Floor Tile – Versatile, Stylish Flooring Options

The majority of floor tile going into Madison area homes falls into the “Large Format” category. But there are more size options than you can count. Tile for floors ranges from 2-foot by 4-foot slabs to squares 1-inch or smaller. Nowhere in the remodeling world does your imagination have more freedom than choosing floor tile sizes, shapes, textures and colors.

Large format tile simply means the modern tiles are big. To be called “large format” a single tile has to be at least 15-inches on one side. Popular sizes include: 12- by 24-inches, 24- by 24-inch squares, 15- by 30-inch planks and 24- by 48-inch slabs. Yes, you can tile your floor with 2-foot by 4-foot tiles!

Obviously, large format tiles don’t fit every situation. For smaller spaces like powder rooms and guest bathrooms there are dozens of smaller tiles from which to choose.

Using tile flooring throughout the house is more popular than ever. Following a trend away from wall-to-wall carpeting you have many “hard” flooring options including real wood, laminates, high-tech vinyl and floor tile. Tile flooring represents an excellent choice in virtually every room.

Do you love the look of real wood but worry about foot traffic, spills and upkeep? You’re not alone. And, that’s why wood-look tiles have taken off in new homes and renovations.

Benefits Of Floor Tile All Through The House

The daily use of each room dictates the need for flooring performance. Some areas get more traffic, some are often wet and others get dirt and debris. No matter which extreme your project covers, the benefits of tile make sense. Basic benefits of all tile floors include:

  • Tile is durable and rugged – tile is resilient and resists stains and wear from traffic.
  • Low maintenance – keep your tile clean and seal it periodically – all you need to keep tile looking fresh.
  • Water-resistant – ceramic tile is glazed with a protective coating keeping water from penetrating and staining.
  • Indoor air friendly – created in kilns, tiles contain no volatile organic compounds (VOC) that contribute to health problems.
  • Eco-friendly – created from natural materials like natural stone, glass, sand and clay, flooring tiles.

Evaluate Floor Tiling Options

Is there one kind of tile best for floors? The simple answer is “no.” However, if there is an all-purpose tile porcelain tile is the leading contender. Porcelain tiles provide strength, moisture-resistance and a wide variety of design and color options. Porcelain is durable and can be used on floors and walls with equal success.

While large format tiles are in demand for residential floor tile installation, they aren’t the only tile creating interest in Madison. Popular trends independent of tile size include:

  • Natural stone is the most sought-after material for tile floors.
  • Slate is the No. 1 natural stone selection for large spaces.
  • Glazed porcelain tile is the top seller for floors after natural stone. Porcelain tile accounts for nearly all the sales in nonporous tiles. Porosity is critical for anything going on the floor.
  • Ceramic tile is an option for flooring but it isn’t as durable as other choices.
  • Colorful encaustic tiles (cement-based tiles) liven up floors with color and bold graphics but aren’t as robust as other options. 

Floor Tile Characteristics Beyond Color And Size

There are basic characteristics of every tile to consider before selecting the perfect flooring for your home. No matter where in the house you want to install tile, consider these features. Evaluate based upon things like is it going into a high traffic area or a space where dirt, debris and water are likely. With these in mind, take note of:

  • Porosity – measured by the ratio of air bubbles to solids in tile, it dictates how each piece absorbs water. In a bathroom, kitchen, laundry or mudroom where moisture is common, highly porous tiles are not a good idea. Porosity classifications include:
    • Impervious – water absorption is less than half a percent. Ideal for all the rooms of your house.
    • Vitreous – absorbs up to 3% of water on its surface.
    • Semi-vitreous – absorbs up to 7%.
    • Non-vitreous – absorbs more than 7% and definitely not recommended for use on the floor.
  • Hardnessmeasured on the Moh scale, a tile’s hardness numbers indicate how it stands up to wear. Ratings range from 1 to 10. Bright, glossy glazes tend to rank poorer than matt finishes. Tiles are ranked as classes:
    • Class I – no foot traffic, appropriate for walls only.
    • Class II – light traffic with no source of scratches or on walls – use in bathrooms, etc.
    • Class III – Moderate traffic for tile on floors plus walls and countertops. Fine for rooms other than kitchen, entryways, laundries, etc.
    • Class IV – OK for heavier traffic including kitchens, halls and entryways. Class IV tile is the most common choice for floors and any room of your house.
    • Class V – designed for heavy traffic areas with dirt and debris. Ideal for commercial space.

Safety And Maintenance For Flooring Tiles

It doesn’t matter where you plan to install a tile floor you have to keep in mind two important concerns: safety and maintenance. Every tile on the floor needs to be anchored properly and provided with grout to seal the seams between pieces. Proper grouting with the right material plays a huge role in future maintenance. Your tile selection plays a part too – larger tiles require less grout than small ones. Professional flooring contractors recommend using a modern grout with a sealant incorporated in the formula. That makes even, efficient sealing easier and reduces the need for a second step.

The most critical safety issue with any tiled floor is slip resistance. Some flooring tiles are slipperier than other. The danger increases whenever the tile gets wet. All tile has its slip resistance measured as a Coefficient of Friction (COF). The higher the COF number the better for tile used on the floor.

A drawback to using popular large tiles is that bigger pieces tend to be slipperier when wet. That’s why smaller tiles are used on the floor in showers. As you select flooring tiles keep in mind:

  • Many ceramic tile and porcelain tile choices have highly textured surfaces with slip-resistant coatings.
  • One of the reasons slate is extremely popular is because it is naturally slip-resistant.
  • Small size tiles of any kind have more grout lines making the floor surface more textured and therefore more slip-resistant.

Begin With Natural Stone Tile

It is hard to beat natural stone tiles. There aren’t as many choices as with ceramic tile or porcelain tile, but the beauty and elegance of natural materials is unmatched. Classic styling comes from materials like marble, granite, slate, sandstone, limestone and travertine. Because they are not man-made, no two pieces are exactly alike. You’re guaranteed a one-of-a-kind floor installation.

Using large tiles takes advantage of fewer grout lines. Really large floor tiles appear to be almost completely seamless. Stone tile must be sealed when it goes down. And a good sealant lasts 5-10 years. Grout with sealant included in the mix is ideal. Installation professionals warn homeowners to think twice about a do-it-yourself attempt with large format tiles. Not only do they require special saws and tools, it takes a least two (sometimes three) people to safely position them.

Each of the popular types of natural stone come with their own pros and cons. If you’re thinking of a tile floor of real stone, your choices include:

  • A slate tile floor – slate is the most common flooring tile in the Madison area. It creates exceptional tile, but is not very easy to work with during installation. It takes experience, skill and the right tools to do a slate tile floor.
  • Granite tile – the hardest of the natural stones, it holds a shine that shows off its wide range of colors.
  • Limestone tile – limestone is a calciferous stone related to travertine but it’s harder and therefore more resilient. It’s a beautiful stone that often looks like wood. Its biggest drawback is that it absorbs water easily. So sealing is critical.
  • Sandstone tile flooring – sandstone is available in fewer color variations than other stones so it’s easier to create consistent tones. The lack of color choices is also a drawback.

Floor Tile Trends – Let Your Lifestyle Shine

Interior design trends come and go but the value of tile is constant. No matter the vintage or style your home reflects, there’s a tile for your floor. Two classic stone varieties have slipped in popularity but are never really out of style. If you want classic elegance when it comes to tiled flooring don’t overlook:

  • Travertine tile – often mistaken for marble or limestone it stands alone. It’s softer and difficult to polish to a nice shine, but its natural matt finish is warm and attractive. It scratches and can stain but it isn’t as fragile as reports suggest. The classic, historic architecture and works of art in Rome were created from travertine hundreds of years ago — if it lasts 300 years in Italy it should stand up to your family, don’t you think?
  • Marble floors – for a traditional elegant look, marble is the “old standby.” Unfortunately, it stains and scratches easily. It’s beautiful but needs high-end, professional maintenance on a regular basis.

Among the most impressive advances in tile-making techniques combines traditional tile making with computer technology. High-end digital printing makes it possible to put an almost unlimited choice of patterns on tile. Combine computer technology with your imagination and create:

  • Tile area rugs – built-in custom tile in entryways and similar areas can be installed to look as if there’s a high-end area rug in place. A colorful “area rug” by the front door that doesn’t collect dirt and debris would be a great look, wouldn’t it? Using modern fabric-look tiles you can make it appear as if your floor is covered in linen, silk or wool. These high-tech tiles are rich and luxurious. A far softer look than real stone or most other tile flooring options.

Kitchen Remodel Is No. 1 – Tile Floors Set The Stage

Tile in the kitchen is likely to cover nearly every surface. Tiles for the floor include large formats, wood-look planks and traditional sizes. Contrasting the floor with cabinetry is a basic interior design rule. Among the top choices for kitchen tile flooring are:

  • White-washed wood-look – lightening up the space with white-washed wood-look tiles not only visually expands the space, it adds as rustic, country vibe.
  • Gray tile top to bottom – gray is the trendy color in kitchens from cabinets to floors. Tiles mirroring the look of gray wood or stone are popular. Gray floors are cool and contemporary – and neutral enough to go with most any décor.
  • Warm tones – almost anything from dark wood to soft, honey oak qualifies as a “warm tone. As kitchens evolved into the hub of daily family activity creating family-friendly atmospheres became a priority.
  • Outside influences – using tiles that resemble blond wood is in demand as European furnishings gain popularity. The same is true for many neutral hues. In each case the subdued flooring opens up great opportunities for brighter highlights elsewhere in the room.

A drawback to lighter tile is its tendency to show dirt – if kids and pets track through the space regularly, darker choices don’t show footprints. Is that something to consider in your family?

Tile flooring is ideal for any kitchen because it handles spills so well. You never know when there’ll be a splash of milk, water or pasta hitting the floor, do you? Quick cleanup without a stain is essential. That’s one thing that puts tile head-and-shoulders above hardwood and laminates.

Tile Floor Is Perfect For Bathrooms

If you can guarantee wet conditions anywhere in the house it’s in the bathroom. Around the shower, bathtub and sinks water hitting the floor is a given. Choosing the right bathroom tile includes the same considerations as for other rooms plus:

  • Size is critical – large tiles are easy to keep clean but are often slipperier when wet. Smaller tiles provide a better non-slip surface. Consider mixing tile sizes and colors for interest and safety.
  • Take a chance with color – vibrant colors and combinations that complement modern fixtures make a design statement.
  • Set the mood – are redoing a bathroom or creating a spa-like retreat? Tile on the floor provides visual cues – it can make the space look bigger, appear warm and inviting, etc.
  • Make it truly yours – there’s no more personal room than the master bath. Let your personality shine. Does this private space need to match the décor of the whole house? Or, do you want to go with a one-of-a-kind style just for you. Just remember, the whole family will want to use it, so make the bathroom tile floor easy to keep clean.

We remodeled two bathrooms. Both had tiled floors and one had a shower also tiled. They both are beautiful and the workmanship is excellent. It is very apparent that Woody takes pride in his work by looking at the finished product! The project was completed when they said it would be and dates were always communicated to me. If I would need anything done in my house like this again, I would use this company and ask for Woody to do the project.

Never Undervalue Professional Floor Tile Installation

When you commit to a new floor in your home you’re creating a long-term result. Unlike an area rug, you cannot easily take up the tile and start again. Laying a tile floor can be done by a skilled do-it-yourselfer. But every tile installer has tales to tell of rescue missions to salvage a homeowner project gone wrong. There’s a lot more to installing a quality, long-lasting tile floor anywhere in the house. Before you decide it’s a project you can handle, consider these benefits of professional tile installation:

  • Efficient installation – an experienced craftsman knows the shortcuts that add value and the ones that reduce quality.
  • Reduced waste – a professional knows how to handle floor tile, make accurate measurements and calculate what’s needed.
  • Avoid future water damage – poorly installed tile or grout allows water to seep into cracks. Mold and mildew finds those damp places.
  • Concern for the room – tile installation often includes tearing out an old floor. Dust, debris and related disruptions are better handled by a crew that does it daily, protecting your home from collateral damage.
  • Warrantied work – not only does the tile you choose have a warranty from its manufacturer, the workmanship of the installers is warranted, too.
  • The right tools – cutting, setting and grouting floor tile requires more than skill and experience. It takes a selection of specialized tools. A homeowner can buy, rent or borrow tools but a pro has a complete selection – and the pro knows how to get the most from each one.
  • No second chance – if you do it yourself you won’t be able to hide flaws or mistakes – problems will come back to haunt you.

There’s No Better Floor Tile Source

Molony Tile is the area’s No. 1 tile resource, serving flooring contractors and homeowners for decades. For more than 70 years Molony’s experienced and skilled craftsmen have provided tile workmanship in the Madison area. In addition, we’ve provided tile, tools and tips for hundreds of do-it-yourselfers.

Sorting out all the options when it comes for floor tile and tiling styles can be a challenge. There’s a lot to think about and a lot to look at. Check out our showroom images and make plans to visit the showroom in person. As you look around you’ll be amazed at all the colors, shapes, sizes and distinctive tile styles we have in stock. And, if you don’t see what you want, we can get it! If you think you know all that’s available, be prepared to be introduced to options you never knew existed. Not sure? Check out our list of tile suppliers. It’s constantly updated and improved – there are more than 30 tile suppliers listed right now!

Now’s the time for new floors. Tile is the perfect flooring choice. Get started with a call to 608-268-8453 or email us to make an appointment. Our inventory of floor tile is second to none in Madison WI.