FLOOR TILES - TRENDS AND TRIALS
Let’s face it: natural stone floor tiles do not come cheaply, so if your idea of an exotic entertaining area includes beautifully laid polished sandstone floor tiles, then you’d better do your homework so you get it right first go.
While that rich travertine kitchen floor that reminds you of cream brulee looks positively magnificent in the latest home magazine, it may not be the most appropriate choice for you and your messy family.
Whether you are building a new home or renovating an existing one, the flooring you choose can make or break a room, or worse still, the entire house. Therefore it is imperative that you thoughtfully plan your flooring; how it will be used, how much traffic flow it will get and how the surrounding furnishings will look (including the soft furnishings).
So let’s look in more detail at the points you need to consider before choosing your floor tiles.
First, look at your family and lifestyle. Do you have children who traipse through the house in dirty school shoes, or play ‘chasies’ throughout the rooms?
Do you lead very active lives which leave little time (or energy) for repetitive household chores? Or are the two of you relishing the ‘empty nester’ lifestyle and the downsized modern townhouse you’ve just purchased?
Floor tiles differ enormously in density, porosity, strength, durability, slip resistance and abrasion resistance. All of these factors need to be considered when choosing the right type of natural stone for your floor tiles.
Most tiles are rated on a scale of one to five for durability, with one being at the bottom of the scale and five at the top. So, if the room you are tiling is a heavy traffic zone, you will need to consider a tile with a rating of between four and five. Likewise, if the area to be tiled is a play area, you will need to consider durability as well as identifying floor tiles that are easy to maintain and keep clean.
You will also need to consider other factors like the room’s location. As an example, if you are tiling the entrance hallway, is it going to be subject to wet boots and umbrellas when it rains? Or will guests entering from across the gravel driveway be scratching the floor with the bits of leftover gravel?
Alternatively, if you are planning floor tiles for the large entertaining/family room at the back of the house that leads directly to the pool area, will chlorinated or salt water be dripped on the tiles? Although most natural stone floor tiles are water resistant, you may need to consider a specially formulated sealant to protect your new tile floor from salt attack.
Most natural stone floor tiles adapt well to extreme changes in temperature, but some adapt better than others. Talk to your tiling professional about which tiles provide ‘fitness for purpose’.
Another factor to consider is the amount of direct sunlight your tiled floor will get during all the seasonal changes. The amount of sunlight not only affects whether or not the tiles will fade, it also has an impact on how hot or cold the room will become at various times of the year. Some stone tiles retain heat well while others deflect the sun’s rays.
Think about the colours you will be using or are already using in the room you are going to tile. Take into account the furnishings, curtains, accessories and even the paintings in the room. The most important consideration is complementing cool colours with similar cool colours and warm colours with appropriate warm colours so the floor tiles don’t clash with the décor.
If you are totally clueless when it comes to the colour wheel, the Internet is full of information about complementary tones and how to choose the right shades for your décor.
Putting It All Together
Once you have factored in all the necessary considerations, the final factor is that deadly one – the price. Your final decision will ultimately be made by the size of the area you intend tiling and the cost of the floor tiles you would like to use.
You may need to either alter your budget or the floor tiles you had your heart set on. Although natural stone tiling is not the cheapest option, it is certainly the best value for money because your tiles will still look as beautiful in 20 years as they do now.