If you are considering remodeling your bathroom you have many different types of surfaces to select from and choose. As a matter of fact even though your bathroom may be one of the smallest rooms in your home it will be one of the most complex rooms to design for and remodel.
You will have many different materials that you can choose to use to provide a look and feel and function that you will be happy with for many years.
However one of the most important aspects you must keep in mind before you get started is how will your choices effect the maintenance level required to keep your bathroom looking new and clean.
We will try to go over some of the choices you have and why each of them is best for any given surface.
There are three main areas where tile can be placed in your bathroom. Walls, Floors and in wet areas like a counter top or shower surround.
Each of these areas normally take a different size tile.
Floors are best installed with a 12 inch tile because they are quick to install, They provide large areas of grouted sealed area that does not need to conform to complex shapes and they are often made of a thicker stronger tile that can take the weight of us standing on them both bare foot or even the concentrated force of a high heel. Floor tile should be marked for use on floors and it should give you the hardness rating to let you know it will stand up to us standing on it.
Walls normally do not see as much impact or abuse but the larger the tile that you use the better the visual results. Walls are best installed with a 12 to 6 inch tile. Larger tile can also be highlighted by smaller bands of a different color or material. Sometimes you see a chair rail height band of tile wrapping the wall made of a different color or even glass tile.
Tile in Wet areas such as a Shower floor should be smaller than 3 inches square. the optimal tile for shower installs is a 1 inch unglazed porcelain tile. the reason you use a smaller tile in this area is because the shower floor is actually sloped towards the drain. This means the larger the tile the more uneven it will feel on your feet. It will also look ugly which you don’t want to deal with.
Tile on bathroom countertops should really be shied away from because this area sees a lot of traffic. Any tile in this area will collect dirt and scum and bacteria in the grout areas that means you are going to be cleaning it and hating your choice. If you want you may install a wrap around tile for the sink or larger slabs of stone are often matched to countertops and available when you make your purchase.
Tile Materials for use in Bathrooms
Now that we have talked about the size of the tile and its best use for different locations lets take a minute to look at the actual material used in tiles and how they are best put to use in our bathrooms.
Personally as I get older function is more important then look. I think I gave a hint of that in the sizing information when I was explaining about how grout can gather dirt and bacteria and this is a problem with tiled surfaces but some materials do better than others.
It use to be that when you ordered tile you had two choices you could go with a glazed wall tile or a unglazed floor tile and that was it.
As bathrooms changed from utility to vanity a vast selection of materials were introduced to meet the demands of everyone’s fantasy.
This type of tile is normally a very dense porcelain tile. This means that it will not absorb water and it has a somewhat rough texture that is good for floor and shower floor surfaces.
Glazed tile can be confusing for the average first time buyer. The most important thing you must discover is the hardness rating of the tile. You will often find that there are wall tiles that look like they are perfect for the floor but if you use them they will crack. Porcelain is the best for a hardness rating but it is more expensive if it is quality.
Stone comes in many varities but the important thing to remember when thinking about stone in a wet are is will it absorb water and by doing so will it cause mold to grow.
Soap Stone, Travertine, Lime Stone are probably not your best bets for bathrooms no matter how much you love the look and the price.
Marble is slightly better for countertops and finally granite is one of your better choices but it is expensive.
Man Made Materials
There are a variety of different man made materials for countertops and tile in your bathroom and kitchens.
Glass is often use for decorative accents in bathrooms and it is water proof so no mold concerns.
There is a man made stone material that uses glass and stone chips in a resin base and it kinda looks like granite but it is waterproof so no worry about mold.
And finally you get down to my choice which is Fiberglass tubs and surrounds and countertops made of one piece ceramic material. What i like about them is cleaning. Once you get to be your parent’s age you will seriously consider this as your largest concern. You don’t want to be fighting mold when you could be getting a sandwich.
I hope this How To helped you find your way a little better in the maze that is the tile department in your local home store.
Remember its really nice to go out and spend $50,000 on an amazing bathroom but you can get really great results by doing the work yourself and looking for Odd Lot materials that have been discontinued.
If you visit a store the first thing you should say is I am thinking about doing this.. do you have any materials you are trying to get rid of.
Be right out there and tell them you aren’t looking for the newest thing because you’re not an idiot and all of the stone in their store has been in the ground for millions of years so you are more impressed by them selling you something for $5 a square foot rather than $25.