Tile Guru Vaults: Design and Practicality

Hello everyone! It’s the Tile Guru here. I’m Walls and Floors’ resident tiling expert.

If you’re deciding what tiles to use as part of your decorating project, and you need a spot of advice, check out the FAQ’s below! If they don’t answer your query, send your question over to technicalhelp@wallsandfloors.co.uk and I’ll get back to you ASAP.

tiles kitchen splashback

Q. I can’t find a tile trim to colour match my tiles. What should I do?

A. If you can’t find a trim that is a close colour match, the next step is to try and match your grout colour. That way all the horizontal and vertical lines in the room will all blend in. Another option is to go for a metal trim. This will stand out and make a statement giving a more expensive look. In a bathroom or kitchen, this may also compliment your taps, sink, cooker, or any other metal fitments you have in place.

Q. Should I go for a Natural Stone or Stone Effect? Which is better?

A. There are positives to both choices. An imitation stone effect tile will have a similar look but with less maintenance requirements so may be more practical for a given situation. They may be easier to clean, harder wearing and lighter in weight to make them suitable for walls. But you will never get the same randomness, character and feel of the real thing. When treated correctly, Natural stones can still be extremely hard wearing, practical and easy to clean, but may need a small amount of maintenance to keep it looking in pristine condition. But it will be worth it.

natural stone travertine tiles

Q. Do I need to have grout joints, and if so, how big should they be?

A. Yes you do. There needs to be a gap between the tiles to allow for temperature expansion and to absorb vibration. They are also essential for absorbing or repelling moisture, to prevent it reaching the substrate and causing problem behind the tile. The basic recommendations are 2mm for the wall, 3mm for the floor; unless a quarry tile or natural stone is used. We’d then recommend 5mm. However different tiles have different requirement and these sizes may vary. (Splitface Slate mosaics require butt-jointing so cannot be grouted. Therefore they are only suitable for dry areas)

Q. What considerations are there when tiling in commercial food preparation areas?

A. When choosing wall tiles, they need to be practical and impervious. Natural stone is not recommended. Ceramic tiles need to be smooth and easy to clean. Floor tiles also need to be easy to clean but you may also need to consider a non-slip finish to account for spillages and cleaning. Both wall and floor tiles must be grouted with an impervious epoxy resin grout.

fireplace tiles

Q. What type of tiles can I use around a fireplace?

A. If the area is going to be subject to excessive heat changes whilst heating up and cooling down, we would recommend quarry tiles, natural slate or granite, or porcelain tiles. Other tiles may expand and contract to an extent that they may crack. Please contact our Technical Help department to discuss your project in more detail.

Q. If I drop something, is it going to crack the ceramic tile?

A. Providing the tile has a fully coverage of adhesive beneath it, this should minimise the likelihood of a tile cracking due to surface impact. Small items like knives and forks, may leave a small chip on the surface, where as heavy pans may cause greater damage. No tile is guaranteed against items being dropped on them, so care should be taken in areas such as a kitchen.

rustic wood tiles

Q. What are the different grades of floor tiles for heavy traffic areas?

A. The PEI or Grade determines the tiles strength for certain situation. A tile without a grade number or a rating 0 is only recommended for wall use only. But for heavy traffic, such as public areas, industrial or shop floors etc, Grade 5 are advised. Here is a table of the grades and their recommended uses.


Q. Can I use high gloss tiles on my kitchen countertop?

A. Most tiles including high gloss ceramics can be used. However, consideration should me made when placing pans down and cutting onto a high gloss surface. Pan rests and chopping boards should still be used to keep the tiles in good condition.

I hope this has answered your questions. If not, send your query across to technicalhelp@wallsandfloors.co.uk and I’ll answer you ASAP.

written by Paul Collins the Tile Gurur

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