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A Guide to Tiles - All You Need to Know About Tiles

Bathroom Floor Tiles with sunken bath

 

If you're thinking of buying tiles, you'll find this list of questions to ask before purchase very useful. It will ensure you have all relevant information to hand, and are able to select the best tiles for your purpose. But if you're just looking for more general information on wall and floor tiles, then you'll find what you need below:

 

  • 1. Why should I use tiles?
  • 2. I know nothing about tiles. Can you explain the different types?
  • 3. What about non-slip tiles?
  • 4. Can you tell me about natural stone tiles?
  • 5. What size tile should I use?
  • 1. Why should I use tiles?

    Practicality

    Ceramic tiles are a versatile and down-to-earth home improvement technology. They’re easy to maintain, and help provide a water-proof barrier to your bathroom walls.

    Durability

    Do it once; do it right. Archaeologists have uncovered glazed tiles originally laid around 1,500BC. It proves that if you choose your tile wisely, there’s no reason your tiled area shouldn’t last for generations. Tiles are hardwearing, easily maintained, and not susceptible to fading from UV light like other forms of flooring.

    Cleanliness

    Tiles have long been recommended in preference to carpet to help combat dust allergies and asthma.

    Design

    Ceramic tiles should become an integral part of your home. Modern patterns and sizes keep your home up-to-date with current trends, and careful selection will enhance and protect your home and add to its capital value. Consider your tiling as a long term investment, even though it’s an economical exercise.

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    2. I know nothing about tiles. Can you explain the different types?

    Wall Tiles and Floor Tiles

    Tiles produced exclusively for walls are inherently not intended to be load bearing. They are often lighter and thinner than floor tiles. The glazes used in the manufacture of a wall tile are also different, and are not designed to resist abrasive forces from foot traffic. Wall tiles must only be used on walls. We've indicated which type you’re looking at on each product page.

     

    Floor tiles are suitable for both floors and walls. It’s increasingly more popular to use them on bathroom walls, especially the rectangular ones. They’re up to 20% heavier than wall tiles, so it’s important that your tiler has verified the walls are sturdy enough to support their weight.

    In summary: Do not put wall tiles on a floor, but floor tiles can go on either.

    Porcelain Tiles and Ceramic Tiles

    Ceramic (or non-porcelain) tiles are usually produced by firing red or white clay in a kiln, and coating with a durable glaze which carries the colour and pattern. These tiles can be used on walls or floors. They are not as hard as porcelain, and can therefore be cut easier. The tiles can be used in areas of light to moderate traffic, such as domestic kitchen and bathroom floors, and any walls. They tend to absorb water, relatively speaking, which means they don't have the frost-resistance of porcelain and therefore are not suitable for outdoor use.

     

    Porcelain tiles are produced from a finer, denser, more impervious clay then ceramic. They’re fired at higher temperature, making them stronger, harder and more damage resistant than non-porcelain ceramic tiles. They usually have a lower water absorption rate, which often makes them frost resistant or frost-proof. They’re suitable for almost any domestic applications, both on walls and floors, and even in commercial ones where there is light traffic. 

     

    We've indicated on each product page whether a tile is ceramic or porcelain. If you want a full technical description of the difference between ceramic and porcelain tiles, you'll find it here.

     

    In summary: ceramic tiles are not suitable outdoors, but both porcelain and ceramic are suitable for all other domestic applications.

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    3. What about non-slip tiles?

    “Non-Slip” is something of a misnomer when it comes to describing a tile. Put simply, no tile can be guaranteed to be slip-proof. Tiles are rated by a testing authority, but for comparison reasons only. In the UK and Ireland, we use a slip rating system known as R-Ratings, with the results of any particular tile ranging between R-9 and R-13. A higher rating indicates a more slip-resistant tile. There’s no applicable building regulation at the moment for slip-resistance. Tiles with any given “R” rating do not have to be used in any particular area, but the higher ones, in particular R-11 and higher, are definitely recommended for disabled-access bathrooms and public areas. Often, an architect will nominate a minimum rating if he or she is detailing the specification on a project.

     

    Obviously, a polished porcelain or gloss finish tile is more slippery than natural finish porcelain or a matt glazed tile.

     

    Because any floor tile may be used on any indoor floor, and without a building regulation, it’s up to the consumer to choose an appropriate product in terms of performance and design, based on the practical information available. Use of our sample service allows you to feel in your hand the grip qualities of any particular tile.

     

    The main point to remember is that ALL floor surfaces are slippery when wet, including tiles. Tile Devil is not in a position to offer a slip-resistant or slip-proof guarantee, either expressed or implied. What we can do is offer advice, and provide you with the information you need. Please ensure that any floor tiles you purchase conform to your needs.

     

    We're happy to offer assistance in this matter, and to that end we’ve provided an “anti-slip” option in the drop down list in our search tool. If you want a full technical description of slip ratings and slip resistance, we've provided it here for you.

     

    In summary: Tiles have non-slip ratings. The higher the rating, the better grip it will provide. There’s no way of providing a 100% guarantee that a tile will be slip-proof, but some are far more suitable than others.

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    4. Can you tell me about natural stone tiles?

    Tile Devil offers you a range of travertine tiles and also mosaics, which incorporate pieces of travertine, limestone, granite, and other stones.

    For the most part, these tiles differ little in terms of installation to their ceramic and porcelain counterparts. However:

    • Large thick slabs of stone are heavy, so please ensure you have strong, sturdy walls if you intend to install them in a bathroom. Your tiler will be able to gauge the suitability of stone for a bathroom wall.
    • Most large stone tiles will need to be cut using electrical power tools. This can be messy and should be done outdoors, taking all necessary safety precautions.
    • All stone (even polished) is porous. It’s imperative that it’s sealed prior to the completion of the installation work. Please use our water-based Stone and Grout Protector immediately after fitting any of our stone products. This will hugely contribute to reductions in staining and absorption of water.
    • Tile Devil recommends that only a white adhesive is used when laying natural stone. This helps resist any staining if the stone is exceptionally porous - the pigments in a grey adhesive can creep towards the surface by capillary action and cause discolouration.
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    5. What size tile should I use?

    The size of the tile you choose can have as much an effect on the appearance of your project as the design and finish. It usually comes down to personal preference, and the trend these days is towards larger tiles. However, there are a couple of things to bear in mind:

    • Larger tiles will leave a room with less grout lines, thus creating a more streamlined look to a room. It’s common now to use large tiles in some of the smaller rooms in the house. It’s generally agreed that a large tile makes a small area look bigger.
    • In a very tight area, for example where a floor is only 1.50 sq. metres in a small en suite shower room, if a very large tile is selected, it might be case that almost every tile will end up being cut. We recommend that the likes of a 60 x 60 cm tile, five tiles of which would cover that area, would not be chosen. The same applies to bathroom walls – it doesn’t make sense to put a 75 cm wide tile in a shower cubicle that is only 80cm wide.
    • Note that larger tiles tend to need more adhesive for installation. This is because they cannot follow the minor undulations in your walls and floors in the same way that small tiles can. Because of this, all the tiles need to be raised up slightly to meet the highest point, requiring extra adhesive beneath,

    In summary: Tile size is a personal choice. Just be mindful that the tile is not so big that it will overwhelm a small space.

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