What should I bring when I go in to select tile for my project?

Bring any materials that you will be coordinating with your tile covering. This usually includes adjoining surfaces such as paint and wallpaper, possibly exterior siding or brick. If the installation is for a bathroom or kitchen, samples of counter surfaces and cabinet faces are very helpful.

What is the difference between ceramic and porcelain tile?

Porcelain is a classification of ceramic tile. True porcelain is composed of porcelain grade clays fired to extremely high temperatures (2100-2500 deg F). This process creates a very hard, dense product with a very low water absorption rate (< 0.5%). See the American National Standards Specifications (ANSI) A137.1 and the CTDA porcelain certification program for more information on porcelain tile requirements.

Should my tile be sealed after installation?

Ceramic and porcelain tiles don’t require sealing. Cementitious grouts and natural stone products benefit from an application of penetrating sealer after installation. See Care and Maintenance for more information.

What is bullnose?

Bullnose trim refers to the pieces used to finish a tile edge that does not terminate in a wall and is left with the unfished edge exposed. The pieces are typically rounded and may be the same size as the field tile or come in different sizes.

Will repairing cracks in my shower tile stop my shower from leaking?

No. If a tile installation is cracking or leaking either the installation was faulty or there is a problem with the preparation done by another trade (plumber, framer etc.). The functional waterproofing of any tile installation is beneath the tile top covering which must be removed to repair any loss of waterproofing integrity.

If I have a cracked tile can I find a matching tile to replace it?

It depends. Tile trends evolve over time and most lines are only produced for a few years. Once a manufacturer discontinues a product it is usually impossible to find that tile. If you know where the tile was purchased and more importantly have a box or receipt showing the manufacturer and series name of the tile a good tile distributor will be able to get information about the product and possibly locate it for you.

Can I replace or recolor my grout?

Yes, grout can be removed and replaced, there are tools designed specifically for this task. Grout stains are also available and are a very good way to refresh your grout. These products leave a finish that is indistinguishable from the original grout look, very easy to clean and long lasting.

Can sealer be added to my grout during installation to make it more stain resistant?

No. Any installer or tile provider who tells you this has a profound lack of understanding of the composition and chemistry involved with cementitious grouts. There are additives that can be used in conjunction with cementitious grouts to make them less porous, but a sealer can be added after installation.

Should I use sanded or unsanded grout?

It depends. Sanded grout should be used for any joint larger than 1/8 in. For joints smaller than 1/16 in. an unsanded grout must be used. Sanded grouts are harder and resist cracking much better. Some polished stones and glass require the use of unsanded grouts but if unsanded is used the joint must still be < 1/8 in.

Are there standard approved methods for the installation of ceramic tile.

Yes. The Tile Council of North American (TCNA) publishes an annual handbook for the installation of ceramic tile. All products and methods used should coincide with the TCNA publication. If you have questions about a particular installation method contact a qualified installer or distributor for guidance in applying TCNA methods.

How do I know how much tile to order for my project?

If a professional installer is being used allow them to take the responsibility for the measuring and ordering of your product. Otherwise figure the square foot of the area to be covered along with the linear footage of any trim or decorative pieces that will be used.

How is tile priced?

Tile products are almost always priced and sold by the square foot. This makes it easy to compare prices over different size formats without having to do conversions. Specialty pieces and bullnose are normally sold and priced by the piece.

Should I keep any tile after my installation is complete?

It is advisable to keep several pieces of tile after your installation is completed. Tile lines are generally only produced for a few years. After production ends it is impossible to find that product again. If it is necessary to remove a tile for any reason later on the only way to ensure you don’t have to replace the entire installation is to keep extra pieces.

Can my tile be ordered from the plans provided by my builder?

No. Ordering tile is very different from ordering commodity products such as lumber or even carpet. A qualified installer should measure on-sight to ensure correct economical ordering. Tile is very expensive to ship due to weight. Over and under orders are very costly. Special order items are usually non-returnable and special care should be taken to order correctly.