How to buy tiles
The most common question asked by anybody wanting a new bathroom is: Where do I start? So here is a brief guide to help you choose from the thousands of tiles and bathroom products available.
Firstly, work out the practical aspects. Do I want a separate shower? A wet room? A large, two-person bath? Bathroom furniture or just pottery?
Then decide your style. Since almost all bathroom suites are white, your main style indicator come from the tiles, and these are the main trends:
The Traditional or Classical bathroom look consists of high gloss marble effect tiles. Think Italian white & grey Carrera or the creamy beige tones of Spanish Crema Marfil, often highlighted with natural stone mosaics. Pure White is very much the favourite at the moment, usually high gloss again, but with either a glass mosaic border or just a polished aluminium listello strip. Or really liven up your bathroom by adding a panel of brightly coloured tiles behind the basin or in the shower area.
Wet rooms look great when the wall and floor tiles match and are most suited to the New York Loft style. Big tiles in soft tones, usually Porcelain with a satin finish and highlighted with mosaics made from the same tile to give an overall consistent colour.
The Natural Stone look suggests stately homes and Roman baths. Natural stones can look great but require specialist fitting knowledge, regular maintenance and are more prone to staining, especially in hard water areas. Or you can buy porcelain tiles that look like natural stone with modern digital printing methods and not have to worry about maintenance.
Or you can throw away the rule book and go free style! Mix and match and create your own unique look. Add glass or stone, make a feature wall from patterned tiles and let your imagination guide you.
The last tip is GO BIG! Big tiles make the room look bigger, and because big tiles have less grout lines, there is less chance of discolouration and water penetration to the back of the tile, particularly important in shower areas.
At Ceramic Planet, you can browse the web site for big tiles, small mosaics, feature walls and bathroom products all on show and in stock.
CHOOSING TILES AND AVOIDING PITFALLS
At Ceramic Planet, we want to make sure that you have many years enjoyment from your tiles. So here are a few tips to help you avoid some of the more common pitfalls.
Tiles vary in shade from batch to batch
Just like wallpaper, tiles vary in colour from batch to batch. The glazes change colour when fired and can end up different shades depending on such factors as atmospheric pressure and humidity, as well as variations in the firing temperatures.
As a rule, tiles of one batch should be the same colour, but some vary slightly within the batch. So always check the batch numbers and mix tiles from different boxes when tiling.
Tiles vary in size, too
As they are fired, tiles shrink and different firings can result in slight variations in size. The better factories will measure the tiles as they come out of the kiln and box them with other tiles of the same calibre, but not all do this. The main reason for leaving a grout gap is to compensate for any size variation.
Solid bed, never ‘dot and dab’
Years ago, some builders used to ‘dot & dab’ the tiles using a sand & cement mixture. If you do this now, your tiles will crack and fall off, and water will probably seep through as well.
Instead, all tiles should always be fixed using a solid bed of adhesive.
Brick Bonding tiles
When brick bonding with tiles, it is extremely difficult to achieve a satisfactory finish unless you follow some tips.
Firstly, your walls or floors must be perfectly flat. Brickbondiing will highlight any bumps or dips in your wall and cause tiles to protrude from their neighbours. Likewise, the tiles need to be perfectly flat. Some glazed tiles do actually have a slight bend, usually not noticeable when fixed in the usual, stacked method. To check for flatness, simply put two tiles back to back and see if they rock.
GRADES OF WEAR are set according to European Standards – PEI grades.
- PEI 1 is a wall tile. Not suitable for a any floors.
- PEI 2 is suitable for light traffic only – e.g. Bathrooms
- PEI 3 is suitable for most domestic uses – e.g. Kitchen, Conservatory, but not the main entrance.
- PEI 4 is suitable for all domestic and medium commercial use - e.g. Most shops & showrooms
- PEI 5 is for all domestic & commercial uses. Put them anywhere! Take-aways in particular.
There are also grades of SLIP RESISTANCE, but this can normally be determined just by feel.
The THICKNESS of a tile has nothing to do with how long lasting it may be and only affects the strength of the actual tile. I.e. A thin tile will require a first class fitting job, since any areas without the correct adhesive contact can easily break. With thick tiles, you can afford to be less exact.
Lastly, your tiles will last longer than the kitchen or bathroom suite, so buy more than you need and keep some extras. You will be glad you kept some spares in 5 years’ time.
A little knowledge goes a long way towards making your next tiling job a success.