With more shapes, sizes and styles to choose from than ever before we know that, for many homeowners, choosing the right tiles for your project can be a daunting experience. Whether you’re just starting out, an experienced DIYer or simply picking the tiles you want your fitter to install, our handy hints should help you on your way to achieving your dream room.
Choosing Your Tiles
Apart from ensuring the tiles are suitable for your desired application, there aren’t many right or wrong answers when it comes to choosing your tiles and much of the decision will be based on your own personal taste and budget. If you’re spoilt for choice, here are some frequently asked questions that you may find useful.
What's The Difference Between Ceramic and Porcelain Tiles?
Glazed porcelain and ceramic tiles are made in a similar way. Clay, sand and other ingredients are mixed together, pressed into tile shapes and fired in a kiln at very high temperatures to produce a base tile or ‘biscuit’. A layer of glaze is then applied to the surface to give the tile its colour or pattern. The main difference between glazed porcelain and ceramic tiles is the ingredients which make up the tile. The ingredients of porcelain tiles make them more dense and less porous than ceramic tiles, and they are therefore more hard wearing and suitable for both floors and walls. Due to their low water absorption, some porcelain tiles are also suitable for outdoor use, whereas ceramic tiles are suitable for indoors only. Through bodied porcelain tiles are made using a similar method but instead of having a glaze applied to the surface of the tile, the colour or pattern forms part of the body of the tile due to the mixture of ingredients. This makes them even more hard wearing than glazed tiles as there is no glaze to wear away, and in the unlikely event that a tile does become chipped, the visible tile underneath will be the same colour as the surface so it won’t be as noticeable. Through bodied porcelain tiles can be left matte or polished to give a very shiny surface.
Are Natural Stone Tiles Better Than Porcelain Or Ceramic Copies?
Nothing can beat the beauty of natural stone. Formed over thousands, or even millions, of years underground, each piece is completely unique with its own individual shading and patterns. With a little care taken during installation and maintenance, natural stone is incredibly hard wearing and will retain its beauty for many years. It is a real investment in your home. Porcelain and ceramic stone effect tiles are widely available and with advances in inkjet printing technology they are now more realistic than ever before. They are also generally cheaper than natural stone tiles and are easy to install and maintain as they are thinner and don’t require sealing. However they can never truly replicate the individual shading, pattern and texture variations of natural stone, so the decision really depends on whether you prefer the natural, unique look and longevity of the real thing or the more uniform look and convenience of the reproductions.
Should I Use The Same Tiles On The Walls And Floors?
Some ceramic tiles are only suitable for use on walls as they are not strong enough to withstand floor use. Tiles that are suitable for use on the floor can also be used on walls to give a fully co-ordinated look. Some ranges feature a ceramic wall tile with co-ordinating porcelain floor tile. Aesthetically, the decision on whether to use the same tiles all over depends on your personal taste. Using matching tiles throughout a room can make the space appear bigger, especially if you use gloss tiles which will bounce light around the room. Matching wall and floor tiles also help to give a tranquil, spa-like feel. Using different tiles throughout the room can look more contemporary and add interest. For example you could combine concrete effect, wood effect and ceramic tiles to give an on-trend industrial look. Using different shades of the same tile is a subtle way to add contrast, and you may choose to use different tiles to zone specific areas of a room – for example using mosaics inside a shower cubicle or to create a feature wall behind a bath.