Best Kid-Friendly Tile Flooring Options

 

 

As a parent, you know how rough children can be on carpeting and hardwood floors. Between spills, accidents, and constant activity, kids can put any flooring surface to the test from the time they start crawling until their teenage years. Due to its stain resistance and durability, tile flooring is a great option when you have a full house.

Tile is naturally resistant to the potential damage children can cause, from sources including:

  • Food and drink spills
  • Dirt or mud tracked in from outdoors
  • Potty training accidents
  • Damage from toys

A few types of tile—ceramic, porcelain, and natural stone—are especially great options for parents looking to protect the floors in their home.

 

brick look porcelain tile
Click the picture to see more pictures from the collection

 

Ceramic and Porcelain

Ceramic tile flooring is a functional and lowest-cost option for homeowners. Easy to clean and exceptionally versatile, ceramic tile is perfect for kitchen and bathroom spaces, but can also be used elsewhere in the home.

Porcelain floor tile is engineered specifically for toughness, so it’s a great option for high-traffic areas or families with multiple children. Especially resistant to scratches and spills, porcelain tile’s hard surface will continue looking great year after year.

 

porcelain tile looks like fabric
Click the picture to see more pictures from the collection

 

In addition to their durability, porcelain and ceramic tiles are also very versatile. For a stylish look in any room, choose wood-look porcelain that’s virtually indistinguishable from hardwood flooring yet vastly more durable. Another popular option is tile that looks like fabric or carpet. Porcelain tile can also be made to look like natural stone if you prefer an organic aesthetic.

Natural Stone Tile

Natural stone tile floors are also naturally resistant to wear and spills—especially harder materials such as granite. Natural stone is a stylish choice for almost anywhere in the home, and many varieties will keep their finish despite plenty of activity. Some softer stones, such as travertine or slate, do require more maintenance to prevent wear and tear, so natural stone tile isn’t for everyone.

porcelain wood look tile
Click the picture to see more pictures from the collection

 

While carpet is a popular choice for homeowners, it attracts dirt and stains, and hardwood is easily scratched and damaged. Tile’s durability, stain resistance, and versatile design qualities make it an excellent choice for parents looking to increase the longevity of their floors.

 

You Have Questions…We Have Answers

 

 

 

The real joy in a new tile installation is standing back and admiring the results. However, the job doesn’t finish there. You’ll want to keep your tiles looking great, so we’ve collected some of the most common tile maintenance questions asked by our clients.

 

Q: How can I best look after my tiled floor?

A: First, we recommend sealing the grout on all tiled surfaces after installation. General tile care depends on the type of tile. Ceramic and porcelain floor tiles don’t need a great deal of aftercare cleaning or maintenance. Regular cleaning is easy using a neutral cleaning based liquid with warm water and mop. Beware of harsh chemical detergents that may damage the tile’s finish. We recommend using a cleaner meant for tile such as Fila’s Neutral Cleaner.

Natural stone needs more care and we highly recommend that the stone (and not just the grout) be sealed and then regularly maintained. When properly sealed, water will bead off the surface. When the water starts to puddle, it’s time to seal the material again. Stone floors should be vacuumed or dust mopped to remove abrasive agents such as sand or pebbles. Never use acidic products on your stone floors – clean them with a pH neutral cleaner (Fila Neutral Cleaner).

 

Q: How can I minimize wear and tear on my floors?

  • Bleach, harsh chemicals, steel wool or wire brushes are not recommended. Any harsh cleaning agent may harm your tiles.
  • Use only recommended cleaning products and sealants, and make sure they are specific to the tile purchased. The products sold by Tiles Unlimited cover every type of tile.
  • Spill alert! To avoid grout stains, get on floor spills straight away.
  • Consider using floor protectors on the legs of furniture items to prevent tile damage.

 

 

Q: Am I able to replace damaged tiles?

A: With some patience and simple instructions, a DIY tiler can remove and replace cracked tiles. To prevent it happening again make sure you understand the cause of the damage before undertaking the work.

 

Q: When I place an order, should I buy extra tiles?

A: Yes. We suggest you order an extra 10-15% more than the total area you’re tiling. You need to allow for waste, such as having to cut or re-cut some tiles, and you may also need backups so you can easily match any damaged tiles that may need replacing in the future.

 

 

Q: Can damaged tiles be repaired rather than replacing the whole tile?

A: Yes, you may be able to repair chipped or cracked tiles. If the damage is extensive, however, re-tiling may be necessary. To repair cracks or chips, you can use a specific branded filler product as-is, or mix your filler with a custom paint color in order to match the color of your tiles.

 

Q: Will using a penetrating sealer make my natural stone floor slippery?

A: No. A sealer is designed to penetrate below the surface of the stone and it won’t change the color or finish. Applying a sealer will also filter out the worst of any stains and make it easier to clean your stone, though we recommend cleaning any spills as soon as possible.

 

(The information is provided as a guide only. If you need further advice, you should seek out professional help based on your own circumstances. Photos are of our Ambience tile collection)

All Tile Is Not Created Equally

 

Q: Why is there such a wide range in tile prices?

A: For most of us, shopping for new ceramic or porcelain tile is a once in a decade experience, so even for the savviest of shoppers, the wide range can be confusing. The short answer is, there are marked differences between branded and generic tiles. Continue reading to find out what these differences are.

 

porcelain tile

 

The truth is that many factors affect the price of tile products, including where you buy it. If you’re wondering why tiles can range in cost from $1 to $100 per square foot, there are four main variables that affect the price: material costs, production processes, brands and customer service.

 

Material Costs

While all ceramic tiles are essentially made of the same ingredients, the quality and color of those ingredients can make a dramatic difference in the price. For example, to make a tile with a pure white body requires white clay, which is much harder to find than the red or beige clays found in most tiles. To achieve bright blue and red glazes requires minerals that are much more expensive than cream, brown or even green colors.

Modern digital printing techniques allow for tile that looks like other materials such as wood or natural stone. Higher quality tile will use as many as 36 different patterns to replicate the look of wood or natural stone so that you will not get a repeating pattern that ruins the realism of the tile. Lesser quality tiles will use far fewer patterns and will not come close to the realism that more patterns provide.

 

Production Process

The simplest form of ceramic tile consists of one body color and no glaze, and requires a single firing. But there is a wide variety of production options, so prices for ceramic tiles can vary greatly.

Applying glaze or an additional surface color to the body, cutting down the original pressed size into modular sizes, polishing the surface or straightening the edges to accommodate tighter grout joints are all additional processes that add value to the finished product, but also increase the price. There are a host of tile attributes that affect its price and are very important to know before installing your tile. These important attributes are things like durability, texture and color.

 

wood look porcelain tile

 

Branded vs. Generic Tile

Tile has both branded (often referred to as first quality) and generic versions. Branded-tile manufacturers create beautiful brochures and catalogs that show room scenes and full installations in a variety of formats. This may not seem important but it’s really the only effective way to visualize how tile may look in your room.

More importantly, they also test the materials for qualities such as slip resistance, breaking strength, suitability for exterior or submerged environments, and stain resistance. Generic tiles do not go through that kind of testing and are not suitable for many types of installations such as wet areas, outdoors or high traffic areas such as your kitchen or entryway. The real problem with generic tile is you won’t often find these things out until after it’s installed.

 

porcelain wood look tile

 

Customer Service

 Another cost determinant is the customer service you receive both before and after your purchase. You may find a very good deal on tile at a big box store, for example, but there will likely be no design support, limited or no technical knowledge or installation recommendations.

More importantly, should anything go wrong with the project for any reason, you may not receive the necessary support to back up your claim.

At full-service showrooms like Tiles Unlimited, the tile may carry a higher price tag, but the price will include a showroom designer to help you make your selections, and a knowledgeable staff who can handle a claim if there are concerns with tile quality and/or installation.

Furthermore, a tile installation is more than just the tile you select. Selecting the appropriate thin-set and grout is as important as the tile, as there is a big difference between different thin-sets and grouts and the types of tiles they are meant to be used on. See an earlier story on how grout affects your tile installation by clicking here.

 

Calculating How Much Tile to Buy

We receive many questions each week from homeowners looking for advice on purchasing and installing tile. This week, we’re going to tackle the most frequent question we receive, how much tile do I need to buy?

You’ve put in all kinds of time designing your new tile floor or wall, now it’s time to get serious and talk numbers. How much tile do you need exactly? And how is that affected by the size, shape, and type of tile you choose? All those aspects, and more, influence how much tile you’ll need to purchase. Whether you are ready to buy or you are planning the budget, use these four steps to determine how much tile you’ll need.

Keep in mind that once you calculate the necessary square footage, it is recommended that you purchase 10-15% more tile. This is due to breakage, accidents when cutting tile and to make sure you have tile in case a repair is needed down the road.

 

 

Think About the Room Shape

The general layout of the room is a good place to begin when calculating how much tile you need for your floor.  Most rooms are not perfectly square or rectangle. “L” shapes or “T” shapes are common, but even these are rarely that straightforward. There is always some corner that’s nipped off or a wall that isn’t completely straight. All these elements make an accurate measurement difficult. But if you start with the general shape of the room, you can easily add or deduct for the unique elements of your space. Take the measurements of every angle of your room. Measure everything twice to ensure accuracy.

 

 

Measuring the Room

The next step is to calculate the square footage of your room. Once again, the little quirks can complicate this, but for now just get the basics. For square rooms, measure the length and width of the room then multiply them together. For “L” or “T” shaped rooms, split them into rectangles that can easily be calculated then add them together.

You haven’t accounted for the quirks of the room, but keep in mind that overage is not a bad thing when installing tile. In fact, we recommend that you get 10–15% more tile than you need to cover for cuts and mistakes.  Keep a box or two of leftover tiles around just in case it goes out of stock or is discontinued–you never know when you’ll need to make a repair. Don’t forget to measure any closets or pantries that you want to include in your calculations.

 

Calculate for Angled Walls and Non-Tiles Areas

Like we said before, no room is exactly square. If you have angled walls or specific areas that will not be tiled, you don’t want to calculate for those spots. The easiest way to account for this is to deduct them from your earlier, general measurements. The easiest way to do this is to draw your room on some graph paper. Let each square represent 12 inches or one foot. With careful measurements, draw in where the angled walls are. You’ll be able to see how much to deduct from the area you calculated earlier.

 

Selecting Your Tile

Now it’s time to determine how much tile you need to cover your room. Several things are important to consider at this phase:

  • Pattern or layout of tile
  • Size of tile
  • Border or accent tile

The pattern and size of the tile are the key influencers in determining how much tile you need. In general, a diamond pattern will require more tile than a grid. See below for some common tile patterns. A word of caution, not all tiles can be installed in various patterns. Before you decide on your installation, check out what the manufacturer recommends.

 

 

If you plan to include a border or accent tiles, you’ll need to calculate separately for each type of tile you are using, especially if you are using different sizes or patterns as an accent.

If you are having difficulty figuring out how much tile flooring you need or you want to double-check your calculations, run them through a tile calculator or collaborate with one of our expert Tile Consultants or your contractor.

Why We Trust MAPEI Tile Installation Products

 

 

Laying tile is an art form. Doing it right takes practice and skill, but most importantly, it takes the right tools to get the job done. Here at Tiles Unlimited, getting the job done right is our top priority so we are very particular about the installation products we recommend. We are committed to providing you with a tile feature in your home that you can enjoy and admire for years to come. For this and several other reasons we are confident in the products available through MAPEI. For years, we’ve seen the successful results of using their products and we now trust that there will always be a positive outcome. More tile manufacturers recommend MAPEI installation products than any other vendor’s products.

 

Because Beauty Begins With What’s Underneath

 Aesthetics aren’t the only reason it’s important to rely on the best available installation products. Certainly, it’s paramount to use the best if the goal is an impressive tile feature in your home. But even the most beautiful tile job loses value if it doesn’t stand the test of time. MAPEI products help achieve longevity by mitigating the typical issues that can arise with poorly installed tile. From their Aquadefense waterproofing products to thin-sets and grouts, these products ensure that finished work doesn’t have leaks, cracks, or other problems. The result is workmanship of the highest quality and our clients are always impressed with the way the finished bathrooms, kitchens, and patios look in their homes.

 

 

MAPEI’s product lines are highly diversified. This allows us to use their products throughout the entire installation. Not only does this help ensure uniformity during construction, but it also allows us to use products that are optimized to work together.

 

High Performance Grout = Outstanding Results

Many homeowners are not very concerned with what thin-set or grout is used for their project. We can’t stress how important these items are in achieving the best installation possible. You may find tile installation products less expensive than MAPEI’s but they won’t give you the same results.

Take MAPEI Flexcolor CQ Grout (available in 40 colors) as an example. More expensive than ordinary sanded or unsanded grouts, it has properties that will save your installer time and money, which should translate into a more affordable installation for you. Flexcolor CQ Grout comes pre-mixed so there are no worries with using thin-set that are too thick or too watery. Flexcolor CQ Grout will not crack, requires no sealing, is stain resistant and offers incredible color consistency not found in ordinary grouts. Once dry, Flexcolor CQ Grout is water resistant as well as mold resistant. These properties will lead to the most professional installations and pretty much eliminate the need to call back your installer to fix thin-set and/or grout issues. Comparison testing of MAPEI Flexcolor CQ versus traditional cement grout has verified that MAPEI Flexcolor CQ is 30% more cost-efficient (based on typical rates of installers) and requires 65% less time to install.

 

Click picture to see video of CQ Grout in action

 

For more information about Tiles Unlimited and the way we use MAPEI tile installation products, we invite you to visit our showroom and speak to our tile experts. In particular, we’d be happy to show your real samples because the natural variation in the shades of their products might appear different according to your computer monitor’s screen colors. We strongly recommend that you make your decision from actual products in stock, rather than pictures from the website.

Create a Stunning Feature Wall

One of our favorite design elements is the “feature wall” and it is becoming one of the hottest trends of 2017. If you’re looking to make a design statement in your home, consider creating a feature wall with tile. No matter which room contains a feature wall, it adds a great deal of depth to the rooms while creating an interesting focal point.

If you are asking what is a feature wall, let us explain. A feature wall is generally one wall or a section of a wall in a room that is different from the other walls, whether the difference be color, texture, size or all of the above.

 

Click the picture to see more photos from this collection.

 

How to Create a Feature Wall

What we love about the feature wall is that it gives you the opportunity to be totally creative and design “outside the box”. If you aren’t into bold designs, you can always choose to be more conservative and just select a paint color a couple of tones darker than your other walls.

 

Click the picture to see more photos from this collection.

 

However, since our true passion is tile and stone, we get much more excited about seeing and creating a feature wall with tile and stone. Depending on the tile you choose, you can create a subtle feature wall that is more about texture and a suggestion of pattern, or is bolder if your tile pattern exhibits a lot of shade variation. The wood-look porcelain plank tile look continues to be stronger than ever as a floor tile and as an exciting wall tile for feature walls.

 

Click the picture to see more photos from this collection.

 

Brick-look tile is also a very popular choice for a feature wall, offering an industrial look with outstanding color variations and texture. As with many of the wood-look tile collections, it’s nearly impossible to tell the difference between real brick and porcelain brick-look tile.

Ready to Create Your Own Feature Wall?

We hope we have inspired you. A feature wall is an easy and effective way to add visual interest to almost any room in your home. With so many product options, creating a feature wall with tile can be great fun. We hope you’ll consider including one. One last tip, any tile can be used on walls even though not all tiles can be used on floors. This means, when creating your special feature wall your options are virtually limitless.

Click the picture to see more photos from this collection.

The design experts at Tiles Unlimited, dual winner in the 2017 Best of the Boro Competition (Best Tile Store & Best Kitchen & Bath Store) stand ready to help you design the feature wall, or any space, of your dreams. Now is the perfect time to visit us as our Semi-Annual Tile Clearance Sale is now in progress. With savings up to 80% off, you won’t find a better time to shop for tile.

Selecting Your Grout Color Should Not Be an Afterthought

So now that you’ve picked out your tile, what grout color should you choose? Grout is often an overlooked design element when tiling floors, walls or backsplashes. Choosing a specific grout color could change the overall color appearance of the tile and the way that your entire project looks! The picture below is the same mosaic tile with three different grout colors (white, black, grey). Note how different the tile looks with each grout.

 

There are three general approaches when it comes to selecting grout: blending with the tile, contrasting with the tile, or neutral colors aka matching the grout. Let the selection of your grout be as important as tile selection and you’ll be able to achieve the perfect design. Make sure you choose the grout color and don’t leave such an important decision to your tile installer.

 

Blending Grout

Blending is the most common approach and what we recommend for most projects. This involves choosing the grout color that matches with the color in your tile. For example, you can blend by using white grout with our Frost collection.

 

 

Contrasting Grout

 

Contrasting your grout can be a bold but beautiful choice. If you’re looking to make the tile stand out, select a contrasting grout color to your tile. This frames each tile and draws attention to them. You will also want to look at using a thicker grout in this instance to really highlight your tile selection. This is a good choice for more decorative tile patterns.

 

 

 

Matching Grout/Neutral

 

If you’re looking for what some feel is the safest choice, select a “neutral” grout color from the beiges or greys. If you want something that will have mass appeal, a neutral matching color is the most widely recommended approach.

 

Other Grout Considerations

 

The selection of your grout color is important to achieve your desired look; however, you still need to consider the type of grout being used. Grout functions to bond tiles and stone edges together and prevent chipping so it is important you or your tile contractor understand the types of grout available.

You should also consider traffic patterns in the room where your tile and grout will be used when selecting a color. A very light grout is probably not a good idea for a busy kitchen, but could be ideal for a less used guest bath.

Ceramic Tile Offers Lowest Total Cost of Ownership

When you begin the onerous task of researching a flooring project, it is easy to see the initial costs in front of you and walk away. However, in these situations it usually pays off to look a little deeper. When it comes to choosing what type of flooring you want to install, price is going to be a major factor in the decision process. This is where being shortsighted can come back to bite you.  Some questions that should come to mind are the scope of the project, your short terms and long term budget and how long the flooring needs to last.

 

If these questions resonate with you in any way, you might want to consider engineering your project for a life cycle value.  By value-engineering your project you can perform a Life Cycle Cost Analysis, also known as a Cradle-to-Grave Analysis, to realize your full investment in terms of how your decision can affect your budget over the life of the floor.  To perform a Life Cycle Cost Analysis, you need to take into consideration all the costs for owning, operating, maintaining, and disposing of the product.

 

Many factors affect the total cost of ownership in addition to the cost of the flooring material. Other factors you should consider are installation materials, labor, contractor overhead and profit, maintenance and removal and disposal costs.

 

The Tile Council of North America, Inc. recently performed a Life Cycle Cost Analysis on 12 of the most popular flooring options, including everything from carpet to porcelain ceramics.  The results are listed in the table below and also shown visually in the chart below.

 

 

As you can see from the results of the test, ceramic and porcelain tiles have the longest expected lifespan with 50 years, driving the cost for its overall life cycle ($0.33 – $0.39) significantly lower than carpet ($1.26) and vinyl ($1.41 – $1.85) products, which need to be replaced periodically.

 

Because properly installed tile can last a lifetime, it is no wonder it is one of the greenest, most sustainable ways to build. By contributing to various credits, ceramic and porcelain tiles can help you attain LEED Certification for your project, while at the same time lowering the overall expenses over the lifetime of the project.

 

According to these results you can see how important it is to plan your project based off its complete life cycle value, rather than the initial cost. Just because something might cost more upfront doesn’t mean it will be less expensive over the lifetime of the floor.

Ancient Techniques…Modern Style

Encaustic tile may be a new term to you, but it’s an antique style making a big comeback. These ornate tiles are at once old-fashioned and modern, so here’s how to incorporate this design trend for 2017.

 

Encaustic tiles were all the rage in the Victorian era and even farther back, in the medieval times. Until recently, these ornate tiles had fallen out of favor as unadorned or glazed tiles took their place. The designs are more complicated and the finished tiles heavier from the layers, making the tiles unique but costly.

Contemporary encaustic tiles can have bold graphics in an array of colors or throwbacks to Medieval or Victorian time periods. The ability to create such intricate patterns is a hallmark of this style. Encaustic tiles are endlessly versatile and can fit into any design scheme, making them a new favorite of designers.

Encaustic tile is gorgeous in an entryway where your visitors can admire it. It is also comfortable in bathrooms and kitchens, natural homes for tile. Encaustic tile is even beautiful and useful in a living room. The design element replaces a rug, acts as a focal point, and dogs and kids can do no harm to the tough tiles. Since the design is inlayed, it will not wear away with use, making it perfect for high traffic areas.

 

Why stop at the floor? Encaustic tile is beautiful on walls or backsplashes, too, in bathrooms or kitchens. A geometric backsplash and accent wall take a streamlined kitchen from simple to high-design. Click here to see design ideas for encaustic tiles. With over ½ million square feet of tile in stock, you’ll find the perfect tile for your project at Tiles Unlimited.

Make Your Tiles Look Showroom New

Impossible Marks on Your Porcelain Floor?

Porcelain tiles are the most frequently used materials for floors, because they are very practical, but if not adequately maintained, they could easily get dirty. The tiles often have a fine layer of residual grouting or concrete, which can only be eliminated with specific products that do not harm the material. Ordinary, often harsh, household cleaners are not up to the task. Tiles Unlimited recommends DETERDEK and CR-10, from Fila Solutions; the ideal products for cleaning floors that were not thoroughly cleaned after installation or that have only recently been installed.

Tiles Unlimited Tile Showcase NY

Thanks to its acid-based formula, it effectively removes building site dirt without harming metal profiles. Let’s take a look at how to use it properly: first wet the floors, then dilute DETERDEK in water and apply this solution a few meters at a time, waiting 2-3 minutes and then rubbing hard with a flat brush. At this point, the floor can be rinsed with plenty of water.

If your surface has tiles with epoxy grouting, use FILACR10, the cleaner for epoxy residues ideal for walls and floors in porcelain and glazed ceramic tiles as well as glass mosaics. Its viscous formula makes it the ideal product for washing vertical surfaces and it also works on larger, old residues.

Tiles Unlimited Tile Showcase NY

DETERDEK can also be used to combat efflorescence or ‘white spots’ on your outdoor tile. The white substance forms a powder-like coating made up of soluble salts and moisture, which migrate to the surface, evaporate and leave a salt deposit behind. As well as affecting porous masonry, efflorescence can also migrate through a grout joint, so it’s a problem that can affect both natural stone and ceramic installations.

Tiles Unlimited Tile Showcase NY

Sealing and Enhancing Stone Floor Tiles

When a newly installed stone floor doesn’t look up to scratch, the tiles are often blamed. Many mistakenly believe that the tiles are inferior in some way, or that there is an issue with the installation. More often than not, it comes down to one small thing; a poor initial cleaning. After a stone floor has been installed, it should always be cleaned thoroughly, using a quality pH-neutral detergent – like FILACLEANER – not just with a bucket of warm water! It takes a bit longer but it can make or break an installation.

If you use water alone, you’ll effectively be sloshing manufacturing dust, dirt and grout residues across the surface of the tiles. Once the floor is dry, the film of residue – or grout haze – will become visible. Then, when you seal the tiles, this residue will become sandwiched between the tile’s surface and the sealant. As well as ruining the look of the installation, it will also store up problems for the future: The sealant won’t be able to absorb properly into the tile, so its performance will be compromised. Dirt will be built-up on the surface more quickly, making the problem even worse.

Tiles Unlimited Tile Showcase NY

To avoid these problems, always ensure that the floor is cleaned properly after installation with a pH-neutral cleaner such as FILACLEANER as it is safe to use on all natural materials including stone.