Ceramic and porcelain usually find their way into kitchens, bathrooms, laundry rooms and mud rooms. When contemplating a tile installation, homeowners have numerous options available to them: everything from high-end, designer tiles to bargain-basement specials. Before hunting up the perfect style of tile, one must consider a few factors such as tile composition and strength. Experts recommend a clay-based tile for flooring projects where the hardness level matches its function.
For instance, a tile with a hardness rating of one should only be installed in light traffic areas like bathrooms while a tile with a hardness rating of five can be installed anywhere. Ceramic tiles are generally rated from one to three while porcelain tiles fit the description of group-five tiles. Ceramic tiles are softer and less durable than porcelain tiles, and they generally cost less than their porcelain counterparts. Although the average cost per square foot of tile varies by location, great deals can generally be found at hardware stores or tile discount centers.
Selecting A Tile Contractor
There are many tile installation companies to choose from. The internet has plenty of consumer review sites that give good indications on whether a contractor does acceptable work. However, one should learn a little about the tile installation process before sitting down with a contractor to talk about a new project. This is an important step because it allows the consumer to ask relevant questions and make informed decisions about their particular tile installation project.
Consumers should ask to see a portfolio of the tile installer’s work and ask for references from satisfied clients. While there are many talented tile installers who operate their own businesses, there are marked benefits for selecting a contractor associated with one of the big-box hardware stores. Because their reputations are on the line, these stores hire reputable subcontractors for residential tile installation jobs, so the consumer gets pre-screened labor whose work is backed by a large company with set labor rates. It is recommended that a homeowner get quotes from multiple contractors so that they can get a general idea of the going labor rates for their area.
Installing Tile over Existing Flooring
The type of flooring foundation and the room configuration affect the price charged by contractors. For example, having ceramic tile installed on a cement floor will likely cost more than having the same tiles installed in a kitchen sitting on a wood foundational surface. The latter example requires fewer materials and less time to complete the installation.
The cost factors involved with installing tile over concrete flooring are the additional labor hours and materials needed to smooth and level the floor surface in preparation for laying the tile. For a cement floor, the tile installer must ensure that the floor is clean, smooth, dry and free of holes or divots. If there are surface cracks or small holes, the installer may use a product called Thin-Set to prepare the surface for tiling. After smoothing the surface, installers apply a latex primer to the flooring surface to prepare it for installation. The next step in the process is to determine if the surface is level, and if it is not, the installer must lay down a self-leveling compound.
Wood sub-flooring is a less-than-ideal foundation for ceramic tile because it naturally warps when exposed to high levels of moisture. When the wood loses its integrity, the tiles can pop off or break. The solution is to use a material called backer board to provide a level cement surface on which to lay the tile. Special screws are needed to secure the cement sheets in place.