Tile Selection

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Tile vs Stone

Tile is made of clay and other natural minerals. The tile is shaped and fired in a kiln, and without further treatment, it is porous. Once the glazing process is completed the tile becomes more water and stain resistant. ... You will find a wider variety of colors available in glazed tiles than in unglazed. Because of the manufacturing process, tile may not be perfectly symmetrical and may vary ever so slightly in size.

Stones are natural materials. These material include marble, granite and slate. Stone is a softer material and is therefore more likely to scratch than tile. Stone is also a porous material and will need to be sealed periodically, especially if used in showers and wet areas. Don’t let the density and need for sealing discourage you from having stone installed. Stone is such a beautiful and timeless choice for that one of a kind project.

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Ceramic vs Porcelain

A porcelain tile is denser and less porous than a ceramic tile. In simple terms this means a porcelain tile is much more hard wearing and suitable for both indoor and outdoor use, the extra density is a result of a slightly different manufacturing process. While ceramic tiles are only recommended for interior walls and floors, porcelain tiles are a more popular choice for floors that anticipate heavier traffic; we’re talking kitchen floors, hallways and commercial applications as they are increasingly resistant to scratching and chipping.

Ceramic tiles are made from natural clay with a durable glaze; the biscuit of the tile is baked to reduce water content. Next the design is added to the same biscuit before it’s baked again in a kiln at a high temperature. Porcelain tiles are also made from natural clay but of a natural denser and finely ground sand is also added into the manufacturing mix. This mixture is then pressed and fired at a much higher temperature than ceramic tiles, and also for longer to remove almost all of the water content. In short, ceramic and porcelain tile are both great choices for any indoor projects.

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Tile Ratings

The Porcelain Enamel Institute rating (PEI rating) is a great tool to help you determine the recommended application for a tile. All tiles are classified with a PEI rating and the scale is as follows: PEI 0 – No foot traffic (wall tile only) PEI 1 – Very light traffic (e.g. bathroom) PEI 2 – light traffic PEI 3 Light to moderate traffic (e.g. most domestic floors) PEI 4 – Moderate to heavy traffic (e.g. entrance, hallway, kitchen, balcony and some commercial applications) PEI 5 – Heavy traffic (all domestic/commercial uses with heavy abrasion/footfall) Most ceramic floor tiles will carry a PEI rating from 3 to 4 with porcelain tiles ranging from PEI 3 to 5.

More About Tile Selection

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Tile Size

The size tile you chose should rely on your preference and style for the project; however, there are a few things you might want to know. The smaller the tile, the better the tile conforms to the surface it is installed on. The larger the tile, the less it conforms to the surface it’s installed on. This can cause “Lippage.” Lippage is where one tile meets another and one tile is slightly raised higher than the other. There are installing techniques that can reduce or eliminate Lippage, but may increase cost of installation. Warping of larger tile through the manufacturing process, can also cause Lippage.

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Sanded Grout vs Unsanded Grout

There are many choices of grout. Color, sanded, unsanded and grouts with stain resisted additives A 1/8” grout line is the middle ground for either sanded or unsanded. Less than 1/8” unsanded is recommended, over more than 1/8” and less than 1/2” sanded is recommended. The sand gives more strengthening to larger grout lines. Be careful when choosing grouts with additives claiming stain resistance and mold and mildew resistance properties. They come with a higher price tag and some don’t always perform as promised. They may also cause discoloration in the the grout. A good sealer can give many of the same benefits with traditional sanded and unsanded grout without the higher cost. 

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Choosing Grout Color

There millions of colors of grout to choice from.

Very light colors should be avoided in high traffic area; whereas, the grout will create a greying effect on the grout. Sealers can reduce the chance of this occurring, but we would recommend choosing medium to medium light colors where possible.

Be careful in choosing Very dark colors. Very dark colors will help hide high traffic areas; however, they tend to give a more commercial look in a residential project.

There is typically two styles you’re looking for when choosing grout colors, a matching grout color for the tile chosen or a contrasting color for tile chosen. Ultimately, choose what makes you happy.