Tiles are designed to be hardwearing and reliable elements of your home, they can be installed in a variety of settings from wet areas, kitchens, the living area and even the garden! In order to get the very best of them it is useful to know a little about how they are made up as this detail will become very apparent when it is time to fix your new tiles. By understanding tiles, crucially in terms of their water resistant qualities you will be helped to avoid potentially disastrous fixing errors that can lead to tile staining, changes in shade and even damp penetrating into your walls. If you are due to install some tiles soon or are hiring a professional tile fixer here are some of the most common pitfalls to avoid.
Before we look at the fixing pitfalls let me tell you a little about how tiles are made up. The base of the wall tile (often referred to as biscuit) is a porous composition manufactured from components including ball clay, limestone, pitcher and water, this is fired at high temperatures. The tile base alone is not impervious to water, it is the glaze which goes over the biscuit that is what makes the tiles water resistant. In many tiles the glaze is only found on the tile face and a little down the edges. In the case of natural stone products these are just that; natural, they are a different make up than manufactured ceramic tiles and as such need to be treated differently.
Fixing Pitfall # 1 – Let new plaster dry before fixing
Now we know more about the tiles and how they are made up it is now more apparent that the base of the tile needs to be protected from water but also from moisture generally.
When renovating a room there is often a need for the walls to be re-plastered (using wet plaster) prior to fixing tiles, a common mistake made is that those fixing the tiles fail to leave the plaster to dry for the recommended time. Plaster can be touch dry quite early on, however there is usually a large amount of moisture still remaining for some time, some plasters require a minimum of 6 weeks to be fully dry. If you fix your wall tiles too soon the moisture in the plaster can become trapped, this can then travel through the porous part of the tile and show through, causing staining or a change in the shade of your tiles.
Fixing Pitfall # 2 – Not allowing adhesive to “go off” before grouting
Just like plaster, tile adhesive also contains lot’s of moisture, this must be allowed to escape into the air before being sealed in with grout. It might be tempting (especially is you are tiling a small area) to fix the tiles with the adhesive and then go straight back to grout; however, it is important to leave it for at least 24 hours prior to applying the grout (although there are some adhesives that say you can grout sooner so check the packaging carefully). By leaving it for that extra time you will help to safeguard your tiles from the potential to darken or change colour as the moisture is absorbed by the back’s of the tiles.
Fixing Pitfall # 3 – Not fully grouting
As described above the edges of some tiles are not glazed and therefore water can be absorbed. With this in mind, when you are fixing bathroom tiles in an area that is likely to get wet, such as your bath or shower it is essential that the grout fills the joints completely so that it is level to the surface of the tiles, if the grout has gaps or is washed out too much some of the porous sides can be exposed to moisture from the shower. Whilst not all tiles suffer from this problem, neat uniform grout will give the end result a polished look.
This post was written by Becky Whittaker for online tile retailer TileClick.