Understanding Tile

Understanding Tile
Understanding Tile
Tile comes in a variety of styles and types which offer different features and benefits, so
figuring out which tile to purchase is difficult, but if you use the standard icons and language
on the packaging, you can easily identify whether the product is right for your project.
Grade
Tone
Represents the quality of the
tile when visually inspected
Variation in look from one
tile to another within
same tile package
− Grade 1 = No
imperfections at 3’
Low tone means tiles are
nearly identical
− Grade 2 = No
imperfections at 10’
High or heavy tone
means tiles vary greatly
in color and/or pattern
− Grade 3 = Major
imperfections
Home Depot only sells Grade 1 tiles
Water Absorption
C.O.F
Stands for water absorption
and lists the amount of
water the tile will absorb
Stands for the coefficient of
friction and represents the
slip resistance of the tile
Value equals the
percentage of the tiles
weight in water it will
absorb
Scale ranges from 0 to 1
Higher score means better
slip resistance
Package may list slip
resistance for both wet and
dry tiles
Frost Resistance
Indicates the tile is frost
resistant
No tile is freeze proof
Tile must be vitreous or
impervious to be frost
resistant
High Definition
Also known as reveal imaging or 3D printed
Creates the look of other flooring products, like
stone or hardwood, with the features of porcelain tile
− Non-vitreous tile absorbs more than 7%
− Semi-vitreous tile absorbs 3% to 7%
− Vitreous tile absorbs 0.5% to 3%
− Impervious absorbs less than 0.5%
PEI
Stands for Porcelain Enamel
Institute and is a rating of
the durability of the tile
Higher number means better
flooring
− Use PEI 1 & 2 on walls
− Use PEI 3 in residential
floors and walls
− Use PEI 4 & 5 in
commercial applications
Copyright © 2014, Homer TLC, Inc. All Rights Reserved.
Tile Types
The differences in tile are not just about style. The composition of the tile affects the tile’s
functionality and performance in different environments and applications.
Questions to consider
 Indoor or outdoor?
For installation outdoors where there could be moisture or frost, select a lessporous tile. Porcelain, quarry, and terracotta tiles are good for outdoor use.
 Wall or floor?
As a rule, any tile that is rated for installation on a floor can also go on the wall.
But tile that’s specified only for walls is not durable enough for the floor.
 Textured or smooth?
Floor tile that is too smooth can cause slips and falls, especially in a wet
environment like a bathroom.
Porcelain
Natural Stone
Very hard
Natural material
shows variation
in tone and texture
Durable
Water resistant
Characteristics vary
by type of stone
Frost resistant
Can go anywhere
Ceramic
Easy to cut
Generally less costly
Good for indoors and
dry environments
Not as durable as
porcelain
Glass
Marble
− Soft to medium
− Absorbent
− Variety of colors
Travertine
− Soft
− Absorbent
− Variety of earth tones
Granite
− Hard
− Absorbent
− Acid resistant
− Variety of colors
Slate
− Soft to hard
− Absorbent
− Variety of colors
− High maintenance
Quarry and Terracotta
Decorative & stylish
Hard and durable
Does not absorb water
Great for outdoor patios
Cannot go on floors
Water and frost resistant
Copyright © 2014, Homer TLC, Inc. All Rights Reserved.
Subfloor
Beneath every finished floor, there is a rough floor, or subfloor. The type of subfloor you have
affects the type of finished flooring you can install.
In new construction, you can easily see what the subfloor is made from. In a home where
there’s already carpet or other flooring, here are some rules of thumb to help you determine
what subfloor you have.
What kind of subfloor is it?
Above grade – wood subfloor
On grade
− Basement or crawl space – wood subfloor
− No basement or crawl space – concrete subfloor
Below grade – concrete subfloor
Where can you install?
Carpet
can go over:
Laminate
can go over:
Plank or plywood
Plank or plywood
Particle board or
OSB wood
OSB wood
Concrete
Concrete
Hardwood
Engineered
hardwood
can go over:
Tile
can go over:
Plank or plywood
Plank or plywood
Concrete (if the flooring
is specially designed)
OSB wood (with backer board)
can go over:
Concrete
Vinyl
can go over:
Plank or plywood
Plank or plywood
OSB wood
Particle board or
OSB wood (with
¼” sheet of plywood)
Concrete
Concrete
Copyright © 2014, Homer TLC, Inc. All Rights Reserved.
Tile Set
Tile set refers to all of the products which go into installing a tile flooring project. Below are
several of the major tile set categories and their key features and benefits.
Subfloor Preparation
Backer Board
Seal seams, fill cracks
and holes, and level floor
before installing tile
Boards made of cement or
fiber cement combination
Use between the tile and the
subsurface to provide a
strong, even foundation
Use appropriate
products that match
your subfloor type
Adhesive
Attach with thin-set and
screws
Moisture Barrier
Use in wet areas to prevent
moisture from damaging
subsurface
Use to adhere tile and
backer board to subsurface
Thin-set mortar:
− Form of cement
Rolled waterproofing
membranes:
− Mix with water and apply
with a trowel
− Underlayment sheeting
− Place under backer board
Mastic:
− Form of glue
Liquid waterproofing
membranes:
− Easy to use in
pre-mixed container
− Resembles paint
− Apply over backer board
using brush, roller,
trowel, or sprayer
− Only use on walls
− Do not use in wet areas
Grout
Sealer
Use to fill the gaps between
the tiles
Apply with grouting float
Protects tile and grout from
stains and moisture
penetration
− Use sanded grout for
widths > 1/8”
Apply with sponge, brush,
foam roller, or spray bottle
− Use unsanded grout for
widths < 1/8” or glass tile
− Topical sealers create
protective barrier on top
of tile and grout
Available in a variety of
colors
− Penetrating sealers
absorb into tile and grout
Copyright © 2014, Homer TLC, Inc. All Rights Reserved.
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