Tiles: What size and shape to choose?

Tile is a practical and resistant floor covering for both indoor and outdoor spaces. It can be ceramic, porcelain, terrazzo, natural stone, reconstituted stone, among others. The three main types of tiles are natural stone, ceramic, and terrazzo (made of baked clay). In addition to floors, they can cover walls, stairs, and other surfaces. They are available in various formats and materials, with different technical characteristics.

Tiles are the flooring of choice for kitchens and bathrooms as they are easy to clean. Floor tiles must not have a slippery surface. Outdoor tiles resist freezing temperatures, making them ideal for cold climates. Low porosity floors easily drain rainwater, oil, and any other liquid. On the other hand, porous materials must receive a treatment that makes them non-absorbent.

The choice of the type of tiles will also depend on the environment you want to create. For example, natural stone and terrazzo give the space a warm and welcoming atmosphere. It is also necessary to take into account the conditions to which the coverage will be exposed, namely if it is intended for use indoors or outdoors and the degree of humidity. For intensive use spaces, it is advisable to opt for abrasion-resistant tiles.

What size and shape of tiles to choose?

The size must be chosen according to the dimensions of the space for which they are intended. On the market, tiles of various sizes are available. Large (60 x 60 cm / 80 x 80 cm / 120 x 60 cm) give the impression that a room is larger because there are fewer joints (now very fashionable), while smaller ones (20 x 20 cm or 30 x 30 cm) make the space cozy, being also easier to settle. Most tiles are square or rectangular, although they also come in octagonal shapes, which are more difficult to lay.

  • How to choose the right color for your tiles? Bright colors and pastel colors are a temptation, but you have to think about the long term. A tile floor is not changed as often as linoleum or floating floor. Therefore, you need to be careful with your choice, especially if you are considering selling the house or apartment. Here are some tips that can help you make this choice:
    • Light colors make space appear wider
    • Darker colors give a welcoming air
    • Tinted colors better disguise small blemishes
    • Neutral colors make it easier to change the decor
    • The bright colors are cheerful and original
  • How to calculate the number of tiles you will need? Tiles are usually sold in boxes with an indication of the number of square meters inside. To find out how many square meters you need, you must calculate the area you want to tile and add a 15% margin to compensate for the losses that result from cuts and possible breakages. The calculation is easy: 
    • measure the length and width of the space to be tiled;
    • multiply these two measurements to get the area (in square meters);
    • multiply the number of square meters by 15% and the result will correspond to the number of square meters you must purchase.
  • How to lay tiles on the floor? You can arrange it straight, diagonally (especially if your room is not square or rectangular), in the plaid of different colors, or even forming a design on a part of the tiled area, resembling a rug, to create a stylish effect. It’s your choice! Never place it on top of floors as they can crack due to the retraction and expansion of the wood. It should always be laid on a stable surface, such as concrete or an existing ceramic floor. This surface must be clean and dry. Next, we present the different steps for laying tiles.
    • Prepare the support surface: after drawing the two perpendicular lines that will guide the layout of the tiles, mix the mortar and start spreading it from these lines, one square meter at a time. Then pass a notched trowel always in the same direction, creating parallel grooves, and remove excess mortar.
    • Lay it: place the first at the intersection of the two lines and place crossbars at the ends of the tile to lay the next tile together, and so on. The tiles must obviously be cut, when necessary before they are placed on the mortar.
    • In bathrooms, particularly at the shower base, it is necessary to pre-cut the tiles to be installed near the drain and water drainage grids. A little trick:  swipe your finger to remove excess mortar before it dries. Then wipe the surface with a damp cloth.
  • How to keep it in good condition? The first step is to clean them right after placing them. The mortar often leaves a thin layer, similar to a whitish veil, which must be wiped off immediately with a dry cloth. Otherwise, this film will permanently adhere to the tiles, giving it a dull appearance. In daily cleaning, it is absolutely necessary to avoid the use of chemical products, as they quickly damage the tiles. Instead, use warm water and mild soap and dry the floor thoroughly after mopping. These floors can also be vacuumed or swept.

Another article on this blog that may interests you:

Tiling: Basic rules for choosing tiles