Your Product Selection
There are many factors that determine the differences in tiles, far too many to go into here, but there are a few quick tips that are generally helpful that are based on actual experiences.
Your contractor, if he is knowledgeable should be able to help a little bit in this respect. All tiles are not created equal and just like everything else there are certain name brands that have a better track record than others. Other than name recognition, there are a few things to look for.
For floors, a medium gloss finish is the most suitable. If the tiles are real shiny or glossy, they are harder to maintain, if the finish is too flat or matte, water spots and body oils could be a problem.
The density of the clay determines to strength of the tile so the heavier the tile, generally the denser the body clay. Double fired tiles are softer with a high gloss and are fired twice at about 600 degrees. Single –fired tiles are harder, fired once at about 1200 degrees. The red-bodied tiles along with the double-fired tiles are generally softer. You should be looking for a single-fired tile. Most all the tiles on the market today are single-fired.
Look for a slight roll-over glaze on the edges. The grout doesn’t finish flush at the top of the tile so if the glaze doesn’t rollover the edge, you could be left with a body line along the edge of the tile that shows after it is grouted.
If you like a straight line, with a clean look and close grout joints, you should look for a tile that has that type edge. With a classic style that has a pillow edge (rounded corners and rounded edges) you will never be able to achieve that look. A rustic style that has irregular edges would not be suitable either. Once again, a knowledgeable contractor should be of some help here. The style also regulates the width of the grout lines.
Beware of the installer that suggests you purchase the tile and setting materials and he will install it. If you do not have the correct product, you will never be happy with the outcome. Also, the setting materials have a shelf life and if they are purchased at a retailer that refunds everyone with or without a receipt, you could purchase thinset or grout that has not been rotated, outlived it’s life span or has been stored on someone’s driveway in the elements for who knows how long. You will not know this until the floor is set and the tiles, when tapped, sound hollow. It will not bond sufficiently and the products may have hard lumps in it. If that happens, your only recourse would be from where you purchased it and it is limited to the cost of the bag of material. It also relieves that installer of his liability; even if his negligence in prepping the floor, mixing or applying the setting material is the real cause of the failure.
Do your homework