When one goes into a home that hasn’t been updated in the past two decades and compares it to newer houses, one sees a lot of changes in building materials. Tile and stone may very well have evolved as much or even more than other interior products.
There are many reasons for that, but perhaps the two most profound are that ceramic tile is no longer selected for today’s homes as a wall or floor covering just for the “wet areas” (kitchen and bath). And stone, which always was considered a luxury item, today is much less cost-prohibitive and easier to obtain and install.
But even more importantly, tile and stone have evolved from being not just background “field” products, but rather, very focal design elements. There are five areas that are popular and of which today’s professional remodeling contractor should be up-to-date.
Don’t Pass on Glass
Glass tile has made an incredible comeback in the past 20 years. The benefits it offers are many: It’s colorful and the way light plays off of it elicits a cheerful, bright feeling. Glass tile is completely nonporous; water cannot get through it and, thus, start damaging the substrate behind or below it. According to the Anderson, S.C.-based Tile Council of North America standards, glass basically installs via the same procedures as ceramic tile, though there are new specific adhesives for glass tile. Lastly, the design potential with glass tile is limitless. Sizes, shapes, colors and textures are constantly being introduced and, in many cases, glass tile materials may be installed in conjunction with ceramic, stone, metal or even wood finishes. Glass tile can brighten up the smallest bathroom or add some energy to a dull kitchen as a multicolor backsplash.
Bring the Outdoors Indoors
To augment living spaces, today’s homeowners like to move from indoors to outdoors, or vice versa, by continuing with a flooring product from one area to the other. Calibrated, durable granite tiles make a strong case for this when the outdoor tiles have a different surface finish than those indoors. For example, a homeowner in South Carolina has a large den with polished granite tiles interspersed with occasional flamed, rougher surface versions. One walks out of the sliding doors from the den to the outdoor deck and the same flamed tiles continue there, up to and around the pool. In addition to the aesthetic appeal, it makes sense as the face of these outdoor tiles has been treated to be more slip-resistant, which is a wise design decision relative to safety.
Whereas North American stones many not be as colorful as what we’ve seen from Brazil or Scandinavia, Earth-tones and natural textures are growing in demand. With today’s newer ways of slicing stone into thin veneers and, with leading manufacturers coming out with masonry/veneer installation systems that are fully guaranteed, homeowners can bring a lot more natural stone indoors than ever before, not worrying about it being so heavy that it will somehow fall off their walls and land on their kids or pets.
Fireplaces are becoming more omnipresent in American home remodeling projects, and a stone fireplace in many people’s minds is still as good as it gets.
No matter how nonporous the tile or stone is, no matter how good the shower door or how leak-proof the shower pans may be, and no matter how neat the cook is in his or her kitchen, one thing is certain: Floors will get wet. Before tiling any kitchen or bath, every homeowner should have their “wet area” floors waterproofed. It’s a very simple process that can be as easy as brushing down or roller-applying a waterproofing, anti-fracture membrane that cures quickly—usually in about two hours—and is ready to be tiled over, using the exact same methods as if the waterproofing product were not used.