Angie's List: Selecting tile
Angie's List, the nation's leading provider of consumer reviews, asked highly rated remodeling companies about the types of tile and tips for selecting the right one for you.
Types of tile:
- Ceramic and porcelain tiles usually are similar in durability and quality, but porcelain is made from a harder material and can withstand cold temperatures, making it more suitable for an enclosed porch, for example.
- Marble and granite are made of natural stone and offer a more polished look. Because they are a natural stone, they have to be sealed periodically.
- Glass tiles are a popular choice for backsplashes and have a shiny or matte finish. Iridescent options are also available.
- Metal tiles also add shine to any backsplash and come in many finishes, like stainless steel and burnished bronze.
Tips for selecting tile:
- Determine its use: Tile is very versatile. What surfaces are going to be covered – floors, counters, and/or walls? Consider the visual effect you want to accomplish.
- Evaluate the space: Consider the amount of wear and tear the tile will endure. Is it in a major traffic flow area? Will the tiles get wet?? Different tiles are made to withstand varying levels of impact.
- Select the material: Tile is available in many shapes, sizes, colors, and textures. Although tiles for the wall may look similar to floor tiles, they are not as thick or durable. Material affects the appearance, durability, and maintenance requirements of the tiles. Finish and texture are important, as well.
- Determine how much you need: To determine the amount of tile you will need, multiply the width times the length and add about 5 percent. Buy a few extra tiles to keep on hand in case some are damaged in installation or down the road.
- Shop around: Visit a few tile stores as the same tile from different batches can look very different. When you settle on a tile, make sure the lot number and shade number are the same to ensure all the tiles are from the same batch. Remember that tile prices vary and are not always representative of the tile's durability.
- Don't forget grout: Select a grout color and width that will blend in your tile. Stay away from stark white as it will be noticeable and show dirt more easily – unless that is the effect you're going for.
- Factor in maintenance: Consider the amount of maintenance that will be required when purchasing the tile. Keep in mind that some porous tiles will need annual sealing. Also, textured tiles and light colored grout will require more scrubbing to clean. Use only cleaning products that are specified for tile and grout cleaning – using harsh chemicals or abrasive cleaners can lead to damage.
Angie's List hiring tips:
- Consider the project: If you have never installed tile before, it is easy to ruin the look you are going for. Installation can be complex and is not for the inexperienced. It's usually wise to find someone qualified for tile installation.
- Installation is key: Ask the company about their experience installing tile. Problems can occur if the grout is not fully dried and sealed; if it's not mixed properly according to the manufacturer's instructions; or if tiles are too loose, which can cause grout joints to crack. It's important to have a strong subfloor, the proper underlayment and to use a quality mortar.
- Get written estimates: Obtain at least three bids to ensure you are getting a fair price. The contractors should provide an on-site estimate so they can measure the space for the tile installation. Don't forget to check whether the company offers a guarantee on materials and labor.
- Consider costs: The cost for adding tile is determined by square footage, material, layout, and design. There will typically be an additional cost if the contractor has to remove old tile and/or materials.
- Check out past work: Ask the contractor for references and ask for a portfolio of past jobs. Look at current and past jobs so you can see how the tile has held up over the years.
- If you don't want to replace your tile: Often times, people think that if one tile is broken they must replace the entire job. If you have extra tiles, or can find the same tile, most tile professional can replace a single tile and save you a lot of time and money. If you can't stand the way your existing tile looks but you don't want to replace it, you can clean or change the grout color – it's an easy way to revamp the look of your tile.