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Tile Floors Are Timeless

March 31 2010

While hardwoods are elegant in living and dining rooms, other flooring options are well suited to entries, high traffic kitchens, and wet areas such as baths and laundries.

Among the most popular choices is tile, which can be laid in a wide range of sizes, shapes, designs, colors and patterns. Not only does tile blend well with other floor choices, it can be pumped up with matching or blending grouts and wood trims.

Tile today is wonderfully versatile. Made of recycled brick, concrete, engineered quartz, stone, glass, ceramic clay, porcelain, terra cotta, Saltillo, terrazzo (concrete and stone) among other materials, tile also comes in a wide array of sizes, shapes, colors, patterns, and finishes, and embellished with colored grout, and wood or decorative insets.

Like pieces of art, tiles can be painted to look like granite, metal or wood, adding color and style to any home. Who doesn’t love the tiny hexagon-shaped, black and white mosaic tiles of old? Or the new transparent glass tiles that relax you like a day at the beach?

Tile is easy to install, but for flooring, make sure that the sub-flooring is taut, or any flex can cause even the most durable tiles to snap under stress. To make buying easier, tile is rated for durability and moisture-resistance.

The PEI rating on a tile tests for durability, while the Mohs rating tests for scratch resistance. The Porcelain Enamel Institute rates tiles for hardness which includes not only the ability to withstand foot traffic, but also moisture (porosity.) The ratings are light, medium, medium-heavy, and heavy. These are among the ratings used to determine a tile’s best use.

Before you buy, you should make sure the tile you choose is appropriate to the area you want to use it. For example, porcelain tile is popular in bathrooms because its density not only holds up to traffic but it’s extremely resistant to moisture.

For entries and kitchens, you want a heavy traffic-rated tile that will not take on water, such as stone.

Tile is sold by the square foot, from tiny mosaics to palatial squares and planks. When you price tile, make sure you know whether you are getting a price for an individual tile or the case, and how many square feet the case covers. Buy a little extra for breakage.

Ask if your flooring store includes installation in the quoted price.