Tiles are sturdier and last longer than hardwood floors, and are far easier to maintain than carpets. You can tile almost any area of your home, but the most common indoor areas to lay tile are hallways, bathrooms, showers, kitchen floors, and accented kitchen walls known as “backsplashes.”
When you visit your local home and garden store or flip through a catalog, you may feel overwhelmed by the vast array of different tiles. Should you play it safe and choose classic ceramic? What about warm brick? What tile size will look best in your room?
Picking tile is confusing, but don’t throw in the towel—it’s time to pick up the trowel!
Finding the Best Tile Size
12×12 inch tiles are best for tiling large areas, such as kitchens and living rooms. Generally, 12×12 tiles are less expensive to install than some other sizes, and often create the best look for a room.
8×8 inch tiles can be a good choice for slightly smaller spaces, such as hallways and bathrooms. A smaller tile size may be better for bathrooms, so you don’t slip on the floor.
4×4 inch tile may be the best choice for bathroom walls and kitchen backsplashes, but is not recommended for floor use. The small size of the squares makes the grout in between the tiles very difficult to clean.
Which Tiles Will Last?
When you visit your local home and garden depot to select your tile, you may notice that the various kinds of tile are ranked in terms of their strengths, often given a rating between one and five. Tile that has a lower rating (such as one or two) should be installed on walls or in areas that will see less foot traffic, as it is weaker and more likely to absorb water. A tile ranked five, on the other hand, can withstand the pitter-patter of little feet, as well as the thundering of your old work boots.
Ceramic tiles are constructed of baked clay, and are very sturdy and long-lasting. They come in many different colors and styles, and are often embellished with a glossed, glazed, or matte finish. Porcelain tiles are even tougher than ceramic tiles, with a protective layer that some other types of tile lack. As a result, they are often more expensive, but hide chips and cracks more effectively over time.
Brick tiles can only be installed on the ground floor of your home, but can give your living room or kitchen the warm, earthy look you’ve been longing for. They are incredibly durable, and resilient against water and grease, as are quarry tiles, which are also appropriate for larger rooms. Different kinds of stone tile can have certain drawbacks or restrictions, but may employ a very unique look in the room you have chosen to tile. One example is slate, which, like brick, is limited to the ground floor of your home. Slate is generally expensive, but has a striking gray surface that adds texture to a room. Marble and granite tiles are dazzling, sophisticated choices, but may be too slick. These kinds of tile can also scratch easily, but you can buff out these marks without too much difficulty.
Taking Care of Your Tile
Once you have selected and installed the perfect tile, don’t forget that it needs to be sealed to protect it from wear. When it comes to tile-cleaning products, avoid anything acidic, as well as bleach and ammonia. Maintaining your tile with a little soap and water should keep it looking spotless.