Choosing the right floor tiles

Tiling is a practical and resistant floor covering for both indoors and outdoors. Tiles can be made of ceramic, porcelain, terracotta, natural or reconstituted stone, etc. There are a few basics to understand when talking about tiles, meaning a baked floor covering. There are three main categories of tiles: worked natural stone, stoneware and terracotta. Tiles are used to cover floors, walls, stairs and other surfaces. They vary according to their format, their constituent materials and their technical characteristics.

Tiling is used in kitchens and bathrooms because it is easy to clean. Floor tiles should have a non-slip surface. Outdoor tiles can withstand negative temperatures, making them particularly suitable for cold climates. Rainwater, oil and liquids run off low-porous tiles. Tiles made from porous materials should be treated so that they become non-absorbent.

The tiles you choose will largely depend on the atmosphere you want to achieve. For example, natural stone gives or red  terracotta tiles create a warm environment. It is also important to take into account the use, either inside or outside, and the degree of humidity. Floors in high traffic areas should be covered with abrasion resistant tiles.

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  • What size and shape of tiles should you choose?

    Choose tiles relative to the size of the room you’re tiling. Many tile sizes are available depending on the manufacturer. While larger tiles (60 x 60 cm / 80 x 80 cm / 120 x 60 cm) enhance the spacious appearance of a room by limiting the pattern effects of grout (which is trendy at the moment), small ones (20 x 20 cm or 30 x 30 cm) warm up a room and are easier to install. Tiles are most often square or rectangular, though some are octagonal, but these are more difficult to lay.

    Royal Mosa square tiles

    In a bathroom, we recommend using smaller to medium models which, because there are more joints, avoid aquaplaning. Mosaic tiles are great for small areas. In a living room, dining room or kitchen most people choose larger tiles for their easy maintenance. This is especially true if you have direct access to the garden or have pets.

    AGROB BUCHTAL bathroom tiles

    ITALGRES kitchen tiles

    Cerdomus Ceramiche living room floor

  • How to choose the color of your tiles?

    Bright or pastel colors might attract your attention right now, but try to think further into the future for the color of your tiles. You won’t change this type of flooring as regularly as a linoleum or floating floor, so be careful with the style you choose, especially if you want to resell your house or apartment later on.

    Here are a few tips to see you through the selection process:

    • Lighter colors make a space appear larger
    • Darker colors can add warmth
    • Shade variation will blend and hide stains better than anything
    • Neutral colors allow you to change your accessories
    • Vibrant colors are cheerful and add character


  • How to calculate the number of tiles you need for the total surface?

    To calculate how many tiles you need, you will need to know the area of the room you are tiling in meters squared, with an additional percentage (about 15%) to account for loss due to cuts. 

    • Take area measurements (the length and width of a room)
    • Multiply the measurements (the results will give you the square meters of the room)
    • Calculate the coverage (multiply the square meters by 15%, this will be the actual number of square meters you should buy tiles for)
  • How to lay floor tiles?

    The type of installation refers to how the tiles are installed on the floor. You can choose to lay your tiles straight, diagonally—especially if your room is not square or rectangular—, in a checkerboard style with different colors or integrate a “carpet” pattern of tiles on the ground for a stylish effect. There are many options.

    Tiles are never laid on wood flooring as they risk of cracking with the movement of the wood. Tiling must always be set on a stable surface like concrete or old tiling. The floor needs to be clean and dry before the tiles can be set. Here are the steps for laying floor tiles:

    • Prepare the floor (mix mortar, spread mortar starting at the reference lines, comb mortar in one straight direction, remove excess mortar)
    • Lay the tiles (lay the first tile at the crossing of the reference lines and place tile spacers at the edges of the first tile, then continue laying tiles in this manner); all the tiles should already be cut to size before laying.
    • For bathrooms or showers you will need to cut the tile for drainage (this can be done beforehand if you’ve already selected which tile will be used for drainage)

    Quick tip: Avoid excess mortar by running your finger along any raised spots—mortar must be pliable—, then wipe the surface with a damp cloth.

  • How to choose the joints for new tiles?

    TECHNOKOLLA jointing mortar

    Joints are important for the installation of tiles. You can choose between different colors of joints, though some colors and materials can be sensitive to stains from grease or cleaning products. There are different types of joints:

    • The epoxy seal: more expensive but not prone to stains
    • The resin-based seal
    • The classic cement seal with adjuvant to prevent stains

    If you are tiling very large surface, you will need to include an expansion joint as tiles can move.

    If you’ve chosen a ceramic floor and wish to integrate minimal joints, consider rectified tiles whose evenly cut edges, milled at right angles, allow them to fit into each other perfectly.

  • How to maintain your tiling?

    The secret to easily maintaining a tile is to clean it thoroughly after laying it down. Mortar often creates a gray haze known as a cement veil which should be removed during the laying process. If not, this thin film will stain the tiles and give the flooring a bad appearance.

    In your day-to-day washing of tiles, it is absolutely necessary to avoid chemicals because this will very quickly wear them down. Use basic hot water and mild soap instead and be sure to dry the floor after mopping. You can also vacuum and dust tiles.

  • A brief word on exterior tiles

    Ceramica Rondine outdoor tile

    Installing exterior tiles requires precaution. The model must be stamped “exterior tiling” which guarantees its frost resistance and non-slip coating. The process of laying is the same, but it is advisable to pay attention to the joints. Create a slope of 1-2 cm per meter, this will prevent stagnant water and thus preserve your exterior tiling.

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  • Landon "Lumber Master" Edgington says:

    tile is also durable and easy to clean but careful on it’s installation, it may occur when so much heat.

  • Shaylee Packer says:

    It was mentioned that lighter tile colors can make the space appear larger. We are looking to redo our master bath and right now it just seems so small and cramped. I wonder if it would open up the space if we replaced the flooring with white bright tile?

    • Hannah Boston says:

      Dear Shaylee, thank you for your comment. Light coloured tiles can make spaces appear larger, but it will depend on how they coordinate with your existing bathroom fittings. Large mirrors can also help a space appear larger.

  • Paul Henderson says:

    Notebook opened. Taking notes. Thanks for the valuable post. I wish more people would talk about this subject as in depth as you.

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