A Home Inspector’s Weblog by Frank Schulte-Ladbeck

exploring homes and the lives in them around Houston

A Pile of Tiles: What about that tile for my floors

I was packing my equipment away after an inspection, when my client approached me. She had a question about the home. Nothing to do with my report, but would I mind answering some questions. I think that my report is not always as important to new homeowners as is questions of decorating, and it turned out to be queries into tile.

She had seen tile at $1 a piece at the home center, and she wondered if it was any good. Most manufacturers produce a certain style for twenty years, and then they discontinue it as they move onto new versions of the product. To clear out the backlog of goods from their warehouses, they offer these items to home centers at bargain prices. Home centers will sell them at low prices to bring the customers into the store. There are two issues that you need to be aware of: they cannot order more of this tile for you, so big jobs cannot be done on most occasions; or years later when you break a
tile, and you need it replaced, you will not be able to find an exact match.

She wondered if one tile is better than another. Once installed, there really is not much difference in tile performance. You mainly want to pick a tile that fits your style. One problem that I have is with abuse from my children. Tile that has color only its glazing will have its base color show through when chipped. I did mention some facts to her. Larger pieces of tile will make your room feel larger, consequently smaller pieces make the room feel smaller. Darker colors for floors seem to be popular with designers; I think they make the room stand out. Setting the tile at a diagonal invites people into the room. Think of Japanese prints or Impressionist paintings, which use this effect to bring people into the art. Lastly, have the grout mixed in one big batch for color consistency. (A grout’s color can be changed with the amount of water added to it).

Tile floors have long been popular in Latin America, and more people in the United States are laying down tile for their homes. This mostly has been done for practicality. Tile is easy to clean. Another trend in tile is coming from Europe, and that is inlaying another trim tile piece into the floor to create a pattern. Sometimes a simple runner of tile one foot in from the wall can make a room stand out in appearance. Home centers will have good deals, but you can see more options, and obtain better advice, if you go to a store that specializes in tile.

Your Houston home inspector,

Frank Schulte-Ladbeck


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