Tile Facts and Questions

How do I select tile?

Selecting tile can be a fun and easy task. We often recommend that you come into one of our showrooms to see and touch the tile. Most people tend to make a couple of trips in and take home tile samples to see what the tile looks like in your home. Seeing the tile in person and in your lighting helps give you a better understanding of the tile color and texture.

If you are doing a large project it is best to write down what rooms you are working on and where you are going to need tile. For example, if you are working on a master bath you may need tile for your shower walls, tub surround, floor, backsplash, and countertop.

We also recommend that if you are going to have a solid surface in your space like granite or a quartz product, it is best to pick that out first. Be sure to come to our showroom with a sample. That helps us help you make your selections.

Porcelain and Ceramic Tile

What is the difference between a ceramic and a porcelain tile?

Ceramic tile is made by firing clay at a moderately high temperature. Maybe glazed or unglazed. Unglazed ceramic is frost-proof, and is suitable for all uses, however, it is not as durable as porcelain and when it is applied in certain areas it is more susceptible to chipping. When a ceramic has a crackle glaze, it should be sealed in most surface areas.

Porcelain tile is a type of ceramic tile made using very fine, high quality materials with high silica/porcelain content. Most porcelain have an impervious body helping to prevent stains and the normal wear and tear that time might cause. It can be used on plenty of surface applications especially in commercial buildings and households looking for a low maintenance material. The porcelain can be glazed or unglazed, it can also be smooth or textured and even mechanically polished like natural stone.

What is porcelain tile made of?

Porcelain tile is made up of approximately 50% feldspar. The remaining 50% is made of various high quality light firing ball clays. This makes the fired body white and the manufacturer can achieve clear and more brilliant colored tiles, with through-body color.

Porcelain and Ceramic Tile

What is a through color body or colored body porcelain?

Through body color is when the color of the tile goes all the way through the tile. In the past most porcelain tiles were made with a white body with a screen print on top, some tiles manufacturers still use this technique. Through body color is helpful when you want to use porcelain on your counter top with an under mount sink. It is also helpful if and when your tile cracks or chips you'll have the same color all the way through your tile.

What is natural stone tile?

Natural Stone tile is a product of earth. Coming from multiple quarries around the world, stone is a one of a kind product that can vary in color, density, and porosity. Natural stone should almost always be sealed because the porous nature of the various types of stone could stain over time. Why get natural stone? The beauty of natural stone is the movement and "one-of-a-kind" look it displays.

What is sealer?

Sealer is a liquid protectant that is used on natural stone to protect it from staining, shalling, and absorbing excess liquids that may be on its surface. We use Miracle Sealants - http://www.miraclesealants.com/. Some polished tiles need to be sealed too.

Can tile be used outside?

Of course it can! It is best to pick a tile that is frost proof and with an absorbtion rate of 0.5% or less. Tile is a great outdoor product that can make a deck, outdoor entry, or barbeque pop. Natural stone is classic choice making a great impression to an inviting application. A quartzite slate or a dense limestone or travertine are the best options for outdoor use.

Porcelain acts as a great product for outdoor use too. Being a man made material, it is well suited for the Northwest. Porcelain tile that is rated for outdoor use accounts for the rain freezing and thawing throughout the winter. If it is the stone look you want, but need the performance of the man made products, porcelain tile does a fantastic job of looking like a natural stone. Just check out the Discovery or Kosmos series each of them are a porcelain with the look of natural stone.

Glass tile can also be used outdoors in pools, fountains or walk ways. Be sure to ask if the glass is rated for outdoor use before using it in your application. Sumi-E and Vihara glass series are great for outdoor applications.

How do I pick out grout?

Grout is one of the last things that you need to pick out with your tile. You can blend the grout with your tile to make it disappear into the installation. Or you can use a contrasting grout to pop out the shape of the tile in your installation this is a popular when using Subway tile or 3"x6" tile. Apoxy grout is a stain and mold resistant grout that is great for bathroom installations. Here at United Tile we use Laticrete Grout - http://www.laticrete.com/

Sonoma's Nothwest Mosuprema Tile

What type of accent tiles are available?

The world is your oyster when it comes to accent tiles. You can use strips of glass, lovely metal decos and liners or find a blended stone and glass mosaic. When seeking out accents it is important to have it match your field tile as well as your counter top. Sometimes the accent piece is the item that brings everything together.

Often times our clients like to choose blended mosaics that come in a 12" x 12" sheet. When choosing an item in a sheet, the installer can strip the sheet down into 3 - 4 or more rows. That way you get more bang for your buck. Our most popular series is the Sonoma Mosuprema Blends; stocking 12 blends. If you don't like one of our stocking blends you can create a custom blend, but you do have to wait 6 weeks since this is a custom item.

If mosaics are not your thing, then check out metals. They cross the boundaries of contemporary and traditional. Metal liners are ideal for dividing up space while metal decos add a splash of character and dimension. Check out Crossville's Urban Renewal Metals, not only are they beautiful they are recycled!

What is the difference between clear glass tile and painted back glass tile?

Clear glass has the actual color of the tile built into the glass itself. With the painted back glass the color is painted on the back of the tile making the glass itself non-colored clear.

With a clear glass the installer has to be mindful of how they install the tile, in that they must smooth out their trowel marks and back butter the tile to ensure no air bubbles make their way to the surface. Often time clear glass mosaics are on a paper-face mount. This means that when you get your tile you see the backside of the tile rather then the front. The installer puts the tile in the thinnset, lays the tile paper-face up, lets it stand, then wets the paper on the top of the surface to remove it. Oceanside Glass Tile makes a variety of glass decos, field and mosaic tiles.

Painted-back glass has an easier installation process. It is still recommended to smooth out trowel marks and back butter, but the installer does not have to as mindful of marks behind the tile. Mosaics often come on a mesh so the installation goes a lot faster. Interstyle Glass makes colorful painted back glass options in multiple sizes and shapes.

In the end, it is best to choose the material that is best for your installation.

I have a shiny counter top does that mean I need a matte backsplash?

This question is asked in our showrooms frequently. The answer is whatever you want. Just because you have a shiny counter top does not mean that you cannot have a shiny backsplash. It comes down to your personal preference. The kitchen backsplash is the one space in your home where you can do whatever you want. Almost every tile material produced can go on a kitchen backsplash. This space is the most creative, personal and viewed area in the home. It is important to make selections in this space that you love and want to live with.

If I have allergies is tile a good material for me?

Yes! Ask any allergist in the country which type of covering they would prefer their patients put on their floors and the answer is probably the same — anything but carpet. That’s because carpet’s fibers are ideal magnets for some of America’s most common allergens, especially dust, pet dander and mold.

A recent study by the American Society of Microbiology concluded that carpeting found in most households is more likely to release mold spores into the air than any other flooring surface. During the research testing, the highest measured mold counts came after vacuuming residential cut-pile carpet.

For the millions of Americans who suffer from chronic allergies each year, this research points to hard surfacing as the optimum choice for their floor covering needs. Tile, as a hypoallergenic material, fits the description perfectly. It’s waterproof and doesn’t absorb dust, fumes, smoke or other allergy-inducing elements.

Ceramic and porcelain tile are made from all-natural materials, making it one of the best flooring choices for a homeowner who wants to reduce the amount of allergens in his or her home and support environmentally friendly products.

United Tile