7 Things to Know When Shopping for Tiles

  • May 27, 2020

When it comes to choosing tiles, having them fit your overall moodboard is definitely key. But it isn’t all about aesthetics. Familiarise yourself with these tile technicalities so you won’t go in blind.

1. You shouldn’t go too big for bathroom floor tiles

When selecting bathroom floor tiles, you will want to avoid using large-format tiles. Large tiles have fewer grout lines, which can reduce traction, making them potentially more slippery and therefore dangerous when wet.

Design: The Association

The other issue is drainage. Tiles that are too large make it difficult to create a proper slope towards the shower drain, which can cause water to pool around areas in your bathroom. A good sized tile to use for your bathroom floor is a medium sized one, e.g. 30x60cm.

2. Anti-slip tiles are graded with an R value

Anti-slip tiles are graded with an “R” (Resistance) value to show how much traction they are able to provide in a wet environment. R9 tiles are the standard. They usually feature a matte and smooth surface, but offer very low resistance between the sole of your feet and the floor, making them only suitable for dry areas.

Design: Lemonfridge Studio

If you are choosing tiles for shower floors or other wet zones in the home, opt for ones rated R10 and above. R10 tiles can feature a smooth or textured surface (the latter making it easier to clean), but they provide an extra grip when coming into contact with water or grease. R11 tiles provide even more traction, but they often feature a rougher surface, making them harder to clean. There are few R12 and 13 options in Singapore, as R10 and R11 tiles are usually sufficient for most home environments.

Both the Code 62 and the Listone D tiles offer an R11 resistance. Available in Soon Bee Huat.

3. Tile hack: Minimise grout lines and repetitive vein pattern on your kitchen backsplash by going with a large-format tile

If you are opting for tiles as your kitchen backsplash, large-format tiles e.g. 60x120cm are a great option for minimising grout lines. Depending on the size of your kitchen, you might end up with just a couple of grout lines on your backsplash.

Design: The Interior Lab

This is also a great option if you like marble or granite tile lookalikes. A large-format tile will help to minimise repetitive vein patterns, making your entire backsplash appear more natural.

4. There are different kinds of porcelain tiles (but it may not matter that much)

Porcelain tiles are favoured compared to ceramic tiles, especially for use in flooring and wet zones, as they are more impervious to water. If you are selecting porcelain tiles, you will likely come across the different types: glazed, full body and inkjet.

Glazed porcelain tiles come with a glaze on their surface, where the design or pattern of the tile sit. The design/pattern is not carried throughout the tile, even though the colour may be. If it's not highlighted at the tile description, turn your chosen tile to the side to check.

A glazed porcelain tile is unlike a full body (otherwise known as homogeneous) porcelain tile, which is an unglazed tile that has the design/pattern carried throughout the tile. The only real advantage a full body porcelain tile has over a glazed one is in the event of an accidental chip on a piece of tile. The full body one will be better at concealing that chip since the design of the tile is the same underneath the surface.

Difference between a full body porcelain tiles (left) and a glazed porcelain tile (right).

Images courtesy of Malford

Inkjet porcelain tiles are a relatively newer type of porcelain tiles. The designs on these tiles are created through inkjet technology, to offer a more realistic appearance as well as texture. Besides more variation in patterns, some of the designs are sometimes extended to the sides of the tiles, so they can seem just like the real thing.

5. When selecting lookalike tiles, you will want to pay attention to shade and vein variation

Speaking of variation, you will want to look at the shade and vein variation of your selected tiles, especially if they are supposed to mimic stone or wood. Shade and vein variation are the amount of differences in tone and pattern vein between each tile.

Design: Lemonfridge Studio

A high shade and vein variation will mean that the differences between each tile are more varied, great if you are opting for a more dramatic or more natural look. These are the choice options for larger spaces or if you want to use the tiles on a focal wall. If you want a sleeker, more uniformed and consistent appearance, look for ones with low shade and vein variation.

6. Think about maintenance when choosing tiles

Design: Inizio Atelier

Besides aesthetics, maintenance is a huge thing to consider when picking out your tiles. Here are few things to consider if you want an easy-to-clean home:

  • Textured tiles catch dirt and grime easily and are harder to clean too. Avoid those for hardworking zones like your kitchen backsplash or the bathrooms.
  • Small tiles may provide plenty of grout lines for traction, but it can be a pain to clean grout.
  • Glossy tiles tend to show fingerprints and smudges more easily than matte tiles.
  • Darker tiles may look cosy and moody, but they can be harder to upkeep since they also show up dirt more easily than lighter coloured tiles.

7. Consider your grout too

Tiles and grout go hand in hand, so it’s important to consider your grout when shopping for tiles. In small spaces, larger format tiles are a good option since it will help reduce the amount of grout lines. The more grout lines you have, the busier and more cluttered your space will look.

Design: Ju Design Studio

Go with a grout colour similar to the colour of your tiles for a more seamless look and to minimise the visual busyness. If you are using an interesting grout colour to contrast with your tiles, note that the colour of your grout can fade over time. Opt to do this only in low-traffic areas that are not subjected to water or frequent cleaning.


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