When remodeling your Bathroom or Kitchen it is likely that you will want to replace or add wall tile. Ordering the correct type and number is important because supply centers that do not keep stock on hand at all times may run out or your selection could be discontinued.
Tile Firing Lots
In addition to availability there is the consideration of firing lots for your tile. The Firing lot number printed on a box of tiles tells the buyer when the tile was glazed and fired. Although the manufacturing process will often produce tiles of the exact same shade over months of firing it is often best to order tiles in the same lot group to ensure uniformity.
Wall Tile Sizes
Tile used on walls are usually made with a lighter weight clay. This allows you to apply them to the wall and not have sagging. In addition to the clay type is the size of the tile that will be available in your selection.
In theory the largest tile is the best selection for waterproofing. Any place that there is a grout joint is a potential place for failure and water leaks. This is significant if you are installing a tile surround for a shower or bath with shower unit.
The cost of larger tiles per square foot is also lower when you use 1 foot square tile. This is because it is easier to manufacture with less work and waste. The labor time to install tiles is also important and the larger the tile the faster it can be installed with one consideration.
If you are installing a full shower surround it is often necessary to do it in stages because tiles at the top of the wall will produce weight on lower tiles causing them to buckle and move out of alignment. Usually this can mean simply taking a lunch break but sometimes depending on the tile you select could mean waiting a full day.
You may be able to select from one inch decorative tile all the way up to 2 foot tiles. If you are looking for stone or a composite material you can find larger pieces.
Standard tile sizes are 2, 4, 6, 8* and 12 inches.
Edge Tiles vs Field Tiles
When you are laying tile you will start at the center of the widest area and work your way into the corner and out to an area midway on the wall where you want the tile to stop.
The tiles in the center of your design are called field tiles and have square edges on all sides to allow for grout joints. You will also use cut field tiles to form the corners in your design with the manufacturers square edge facing into the center of your pattern and the cut portion into the corner.
The tiles on the edge of your design are edge or bull nosed tiles and have a rounded edge that you will place on the outside of your pattern. This provides a finished appearance as the tile will blend into the wall without need for caulking or a wraparound molding.
If you have a corner that has two exposed edges then you can use a corner tile that has two rounded edges. If your piece is rectangular then the corner tile will come in left and right corners and if it is square then the double corner bevel can simply be rotated to either side.
Making your measurements
It is important that you take accurate measurements of the area of the wall that you want to cover in tile so you can order or purchase enough tile both field and edge tile to perform your work.
If you have special patterns that are not rectangular then you may want to make a drawing of your measurements and consult with a tile design specialist when placing your order.
If you have decided to included decorative tile inlays such as a horizontal band of colored tile accent or any feature that is not of the standard size of all other tile then you should include that in your measurements.
It is best not to cut tiles so if you have a pattern that can be slightly adjusted and allows for the use of full tiles you should use them if you can. This would be seen when you are applying tile that will extend into the center of the room. If you are using 4 inch tiles and your design would require many 3-1/2″ cut tiles try to use a full tile by either ending slightly long or short on your pattern.
Making a Purchase List
Once you have decided on the size of tile that you will be using and have taken proper measurements you can then begin to make your order list.
When ordering tile it is best to purchase approximately 10% more then needed in case some of the tiles are chipped or broken when they are unpacked or in case you mis-cut a tile while working.
Divide the field area in inches by the size of the tile that you will be using.
If you are covering a 3foot by 4 foot area with 4 inch tile then you would first convert the feet to inches 36(9 tiles) x 48(12 tiles) and then divide that by the size of the tile this would result in 108 tiles being needed.
However you want to over order by 10% so you would order approximately 120 tiles so that you have extra.
Your edge tile would be ordered in the same way however you will only need one row around the outside and remember to include your corner tiles.
This is pretty much the procedure for purchasing your tile and will require more planing depending on the types of patterns and tile sizes that you use in your design. When in doubt use graph paper or make your own graph paper to layout the tile before you make your purchase and then over order tile to catch mistakes or differences that may happen as you apply the tile.