Floor tiles cab provide a practical, hard wearing covering all around the home but in colder climates their use tends to belimited to bathrooms, kitchens and hallways. The advent of underfloor heating might see their use expanded as one of the perceived issues with this floor tiles is that they are colder under foot.
While the installation of wall tiles is sometimes limited to certain areas of the bathroom, floor tiles tend to be used to cover the whole of the room. It is possible to limit floor tiles' use to areas likely to get wet (outside a shower cubicle or next to a bath) but in general it usually looks better if the whole floor has one consistent finish.
The appearance of the finished floor will depend on the tiles chosen, and there is a huge choice available. Darker colours can make a dramatic statement while lighter colours will keep the room feeling airy. The material that the tile is made of is also an important consideration. Ceramic tiles can usually be used in most circumstances but natural stone tiles are not always suitable for use in wet rooms. Many stone tiles require sealing before use and careful cleaning after use but luckily there are a whole host of ceramic equivalents which can prove more practical in most instances but it is always worth checking with your tile supplier prior to purchasing to ensure their suitability. Another feature that you might wish to look for when choosing a floor tile is its non-slip characteristics. Many smooth, glossy or glazed tiles can be very slippery underfoot especially when wet so suppliers will always have tiles with raised patterns moulded or cut into the surface to aid with grip.
Wet rooms can use floor tiles to make one, complete, waterproof surface for the whole room, turning the entire space into a showering area. For this type of application it is vital that the correct materials are used for creating the floor. The substrate and location of the room can dictate which method is used to create the wet room floor. There is a wide range of ancillary products available to enable tiles to be used as a wet room floor. These include floor panels that help with creating the correct falls to ensure the shower water gets ducted away, tanking materials to help ensure a completely waterproof area, special adhesives and grouts that are designed to cope with the demanding environment. Tiles can also be used for the floor inside a smaller shower area such as an enclosure or cubicle - effectively creating a shower tray made out of floor tiles. The same provisos will still apply regarding suitable substrates, adhesives and falls to ensure the floor remains waterproof.
Tiling onto wooden floors bring its own set of particular issues that need to addressed in order for the installation to be successful. Your tile supplier will be able to specify the exact steps needed to be taken for the products you have in mind but in principle it will involve securing or replacing existing floorboards and then overlaying these with a solid layer of suitable boarding, such as marine ply or a specific tile backer board. Flexible adhesive and grout will also be required as wood expands at a different rate to ceramic or stone which could result in the tile cement working loose or the grout cracking. The boarding plus the tile itself can result in a floor that is stepped up from the level of adjoining rooms and can require doors etc. to be altered to take this into consideration. Underfloor heating can also affect the choice of adhesive and grout required for fixing floor tiles as the temperature fluctuations can impart expansion and contraction forces that can lead to problems with adhesion and cracking.
As well as stone and ceramic there are other materials that can be used for floor tiles including porcelain, cork, vinyl and carpet. All have their plus points as well as their downsides and can be seen in more detail in our bathroom flooring section.