Tiling Tips from the Pros

Adding tiles to your home – whether on the floor or on the wall – is a great and durable option to update the look of a room. You can hire a contractor to do the work, or, if you’re willing to put in the time and effort, you can do the tiling yourself. From the best types of sealer to the difference between sanded and unsanded grout, here are some tips directly from the experts to help guide homeowners through the tiling process.

Types of Tiles

Not all tiles are the same. It’s important to pick one that not only looks good, but is a good fit for your lifestyle. Porcelain is very chip and stain resistant, which makes it a good choice for kitchens and households with children and pets. Natural stone tiles look the nicest, but are generally more expensive and require more maintenance. Material is only your first choice when it comes to selecting tile- you’ll also need to choose size and color, both of which will make a big difference in the look of your kitchen. Larger tiles can create the illusion of a larger room, whereas smaller tiles permit you to create intricate designs and patterns.

Grout Options

Grout is a key consideration when preparing to install tile in your home, as it plays a starring role in maintenance and the longevity of your tile, and can also be a major part of the design if you go for a contrasting color.

Epoxy grouts are great choices where moisture and food are present, such as bathrooms and kitchen backsplashes, as they are resistant to water and harsh cleaners. Epoxy grout has two parts: the base and the activator. When combined, a chemical reaction occurs and you’ll only have a limited amount of time to finish grouting before it becomes too hard to work with. For this reason, epoxy grout may require a professional installer.

Sanded grout is when sand is added and bonded to a cement-based grout, making it resistant to cracking and shrinking. The sand in the grout also helps make it slip-resistant in wet areas. It’s most suitable in installations with grout lines wider than 1/8th of an inch. Non-sanded grout, on the other hand, is a good option when working with vertical spaces, as it is easier to stay put during application. It’s suggested this grout option is used for smaller grout joints with spacing between 1/16th and 1/8th of an inch.

The color of your grout can affect the overall design and look of the space you tile. For example, a contrasting grout can highlight your pattern, whereas a neutral grout goes with everything and is a safe bet. Color is everything, so be sure to take your time when making a selection.

Adding Sealer

Sealer is basically the addition of a protective coating to your grout. After all the work that’s done to add your tile, you want to make sure it will last for the long haul. By adding sealer to your grout, you are protecting it from having water and moisture enter the seams – especially in high-moisture areas, such as showers, tubs, and kitchen backsplashes.

Experts recommend adding sealer to your tile after it’s been installed, and then every 6 to 12 months to keep it looking clean and well maintained. Since there are tons of different sealants to choose from, you should read the bottles and find one that’s recommended for the materials you are sealing. Some will specifically be manufactured for use with marble or granite, while others will be formulated for dark tile. So, it’s best to find one that works best for your surface.

When adding the sealer, make sure you open windows to provide ventilation, as the fumes can be pretty powerful. Many sealers come with applicators, or you can use a sponge to be more thorough.

There are many factors to consider when preparing for the installation of new tile in your home. By equipping yourself with as much information as possible, you can be prepared to either do-it-yourself or be knowledgeable for when you hand it over to the professionals.

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