Recently at The Tile Depot we had some feedback that tiles were “cold” and the “grout is porous and fills with mould and crud”, “they’re hard on joints”, “difficult to clean” and “underfloor heating systems cost thousands to run”. Admittedly most of these comments came from one individual who has quite firmly made up their mind about the pros and cons of tiles, but it seemed like a great opportunity, given that we are very much in favour of them, to make a case for tiles.

Tiles are a hypoallergenic flooring option. They do not retain dirt or bacteria like carpet and they clean up like new.  Some collections of porcelain now even have a Microban surface that ensures 99% of bacteria are eliminated upon contact with the tile. But what about grout ? Well, yes the grout of yesteryear certainly “grew mould and collected crud” and eventually looked quite awful. Present day grouts are mould and fungi resistant and can be sealed after installation to improve water and stain resistance. This makes the grout much easier to maintain. Epoxy grouts are now also available and are considered a stain and waterproof grout that will last a lifetime. In general terms, if you have a regular cleaning regime, have well ventilated bathrooms, reseal your grout every few years, they should remain pristine and hygienic for many years to come.

Cleaning tiles themselves is actually pretty straight forward, the invention of the steam mop is a godsend to those with extensively tiled homes. Otherwise for the most part tiles are easily swept, vaccumed and mopped to keep clean. Naturally, the more textured and slip resistant a tile the harder it will be to clean. This just means periodically a bit more elbow grease may be required. 

But what about tiles being cold and expensive to heat? Tiles have great thermal mass; they have a fantastic capacity to store heat energy. Passive solar heating allows tiles to absorb warmth from the sun in the day and then radiate it into the home as the temperature cools at night. With great passive design, the tiles will warm in winter and be lovely and cool in summer. Not all homes are able to maximise the suns warmth and that’s where underfloor heating is a fantastic option for warming your tiles. Modern underfloor heating systems include programmable thermostats that ensure the tiles are only heated at key times, thus limiting the energy used and in fact being very cost effective. 

Tiles are hard underfoot. We can’t deny this. Porcelain tiles are increasingly the most common tile product on the market and they are pretty much the hardest type of flooring you can have. But the benefits of this density and durability are many. They are the hardest wearing  floor you could possibly have, they won’t fade or stain and as long as they are installed correctly and kept clean, they should remain looking as good as new almost indefinitely. It may be possible to chip them if something particularly hard and heavy is dropped upon them, but as long as you kept a few spares, a single tile can be replaced without the entire floor needing to be removed. They may be hard on joints for people who spend all day standing on tiled floors, but very few people spend all day standing in their home and a few cosy rugs scattered around can add some texture and softness to your space.

Naturally we are biased towards tiles but we firmly believe that if you select the right tile for the right space, install them correctly, ensure your grout is sealed and maintain a great cleaning regime, adopt some passive solar design elements or consider underfloor heating systems with timers, they should prove to be one of the best performing floor and wall coverings in your home.

 

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