Angie's LIST Guide to
Tile

Whether you want to replace a laminate floor, backsplash, shower stall or countertops, ceramic tile is a durable, easy-to-clean option that can add value to your home. Both ceramic and stone tiles are nearly maintenance free, though grout will need occasional resealing.
 

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tile backsplash
Tile can be used as accent pieces, like this kitchen backsplash, or for main features, such as floors and walls.(Photo courtesy of Angie's List member Paolo S.)
 
 

Benefits of tile

Waterproof

Tile choices such as glazed ceramic or porcelain tiles are waterproof, which makes them excellent choices for areas of the home that are regularly exposed to water, such as the kitchen or bathroom. Using tile for a backsplash, a shower surround, wall covering or flooring in these areas can help prevent water damage to underlying structural elements.

bathroom tile
Because tile is waterproof, durable and easy to clean, it makes an ideal choice for water-prone bathroom surfaces. (Photo courtesy of David N.)
Because tile is waterproof, durable and easy to clean, it makes an ideal choice for water-prone bathroom surfaces. (Photo courtesy of Angie's List member David N.)

Hypoallergenic

Since many tile materials come from natural sources such as stone or ceramic materials, they don't emit volatile organic compounds, which may trigger allergies in some people, like many synthetic material choices may. Tile surfaces that are nonporous and easily wiped down, such as glazed ceramic tiles or glass tiles, are also less likely to attract and maintain dust, pollen, dander and other allergens. This feature of tile also makes it more resistant to bacteria, mold and mildew.

Durable

Floors and walls that are covered by synthetic materials are very easy to damage. A dragging chair or overzealous child with some crayons can create an indelible mark on the surface that will never go away. It takes much more work to create permanent damage in tile. Although tiles can be chipped or cracked if a heavy object is dropped upon them, damaged tiles can be easily removed and replaced without affecting the remaining undamaged tiles.

Easy to Clean

One of the biggest problems with synthetic materials is that you have to be careful of what chemicals you use to clean them. Tile is much easier to clean since you can scrub more vigorously using any chemical you want. It is also very difficult for dirt to gain any real purchase on the surface of tile.

Easily Customizable Pricing Options

There is a wide variety of options to choose from when you are dealing with tile. You can get everything from the classic tile you see in many bathrooms and kitchens to high-end luxury tiles, which makes tile an affordable option for nearly every type of budget.

Highly Flexible Design Options

Since tile comes in almost every pattern, shape, size, color, pattern and style possible, tile can attractively fit into nearly any shape or room design imaginable.

Common tile materials

There are four major types of tile material: ceramic, glazed porcelain, glass and natural stone.

Ceramic

Ceramic tiles are known for being softer and easier to cut than most other types of tile. This softer nature also makes them more prone to water absorption, and therefore means they have a lower overall resistance to frost.

Due to this absorption problem, it's important that tile floors are kept dry to ensure years of use. This means that floors should be allowed to thoroughly dry each time you mop.

Ceramic tiles will almost always be among the least expensive tiles. They are not quite as durable as other tile options and will be best for people on a budget.

Glazed Porcelain

Porcelain tiles are comprised of porcelain clays that have been compressed together through a process called “dust pressing.” This method creates an exceptionally strong and impermeable tile that is suitable for use in a wide range of applications. The water absorption rate of porcelain tiles is very low and they are among the strongest tiles you can buy.

The low porosity of porcelain means that bacteria and molds have a much harder time taking root in porcelain. This creates a naturally antibacterial barrier that is very easy to clean.

Glazed porcelain tile is more expensive than ceramic tile. Its expense depends largely on what exact density and style you're looking for.

Glass

Glass tiles are some of the most highly customizable tiles that you will find. The glass can be melted down and imbued with an impressive variety of colors and designs. Glass tiles are often used for decoration.

Glass tiles need to be cleaned with care. You can use the same chemicals that you would use on any other piece of glass in your home. It's important to remember that shattered glass tile will cut like any other shattered glass.

Glass tiles can be very expensive if you want an advanced design or color pattern. If you don't want anything very special or glamorous, then you may be able to find glass tiles for a very reasonable price.

travertine flooring
This travertine stone floor gives a shine after being polished, no top coat necessary. (Photo courtesy of Angie's List member Steve Y.)
This travertine stone floor gives a shine after being polished, no top coat necessary. (Photo courtesy of Angie's List member Steve Y.)

Natural stone

Natural stone tiles are among the most expensive tile options out there. As the name suggests, natural stone tiles will be obviously distinguishable as stone. Stones with rich patterns, strong colors and appealing textures such as marble, granite and slate are  popular stone tile choices. They can be buffed or left “natural” depending on what type of look you're going for. Buffed stone will have a matte appearance and will rarely ever have the sheen you see with glazed porcelain or glass tiles.

The chemicals that you can use to clean natural stone tiles will vary depending on the stone you use. Some chemicals will create stains or pits in your tile. Some stone materials such as marble and granite are porous and must be sealed regularly. It is important to ask about the specific cleaning and maintenance requirements when shopping for stone tile.

Tips for selecting tile

Think about the space: Consider the amount of wear and tear the tile will endure. Is it in a major traffic flow area? Are people going to be wearing shoes or socks? Will the tiles get wet? Also, what surfaces are going to be covered – floors, countertops, and/or walls?

Different tiles are made to withstand varying levels of impact. Although tiles for the wall may look similar to floor tiles, they are not as thick or durable.

Estimate how much you need: To determine the amount of tile you will need, multiply the width times the length and add about 5 percent. You may also want to buy a few extra tiles to keep on hand incase some are damaged in installation or down the road.

Do some window shopping: Tiles are available in many shapes, sizes, colors, and textures. 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.

Select the material: There are many different materials that tiles are made of. Material affects the appearance, durability, and maintenance requirements of the tiles. Finish and texture are important, as well. Your tile should be comfortable to walk on for years to come.

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.

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.

Hiring a pro

Many people consider ceramic tile installation a ‘do-it yourself’ project.

tile installation
Because cutting and laying tile requires a specific amount of precision, consider hiring a professional to help. (Photo courtesy of Angie's List member Davida L.)
Because cutting and laying tile requires a specific amount of precision, consider hiring a professional to help. (Photo courtesy of Angie's List member Davida L.)

If you know what you’re doing, it is a great way to save money; however, if you have never installed tile before, it is easy to ruin the look you are going for. Professional tile installers have years of experience in laying and setting tiles, which means they can quickly tackle problems that may stall a weekend DIY-er or create a sloppy installation. Tile installation also requires special equipment to create cut tile smoothly to fit into irregularly-sized spaces. Due to the expertise and equipment required, contracting a professional tile installation expert is often suggested, especially for larger projects.

If you decide to hire a professional installer, check Angie’s List and get at least three estimates before selecting a company. If possible, you should ask to see photos of tiling jobs that they have finished in the past. Ask for references and call upon former customers to get their impression of the contractor's work quality, communication and ability to meet project deadlines.

Don't forget to check the license if your locale requires home improvement contractor licensing. It's also a good idea to ask for and verify a contractor's bonding or insurance.

Comments

removing old tile and replacing new tile

Never adhere tile(ceramic,porcelain,glass,stone,etc..)directly to a wood surface.Especially in a traffic area or other surface that must endure any type of impact,normal wear,or bear any load.Counter tops,staircase,substrate floors,bathroom garden tub decks and other common surfaces require proper preperation before recieving tile.Although in some rare cases,ive seen tile bonded to wood & appeared to hold up,for short or long term.But any non masonary surface requires a medium,such as a cementious of fiber board,or some cases a liquid brush on waterproofing/flex membrane,applied properly,before mortering the the tile down.Tile directly to wood will eventually fail to some extent if not completely,due to the different flex ratio characteristics of wood vs. tile

mold around corners of newly done bathroom tiles.

Mold Is Usually caused water sitting on the tile for extended periods of time that happens also when shower is used on a daily basis not having enough time to dry.First clean up the existing mold with a disinfectant, then either towel dry the shower area and seal the corners with a good grout sealer and also make sure that your bathroom venting is working properly.but as a precaution either towel dry your shower area or use a disinfectant spray, After using your shower or both if preferred.

Mold is caused by organic materials that build up on your showers try cleaning tile with soap n water n scrub hard. Mold dose not grow on alkalai product such as grout tile mortor or even if you use hardi backer as a substraight but mold will grow behind shower walls without a good moisture barrier

I had Travertine flooring placed about 7 years ago and about two months age I striped and resealed the flooring and I have a few places that have scratches and I would like to know if there is a product that I can buy to help hid the marks if I were to strip the floor again, i'am trying to stay away from having to sand, can you help. Thank you.

Yes stripper is available and I can take the scratches out if not to deep .

Can you put new floor tile over old tile?

The substrate must be stucturally sound with no movement and an adhesive that allows for some flexing is preferred on a rigid material like tile. The prep work for small mosaics to ensure a flat surface may be required.

I need someone to replace 2 rows of ceiling tile. they have buckled & sagging.
I need to get them fixed because I have them taped up to keep them from
opening up & letting a lot of stuff fall out &mess up a lot of things. it keeps sagging lower & I just need to get it fixed. I need an estimate on how much it will cost. I am a senior on a fixed income & can't afford a lot.

I would replace the entire ceiling for sure for safety reasons alone. Tile repair alone would loosen others anyway more than likely, and you wouldn't have to worry about tiles falling on you for many years.

We are looking for a tile installer, we provide all materials. 1 to 2 bathrooms per month approx.

The water from my shower stain the bathroom floor, and I don't know why? :(

We installed a handicap type dam-less shower pan and bathroom floor with limestone tile. We ran the waterproofing sloped into the shower and to the drain with a typical mortar bed float application. The bathroom floor has waterproof membrane similar to shower pan. The stone tile at the edge of the shower slopes to the drain but the bathroom floor is level. The bathroom floor has an electric heating pad in it. The moisture from the shower wicks back onto the bathroom floor and stains it. The heat pad accentuates the staining issue. Do you have any suggestions how we could correct this?

Can new ceramic tile be laid over existing ceramic tile that is in perfect condition? It would save a lot of work and mess if some substance were first smeared over the existing tile, then new tile cemented in place. I'm wondering if it is possible.
Thank you.

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