaze), semi-glazed or matte
  • tiles with dull or matte finish are most appropriate for floors as they are less slippery when wet than tiles with glossy finishes
  • available in a wide variety of colours and patterns
  • are cool to the touch can be uncomfortable in colder climates unless floor below is heated
  • reinforcement to carry weight of tiles may be required when installing on wooden floors
  • backs of tiles will be brownish owing to extra firing
  • moderately expensive

Uses

  • in wet areas where sanitation is important, around showers or bathtubs
  • choose a product that ensures adequate traction for use in wet areas
  • used in entrances, kitchens, bathrooms, around fireplaces and as an accent
  • should not be used in bedrooms

Maintenance

  • sweeping and occasional wet-mopping
  • resistant to water, heat and most household chemicals
  • hard wearing and difficult to stain
  • glazed tiles are water resistant, but grout is not and should be sealed

Unglazed tile

Description

  • colour is mixed into clay to give tile its surface colour
  • shapes and sizes like glazed tile
  • finishes are usually dull

Uses

  • any living area is appropriate
  • unglazed tiles not appropriate for areas that will get wet, especially for areas leading to the outdoors

Maintenance

  • regular damp-mop and occasional scrubbing of grout
  • more durable than glazed tiles, maintains colour longer
  • unglazed are water permeable and should be sealed to prevent water absorption
  • stain easily and should be sealed

Quarry tile

Description

  • are unglazed, unpatterned tiles made from natural clay available in earth tones of brown, red or yellow
  • are hard and dense in duller colours than other ceramic tiles
  • most economical of all ceramics
  • usually square or rectangular, but also irregular shapes
  • usually larger sizes of 6” and 8” squares
  • noisy and cold

Uses

  • used mainly in country interiors
  • kitchens, bathrooms, halls anywhere that will receive hard wear
  • excellent in leading from indoors to outdoors
  • appropriate for patios

Maintenance

  • most durable of ceramic tiles
  • easy to clean, mainly sweeping
  • resistant to dirt, moisture, stains, freezing and abrasion
  • are very porous and may require a stain-resistant sealer

Mosaic tile

Description

  • small tiles measuring between 1” to 2” for squares and 1” by 2” for rectangles
  • also available in hexagons
  • available in glazed or unglazed finishes
  • available in 12” by 12” sheets for ease of installation

Uses

  • most commonly used in bathrooms
  • also in entrances and kitchens

Maintenance

  • very durable
  • damp-mopping and scrubbing of grout in sufficient