Tile: Everything there is to know about tile.

A comprehensive tile resource: showers, bathrooms, marble, stone, travertine, kitchens, and beyond. Is there a company or product you'd like to see featured? Email atileguide@yahoo.com

Archive for October, 2008

Glass Tile

Glass tiles owe much of their current favor to modern recycling technology, which transform discarded windshields, beer and beverage bottles into “green tiles.” Computer-aided design, and laser-cutting technology have now provided the precision that handcrafted tiles could never attain. Advances in anti-slip coatings have eliminated fears of slippage while walking on glass.

Read more about glass tile in our pages section at http://atileguide.com/glass-tile/

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Bathroom tile

The secret to selecting the best bathroom tiles is to have a clear idea of their purpose. The obvious reasons are to make the bathroom look beautiful, clean and bright, and how to enhance the bath accessories and bathroom vanities.

Planning precedes tile selection. This is very important because the available patterns, custom designs and sizes can swamp the homeowner and decorator. One thing that should always be remembered is bathroom safety. Bathroom tiles must be chosen on the basis of safety as well as design. Government statistics show an average of 200,000 bathroom-related accidents occur every year. A majority is due to slipping and falling down. So it is important that tiles be non-porous and slip resistant.

The most popular bathroom tile is white glazed ceramic tile. Ceramic is durable, strong, versatile and beautiful. It is also quite affordable and easy to maintain. The color white is selected for several reasons. First, white colors naturally reflect light. Bathrooms are not light-intensive rooms so the idea of using white colored tiles to conserve energy is very attractive. White tiles also expose dirt and stains more clearly; serving as a warning that cleaning is in order.

Ceramic tiles are basically made from clay and non-organic minerals. After being shaped, the whole thing is baked at a very high temperature. What is produced is a hard tile body, or bisque. The bisque may be left untreated or applied with a layer or glaze.

A glaze requires a liquid glass mixture to be coated on the tile surface and fused under very high temperatures. This liquid glass coating makes the tile non-porous. The end product is a high-gloss, and slip-resistant tile that is great for the bathroom floor and walls.

Ceramic tile is ideal because it is durable, flame-resistant and does not conduct electricity. Tiles also do not expand or contract when exposed to extreme temperature changes. Ceramic tiles do not absorb odors, collect bacteria or mildew and are very easy to clean. Using a damp mop or cloth to wipe away moisture and dirt is all that is needed.

Ceramic tiles for the bathrooms are even rated based on their “surface abrasion resistance,” or simply, how well they hold up against normal wear and tear. The American Society for Testing Materials (ASTM) recommends the rating system of the Porcelain Enamel Institute (PEI). This 5-point rating scale ensures that specific tiles are used for the right application. The PEI recommends a class rating of 2 for bathroom floor and wall tiles. This means the tiles are suited for light foot traffic in residences. A PEI class rating of 5 is the highest and is meant for porcelain tiles that will withstand heavy to extra heavy foot traffic in residential and industrial settings.

Of course the PEI rating is not the sole criteria for selecting bathroom tiles. Shape, thickness, breaking strength, and resistance to frost, chemicals, acids, scratching and markings must also be taken into account. Then there are the aesthetics: square or warped edges, surface texture and size, and uniform grout lines.

Shower and bathtub tiles should be smooth but not slick to deter the buildup of mold and bacteria. A light textured tile will prevent slippage.

Tile coordination with two alternating neutral colors is a subtle way to accent the ordinary monochrome look. Almond and cream colored tiles of different saturations are a good example. Simply arranging the tiles diagonally to create a diamond pattern is an artful variation of the ordinary checkerboard pattern.

Small bathrooms should naturally use small tile designs for the walls and large, solid color tiles for the floor. It saves on tile cutting and provides more detail. Using a large cut tile for the walls overwhelms the bath space by not allowing the repetition of the design. Large tiles will cover more area but will undoubtedly need more cutting. However, small tiles require more individual pieces to cover the bathroom walls. More tiles mean more grout lines to keep clean and free of dirt. Light colored tiles give the illusion of more space for a bathroom. It will also reflect natural lighting sources. By adding a well-placed mirror, it will help give the impression of a larger space.

Larger bathrooms allow more freedom of choice. Safe, neutral colors such as creams and whites, gray and almond are perennial favorites. Combinations are fine as long as the colors harmonize. White walls tiles and dark blue floor tiles make a dramatic match, for example.

The popular bathroom tile choices are:

Glazed ceramic tiles are durable, affordable, versatile and easy to clean. That is why they are great flooring for bathrooms.

Glazed porcelain is prized for its natural beauty, longevity, and resistance to staining, moisture and frost. Porcelain is made from either rough red or smooth white clay. White clay can be mixed with other colors to produce a variety of surface textures.

Terra cotta tiles require a sealant because of their capacity to absorb water. These tiles are also made from oven-baked clay and are available in many colors and designs.

Mosaic tiles are also made from clay and therefore resistant to moisture. It has color saturated through the entire tile. Mosaic tiles must be correctly placed because the design can add confusion when you consider the placement of bathroom vanities and accessories. This can add to a cluttered look rather than a neat, simple presentation.

Stone tiles include marble, limestone, granite, slate and travertine. They are all renowned for their natural beauty, durability, and strength. But they also have their individual drawbacks. Marble is costly and requires more maintenance than ceramic. It is also susceptible to staining and cracking.

Slate and limestone tiles, being porous, require sealants after installing to prevent staining and discoloration from liquids. Slate is a metamorphic rock made from shale, mica and quarts. It s inherent toughness and density make it best suited as a floor tile. Limestone is less dense than marble but easy to shine and polish.

Granite is a hard stone and one of the hardest materials on earth. It is the result of sediments and minerals compacted under extreme heat and pressure. This gives granite patterns natural veining and mineral flecks. It is easy to polish and clean, but due to its hardness, the trim options are quite limited.

Quarry tiles are from red clay. The surfaces are left unglazed leaving it vulnerable to staining and moisture. Quarry tiles need to be sealed. However, this same unglazed surface is also what makes it a non-slip tile.

Glass tile is highly durable, and is gaining in popularity because it is easy to place designs on glass. However they are inherently expensive and harder to install.

Selecting the right tile for your bathroom is an important decision because the result will be permanent. A good starting point is to ask is “How do I want my bathroom to look and feel?” The choices will usually revolve around modern versus classic, urban or country, and simple or extravagant. Size does matter, too. It will almost automatically dictate the tile size and designs to select. Experimenting with different shades and colors, contrasts and how it will play out with the lighting and bathroom accessories must also be part of the planning.