Tile Installation Tips
Select the correct tile for the job!
Don't go by looks alone! You need to select a tile that will holdup for the use that you will be subjecting the tile. You can pretty much use any tile that you want for walls. Countertops require tile with greater strength and stronger glazes to withstand food stains and acids. Floors require more strength and stronger glazes to withstand grit on the bottom of shoes women in high heel shoes (a 125# woman in high heels exerts 500#/square inch pressure on a floor, much more than a refrigerator!). Interior bathroom floors can use smaller wall tiles as your carpets will clean your shoes of outside grit before they get to the tile. However smaller tile will make small rooms look small and result in much more grout to maintain.
We find that larger floor tiles(16x16 up to 20x20) are well suited for not only floors but countertops, shower walls and ceilings! The larger sizes allow you to obtain drastically more tile at greater strength with dramatically lesser number of grout lines. Less grout lines means a less busy pattern which will make the floor, countertop and/or wall look bigger and also will give you less grout to maintain!
Making the Most of Your Budget
Buy from a retailer that you trust! Tile is a "blind" item - just like diamonds, you can't tell quality by looking at it! Work with a retailer who knows tile, shows it well it his store, has many samples to select from and represents different brands so you can mix and match and therefore get more value for your money. You must take samples home or to the job site. The retail store is not the place to make your selection. You need to have a number of different sizes, colors and textures to select from in order to make a good decision. Just as you wouldn't want your eyes to be tested with only one lens, you need to see a variety of tiles in the setting where they will be installed to determine your best choice. Often the first choice in our shop is the third choice when you get it home! We recommend two trips. In the first visit 5-6 tiles should be check out that are truly different from each other so that a valid"better-worse" situation is created at the job site. On the second trip another 4-5 samples should be selected based on the tiles that looked the best in the first visit. Much like eating an elephant, a slow methodical approach is best!
Watch out for "do-it-yourself" stores where their only goal is to sell as much tile as quickly as possible or where the only person to help you is the plumbing department guy who was the paint guy yesterday! Cheap price can mean cheap quality. There truly is "no free lunch"! A poorly designed layout with the wrong quality and size of tile can quickly result in paying too much and getting less than you would if you were dealing with a retailer who knows tile and its application. You want to deal with someone who is interested in your continued use of tile for this and many future projects. Someone who is interested in your experience and how it reflects on his relationship with you and your friends and neighbors for many years to come.
Tile doesn't just get slapped down- it needs to be installed. Floors, walls and counter tops need to be prepared before the tile can be installed. It is exacting work and if you are going to do it yourself you should start with a small project first to see how you like it and how it turns out in not only your but the "boss's" eyes.
If you are going to do-it-yourself, make sure that you are dealing with an establishment that can and will provide assistance to the do-it-yourselfer. Setting tile is not brain surgery but particularly for the first timer it sure helps to know someone who has done it before and is willing to give free advice and counsel. We offer all of our customers computer generated drawings to assist in selection and layout of the tile.
If you are going to use a professional installer, ask to see pictures of his work and if you feel a need, ask to visit a few job site to see how his work looks to you and how happy the homeowner is with the final job. Find out if the installer is insured and if he is affiliated with a company or works out of the back of his truck and might be in Florida or California next winter when you have a problem! Working through a contractor as opposed to direct to the installer means that, as insurance, you will have someone on your side to protect the long term reputation of a business in resolving disputes. You should also then be dealing with a company who is a member of the Better Business Bureau and organizations like the National Association of the Remodeling Industry who have ways to resolve difficulties if they arise. If you deal direct you will be in conflict with the very person who will have to come back into your house and readdress the problem!
Caring for Tile
Tile is easy to clean, but how often do you clean?! If you are prepared to damp mop daily, then a high shine solid color will work for you. If you are not prepared for daily maintenance or you are troubled by floors that look dirty and demand attention you might not want solid colored floors. We recommend that clients who want a white floor put an old white sheet on the floor for a few days and see what the sheet does for the room and maintenance requirements!
A floor and indeed, counter top and shower walls, will require much less maintenance if the tile used is large, has a rustic mottled look and has some color ranging in it so that it doesn't provide a background for dirt and smudges to show and require attention.