Choosing the Right Material
Possibly the most important decision to make is the type of material to be installed. Typically, tile flooring options are broken down into three main categories: Ceramic, Glass, and Natural Stone.
When choosing ceramic or porcelain tile, first check the PEI rating of the product prior to purchasing it. For residential use it is recommended to use no lower than a PEI of 3 with 4 and 5 being more desirable.
Glass tiles are typically used accents on walls and as backsplashes but can sometimes be used for flooring. It is imperative that when considering glass tiles for flooring that that they designed specifically for that use. Glass tiles manufactured for flooring are design to be especially strong and are also typically manufactured with a slip-resistant surface. When used as flooring glass tiles should always be installed over a crack prevention membrane such as Schluter-Ditra.
Natural stones are some of the most beautiful and unique materials to be used for flooring. Overall they are the most costly of the three types of flooring material and require constant care in order to stay in good shape. Because it is not manufactured, natural stone has inherent defects and most types are relatively soft and porous. All natural stone to be installed indoors or in areas of heavy foot traffic should be sealed.
Regardless of which product category you choose for your project, it is important that you purchase good quality material. There are low quality tiles in all three categories, and each one will present the installer with a multitude of issues. Some of issues associated with poor quality material include bowing/ warping (this will prevent the installer from laying down a flat floor), and chipping/cracking. A good rule of thumb is “the material chosen, will determine base outcome of the project”. Simply put, if you start with poor quality material, no matter how skilled your installer is, the final product will only be so good.