There are many factors to consider when specifying tiles and to make it as seamless as possible, you need the right tile for the right project. There are several common mistakes specifiers make which can in fact be easily avoided. Here are 5 mistakes we feel are most common when specifying tiles and what you can do to avoid them.
1. Function and Performance
Understanding the needs of a particular space is imperative for a design to be a success. Functional spaces need to be just that; functional. Specifying the right tile will lead to an amazing functional space that lasts well into the future. Designers must do their due diligence and research their space and its requirements (both functional and aesthetic) before specifying tiles.
All tiles are not created equal. One tile that is perfectly suited to one application may be all wrong for a different application. Floor tiles in some applications must be slip resistant. Floor tiles that are most suited for residential applications should not be used in commercial applications as they need to withstand heavy foot traffic. Some tiles might be suitable for bathroom walls but might end up staining if used on a kitchen splash back or in a swimming pool that’s subjected to water submersion and harsh and chemicals. Some stones work well on walls, but don’t work well on floors. Gaining a basic understanding of the material composition and characteristics of your desired tile can also help you determine the best application for it.
Understanding your space and its requirements before you specify a tile is imperative for an outstanding result so do your homework before you start specifying tiles.
2. The Value Trap
Specifiers should demand a product that will perform for the life of the building (it's ok to say no to a $20 per square metre floor tile for a commercial environment if it doesn’t perform). As specifiers you have a responsibility to select products based on the intended use, traffic and lifecycle of the intended building. Consider the likelihood of replacing a poor performing product and the impact this will have on your brand and the end users experience of your selection. Choosing a budget tile can prove more costly in the future, so always opt for quality.
3. Vitrified vs Fully Vitrified
Porcelain is one of the hardest, most durable materials on earth. With a water absorption of less than half a percent (0.5%), porcelain offers many benefits compared to ceramics. It is vital to understand the difference between vitrified and fully vitrified tiles. There is a misconception that vitrified tiles offer the same benefits of porcelain, but this is false. Tiles with a water absorption up to 3% are classed as vitrified tiles and are not classified as porcelain. Due to this level of water absorption, most vitrified tiles require a glaze to achieve a high enough water resistance and durability to be used on floors and in wet areas. But what happens when these tiles don't perform? The glaze can wear through and the tile can chip. If they are not grouted properly or are subject to sudden temperature changes the structural integrity may be compromised. Although a 'vitrified tile' sounds impressive, they are in many cases not suitable for commercial floors. With the daily wear and tear a commercial floor sees, it is imperative a tile of adequate water resistance, durability, chemical resistance, stain resistance, impact resistance and wear resistance is used. Choose fully vitrified porcelain.
4. Logistics and Layout
Variables such as sustainability, durability, foot traffic, performance, upkeep, design and lead time are just a few things you need to consider before selecting a product. Before ordering your tile you need to think about logistics and stock availability. How the tiles are delivered, handled and installation all need to be carefully considered. To protect your tiled surface from substrate movement and concrete cracking you may need to think about a Crack Isolation System to future proof your floor.
You need to think ahead and identify any risks and obstacles that may stand in your way to achieve your desired space. A mosaic tile applied to an impossibly high ceiling or handling a large 1000 x 3000mm XLight slab both have their challenges when it comes to installation. We recommend you deal with an experienced professional when installing your selected tile and checking in with your tiler before you make your final decision to make sure they can handle your project. Always vet your tiler by looking at their past projects.
5. Selecting for Sustainable Slip Resistance
The importance of slip resistance in commercial buildings is now at the fore of a specifiers mind when selecting flooring materials, however, are these materials being considered for the intended life of the building and the wear that the material will inevitably be exposed to? Slip resistance will drop between 10-30% through the installation process alone - adhesive and grout residue, construction contaminants and foot traffic are all factors. Ensure the materials you select for commercial buildings are tested using the Accelerated Wear Test (AWT) to best understand how the product will perform over time. Factory fresh tests mean nothing if the surface structure is of poor quality. Most of the slip resistance value will be lost within the first 3-6 months. To design with the future in mind with the lowest possible risk, select materials designed to perform for the life of your building.
Make sure that the tile you select or install is suitable for the intended use. To determine this ask the tile supplier to provide data sheets and test data indicating the tiles’ recommended uses and limitations, and to verify that the tile meets industry standards.
To find out more get in touch with the team of experts at an Earp Bros showroom near you and avoid the 5 common mistakes made when specifying tiles.