Best Laid Plans

 

Best Laid PlansLet House and Home Ireland’s best selling interiors magazine guide you through the mine field that is choosing your tiles. When choosing tiles there are countless options to choose from:

 

Glass

  • Glass is a very robust and extremely hard-wearing floor covering and should last a lifetime.
  • Glass is hygienic and doesn’t require much maintenance. Its light reflective qualities also make it a particularly sought after floor material. Glass mosaic tiles are slip resistant, making them ideal for bathrooms and kitchens.
  • However because glass is a lot colder underfoot than other materials, it’s not recommended for living areas such as bedrooms or high user areas like hallways.
  • Glass tiles can scratch and chip if laid incorrectly or if the wrong size thickness and size of glass is used, so it’s always advisable to hire a professional.
  • The tiles must be laid on a smooth bed of adhesive, which should be applied with a smooth trowel rather than a notched one, as the lines will show through the glass. It is also vital to ensure that the adhesive has a high polymer content in order for the tiles to stick, since glass is non-porous and the adhesive will not attach to the tiles as easily. Once laid, glass tiles do not require further treatment and can be cleaned easily.
  • Glass tiles can be costly and handmade tiles are even more expensive because of the time and craftsmanship involved. Expect to pay anything from €300 per square metre for clear, sandblasted glass.

 

Porcelain

  • Porcelain tiles, like ceramic tiles, are man-made but more hard-wearing because they are fired at a higher temperature.
  • They are available glazed or unglazed; glazed tiles have filled in microscopic holes that could be present in the unglazed tile. Because of the firing process involved, the body of porcelain tiles are vitrified which makes them suitable for both indoor and outdoor use. Also, as the body of the tile is made of the same material throughout, any scratches to the surface will not be as noticeable as on a ceramic tile.
  • As with all tiles, it’s recommended that you use a product with a low PH value to clean them. Some cleaning products are very acidic and burn the surface of the tiles, as well as causing the glaze to become dull.
  • Porcelain tiles are suitable for use in all areas of the home and because they’re so dense they can be bought in a variety of tile formats, which can give your rooms a new dimension. If you’re using them outdoors though, make sure that they are slip resistant.
  • Porcelain tiles are more difficult to cut than ceramic tiles and specialised cutting equipment is required, including an angle grinder and wet saw.
  • Porcelain tiles are laid in the same way as ceramic tiles, but polished porcelain and light-coloured tiles will need to be sealed in order to protect against dirt and ensure that the polish on the tiles doesn’t dull. They require very little maintenance other than a light mop or clean with a damp cloth.
  • Porcelain tiles can be more expensive than ceramic and the cost to lay them will depend on whether they require sealing or not. It is also possible to buy porcelain imitations of natural stone tiles, which can look very realistic and cost half the price of real stone tiles.

 

Ceramic

  • Ceramic floor tiles are made from a dust-pressed clay that is fired at high temperatures with an applied surface finish; can be glazed unglazed and available in matt, satin or gloss finishes. Fully vitrified ceramic tiles are the most waterproof of all tiles, making them suitable for the wettest areas in the home.
  • When ordering your tile amount make sure to order a sufficient amount of tiles in the first instance, as tiles are made in batches, using the same clay, fired in the same oven and tiles ordered from a different batch can vary in colour.
  • Suitability + Durability: The suitability of the tile depends on how hard-wearing it is.
  • Tiles that are suitable for a bathroom may not be suitable for a kitchen or a hallway, since they will not be sufficiently durable. Similarly, any ceramic tile that can be used on a floor can also be used on a wall, but wall tiles cannot be used on floors.
  • Floor tiles will have two to three coats of glaze applied in order to prevent scratching and wearing. Glazed floor tiles can be quite slippy and tend to mark more easily.
  • The toughness and durability of a manmade tile is gauged on a five-point scale according to its PEI rating, with one being the weakest and five being the hardest. Tiles of a one or two PEI rating are suitable for low traffic areas, such as bathrooms, while three and four are best for kitchens, conservatories and hallways.Tiles with a PEI rating of five are suitable for outdoor use.
  • If you want to have a go at laying tiles yourself, ceramic tiles are the best option. They are easy to cut and don’t require any special treatment and the calibration of the tiles is always exact, i.e. all tiles in the box will be the same size. The tiles are applied with ceramic floor adhesive to a sound floor. In newly built homes make sure the concrete has been allowed to cure before laying your tiles, otherwise the tiles may crack.
  • If you’re considering underfloor heating with ceramic tiles make sure to use heat-proof adhesive. A timber floor will need to be sheeted out with plywood before tiles can be laid.
  • Ceramic tiles are the least expensive of all tiles, though cost will increase depending on the colour, size and complexity of design.

 

Mosaic: is made up of tiny tiles and mounted on a wax, mesh or paper backing in order to facilitate laying. Mosaic tiles are generally the most expensive type of tile, as there is a lot of waste involved in production. Tilers will also charge more to lay the tiles because of the additional work involved. Mosaic is relatively expensive and therefore generally used in small spaces or as a feature decoration among larger tiles. Because the tiles are small they are popular for using on uneven or rounded surfaces, since the backing can bend to fit. Mosaics are suitable for indoor and outdoor use and are good anti-slip tiles.

How to:Mosaic tiles are laid in large tile sets with a mesh backing that facilitates a speedier tiling process. They must be installed over a flat, smooth surface as any unevenness will be easily spotted. If you are laying mosaics that have a paper backing make sure to lay them with the paper facing outwards. Once laid, the paper can be peeled easily from the surface of the tiles. The cost of the tiles will vary according to the type of material that they are made fromTravertine: This is a natural stone tile that can be bough in different grades, and has recently become more popular in living areas because of its warm appearance.

A metamorphosed limestone, marble is characterised by coloured mineral veins and fossilised markings which run through it. It comes in an array of styles, and can range from a tumbled, antique-style finish to a honed, satin-look, polished finish, or a combination of the two. There are three classes of marble tile. First Class is characterised by very little veining, it’s the most expensive and can be difficult to source. Second Class, (commercial class), is the most commonly sold, but it’s important to keep in mind that lower quality marble will have more veining and will therefore be weaker.

Like any natural stone, marble requires a lot of maintenance as it’s extremely porous. It’s recommended that you reseal the marble during the year to rejuvenate the floor, since mopping on a regular basis will eventually strip the seal. When cleaning marble take care to use appropriate cleaning products, as some commercial products may be too abrasive and bleach can cause staining and lift the sealant from the surface of the tile.

 

Marble tiles generally have a PEI rating of between three and four. You need to be vigilant about the depth of the tile being used – generally for floors a 2cm tile depth is best to ensure adequate strength. A depth of 1cm should be adequate in a low traffic area, such as a bathroom. When laying marble take care to use a white adhesive, as a grey one may soak through and cause shadowing on the tiles. Tilers may not always be willing to lay marble tiles because of the length of time involved, but it is recommended to use a professional tiler. You may wish to use a colour intensifier, particularly with tumbled marbles, which are chalky in appearance. Marble can be expensive and the cost will depend on the quality of the tile. Bear in mind that tilers may charge more to lay because of the treatment they require.

Unglazed and softer than other types of tile, terracotta is made from extruded or hand-formed red clay. It is available in a number of shapes and sizes, from small hexagons to large squares. Colours range from dusky ochres to oranges and pinks through to cream.
Need to know: Many terracotta tiles are only suitable for indoor use as they absorb water. If used outside, the water may freeze and cause the tile to crack. Terracotta tiles are most popular in country homes because of their rustic, continental appearance. They are mainly used in kitchens and conservatories. Terracotta tiles require a thick bed of adhesive when installing, particularly if they are handmade as the tiles in the batch may vary in thickness. Terracotta tiles are very porous and must be finished with linseed oil and waxed for protection before grouting. Oil should be applied to a dust-free surface and the floor should be waxed once a week in the first month to build up a smooth and hard-wearing surface. Man-made terracotta tiles are less expensive than natural terracotta tiles. Man-made tiles also come pre-sealed and are therefore less expensive to lay.

 

Slate

  • Slate is a fine-grained metamorphic rock derived from clays and shale. It splits neatly into thin sheets and has a naturalistic, rough and uneven appearance.
  • It is typically cut into squares or chopped, which gives the edges a rougher look. It is usually blue-grey with a silvery quality.
  • Slate tiles have fallen out of favour somewhat with homeowners in recent years so are thus not widely available.
  • Slate is easier to care for than other types of natural stone tiles, since it is denser and darker in colour, and thus less porous and less inclined to show up stains.
  • As it is so varied it can be used successfully anywhere that calls for a hard-wearing and practical surface.
  • Slate tiles are suitable for use both indoors and outdoors. Inside you’ll most likely find them in a hallway or kitchen. Slate must be cut and installed by professionals.
  • It requires twice as much adhesive and grouting as other types of tile, since the tiles are uneven and need to be brought up to the same level. This involves a process known as ‘lipping’. Once laid slate will need to be sealed, which can intensify the colour.
  • Slate is less expensive than other natural stone tiles, though the process of tiling can be more costly since the size of the tiles varies throughout the batch and the tiler may have to spend more time choosing the right tiles.

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