Natural stone tiles are, of course, an eco-friendly option, particularly with improvements in the environmental impact of quarrying and the minimal processing required to produce a finished tile.
But porcelain and ceramic tiles can also be eco-friendly for different reasons. For instance, all tiles are hard-wearing so need to be replaced with new products far less often (if at all) than many other decorating materials. They need little cleaning with no harsh chemicals and create a hygienic environment in our homes and have little impact on the wider environment in terms of pollution.
Many manufacturers follow policies designed to minimise the impact to the environment through the creation of natural stone, ceramic and porcelain tiles. So if you are concerned about your carbon footprint then these sorts of tiles are an eco-friendly choice.
It is essential to choose the right type of tile for your project, particularly if you are tiling an area likely to be frequently wet such as a wet room, bathroom or swimming pool surround so it is important to take the advice of a professional tile supplier.
There are several different ways of measuring how slippery a tiled floor will be under certain conditions (eg if you are barefoot and the floor is wet) but it is important to remember that no tiles surface can ever be 100% slip-proof.
How hard-wearing a ceramic tiled floor will be depends on the type of use it gets. For instance a little used guest bathroom will get much lower wear than a hallway leading directly from outside. So the amount of traffic is a factor and so too is the likely type of footwear. As a guide there are 5 classifications;
Porcelain tiles are a type of ceramic tile, but with a very low absorbency. They are kiln-fired at very high temperatures so are very hard wearing and can be used on walls or floors.
Mosaics are very small tiles and can be made from porcelain, ceramic, glass or natural stone.
Natural stone such as limestone, marble, granite and slate is extracted from quarries and cut and polished to produce a finished tile. Some are extremely hard but and some quite soft so not all are suitable for heavy traffic flooring areas. Some may also need sealing to maintain their original look.
Ceramic tiles are available plain, in a wide range of colours, or decorated and can be used on walls and floors.
Quarry tiles are a traditional product made in the UK for hundreds of year. They are made from natural clay and mostly available in terracotta, black and white colours.
Terracotta tiles are also made from clay; they tend to be very absorbent, so need sealing when used on the floor.
Tile spacers are small pieces of plastic in the shape of a cross that are used to ensure that all tiles are evenly spaced and the grout lines on your tiled wall or floor are of the same width. They are an inexpensive yet essential tool for any DIY tiling installation as they will ensure the job has a professional finish. They are available from all good tile suppliers in a range of sizes to suite different tile sizes so don’t forget them!
Yes, but you do need to be sure that the existing tiled surface is completely sound and bear in mind that it will be taking the extra weight of the new tiles. Wherever possible it is a better solution to remove the old tiles first. If you do decide to tile over existing tiles then ensure the old tiled surface is completely clean before starting.
Porcelain tiles are very hard and, therefore, extremely durable but this also means they can be made in much larger sizes than traditional ceramics so are ideal for contemporary interiors. On through body porcelain the colour and pattern exist into the body of the tile rather than just on the surface as with traditional ceramics. This means that if a porcelain tiles is damaged, any marks are much less noticeable because the underneath area that is exposed is the same colour/pattern as the top surface. Modern production methods of porcelain mean that manufacturers are able to produce not only a wide range of colours and textures but also very realistic reproductions of natural stone. There are also glazed porcelain tiles these give all the design possibilities of ceramics but with the hardness and durability of a porcelain body.
Because porcelain tiles are much harder than ceramic tiles many will require an electric tile cutter but these can be hired relatively inexpensively so porcelain tiles in the smaller sizes can be laid by a competent DIYer. Just be aware that it is not simply a matter of scoring and breaking along the score lines as could be done with ceramic tiles. There are a number of different electric tile cutters that can be hired such as angle grinders, wet cutters and diamond cutters so take the advice of your tile supplier to help you select the type that will do the best job for your chosen tiles. You don’t want to break too many of your new tiles or struggle with the wrong type of cutter.
For the less competent DIYer and for the laying of the larger porcelain tiles where specialist equipment may be required it is a job best left to the professionals.
A typical small bathroom size in the UK might only be 1.7m x 2.0m so with 1m x 1m tiles that would only be 2 tiles across the width and length of the room. This could be OK depending on how many obstacles there are to cut around and the size of any part tiles in proportion to the full tile size. Using wall hung toilets and basins can effectively increase the floor space and is a good choice to make a bathroom seem larger. A larger tile with less grout lines will give the impression of space and make even the smallest room seem larger. Imagine a room done entirely in mosaics, it becomes heavy and overpowering making the room seem smaller. The key to making a small room look right is in the planning, always finish with at least half a tile at the end of a wall or floor, always avoid small cuts. With good planning and spending time before starting it is only on very rare occasions that you will have to use a small cut in a prominent area.
Remember tiles are available in a wide range of sizes and if you want a contemporary look this is usually achieved with large tiles.
Large floor tiles make a space feel larger, perhaps more importantly, they create a wonderful contemporary feel in a room so are perfect for a modern bathroom.