Tile Buying Guide

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Most of us have little reason to think about the tile floors in our homes until they need to be replaced or a home renovation comes to fruition. Innovations in tile design and durability offer many options—it’s important to decide how much wear-and-tear and foot traffic your flooring will experience, how much maintenance you’re willing to take on and what type of tile will give you the most style and budget bang for your buck. 
Tile Trends
The latest trend in tile flooring is wood-grain porcelain tile, which gives the look of hardwood flooring without the expensive price tag. This type of tile not only has greater durability and is cheaper than wood flooring, but it is stain resistant and can be cleaned easily as well. It’s designed to resist water and won’t support the growth of bacteria when wet, as some unsealed woods might. 
Subway tiles are also on trend, being used for everything from kitchen backsplashes, shower surrounds, wall treatments and floors. They originated in the subways in New York City in the 1900s and now are a much-sought-after design feature in residential homes. An easy way to connect the rooms in your home with a common design theme is to use one color (such as white) of subway tiles in some way, small or large, throughout most of your public rooms. When used either in horizontal or vertical patterns, they can make a modern statement in your home, or add some pizzazz to an otherwise lackluster design feature, like a bathroom wall or floor. They come in all shapes and sizes, with various price tags, making them a great option to personalize your interior spaces without breaking the bank.
Stone Situations
Slate-look porcelain tile is the new go-to for interior designers when a client wants the look of natural stone, but doesn’t want to deal with the heavy weight or cost of the real thing. Slate-look tile is virtually indestructible and is impervious to moisture, making it perfect for mudrooms or laundry rooms. This tile requires a little more attention to detail during installation than other types, so it will cost a little more in labor to install. 
Beautiful travertine tile can add a special elegance to your home, but will also set you back in the budget department. This tile can be fairly noisy in busy areas, but it maintains a room’s temperature very well—keeping warm air in a room or staying cool to the touch during hot summer months. Travertine tile is only recommended for the ground floor of a building because of its weight; the subflooring must offer enough strength to support it. Travertine can also be slick when wet and is not recommended as flooring for laundry rooms or bathrooms where slipping on a wet floor is a danger.
Do your research and visit showrooms before making a final choice on tile flooring for your home. Ask for samples from manufacturers—nothing beats seeing a tile in the natural light of your own home and up against your furniture and appliances.
Cost Per Square Foot: $–$$
Durability: Very durable
Maintenance Level: Medium—spills wipe up easily; vacuum so dirt won’t scratch the finish
Noise When Walked on: Low
Best Used For: Kitchens or bathrooms, where there will be exposure to water or very sunny areas—it won’t fade
Avoid Using: Lower grades stain easily from mildew
Installation: Relatively easy for a DIY project
Cost Per Square Foot: $$
Durability: Durable
Maintenance Level: Low—spills wipe up easily
Noise When Walked On: Moderate
Best Used For: High-traffic areas due to its good durability; good in kitchens and bathrooms since it doesn’t harbor germs and is a low-cost alternative to stone and porcelain
Avoid Using: Where kids or seniors might fall—can be slippery
Installation: Fairly difficult to cut tiles—DIY practice cuts can add to the cost of the project
Cost Per Square Foot: $$$
Durability: Very durable
Maintenance Level: Low—spills wipe up easily
Noise When Walked On: Moderate
Best Used For: Kitchens, or where stain resistance is a key factor
Avoid Using: Don’t use in basements if cold temperatures are a concern
Installation: Make sure to consult a pro for the correct products to adhere tile to the floor
Cost Per Square Foot: $$$$
Durability: Less durable
Maintenance Level: Medium—should be sealed to avoid staining
Noise When Walked On: Moderate
Best Used For: In rooms where a rustic look is desired; can be used on walls
Avoid Using: In kitchens or where liquid spills might occur; where variations in shades and textures will detract from the design
Installation: Seal the tiles if using in kitchens
Cost Per Square Foot: $$$$$
Durability: Very durable
Maintenance Level: High—must be sealed and cleaned often; spills can stain
Noise When Walked On: Moderate
Best Used For: Focal points like entryways where drama is a factor; heavy weight is best used only on ground floors
Avoid Using: In kitchens or where liquid spills might occur
Installation: Use a pro—matching patterns and variations takes a trained eye
Expert Tip
• Newer tile designs do not require the use of grout; they have interlocking grooves just as hardwood does!
• Grout needs to cure for at least 30 days before any kind of sealant can be applied to make it water resistant.
Pick a shade of grout that is two shades darker than the tile; 
it will hide inevitable stains more easily.
Small mosaic tiles are great for your bathroom because the amount of grout needed will add some traction to the slippery surface. But this also means a lot more work if you are installing tiles on your own.
• Volatile Organic Compounds, or VOCs, are chemicals that can evaporate into air at room temperature. Most tiles, especially
glazed porcelain, have virtually undetectable VOCs—meeting indoor air-quality standards.
• Slip-resistant slate is a tile flooring option perfect for entryways in wet climates. The durable slate not only resists water, its textured darker surface masks muddy boot or paw prints and reduces the chance of falls.
Builders Floor Covering & Tile | GetNewFloors.com 
Enhance Floors & More | EnhanceFloors.com
Florida Tile | FloridaTile.com 
MODA Floors & Interiors | 
Traditions In Tile and Stone | TraditionsInTile.com
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