Ceramic and porcelain tile are popular flooring choices in many rooms of the home. The characteristics of the product make it one that can be installed in the foyer and taken throughout the space for a consistent look. Tile is a man-made product crafted of a pressurized clay that is baked at high temperatures to ensure hardness. Because it is a man-made material and not a natural material, it comes in countless size, shape, and finish options. You can even purchase tile that is made to resemble the look of wood planks. But before you decide on a tile for your space, be sure to test tile floor samples to see if they measure up to your expectations.
Test Tile Floor Samples Before You Commit
With so many different tile options to choose from, narrowing it down to the ideal product can seem overwhelming. Once you have a handful of style that appeal to you in appearance, order samples to take home and experience in person. To ensure you’re making the best choice, put the tiles you sample through a series of tests to see how they hold up to the needs of the space.
Before you begin, consider the room in which the flooring will be placed. What is the daily wear and tear the flooring in that area is exposed to? How high-traffic is the area? Take all these factors into consideration when beginning the tile testing process. Ceramic tile, porcelain tile, and natural stone tiles may all react differently to the tests.
Tile installed in kitchens, bathrooms, laundry rooms and entryways will be exposed to moisture. Make sure the tile you select can hold up to standing water. First, take some careful measurements of the flooring sample. Next, expose the sample to water over a period of time. After it has time to sit, measure the sample again to see if any expansion occurred. Too much expansion could be indicative of a flooring tending to buckle or warm over time when it is exposed to standing water.
How Does it Handle Water?
Expansion isn’t the only factor when it comes to water. Standing water can also affect the finish of tile and even the slip resistance. Expose the top of the tile to water again and see how slick it becomes when it is wet. This is especially important at the entrances of the home and in bathrooms where wet feet could result in a slip-and-fall. Tiles with more texture will help prevent a slick surface more than a high-polished finish.
Hairline cracks that occur in the tile glaze over time is referred to as crazing. Today, tiles are tested for crazing prior to sale to ensure they hold up to the standard requirements. Crazing does not affect the overall strength or durability of the tile. In fact, many small manufacturers of hand-made tiles incorporate a finish with crazing to enhance the appeal of the tile. Tiles with crazing may appear dirtier over time, as soil settles into the fine cracks. If crazing does occur, regular sealing of the tiles will help preserve their beauty.
Review the Bond Strength of the Product
Don’t forget to check out an manufacturer-provided information about the tiles. The bond strength refers to the amount of pressure necessary to release the bond between the tile and the backing board when properly mortared in place. This strength can be very important in high-traffic areas of the home.
Thermal Shock Resistance
Occasionally, tiles can crack or become damage when exposed to extreme temperatures. Consider the high and low temperatures of the area you wish to tile and subject the samples to those temperatures to see how they perform. Many manufacturers will list right on the product what temperature range is suitable for their tiles.
When tile flooring is exposed to daily life, spills are bound to occur. Considering the room in which the tile is featured, test tile floor samples with a variety of stains. Use food items for kitchen tile, bathroom products for bathroom tile, and cleaning products for living area tiles. First, test the stains by applying them and cleaning them up quickly. Then repeat the process, giving the stains a long time to sit on the tile before cleaning them up the second time.
The tile you select needs to hold up to the rigors of daily life. Take the flooring sample and try denting, scratching and chipping it with keys, heels, and weights. Anything you can think of that may damage the floors once they are in the space should be considered during the durability test.
Consider Overall Appearance
One of the most important factors in selecting the right tile for a room is the appearance of the tile in the space. Place the tile in the room or rooms where it will be and look at it against the other furniture and finishes in the space. Make sure to look at the samples at various times of day because the changing light throughout the day can make a tile look to be a different color. When it is hard to narrow down your samples to the final choice, looking at the materials side-by-side in the space may be the deciding factor.
Choosing tile flooring that will enhance the look of your home for many years to come is easy when you take the time to collect samples of your favorites and test them in your space. You will either confirm that the one you thought you loved the most is the right choice for the room or you may be surprised to find out that a tile you didn’t initially love looks fantastic in the space. Once you’ve made a final selection, decide if you are installing the material yourself or leaving the installation to the professionals to get a clean finished look.