You’ve chosen light fixtures, a vanity, a bathtub, towel bars, and other design details for your bathroom remodel, but you still have one decision left to make. You like the look of ceramic tile — or perhaps you’re more attracted to its price. But is ceramic tile the best choice for your bathroom?
Archaeologists continue to discover ceramic pottery from civilizations that existed thousands of years ago. While your bathroom’s ceramic tile floors will endure much more wear and tear than an ancient urn or pitcher, ceramic’s durability makes it ideal for use underfoot. You can also apply ceramic tiles to shower surrounds, backsplashes, and countertops.
Manufacturers rate ceramic tiles based on their hardness using the Porcelain Enamel Institute (PEI) abrasion test, so pay attention to these numbers when shopping for your bathroom tiles. The ratings stretch from zero to five. Grades one and two offer enough strength for use in the bathroom, but if you have kids or higher levels of traffic, you might want to choose a higher grade to accommodate the extra wear.
If you install ceramic tiles in your bathroom, consider adding a few bath rugs and mats to the top of the tile for chilly winter mornings. Ceramic does not retain heat well, which means that even when your furnace blows full steam, your feet might not appreciate the shock of stepping on the tiles. You can also consider installing a underfloor heating system underneath the tiles, which will add thermal comfort to your new floor.
Ceramic tiles can cost more to buy and install than carpet and linoleum, but they also last longer. In the case of carpet, ceramic also presents less of a risk of water damage if the toilet overflows or the bathtub springs a leak. In terms of tiles, ceramic costs less than granite, marble, and other high-end tiles.
Many homeowners turn to cork or bamboo floors in the bathroom to reduce their carbon footprints. However, if you buy post-industrial ceramic tiles, you’ll benefit the environment without sacrificing your aesthetic preferences. Tiles made from recycled materials provides homeowners with more green home improvement choices.
If anyone in your family suffers from asthma or allergies, ceramic tiles are ideal choices for bathroom floors, walls, and tub surrounds. The hard, durable surfaces do not trap irritants, so everyone in the family can breathe easier.
If you’ve never installed tiles before, consider hiring a professional. Measuring and cutting tiles to fit a small space like a bathroom takes quite a bit of work, so this labor might increase the project cost by a significant margin. Vinyl and linoleum floors require less effort and are easier for novice DIYers to install.
Ceramic tiles and their durability offer many benefits, but the hard tiles themselves can also cause muscle and joint fatigue among people with arthritis, osteoporosis, and other bone and joint conditions. Additionally, some may injure themselves during a fall on the hard surface and more fragile items may break if they’re accidentally pushed of a vanity ledge. If these are concerns for you, considering materials that are more universal design friendly like impact-resistant rubber and cork.
As long as you own a vacuum or broom and a mop, you can keep ceramic tiles clean with little effort. The nonporous surface doesn’t stain easily or trap dirt and dust.
Ceramic tiles, like any other flooring material, present distinct pros and cons. Weigh your options carefully based on your specific preferences and how you intend to use the tiles in your home.
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