Ceramic flooring is a versatile architectural resource that can be employed in a variety of environments without having to worry about the constraints of water, stains, and design. However it is a hard tile surface covering, and as such, it also has characteristics that may make it unsuitable in certain locations. A full understanding of the advantages and the drawbacks of this material will allow you to make an informed flooring decision.
Advantages Of Ceramic Flooring Tile
Ceramic Water Resistance: Glazed ceramic flooring tiles have a protective layer that rests over the material, making them impervious to water and stain penetration. They are also naturally resistant to the ravages of high humidity conditions. These properties make them ideal for use in moist environments such as bathrooms or kitchens.
Unglazed ceramic tiles will need to be sealed in order to protect their surface from liquids. The grout lines in between ceramic tiles are also susceptible to moisture, and will need to be sealed in order to make them impervious to water which can otherwise seep down, weakening the installation and causing the growth of mold.
Durable Ceramic Tile: Ceramic flooring is extremely tough and the tiles are difficult to crack. A quality installation can last for 10 - 20 years and longer if well maintained. If a single tile does crack due to a severe impact, the process of replacing that tile is relatively simple.
Maintenance: Ceramic flooring is fairly easy to care for. Dirt, stains, and liquids all rest on the surface, allowing you to easily wipe or mop them away. Regular maintenance just consists of sweeping or vacuuming with a soft brush attachment to keep the floor free of dirt and loose debris. If set in stains do occur you can use most heavy duty cleaners without having to worry about damaging the material.
Ceramic Tile Design Options: Modern manufacturing techniques allow ceramic producers to make materials which can be printed in numerous ways. Solid tiles can be mixed and matched in patterns or accented with designs or motifs. They can also be printed to credibly reproduce the look of a number of hardwoods and natural stones. Finally, the tiles themselves can be cut and shaped into triangles, rectangles, and planks.
Ceramic Pricing: Most tiles will cost $5 - $10 per square foot, with bargain basement and premium materials edging those numbers to greater extremes. This makes it a moderately expensive material priced higher than carpet and lower than hardwood. Depending on where it is installed and how it looks a ceramic floor can also add long-term value to a property.
Allergen Concerns: Ceramic tiles have a hard, solid surface, that does not tend to attract dirt, dust, pollen, or other allergens. When these small debris particles do land on a ceramic floor, they stand out against the surface, making it easy to wipe them away with a mop or sponge. This helps to keep the air free of irritating materials that can be harmful to asthma sufferers.
The Drawbacks Of Ceramic Floor Tile
Hard Flooring: Ceramic is extremely hard, which makes it easy to clean and maintain.
Unfortunately, this can also make it difficult and uncomfortable to stand on. Unlike resilient floors, hard tile ceramics cannot be softened using padded underlayments. This means that these materials may not be suited to environments where people will be forced to stand for long periods of time.
The hardness of ceramic can, of course, be offset by using throw rugs or area rugs in strategic places where people tend to stand for long periods of time. This might be behind the counter in a store, or in front of the sink in a kitchen.
Cold Ceramic Tile: This material does not hold on to heat very well. That means that it can get very cold in the winter, which can be a shock to your toes first thing in the morning. The flip side to this is that ceramic can be quite comfortable underfoot on a hot summer day.
Installing Ceramics: Ceramic tiles are hard and heavy and they need to be installed using a variety of mortars, grouts, and tools. While this is something that can theoretically be done by an amateur it is a difficult, time-consuming process. In addition, making a mistake can compromise the floor causing problems down the line.
For these reasons, many people choose to hire a contractor to handle the installation of ceramic floors. Unfortunately, the installation is labor intensive, so contractors will charge you a significant amount of the work. This can raise the price of a ceramic tile floor job by as much as 25% - 50%.
Ceramic Tile Weight: Ceramics are quite heavy, which means that they may not always be appropriate for upper story installations. If you do decide to install ceramic tile on an upper level of a building then you need to have a qualified professional check the integrity of the structure to ensure that you are not putting undue stress on it.