There’s no question that floor tiles are an elegant and long-lasting solution to most flooring needs. But you may be thinking solely about colour swatches, and what will match your blinds, or size, shape, and texture and missing some vital questions to ask yourself before making a decision. Sometimes you may have to sacrifice that perfect colour to balance one of these many other criteria in your floor tile decisions. Confused? Worried? Stressed out? Don’t be, we’ll break it all down and help you make a decision you won’t regret.
Question 1: What Practicalities Do I Expect From This Tile?
Before you give thought to colours and textures, you may want to first consider the practicalities of how this tile will be used. For example; will the tile be in a “wet” environment such as a bathroom or kitchen floor? If so, a glazed porcelain would be a terrible idea. Tiles have varying degrees of “slipperiness” and you should make sure the tile you choose matches the application. If you plan to use these tiles on a kitchen countertop, then think of the practicalities you’ll expect from the tile. Specifically; can it stand up to hot pots and pans being placed on it? Is the tile thick enough to be durable to avoid discolouring and unsightly wear? Will it stand up to my Japanese Damascus steel blades over time?
Question 2: To Go Natural Or Synthetic? That is the Question.
Tiles can be divided into three overall categories: Natural Stone, Porcelain, and Ceramic. Both Porcelain and Ceramic tiles are a “baked” tile made in forms, whereas natural stone is quarried from rock and cut to shape and size. Each of these “materials” have pros and cons. Some may be perfect for one application, but ill-advised for another, so it’s important to get the advice of a professional before you make choices. For example, certain natural stones are very porous (meaning they will absorb whatever is left on them for any length of time) like Slate, but Soap Stone is almost impervious (meaning nothing will absorb). As you can see, Slate would make a great option for a hallway floor tile, but a terrible option for a kitchen countertop. This scenario repeats a bajillion times (actual number) in medium meets media decisions. If you have questions about this, get in touch, we can help.
Question 3: What Is Currently Available?
You may go through all the hard work of agonizing over a tile and finally making a decision. Yes! This is the right one, only to find out… the store doesn’t have enough. Always factor “supply” and “availability” into your floor tile decision making. Remember, you don’t want to buy the exact amount of tile for your floor space, you’ll need to purchase an additional 10% of tile to factor in cuts, loss, and breakage. It’s also a good idea to keep a couple in the garage or store room for later in case one breaks or cracks. Not that you should expect that, but when 15lb boiling hot roasting pan meets ceramic tile from 3’ above, well, physics takes over and your tile is likely to bear the brunt of the damage when an unstoppable force meets an immovable object.
Question 4: Have I Factored In The True Cost?
Tile stores are no dummies. They’ve figured out that when you see $2.99 a square foot tile you think “Oh that’s two-bucks a square”. Also, that when you compare the $3.99 a square foot tile you love so much more, you’ll rationalize: “Oh it’s only a buck more than the other one, and I love this one so much more!” – remember to factor the TOTAL cost of your floor space, plus 10% as mentioned above before making a decision on your tile. Buy the best tile you can afford. They tend to be more square, evenly sized (in width, height, and depth), resulting in a better final product that can be achieved faster, meaning you’ll save money on installation costs. The cheaper the tile, the more expensive it will be to install them because your tile setter will have to spend more time working to hide the flaws inherent in your tile.
Question 5: When Is It Time To Consider Colours, Shapes & Textures?
Only after you’ve narrowed down all of the above, identified the practical application of the tile; made a decision on whether you’ll go with natural or synthetic materials; identified what is available and how much; and identified your budget, is it now time to shop what is available in your criteria. Take samples of your carpet, wall colours and blinds with you to the store. Remember the lighting in your home will be very different to the lighting in the stores, so having these samples with you will mean you don’t have to rely on your memory to make good choices. Lastly, don’t be shy to shop around. Don’t feel pressure to buy at the first store you look at. Often “high-end” stores will have nicer displays you can get good ideas from, but most all tile stores (despite what they’ll try tell you about buying direct from Italy) get their tiles from 4 main distributors in Vancouver. Meaning, you may find exactly the same tile at the “cheap” tile store. Also, if you get the details from the back of the tile you like, we can often source this for you, and pass over our 30% supplier discount to you the homeowner, so do get in touch and we can help with the supply of your materials also.
Do you have any additional tips for making good tile choices? Anything you found helped you? Please share, we love to talk tile.