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Tile Buying Guide Flooring Accessories

The type, style, size, and color of the tile you choose will set the stage for your new flooring project; but what goes underneath and on top of your tile to protect it is vital to the life of your floors. When speaking with a retail or installation professional, be sure to discuss the options you have for your tile. Below are some of the products often used with tile.

  • Cement Backerboard: Made with fiberglass surrounding a concrete core layer, backerboard is water resistant, making it ideal for tile flooring in bathrooms and kitchens.
  • Mortar Bed: Installing a mortar bed can be incredibly labor intensive as it requires putting down a layer of mortar, followed by a layer of foam, and finishing with a wire mesh and additional mortar layer. A mortar bed is used for shower floors. This is not recommended for a DIY job, please refer to an experienced professional.
  • Anti–fracture and /or waterproofing membranes: Some of these materials are designed to cover both anti–fracture and waterproofing and some are made to do one or the other. Anti–fracture will help prevent cracks in flooring and waterproofing provides a continuous moisture barrier.
  • Sound Reduction Underlayments: There are a variety of choices for soundproofing or noise reduction underlayments. Applying an underlayment of this kind will reduce both impact and ambient noise.
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Grout is an essential element of tile flooring. It's used to fill tile joints and is applied after the tile is laid. Grout can have a strong impact on the appearance of your tile depending on color and the amount of grout between tile. There are two basic types of grout used in tile projects:

  • Sanded Grout: Used for joints larger than 1/16 inch wide; sanded grout actually contains sand for additional holding strength and is commonly used for tile flooring projects.
  • Non–Sanded Grout: Used for joints smaller than 1/16 inch wide and is more common in countertops, bathroom showers and bathroom floors. Non–sanded grout is just that, without sand. Fine fillers are used instead so tile won't get scratched.

There are other grouts used such as Latex Modified Grout which is the same as sanded grout but also contains a latex polymer which provides additional water resistance and bonding.

Epoxy grout is both stain and water resistant so it's perfect for wet areas like kitchens, baths and outdoor areas. However, it is very expensive and requires a professional installation.

The color of your grout is almost as important as the color of your tile. Different grout colors will produce completely different looks even when the same tile is used. Choosing a neutral color grout will produce a subtle look and a thicker grout will produce a more prominent look.

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Before sealing your tile flooring, it is essential to understand that tile and grout are sealed using different sealers.

  • Tile sealer: Unglazed tile requires a sealer when installing. For porous tile, use a pre–sealer before installation so grout doesn't penetrate the tile once sealer is applied over the entire floor. It is recommended that tile is sealed periodically, not only upon installation. Periodic sealing will help maintain water and moisture resistance which can help prevent mold and mildew.
  • Grout sealer: This step is important as the sealer will make your grout more resistant to dirt, water, and mildew. As always, check with the grout manufacturer on the recommended amount of time to let the grout set after installation before it is sealed.
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