Ceramic Tile In Your New Bathroom

Written by bprescottJanuary 30, 2012
bathroom with ceramic tile

Tooling Around with Ceramic Tile

Ceramic tile is made of clay. The raw materials- clays, talc, and other minerals -are quarried and refined. The tile manufacturer must be careful to get the proper mixture of these materials. The ratio of the mix of these ingredients determines the characteristics of the tile. After the formation of the tile body, ceramic tiles go through a firing process in a kiln under very high heat (2,000 degrees F) to harden the tile body (and undergo a second firing to create a surface glaze). Today some tile manufacturers use a single fire process that forms the body and glaze together.

Common uses for tile

The variety of sizes and shapes of tile is nearly matched by the many places it is used in bathrooms and throughout the house. Tile can be just about anywhere in a bathroom, from the walls down to the floor, surrounding bathtubs and showers, even on the ceiling of tub and shower enclosures.

The durable surfaces that tiles provide make them a good choice for a bathroom. Tiles designed for floors are heavier than wall tiles, and they’re slip- and abrasion-resistant. The highly glazed wall tiles are not recommended for the floor because they become very slippery when wet. For cleaning purposes, avoid tile patterns with deep crevices or voids, which can make the floor harder to clean. Tiles are installed on a sound subfloor in thinset adhesive. Grout fills the joints, creating a watertight surface.

Shower stalls and tub surrounds are generally wet areas and require a tile with a high-temperature glassy glaze. The glazing on tiles prevents the tile from absorbing water and makes the tile easy to clean. Use only slip-resistant glazed tiles on shower floors.

If you’re tiling a small bathroom, you’ll probably want to choose a small tile that is scaled to the room. Larger tiles are more appropriate in a large, wide space. However, large tiles mean fewer grout lines, which adds up to fewer visual distractions in a small room. Consider combining square or hexagon-shaped tiles in the center of a room with a border of rectangular tiles as an edging to trim out the room.

You’ll get the best selection of tiles at a tile retailer, where large display areas illustrate just how creative you can be with tiles.

Standard sizes

Tiles are available in a wide variety of sizes, ranging from small 1-inch mosaic tiles to large floor tiles:

  • Mosaic tile: These small tiles can be difficult to handle and come mounted on fabric backing or paper sheets or held together with silicone adhesive. Nominal sizes of the tiles are 1 inch x 1 inch, 2 inches x 1 inch, and 2 inches x 2 inches, all 1/2-inch thick. Additional standard patterns and solid-colored sheets of tile in custom designs can be ordered from many tile outlets. Mosaic tile works well on floors or walls and can be used to line a shower pan because the small tile can conform to curved surfaces.
  • Wall tile: Glazed wall tile is lighter weight than floor tile and comes in nominal dimensions of 4 1/4 x 4 1/4 inches, 6 x 4 1/4 inches, and 6 x 6 inches. They’re all 5/16-inch thick. To trim around the edge of tiles where they meet a different surface, such as a tile wainscoting on a wall, accent tile pieces are available. These edging pieces come in strips and ropes and are designed to go around outside and inside corners and do a nice job of edging the tile. You'll find them to match the tiles you choose. 
  • Floor tile: Some of the most popular size floor tiles are 6, 8, and 12 inches, but you'll find them sold in many more shapes and sizes. The nonslip surfaces are designed to ensure safe footing. Trim pieces for the walls are available that take the place of a base shoe molding. 

From ‘Bathroom Remodeling For Dummies’
Copyright © 2003 by Wiley Publishing, Inc., Indianapolis, Indiana
Used by arrangement with John Wiley & Sons, Inc.



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