Ceramic tile may be the only flooring material that truly works in any room of the house. It’s most often used in kitchens and bathrooms as well as foyers, mudrooms, and other high-traffic areas. But many homes, especially in warm climates, use tile to great effect in living areas and bedrooms, too. In other words, you really can’t go wrong with tile. If there are any drawbacks to this durable, elegant flooring, it is that it can be hard and cold, and is somewhat tricky for DIYers to install.
Ceramic tiles have a hard, solid surface, that does not attract or hold onto dirt, dust, pollen, or other allergens. When these small particles do land on a ceramic floor, they stand out against the surface, making it easy to wipe them away with a mop or sponge. This helps to keep the air free of irritating materials that can be harmful to asthma and allergy sufferers.
Ceramic tile is versatile and can be used as flooring, a backsplash, or countertops in almost all the rooms of a house. There are certain pros and cons that should be taken into consideration when a homeowner is choosing ceramic tile installation for the home. It has been a popular material for finishing walls and floors. It is durable and comes in a wide range of colours and styles.
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Advantages of Ceramic Tiles
Glazed ceramic tiles are designed with a proactive layer on the surface. This makes the tiles almost resistant to stain and water penetration. Ceramic floor tiles are naturally resistant to humidity and moist conditions. These properties make them an impeccable choice for kitchens and bathroom floors.
Unglazed ceramic tiles are covered with sealants to protect them from humidity and water. However, do remember that the grouts in between ceramic tiles may still be susceptible to water absorption. This weakens the installation and may lead to the growth of mould.
Ceramic tiles for flooring are known to be extremely durable as they do not crack easily. They can even last up to 20 years or longer without a single sign of a crack. However, if a single tile cracks due to sudden extreme pressure, it is incredibly easy to replace them.
Who doesn’t like low maintenance tiles? Ceramic tiles are fairly easy to clean. Stains and dirt on white ceramic tiles can be easily cleaned using soapy water and a soft cloth. Regularly maintaining the ceramic tiles by vacuuming them or cleaning them will keep the dirt off and leave them shiny. For tough stains, you can use chemical treatments on them without worrying about any damage.
Ceramic tiles price
Ceramic tiles price largely depend on the size and design that you choose to get installed. While simpler tiles are priced at $5 per square foot, it can cost thousands of dollars to get more intricate designs.
Ceramic tiles offer a wide range of design options for those who want to revamp their homes. They are also easily customizable as ceramic tiles can be installed together with other types of tiles, creating your unique patterns. Additionally, you can also opt for ceramic tiles that resemble wood or natural stones.
Disadvantages of Ceramic Tiles
Ceramic is cold when used as flooring and can be quite uncomfortable during wintertime in colder climates. Because of the density of ceramic, it takes longer to heat or cool than other flooring materials. Many homeowners will find they require an area rug over the ceramic to make the floor comfortable for those in bare feet. Likewise, a ceramic floor or wall will retain heat in warmer climates, making it more difficult to cool the area where the tile has been installed.
While most consider the hardness of ceramic to be an added value, there is also a downside. A heavy glass item may not break if dropped on a floor of a different material but will most likely shatter if dropped on ceramic. Also, because the ceramic material has no flexibility, the ceramic itself is more prone than other floor types to surface cracking when heavy items are dropped. The hardness also makes ceramically uncomfortable to stand on for prolonged periods and may necessitate a rug or pad for extended use.
While a salesperson will tout ceramic as being so durable, it will last the lifetime of your home, and this is often a drawback as decorating styles and trends change often. Once ceramic has been installed, it cannot be changed; if you tire of the look, you will face a messy and costly renovation project to have it removed and replaced. Likewise, if a tile is cracked or broken, it will be difficult to replace.
While ceramic is fairly easy to maintain, the grout lines between the tiles are susceptible to stains, mould and mildew. They must be periodically sealed to maintain the integrity of the grout lines. Also, ceramic in wet areas may require caulking where the ceramic meets another construction material, and the caulk will need to be replaced when it no longer seals the seam due to aging or cracking.
Ceramic Tile Cost
Ceramic tile can be one of the more affordable flooring materials, starting at well below $5 per square foot for budget tile and DIY installation. However, as you move into the better-looking tile and professional installation, tile flooring can easily cost as much or more than quality hardwood flooring. National industry statistics show that ceramic tile flooring installed professionally can range from a low of about $15 per square foot to a high of more than $60 per square foot. It all depends on the quality of the tile and the difficulty of the installation.
Maintenance and Repair
Ceramic flooring is fairly easy to care for—especially glazed tiles, which have a hard protective top layer that makes them impervious to water and most stains. This is the main reason why tile is preferred for wet areas like bathrooms, kitchens, and laundry rooms. Dirt, stains, and liquids rest on the surface, allowing you to wipe or mop them away easily.
Routine maintenance consists of little more than sweeping or vacuuming with a soft brush attachment to keep the floor free of dirt and loose debris. If set-in stains do occur, you can use almost any heavy-duty cleaner without having to worry about damaging the material.
While most ceramic floor tile is glazed, there are unglazed ceramic tiles, such as traditional Saltillo tile. These must be sealed to protect their surface from liquids and stains. And with all types of tile, the grout in between the tiles is susceptible to moisture and stains and should be sealed regularly for protection.
Ceramic flooring is extremely tough and difficult to crack. A quality installation can last for hundreds of years if the floor is well-maintained. If a single tile does crack due to a severe impact, the process for replacing a tile is relatively simple.
Modern manufacturing techniques allow ceramic producers to make materials that can be printed or embossed in numerous ways. Solid tiles can be mixed-and-matched in patterns or accented with custom designs or motifs. They can also be printed to reproduce the look of many hardwoods and natural stones. Finally, the tiles themselves can be cut and shaped into triangles, rectangles, and planks.
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Ceramic tile is labour-intensive and somewhat tricky to install. Amateurs can certainly do it, but tile is not as DIY-friendly as laminate or vinyl. Proper installation of floor tile starts with a layer of cement board (or “tile backer”) over wood subfloors (concrete floors don’t need tile backer), adding cost, time, and labour to the project. The tiles are then glued down to the backer board using a cementitious thin-set adhesive, and the installation concludes with filling the joints between tiles with grout.
Homeowners who want to install their tile should be careful to choose products that are relatively easy to install, avoiding tricky tiles, such as large “rectified” tile, polished stone tile, or natural clay or Saltillo tile—all of which are best left to professionals.
Some ceramic floor tile can be quite heavy, and all tile needs a stiff, strong floor framing to prevent cracking. This means that tile may not always be appropriate for upper-story installations or floors with inadequate floor structures.
Comfort and Convenience
Ceramic is extremely hard, which makes it easy to clean and maintain. Unfortunately, this can also make it difficult and uncomfortable to stand on. Unlike resilient floors, hard ceramics cannot be softened using padded underlayment. This means that these materials may not be suited to environments where people will be forced to stand for long periods. The hardness can also be a liability in kitchens, where a dropped dish will very likely break against the hard surface. Finally, the hardness of ceramic tile may be a problem in rooms used by anyone prone to falls, such as small children or elderly residents.
The hardness of ceramic can, of course, be offset by using throw rugs or area rugs in strategic places where people tend to stand for long periods, such as in kitchen work areas.
While some tile holds heat fairly well, all tile gets cold in cold weather, which can be a shock to your toes first thing in the morning or an unwelcome reality on bare feet in the bathroom. The only way to counteract cold tile is with in-floor heat, either electric mats under the tile or radiant heating in or under the subfloor.
How durable is ceramic tile, and what kind of maintenance is required?
That said, ceramic tiles are among the most durable surfaces you can buy. The tiles are very resistant to cracking and are unlikely to break during normal use. You can easily get 10 to 20 years or more from a well-maintained ceramic floor, and if you do crack a tile, you can replace floor tiles with a bit of time and effort on your own.
Unlike some bare floors, you don’t need much time or effort to keep ceramic floors in good shape. Once your tiles are glazed, stains, spills, and dirt will sit on a tile the way they would inside a ceramic cup, which means you can wipe or mop them up with ease. A typical maintenance schedule won’t involve more than weekly sweeping or vacuuming.
The same goes with mopping; ceramic tiles are easy enough to wipe down that robot-mops can get the job done.
It’s best to use a Parquet head or similar soft brush head to polish the floors while cleaning them, but there are plenty of people who outsource both vacuuming and mopping tasks to domestic robots; a Roomba 960 will do a fine job of vacuuming tiles while a Braava 380twill mop them well enough to replace a manual one in most homes largely. If you do end up with a stain now and then that can’t simply be mopped off with water, you’ll be able to use a wide range of heavy-duty cleaners and elbow grease to scrub it out without fear of damaging the tiles, as they’re highly resistant to chemical abrasion.
If you want soft or warm ceramic flooring, you’ll need area rugs and lots of them.
There’s a good chance you’ll end up investing in rugs if you want to spend time sitting on your floors.
As a result, if you have limited furniture in your home and guests will spend a lot of time standing or sitting, they’re not going to be happy doing so on ceramic tile floors. You can ameliorate the hardness to a large degree with area rugs and throw rugs, depending on the pile you choose. We’d recommend high piles and soft carpet fibres to make your ceramics as comfortable as possible. That said, if you find yourself tempted to cover most of your ceramic floor with rugs because you can’t stand how hard it is, that’s a good sign that you’d be better suited to a different floor covering.
Similarly, ceramic tiles are good thermal insulators and poor thermal conductors, which means they aren’t going to hold on to heat–at all. Think of metals, which are the opposite. Metals gain heat and lose it rapidly, which is why your car will feel hot to the touch in summer and cool in the winter. Ceramic tiles, in contrast, gain heat very slowly, which means they’re going to feel cold all winter long under your feet. While they lose heat slowly, because they rarely get warm, to begin with, you’re not going to enjoy warm tiles unless you live in a hot climate. Once again, you’ll want to invest in rugs, but this time, for warmth.
Are certain vacuums better suited for effectively cleaning ceramic floors?
To keep your tiles as clean and polished as they were the day you bought them, we always recommend vacuums with Parquet heads.
While you can use just about any vacuum cleaner to maintain a ceramic floor (including robotic vacuum cleaners), if you want to polish your floors while cleaning them, we typically recommend giving bare floors like ceramics the Parquet brush treatment. A Parquet brush provides a good balance of suction and sheen to help clean your floors while managing dust efficiently.
We also recommend buying vacuums that will handle more than ceramic floor tiles, but all bare floors and every kind of carpet you might have in your home, as it’s more efficient to use one tool to manage a household instead of switching from machine to machine as you move from one floor to the next.
Pros and Cons of Tile Flooring
Pro – Easy to Maintain
One of the characteristics that people love the most about tile flooring is that it is easy to maintain. If any stains, dirt, or liquids get on it, they will all rest on top of it and won’t get absorbed. This means it is easy to mop them up or wipe them away. You can keep them clean frequently by using a vacuum with a soft brush attachment or a broom to get any loose debris and dirt off the floor. If any stains do happen, almost any cleaner can be used, and it won’t damage the tile flooring.
Due to this, many people decide to put ceramic tile in their bathrooms and kitchens. In addition to being easy to clean, germs won’t harbour on the floor, either. This is an advantage when running a business that serves the public, such as a restaurant.
Pro – Water-Resistant
Another benefit of tile flooring is that it is resistant to water. There is a protective layer on top of the material, so it’s stain- and water-resistant. Again, this is important in bathrooms and kitchens, as the ceramic tile will last much longer than other types of material. It also resists temperatures with high humidity, so you don’t have to worry about it being ruined during the hot and muggy summer months. Any environment that is moist will benefit from having ceramic tiles.
If you buy unglazed tile, you will need to seal it to protect the surface from any liquids it might encounter. In particular, the grout lines between the tiles can be susceptible to moisture, so make sure those are sealed. Otherwise, water can get down deep into the tiles, which will weaken their installation and put them at risk for mould growth. This will lead to costly problems down the road you will need to take care of.
Pro – Durable
Tile flooring is tough, and the tiles are hard to crack. When you get a quality installation done, the tiles can last up to 20 years or even longer if you do a good job maintaining them. Even if one tile does crack, it is often only because of a severe impact, and you’ll find it easy to replace that tile. This means you’ll be able to keep your overall cost down, as you won’t have to replace tiles regularly.
Pro – Cost
Tile flooring is generally affordable for most people. Most tiles will cost around $5 to $10 per square foot. The ones on the lower end will be made of cheaper material, while the more expensive ones will have higher quality materials. Tile flooring is cheaper than hardwood flooring but more expensive than carpet. However, tile flooring can add value to a property, in the long run, depending on the way it is installed and how it looks.
While there are many reasons to choose tile flooring, there are also some disadvantages you should know about.
Con – Cold
Tile flooring will not absorb or hold onto heat well, which means it gets quite cold during the winter. When installed in the home, this means your feet will experience a shock when they step on cold flooring first thing in the morning. This is important to consider if you’ll be putting tiles in a public place in your business where it’d be uncomfortable for your clients. The one advantage of this is that during the summer, it will feel great as people step on the cold floor when it is hot out.
Con – Heavy
Tile flooring is heavy, which means it is not the best choice for upper-story installations. If it is necessary to put tile flooring on the top level of a business establishment, a professional should first check the structure’s integrity. You need to make sure you’re not putting on extra stress that it can’t handle.
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Con – Slippery and Hard
While tile flooring is easy to clean because of its hardness, this means it is not necessarily comfortable to stand on. Resilient floors can often be softened with padded underlayment, but tile flooring cannot. Therefore, it doesn’t make for the best material for those who need to stand for hours at a time. However, you can put area rugs or throw rugs in the places where people stand the most, such as in front of a kitchen sink or behind the counter at the cash register.
Due to it being hard, that also means tile flooring is slippery. As a business owner, you want to prevent all accidents when you can. Therefore, this shouldn’t be installed in areas where water or liquid are frequently spilled on the floor, as this can injure your employees and leave a mess. The same goes for public bathrooms, as you do not want a lawsuit on your hands from a customer slipping on the wet tile flooring.
There are both pros and cons to installing tile flooring. You will want to consider several factors, such as where you plan on installing it, what your budget is, and who will be walking or standing on it the most. Many people love how durable it is and that it’s resistant to water, which is essential in a place such as a bathroom or a kitchen. However, others don’t like how heavy and cold the tiles are. You’ll have to decide which factors are important.