Sizes and Selection Abound
Ceramic tile is manufactured in sizes ranging from one inch to twenty-four inches square. So bring a tape
measure when you go shopping. Ceramic tile is normally boxed and priced by the square foot, regardless of the
size of the individual tile itself. You should also know that tile size is relative. Tile is usually referred
to by its nominal size, not its actual size.
During the firing process, ceramic tile will shrink, on average, by about 10% in size. For example a 12" by 12"
floor tile will actually measure 11-7/8 inches square. Currently, the most popular ceramic floor tile are the
larger sized tiles such as 13" by 13", 16" by 16" and 18" by 18" sizes. Tile size takes its cue from the room size.
When considering what size tile would be appropriate for your given space, start by determining the size of the room.
Often times, people think that small rooms call for small tile. That is not necessarily true. In fact, incorporating
a larger size tile in a smaller room will visually increase the size of the space. And fewer grout lines will
help create a cleaner surface appearance.
Conversely, using a tile size that's too small creates more grout joints that may make the floor look too busy,
again depending on the size of the space.
The bottom line here is that, as with all design elements, scale plays an important role in creating a room's
overall balance. So, please consider it carefully to achieve your desired look.
Ceramic Can Take On Many Disguises
The look of natural stone is very popular but some consumers prefer ceramic over stone due to price and maintenance
considerations. In answer to consumers' demands, ceramic and porcelain manufacturers have created tiles that offer
textures, colors and patterns resembling natural stone products. Of the sought after looks in ceramic and porcelain
tile, slate, travertine and marble are just a few.
To further enhance the natural look, tile can also be made to feature heavy textures, chiseled and hammered edges,
and even resemble tumbled stone. Ceramic tile texture is related to its style. So feel free to feel! The feel of a
tumbled stone or slate looking ceramic tile will be irregular and somewhat rough.
A tile simulating marble or granite on the other hand, will have a very smooth, polished feel. In addition to the
feel, textures also vary in degree of shine, ranging from dull to semi-gloss to glass-like.
Ceramic is Right at Home, Outdoors
Ceramic tile is a versatile product, with many styles designed for today's popular outdoor living areas.
Outdoor tile typically features non-skid finishes designed for safety when wet, sometimes installed on patios,
walkways, or around pools. Another important characteristic of ceramic tile designed for outdoor applications
is its resistance to frost. It's a cold, hard fact. Ceramic tile manufactured for outdoor use has very low water
absorption, minimizing the cracking, chipping and other effects of expansion when the temperature falls below freezing.
In addition to ceramic tile styles, manufacturers also offer decorative inserts, medallions and mosaics that are
used to create intricate patterns and beautiful borders. Tile size 2"x2" and smaller are usually referred to as
mosaics and are often used with different colors to create a pattern or decorative inset. Some of these smaller
tiles also come in different shapes, such as hexagon, so feel free to let your imagination run free. Patterned borders
made up of different size tiles or different colors can create beautiful looks.
Simple variations in color, shape or size can be patterned within a room, or across several adjoining rooms.
When creating a pattern with different tiles, you should know that the more prominent tile that is throughout
the largest areas is called the "field tile".
Grout is a type of cement that is used to fill the space and provide support in tile joints. There are two types
of grout commonly used in home installations; Portland cement based, and epoxy based. Both of these grout compounds
may have sand added to provide additional strength to the tile joint. Sanded grout is recommended for tile joints
1/8th of an inch and larger. Unsanded grout is typically used in joints that are smaller than 1/8th of an inch.
Grout can be pigmented to give a nearly infinite range of colors, shades and hues. Pigment is added to the cement
at the job site when the grout is mixed. Grout color and thickness will change the appearance of the floor and
room dramatically. Using a white or a light colored grout highlights the color in tile. Choosing a dark grout
with a light tile, or light grout with a dark tile will emphasize the geometric pattern of your layout. So be wise
and plan accordingly.
A leader in style, design options and performance, ceramic tile is the popular choice of homeowners across the
country and around the world. With the knowledge shared here we hope your ceramic flooring shopping experience is
more complete, comfortable and confident.