Frequently Asked Questions

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With underfloor heating you can have the heat just where you want it even in bathrooms and kitchens where wall space for radiators is limited.

The most important rooms in the home at that time in the morning are the bathroom and kitchen. Why turn the heating on all over the house just to heat two rooms. With underfloor heating on timers you can make sure these rooms are ready for you every morning.

With underfloor heating you can have the heat just where you want it even in bathrooms and kitchens where wall space for radiators is limited. Underfloor heating is particularly good in hallways where the linear nature of the space can mean that the heat source is at one end of the hall and the cold comes in at the other.

And, of course, tiling is ideal for hallways as all the effects of muddy kid’s boots, dripping dogs, and leaking carrier bags can be removed with just a quick mop. You can even install it undertile heating outside. Our members tell us that they are increasingly being asked to provide underfloor heating systems beneath tiles outside, on patios etc. to keep them free of ice and snow.

Undertile heating is an energy efficient solution to heating as it spreads the heat evenly across the room. It is quick and easy to install. Underfloor heating is particularly good with tiled floors as it is simple to install at the same time as the tiles are laid and only adds a few millimetres to the floor height. Tiles are a great at storing and conducting heat. Early storage heaters were just metal boxes full of bricks and like bricks tiles are made of clay which stores heat and gives it off gradually.

However good you are at DIY you will be doing a job for the first time that someone else has spent a lifetime learning how to do properly.

You can always tell an amateur job from a professional one; and that’s the key; if you are going to Get Someone In make sure that someone is a professional.

When you want a professional tradesman check out their trade organisation; with tiling it’s The Tile Association.  TTA checks out any tile retailer, fixer or tile fixing company wishing to join their ranks. It checks their experience, abilities, track record and financial health. Fixers have to provide customer references, and have their work checked out or be recommended by an existing fixer member.

In typically wet British weather it is the floors in the house that take the most punishment. With people going in and out of your house with dirty feet why not tile the floors?

Kitchen floors that are tiled are hygienic and trouble free and a hall or porch with a tiled floor won’t be damaged by dripping brollies, dribbling wellies and muddy dogs.

If your home is at risk of flood damage, then tiling floors will enable you to get your home back to normal much more quickly. When your home is at risk just roll up the rugs and if any water does get in it can be mopped away. Some house insurers insist on replacing existing floor coverings with tile when compensating for flood damage.

You can actually make your floor completely waterproof so the water doesn’t seep into cellars or foundations. Waterproofing systems can be used in areas that may suffer water ingress such as hallways or for the whole of your ground floor.

You can put floor tiles, with a waterproofing system, on most suspended wooden floors. Choose the latest hard-wearing porcelain, natural stone look-a-like floor tiles for a really robust floor. Tiles with a textured or riven surface will also add slip resistance even when wet.

Most towns have their own specialist tile shop and sometimes more than one, thus making it easier for you to select your tiles

These specialist shops have experienced staff available to offer the advice you need. The specialist shop can also fall back on the experience and knowledge of the distributor who works closely with manufacturers, thus creating a source of reliable information.

For your own peace of mind, you should consider purchasing tile products from a member of The Tile Association as they are able to offer the full support of the Association.

Glass tiles continue to be a popular choice for kitchen tiles thanks to technological innovations, as well as enduring qualities such as their intense colour, ability to reflect light, and water resistance.

The richness, depth and colour of glass tiles often create stunning, original effects in kitchen areas such as worktops and backsplashes.

Types of Tiles

Most glass tiles are produced with the colour on the back of the tile. In some instances the colour is glazed over and fired, thus producing a colour-bonded tile. Other glass tiles have a painted surface on the back of the tile, which is not fully bonded to the glass.

It is important to consider early on the achievable finishes and appropriate areas of usage. Some glass tiles may not be suitable for use in certain areas, for example, close to heat sources or wet areas. If in doubt, check with the supplier.


The choice of adhesive will depend of the type of glass tile.

As a natural material, natural stone has actually been used for building since the Roman times.

Natural stone comes in a variety of colours, textures and patterns, which enables versatile design styles. Due to the mineral composition, natural stone is highly durable, and can be far more resistant to abrasion and chemicals than tile and agglomerated stone.

The Tile Association advises on a few key points for a successful design and installation using natural stone.

The choice of the right stone

It’s important to ensure the stone has adequate properties for the intended use. CE certificates will provide helpful technical data. Other test data conforming to the British Standards may also need to be referenced.

The safety factor needs extra attention. As a natural material, some stones can weaken over time or form micro-cracks due to weathering; some may contain unseen flaws which may have not been presented in the test samples.

The required thickness also needs careful calculation.


Light coloured and/or absorbent stone is very susceptible to staining and discolouring by bedding and jointing material. Curling and movement can be a problem with an absorbent stone. When only one side of the stone absorbs water , i.e. from the adhesive or grout, and expands, a curve will form. This movement of the stone can weaken or disrupt the bonding of the adhesive underneath.

The choice of a fast-setting, flexible, cement-based white adhesive and a light-coloured grout with such properties can negate the risk of staining and curling. Stone should be fixed in solid bed method. A protective sealer may be required before grouting. For calcium carbonate-based natural stone such as travertine, marble or limestone, choose a neutral curing sealant. Sealing and a regular cleaning regime can help maintain a lasting beautiful surface in use.

British Standard BS5385 is the code of practice for fixing wall and floor tiles. Part 5 of the Standard refers to the fixing of natural stones. Solid bed fixing is important, as a heavily voided tile will collapse more readily if there is no support from below
It may be apt at the beginning to describe travertine limestones in general. The name originates from the Italian ‘travertino’ and was originally a stone quarried in central Italy and used extensively by the Romans.

Today they are quarried in many areas of the world. Travertine is calcite (calcium carbonate) deposited from solution and is, quite literally, full of holes.

Travertine stones are characterised by an amount of voids within the body of the stone and, as a result of this, they have very low density and compressive strength and this applies even to the high quality classical travertines. Although the faces are filled, usually with synthetic resin filler, there are always other voids just below the surface and these will eventually show as the floor wears, or the surface breaks down and voids appear. This is a characteristic of travertines and should be expected to some degree.

Travertine is usually used internally, both for domestic and commercial use.

To give tiles colour and design a coating, known as a glaze, consisting of ground glass and colour pigments are fused onto the clay surface through intense heat in a kiln.
The word “tile” comes from the Latin word “tegula” which is derived from “tegere” meaning “to cover”.

In old English the word was “tigele” which eventually turned into the word “tile”. Out of interest the word “tegula” also mutated over the years into “thecca” which we now know as “thatch”.

Ceramic tiles are made from mixtures of clays, sands and other natural substances. The body of the tile is moulded into shape and then fired at extremely high temperatures in a kiln.

The most common tile shapes are square and rectangular, but there are others such as hexagonal, Provencal, and octagonal. Tile sizes range from 1 cm x 1cm to over 100cm x 100cm. Current trends are heading towards larger and larger sized tiles.

Ceramic tiles can be glazed or unglazed. Glazed tiles are available plain or decorated and can be used on walls and floors.

Unglazed ceramic floor tiles are more suited to commercial and industrial settings, but can be used in laundries and utility rooms. They are available with a non-slip profile.

Quarry tiles are a traditional product made in the UK for hundreds of year. They are made from natural clay, squeezed through an extruding machine, and then fired. They are mostly available in terracotta, black and white colours.

Terracotta tiles are also made from local clays. Terracotta means “cooked earth” and these products tend to be very absorbent, so need sealing when used on the floor.

Porcelain tiles are ceramic tiles, but with a very low absorbency. They are usually made from kaolin clays, feldspar, silica and colouring oxides and are fired at about 1200oC. Porcelain tiles are hard wearing and can be used on walls or floors.

Mosaics are very small tiles, usually less than 35cm2. Mosaics can be glazed or unglazed and made from porcelain, ceramic, glass or natural stone.

Natural stone products; limestone, marble, granite and slate are quarried from the earth. Some are extremely hard, and some quite soft. Some may need sealing.

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