Tile flooring is one of the most versatile forms of floor covering with styles catering for every taste and a durable, easy-care surface suitable for every kind of lifestyle. It is not surprising, therefore, that it is one of the most popular choices of flooring and is used in a variety of domestic and even commercial situations.
Why is Tile so Popular?
For those wishing to install Hard Surface Flooring, tile offers one of the most durable options. It is especially suitable for high traffic areas, such as entrances and in kitchens and other high activity rooms. It is also one of the easiest to clean, especially where heavy soiling is involved so again, it is popular in doorways and other entrances where outdoor dirt and moisture is likely to enter the house. Similarly for kitchens and bathrooms, its stain-resistant, waterproof surface means easy care, Cleaning and Maintenance. Furthermore, tile is inherently attractive with a natural, hand-crafted look that suits a variety of decor themes and offers the possibility of limitless design patterns with differing combinations of size, texture and colour.
What to Look for When Selecting Tile Flooring
Most floor tiles come manufactured to standard sizes, from 4″x4″ up to 24″x 24″ and are usually 1/2 to 3/4 of an inch thick. Although usually square in shape, they can come in a variety of other shapes, such as octagonal and hexagonal.
People usually base their choices on personal preference of colour and style but it is important to take a few other things into consideration as well. For example, it is important to make sure that the tile is rated for the type of exposure and wear it will receive. This basically depends on where you plan to install it; bathrooms, for instance, will need a water-proof, non-slip surface whereas doorways and entrances require an extremely durable and hard, abrasion-resistant type of tile. Ideally, they should also be water-resistant and non-slip (especially in countries with frequent wet weather, such as the UK); this means treating the surface of the tile so that it becomes ‘rougher’ and therefore provides more traction or grip. Tiles that are intended for outdoor use need to be of a material for outdoor use only (and some tiles can be used for both outdoors and indoors).
Tiles are rated using a series of standardised tests which evaluate their relative hardness and durability under wear and tear. This is dependent partly on the firing process: usually the longer and hotter the firing, the harder the resulting tile. When tiles are ‘double-fired’ this means that they are baked a second time after colour or other decoration has been added following the first firing and such tiles are usually thicker.
The tests also measure the amount of water absorbed by the tile. This is termed the porosity and can be a very important value, especially when you are considering tiles for bathroom and kitchen floors. Tiles are usually categorised into Impervious (least absorbent), Vitreous, Semi-vitreous and Non-vitreous (most absorbent). In addition, porous tiles should be avoided outdoors in areas of extreme cold weather and the likelihood of freezing and thawing.