Get Floored Over Tile
Step on ItDecorative and Durable, Tile Adds Style and Value to the Home
By David E. Demarest
As some homeowners search for new ways to add elegance to their homes, and others try to make their houses more attractive to potential buyers, many are finding that tile is the answer.
The reasons for choosing tile are as numerous as the types and uses. In heavy-traffic areas of the home or office, tiles often are chosen for their durability and ease of maintenance.
Likewise, tiles are more traditionally found in the bathroom and kitchen for those reasons. They often are chosen not only for their function, but for the color and design texture that they can bring into a home. Tile size varies, and with each size option and combination comes a new and different pattern and symmetry.
Before deciding to go with tile for your next project, there are many questions to answer first: What room or space do you wish to transform? Do you want your tile to be decorative or understated? What type of tile – or combination of types – will you choose? Do you plan to use special border tiles? Are you a do-it-yourselfer, or will you need to hire a contractor? For that matter, should you also consult an interior designer to help you choose your color combinations?
Kitchens and bathrooms may be your first thought when considering tile, but with modern homes transitioning away from carpet and toward what some experts estimate to be a 70/30 split of hard surface to carpeted surface, tile is showing up in some unexpected places. High-traffic areas, such as great rooms and hallways, often are a perfect fit for tile use because tiles are so durable and easy to maintain. Likewise, tile is being used for decorative purposes to add character to a wall or ceiling or as an elegant and functional choice for bars and countertops. Tile murals and accents are a good choice for those wishing to make an artistic splash. And a few commercial businesses use stone and glass cladding on their buildings, while some homeowners are using their excess tile outdoors as steppingstones and landscaping.
If you don’t know exactly what you want, or if you want to incorporate tile into a larger overall design, you might want to consult an interior designer. Phyllis Harris, a design consultant with Sandcastle Designs of Destin and Panama City, said the recent tile trend has been toward lighter, sandy colored tiles, “so that it doesn’t pull the eyes down, necessarily. It just has the nice, open flow to it.”
Harris added that no-grout tiles – tiles spaced so close together that little or no grout is visible – are the most popular at the moment. And, to offset the standard grid pattern, many are choosing to lay tile at a diagonal angle.
Some interior design firms, such as Sandcastle Designs, offer a complimentary first visit. After that, it’s up to the individual designer how he or she charges for the job.
There are many options available when choosing to work with tile. Ceramics tend to be the most versatile and least expensive, while porcelain tiles are a little more durable and cost a bit more. Glass or natural stone can create a very striking and individual motif, but they often are the most expensive and hardest to maintain.
Watch Your Step
Buyers should work closely with their tile provider and installer to make sure that the correct type of tile is selected to meet the demands of the job. For instance, a tile that would serve well on a wall or countertop might not be appropriate to use on the floor. Beyond the tile’s appearance, you will want to consider factors such as the need for durability and ease of maintenance, ease of installation (if you’re doing it yourself), and reaction to sunlight, rain and temperature ranges.
Cost also may play a major role in your decision, with options ranging from the relatively inexpensive ceramics to the pricier natural stone. Many customers are opting for the best of both worlds by peppering a ceramic tile job with several natural stone or glass highlights, thereby achieving a unique look at a bargain price.
While the idea of installing a tile floor may sound simple enough, there is much that can go wrong. Walls rarely are truly square, and floors are not always exactly level. Remedying these flaws requires exacting prep work and more than a few tricks of the trade. If you do decide to go it alone, consider ordering a tile handbook from the Tile Council of North America (tileusa.com) before starting your job.
Of course, the do-it-yourself route isn’t easy, and it isn’t for everyone. As Jolinda Williams of Coastal Carpet and Tile in Destin said, “Some projects are just fine for DIYs. But honestly, it comes down to ‘You get what you pay for.’ What you’re paying for is not just the materials but also the finished product. I would always recommend a professional to do the labor.”
Floored by a Pro
Mistakes are not only for the do-it-yourselfer – many self-proclaimed professionals fall prey to the same pitfalls. Therefore, it is important to check the installer’s references, credentials with the Better Business Bureau, and work history before selecting your installer.
A professional with extensive tile experience will want to know how you plan to use your area and can make recommendations based on what is best in your individual case.
Many established tile wholesalers and installers, such as Destin’s Coastal Carpet and Tile, offer a lifetime warranty on their work, good for as long as the purchaser owns the house.
There may be less expensive routes available in the short term, but if the job has to be redone, or is found to be subpar, you will want to be able to hold the installers accountable for their work.
In the showroom, tile pricing may be based on square footage for installation, but this almost always is meant to serve only as a guide. Actual costs will vary based on the needs of each individual job, and they hardly ever are as cut-and-dried as a square-footage charge. Likewise, some types of tile are more easily installed than others; this also is reflected in the pricing.
Whether you decide to go it alone or bring in the help of an expert, or whether you choose ceramic, porcelain, glass or natural stone, tile is sure to bring a functional splash of classic fashion into your home. Depending on the type and size of the job, you could come home to find that you have transformed your living space in a short time and for a very reasonable cost.