Because of their undeniable durability, tiles continue to be the flooring of choice for many homeowners. It is common knowledge that tiles combine remarkable longevity with ease of maintenance. This medium is, furthermore, available in an outstanding array of colours, sizes and shapes, making them desirable for use in each and every interior decor.
Ceramic tiles are undoubtedly the most renowned of tiles. These specific tiles are made up of ground clay, and are fired at high temperatures. Ceramic tiles exhibit a lot of diversity. We can differentiate ceramic tile (terra cotta, gres porcelain- or faience tile) according to its method of firing and finishing. Because of its durability, the gres tile is a perennial favourite. It’s worth pointing out that tiles are available glazed, as well as unglazed. Glazed tiles feature a vitreous enamel coating, which bonds to the surface during the firing process. This coating forms a water-proof, dirt repellent, non-porous, protective layer. Ceramic tiles are categorised according to their specific glaze, and their suitability for certain rooms. The higher the category, the better their resilience.
While putting down tiles is in itself quite simple, ending up with a level laid floor can be challenging for the casual handyman. Taking the low porosity nature of ceramic tiles into consideration, they are usually glued in place. This specific method of bonding is certainly very useful where renovations are concerned. The process can be used either on a screed floor, or on an existing floor. Where the latter is concerned, it is crucial that the surface is level smooth, and that the existing flooring is still sufficiently adhering.
Although ceramic tiles require very little maintenance, there are a few caveats to keep in mind. It’s absolutely key to avoid soap- or oil containing cleaning products.
The first treatment.
Five days after installing your ceramic tile floor, you will have to remove the cement residue covering your tiles. You may do so using an appropriate product such as Lithofin KF Cement Residue Remover (www.lithofin.com). Please note that the above mentioned products are acidic. Avoid using them on natural stone, wood, painted surfaces and fine metal, as these products will damage their upper layer.
Please make sure that after this initial cleaning your tiles are free of debris, otherwise you’ll have to contend with continuously reappearing stains. There’s absolutely no reason for panic should you encounter this problem. To remedy the situation you’ll have to degrease the tiles. Using an intensive cleaner such as Lithofin FZ Intensive Cleaner, should yield good results. Afterwards, you can retreat the floor using the cement residue remover. Take care to always thoroughly rinse the floor using clean water. Repeat this process until your floor is stain free.
Avoid soap- or oil containing cleaning products such as Marseille soap, as these will leave a film on your floor, leaving every footprint visible. As this film will also attract dust particles, hair, crumbs etc., it’s important to always use a mild detergent, and to afterwards rinse your floor thoroughly. Your quality tile- and natural stone distributor is sure to carry a wide variety of appropriate Lithofin products (www.lithofin.com).
Ceramic vs Natural Stone
CERAMIC vs Natural Stone
Different method of manufacturing
- Natural stone: pure natural; quarried, transported over long distances and cut to size in a factory.
- Ceramic tiles: factory produced by firing clay and minerals
Although natural stone is not necessarily more durable and maintenance friendly compared to ceramic tiles, it is widely regarded as a status symbol.
Natural stone tends to be more expensive than ceramic tile. Nowadays, the difference in price has dropped significantly, and you may well find standard sizes of natural stone available from € 30 / sqm. On the other hand, you are sure to come across exclusive ceramic tiles, sporting a high price tag.
Unique versus mass production.
Being a pure natural product, no two natural stone tiles are identical. Tile manufacturers will go to great lengths to create nuances in their ceramic tiles, thus ensuring a more natural looking product.
Chance of imperfections
The incidence of imperfections is more prevalent in natural stone (veining, colour nuances ,…). Even though these imperfections impart a unique character to natural stone, variations obviously have to be kept within tight limits. These potential blemishes are always pointed out in the stone’s fact sheet.
Durability & Maintenance
- Even though certain natural stones proof extremely durable, it doesn’t mean they’re indestructible. Durability depends on the hardness and the variety of the natural stone. Since not every natural stone will stand the test against acid or other chemical elements, it’s crucial to use appropriate products when dealing with them. There is a complete assortment of specifically formulated maintenance products on the market (www.lithofin.com), which can not only be used in the initial thorough cleaning of your new floor, but that will also allow you to take care of day to day maintenance afterwards. When choosing your natural stone and its finish, it’s important to keep its application in mind (e.g. living room, foyer, bathroom, store…), always check the stone’s code carefully, as this will indicate specific use of this particular stone. Also bear in mind that foot traffic can alter a stone’s finish with the passage of time; a glossy finish can turn matte, and vice versa. When purchasing natural stone, always ask for the fact sheet for your particular stone.
- Ceramic tiles: highest level category ceramic tiles are, just like the most durable of natural stones, virtually indestructible; as an added bonus they can not be damaged by acids or other chemical elements. Even in high traffic areas, their finish remains the same over the years.
Thickness of the tiles
Not only did natural stone tiles used to be thicker, their thickness would also vary from tile to tile. This could complicate matters when renovating, with high-rise construction, and would greatly hinder installation. Nowadays natural stone tiles are relatively thin and calibrated, making them just as easy to instal as ceramic ones.
Tiles in combination with radiant floor heating?
When compared to hardwood floors, tiles are cold to the touch. They can however be used in combination with radiant floor heating, greatly enhancing their appeal. Tiles, as a matter of fact, absorb the warmth of the radiant floor heating, releasing it slowly and evenly into the living environment. As an added plus, they’re minimally affected by fluctuations in temperature.
What is a rectified tile?
A rectified tile is a ceramic tile which has its sides, after firing, precisely cut to size. This gives the tiles perfectly straight edges, which allowing them to be installed with minimal grout lines. This results in a supremely sleek and elegant looking finished product. To ensure optimum grout adhesion, we recommend you maintain a minimum joint width of 2 mm. When using rectified tiles, a perfectly flat surface is an absolute necessity; installation should be done by a professional craftsman.
What exactly do I do when cleaning my new ceramic floor for the very first time?
After grouting your floor, wait a minimum of seven days, before cleaning it with a product that will remove cement residue (fact sheet). Do this even if you do not observe a film or grout residue on your tiles. Cement particles are microscopically small, and will permanently attach themselves if they come into contact with water. You cannot clean your floor using pure water, as this will greatly complicate subsequent maintenance.
Does Intercarro provide samples on demand?
After visiting one of our showrooms you may, provided the item is in stock, take a sample of the tile of your choice home. In the event where we don’t have the item in stock, we do require a deposit to order it for you.
Does Intercarro install tiles?
For professional installation, you should contact one of our partner-installers. These consummate professionals were rigorously selected by us in terms of knowledge and craftsmanship, and work on a freelance basis.
What about the size of my house
It is common practice for your architect to provide you with a detailed quantity survey. It stipulates how much tiles and skirting tiles per m2, per room, you’ll require. These measurements are usually strictly mathematical net sizes, without taking cutting waste into consideration. If you’re planning on installing your tiles yourself, you’ll have to determine the surface of the room by multiplying length and width, measured in meters. When calculating the amount of skirting tiles needed, you should keep in mind the number of doorways and floor length windows.
How do I calculate cutting loss?
With perpendicular installation (minimum +/- 4×4 m), you should take the following cutting waste into consideration
10% if area <10 m2 5% if space> 10 m2
15% when installing on a diagonal.
Can I use my existing tiles on flooring in tiles or carpet removed?
Yes, you will use a high performing, flexible adhesive mortar. When installing smooth, glazed tiles, a primer is recommended. The existing flooring should still firmly adhere to the surface and should not sound hollow upon tapping.
How long do I wait before bonding my tiles to a newly screed floor?
Depending on the thickness and nature of the screed, you should wait a minimum of 28 days between the prepping of the screed floor and the actual installation of your tiles. Specific conditions pertaining what can and can’t be done, are described in the TV 137 of the CSTC
How do I create a watertight seal between my shower/bath tub and the tiled wall?
Why do my shower walls require waterproofing?
A tiled surface is never waterproof. The tile itself and the grout may very well be waterproof, but because of micro-cracks between the tile and the grout, the surface as a whole is anything but.
Hence the need for waterproofing the wall (e.g. shower) and substrate (e.g. patio) on which tile is to be installed. This can be achieved through the use of waterproofing systems such as: substrate building panels (LUX ELEMENTS, www.luxelements.com ) or waterproofing membranes. (Schlüter SYSTEMS, www.schlueter-systems.com )
Important: cementing your interior wall is a water resistant measure, not a waterproofing one.
How do I cut an opening in a tile?
In order to instal bathroom plumbing fixtures, certainly where ceramic and glazed tiles are concerned, you’ll require a –preferably water cooled- diamond drill. The hardness of the tile will most likely limit the life of the drill bit. You will probably be able to only cut two openings, before having to resort to a new drill bit. Start out by drilling at a very low speed. Getting an initial grip on a smooth or glazed tile can be challenging. Interdiamond interfixing (www.interfixings.be) offers a wide array of products to help you complete your project. There are different techniques to cut out large pieces of tile. When the opening is located close to the edge of the tile, it’s advisable to cut out a square shape, with one of its sides being the edge of the tile. You will start by marking the dimensions of the cut on the tile’s surface. Starting at the edge of the tile, you will than cut out the shape by making a dozen or so linear cuts. Make sure your wet saw is outfitted with a diamond blade. You’ll end up with strips in your tile, which you can now carefully tap away with a rubber mallet. Should you desire to do so, you can always smooth the edges of your cut by carefully running them alongside the blade of your wet saw. To cut round holes in tile, use a drill/driver fitted with a carbide-grit hole saw. Press the hole saw against the tile and gently squeeze the trigger to cut through the surface. Once the hole saw’s pilot bit has penetrated, increase drill speed to bore through the body of the tile. Note that any time you use the latter technique, you compromise the integrity of the tile, rendering it far more fragile. Use utmost care in handling it. Once the tile is set in place, the risk of breaking has passed. Keep in mind that cutting tile requires skill and appropriate tools.
How do I keep the white grout in my bathroom pristine?
Make sure your tiles are installed on a waterproof surface, and use a good quality grout that’s water- and dirt repellent. Not only should your bathroom be properly ventilated, but you should also dry the tiles after showering; using a squeegee is a quick and easy way to do so.
Which is easier to maintain, a glossy or a matte tile?
Both types of tiles have their own characteristics and require their own specific manner of maintenance. When done properly, both should be equally easy to maintain. Bear in mind that matte tiles show footprints more easily.
When to use a large size tile?
The choice of size is foremost a matter of individual taste. We do want to point out that, unless special precautions are taken (e.g. uncoupling membranes), the tile size will be limited when used in combination with radiant floor heating (rules and regulations).
Can ceramic tile be used outdoors?.
Ceramic tile can perfectly be used when creating an outdoor patio. Proper measures need to be taken to prevent water from collecting under the tiles. Your patio should be installed on a sufficient inclination to ensure proper drainage. As a safety precaution it’s prudent to consider slip resisting tiles. It’s advisable to lay your tile in a standard straight pattern (irregular patterns and shapes, modules or puzzle shapes are discouraged).
Can I use floor tile on a wall?
You can basically use any kind of tile on a wall, provided you use an appropriate substrate and tile adhesive, thus ensuring proper bonding. Click here for additional info.
Can I have faience tile on a floor?
Glazed faience tiles, both matte and glossy, are never used in a floor application since it is too brittle a product; in addition to this, the enamel is not durable enough to withstand daily wear and tear.
What do I need to consider in case of radiant floor heating?
The floor surface needs to be divided into square areas, each measuring a maximum of 20m². Each of these areas should be separated by an expansion joint, originating in the screed layer of the floor. According to standard, the tile size should be limited to 40/40cm; they may however vary depending on the chosen radiant flooring heating system. Irregular patterns and shapes, modules or puzzle shapes cannot be used. We want to point out that nowadays there are different systems on the market, offering homeowners more flexibility. For example, using the Schlüter Bekotec-therm system allows you to use a larger size tile.
Do I use small or large tiles?
If you do not like the look of abundant grout lines, opt for a larger tile. Bear in mind that there is more than an aesthetic component to grout lines. The tile joints absorb tension caused by settlement of the substrate and temperature fluctuations.
Should I use slip resisting tiles in my shower?
Considering the presence of soap and water in your shower, you should definitely use slip resisting tiles. In addition, using smaller tiles (10/10cm), therefore increasing the number of grout lines, will also provide additional grip.
Is an area rug necessary?
Sand and hair are a ceramic tile’s worst enemies. Since they can scratch and dent your tiles, we strongly urge you to use an area rug in high traffic areas. For your choice of good quality area rugs, we recommend www.verimpex.be.