Tiles are the go-to flooring option for homeowners for their low cost, durability, and longevity. However, once the decision has been taken to lay tiles in a home, the next question is how to choose a tile. While there are many options, a fair amount of research is required to figure out what kind of tiles would best suit the space.
Here are a few things to consider even before you understand how to choose suitable quality tiles-
- The type of tile
- Space constraints
- The overall look of the house
- The Theme, if any
- The rooms that the tiles are for
- Whether they are for the interior or the exterior
Looking through magazines and online images will give a rough idea of the style that needs to be achieved. It is better to try and not to go against the style of the home. Speaking to the salesperson at the store will also help you get a clear idea of the tile that will suit your needs.
The size of the tile plays an essential factor. Small tiles are used in small residential areas such as kitchens, bathrooms, and toilets. While large tiles can make a room feel larger and airier, smaller ones will develop unique chequered designs. Likewise, floor tiles on the wall make the space seem more cohesive, but the reverse is impossible.
Floor tiles have a more intricate glaze than wall tiles and will be made of stiffer materials to withstand traffic. In the case of a small room, light-colored tiles will make the space feel bigger. However, larger rooms have more options, and in this case, you may use light or dark tiles.
The general feel in the room that is being tiled has to be considered. This can range from serene and relaxing to moody and atmospheric. Unless there is a feature area such as a splashback, the focus of a room is not the tiles, but they can complement other design features of a room. When choosing the color of the tile, it is entirely dependent on the ambiance that has to be achieved in the room. For example, a bathroom needs a relaxing atmosphere, and colors that go together are chosen while contrasting colors are selected for the kitchen.
The right grout color also makes a world of difference to the space. A grout of a contrasting color to the tile will help emphasize the area while outlining the design. On the contrary, a subtle effect can be achieved with a complementary grout color. Care has to be taken to see that the grouted areas are sealed to prevent staining. Most tiles are glazed, while tiles made of natural stone come unglazed and will need a protective coating on top for easy cleaning and water not to permeate the tile.
With these in mind and a rough idea of what tiles would go with the style of a home, let us now look at how to choose suitable quality tiles. With a highly competitive market and each manufacturer trying to edge out the other in terms of pricing and high margins, the quality of the tile is where the manufacturers compromise first. Therefore, several different parameters should be paid close attention to while choosing a tile.
The first thing that a potential buyer must look for is the grading of the tile. Tiles are graded using a numbering system that is based on the thickness and quality of the tile. For example, a grade 1 tile will be the highest quality and the thickest of the tiles. Grade 2 tiles may not be of the same quality as Grade 1 tiles and will have some imperfections and maybe a little thinner in comparison. Grade 3 tiles are the lightest and can only be suitable for walls.
These grades can also be marked as standard, secondary, or cull grades. The grading system used for the tile depends entirely on the manufacturer, and it is recommended that grade 1 tiles be used for flooring applications, as these tend to be the most bang for the buck. However, they may be slightly more expensive than tiles that are of lesser grade.
The PEI rating is also a significant factor that has to be considered when choosing a tile. This rating is given to a tile-based on the scratch resistance and wear of the tile. The more the resistance of the tile, the higher the PEI. Tiles that have a rating of PEI I or II are not suitable for the floor. Tiles with a minimum of PEI III or higher are recommended for use on the floor for residential use. The highest rating that a tile can achieve is PEI IV. Tiles that are rated at this level are recommended for high-traffic areas. PEI rating, while standard globally, applies only to glazed tiles.
Moh’s Scale of Hardness:
Another factor that comes into consideration is the Moh’s scale of mineral hardness. This qualitative scale characterizes the scratch resistance of various minerals through the ability of a more rigid material to scratch a softer material. This scale computes the tiling material’s capacity to withstand wear and tear pedestrian activity. The tiles are evaluated by the Porcelain Enamel Institute after thorough lab testing. This scale can be used to choose an item that is generally useful for the particular room. The rating for scratch resistance as well as hardness is determined through Moh’s scratch test. The ratings can range from 1 to 10 or Talc to Diamond.
The porosity of a tile is also a prime determining factor in installing it in the house. The porosity of a tile is determined by the ratio of air holes to solids in it, which will directly impact the water absorption quantities of the tile. Therefore, close attention must be paid to a tile’s water absorption rating when installing it in a moisture-prone area like a bathroom. Porosity classifications go from impervious water absorption of 0.5 percent or less recommended to be used within the kitchen and particularly bathroom to non-vitreous with water absorption of percent.
The slip resistance of a tile determines where it can be installed. The coefficient of friction rating tests the friction available on a particular tile and tests it for skids and slips. Most tiles tend to become slippery when wet, making them unsuitable for specific purposes, such as bathroom use, swimming pools, or deck areas. In such cases, tiles with higher slip resistance are required.
The above are some of the factors to be considered when choosing tiles for your home. It can be viewed as a good quality tile when it can adhere to substantial scores in the above ratings.