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Tile Projects: What you need to know

Tile Projects: What you need to know


For some people, a tile floor, backsplash or bathroom project is no big deal. However, for most of us, it isn’t that simple.

With the goal of simplifying your tile projects or simply helping you to understand what is involved, here are the most frequently asked questions.

Can I find the same tiles that I bought a while ago?

Usually not; tiles have dye lots, so there are slight colour variations between lots. When you buy tiles, it is important to make sure that all the boxes are from the same lot to reduce the chance of colour variations (no matter if they are for a backsplash, floor or shower). This is one of the reasons why it is always better to buy more tiles than necessary in case you may need some later (to repair a broken tile for example). As well, trends in the tile industry change quickly and collections are rapidly discontinued. It is always better to buy more than the exact quantity.

Why do I have to account for a loss when buying tiles?

Since porcelain is a dense product, it can sometimes be hard to cut, so you may have to try more than once. This is why it is always important to have extra tiles just in case. As well, as previously mentioned, it is important to ensure that all of your tiles are from the same lot to avoid colour variations. For example, you could buy tiles and return to the same store a week later and there could no longer be any tiles from the same lot available. How do you ensure that you have enough tiles? The calculation is simple: you just add 10 to 15% more than the surface you have to cover. This extra amount will cover losses and you will still have some left over for future needs. However, this percentage can vary depending on how the tiling will be done (certain patterns require more cuts, so there is more loss). Ideally, you should confirm how much extra to buy with your tiler; they know best!

Is there a minimum amount of space that you should leave between tiles?

The minimum required is 1/16 inch; this spacing is often used when installing backsplashes or rectified tiles. The decision about how much space to leave between tiles is purely esthetic and varies according to individual taste. The norm is 1/8 inch and the maximum is ½ inch, which is frequently used to create a rustic look (like bricks and mortar).  

What is the best size of tile for various tile projects?

There is no one answer to this question. The size is often determined by trends in the tile industry. For a certain time, small tiles (3x6, 4x4) were all the rage, while now larger tiles are now on trend (24x24, 12x24, 6x36). As well, despite what you may think, large tiles can be installed on both walls and floors. The installation method is what changes depending on size of the tile. So, you can use whatever size of tile you want, the sky is the limit.

Is it true that large tiles are easier to break?

This is a myth. Installing large tiles must be done in a certain way to avoid potential breakage after installation. Any installations done to standard should not cause any problems.

Why type of tile should I use in my bathroom?

Since the bathroom is where water gets splashed around, the ideal tile is porcelain. It is dense, non-porous and absorbs almost no water.

Is it possible to install tiles on top of existing tiles?

It is actually possible to install new tiles on top of existing tiles. However, there is some preparation required. First, light sanding is necessary, then any dust must be cleaned in order to ensure that the new tile will adhere better.

What type of tools and materials do I need for a tile project?

The equipment required for tile projects is relatively simple. To cut tiles, you will need a water saw and/or a tile cutter, and/or a diamond saw for the finish. You will also need a pail and a hand mixer for mortar, mortar, grout and wedges (Raimondi clips). Installers often bring their own equipment.

How do you choose the finishing trim?

To make sure that you have the proper finishing trim, you need to know how thick your tiles are (including the mortar). This thickness will determine the trim to choose. For example, a  3/8-inch tile will require a ½ inch trim. To avoid getting the wrong trim, ask your installer, they will tell you what to choose.

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