Wednesday April 30 2014

Bring out the right look in your tiles


By Edgar R. Batte

Buying beautiful tiles is very easy because all you need is to choose a good colour with nice looking patterns. But getting the right type and quality is a different thing.

Have you ever entered a house with a tiled floor? It sure does look nice, especially if the home owner knows how to clean them.
However, for your home to attain such a look, you ought to have been careful when choosing the tiles.

How she bought her tiles
Pauline Atai says to have a beautiful house; she was particular in whatever she chose to build it. She bought her cement, sand, bricks and when it came to the tiles she made sure she bought the best.
The first thing she considered was the durability of the tiles because she was told genuine tiles were imported from different countries, but again from the same countries came fake ones.

Atai knew an engineer, an architect and three tile layers who she contacted and they all advised her to use tiles from Spain because they are the most durable and affordable.

“I was told that if I was not careful, I would buy fake ones which would break, and I would be forced to buy a bigger number to cover for the broken ones. It was very difficult to tell the difference because I was constructing for the first time.

“So, I contacted a friend who was dealing in hardware in Nakasero. Although she was not selling tiles, she helped me identify the tiles from Spain,” Atai explains,
“The tiles she identified were quite expensive. They were in many beautiful colours, but I decided to stick to the colour that I had in mind, which was a wood-like colour.
“If I had not been with my friend who knew the difference I could have been duped and bought the fake ones because they were very attractive.”

Maurice Mukiibi, the General Manager of Kisozi Mart, a tiles and sanitary ware shop says tiles come in different types, “There are porcelain tiles, wood tiles and ceramic tiles and the common ones in Uganda.”

“Porcelain tiles are good for the floor because they are made of stone and clay and ceramic tiles are ideal for the walls because they are made of clay and can absorb water.” He adds that as regards durability, it is a question of quality.

Mukiibi says, “Real porcelain can last up to 40 years whereas ceramic will not last that long because its water absorption level is high. “When it comes to the surface of tiles, the colour on ceramic tiles fades faster than that in porcelain yet since these two types are glossy, they cannot be painted. However, if they are made out of wood, they can be painted,” he says.

Atai adds, “You will need gripping floor tiles for places like the bathrooms, to avoid accidents so you have to choose good tiles when building. For surfaces like the walls of the bathroom you need to be careful the tiles you choose. In my case, I threw in a few designed tiles with palm trees to give it a natural touch.”

Mukiibi further explains that many buyers who go shopping for tiles do not know how to differentiate between genuine from fake tiles.
“One way you can identify fake from genuine tiles is by being able to differentiate the two main materials used to make tiles.

Porcelain tiles are made from stone and ceramic tiles are made from clay. The stone tiles are better than the clay tiles though it is hard for the clients to differentiate them,” Mukiibi explains.
He adds, “When you look at the back side of a porcelain tile, it looks more like stone than the ceramic one. The only way to get genuine tiles is to buy from a shop. Also, cheaper tiles are ususally not genuine.”

Additionally, Pragnesh Patel the sales and marketing person of Tiles Centre Ltd explains that one way to tell genuine from fake tiles is by their prices. “Ugandans would prefer to buy cheaper tiles which go for Shs15, 000 or less. Genuine tiles are more expensive and will cost you between Shs60, 000 and Shs90, 000 per square metre.”

He adds, “Porcelain tiles are stronger, they are made in grades; first, second and third, and the higher the grade, the lower the price and quality. Sometimes you can ask the supplier for quality assurance. However, there is no guarantee. Sometimes suppliers can write first grade when it is third grade.”

Martin Kibirige, an interior and construction designer says genuine tiles are branded, heavy, not easily scratched and quite costly. “Fake tiles are very light, cheap and common. Spain, Egypt and even China all make good types,” Kibirige says.

Mukiibi advises that if you are to buy tiles, take your time to study their surfaces. He says you can tell a genuine tile from the texture at their bottom.

“If they are rough then that is one good sign that you bought genuine tiles. The stony types are stronger and more durable than the clay type. Yes they will cost you more but you are better off spending more money buying original or genuine tiles than buying the cheap ones and paying more money later,” Mukiibi advises.
Patel agrees advising you to buy from established shops or outlets with good repute for selling genuine stuff over time.

Best alternative
Tiles are in both small and large sizes but in modern houses, bigger tiles look better because they are spacious, unlike the smaller ones which seem to crowd the room However, most buyers prefer smaller tiles because they are cheaper but bigger tiles are made stronger so they can cover larger surface area.

Laying the tiles
Atai says beyond looking for genuine tiles she always looked out for things like cement for laying the tiles. Mukiibi explains that there is special cement made for tiles. “There is a type made in Spain and Italex which is made in Uganda. There is also tile cement which is imported. But you need to be careful when buying it because there is a lot of fake tile cement around. People mix normal cement with sand,” he says

Accessorising tiles
Atai adds that to complete her tile look, she had to buy accessories that match the tiles, for example she used wall skirting that matches the colour of the tiles.

“I ensured that my budget catered for these too. Some builders overlook these accessories and do not mention them to you when estimating the cost of the tiles. You also have to be careful about the grout that you buy to join the tiles,” Atai says.

The grout has to match the colour of your tiles. Of course you have to coordinate your colours to give a good ambience to a room, be it a living room, bedroom or bathrooms,” she advises.

One important point to note when buying tiles, she adds, is that when you are given a quotation of square metres for an area, buy in excess of those square metres by at least one or two square metres, because in case of breakages or damage, you can easily have them replaced because at times it is difficult to find the same design on the market.

Therefore, if you are set to buy tiles, take note of where you are buying them from and at what price because cheap things are not as cheap as they say.

Mistakes when laying tiles

Laying on unlevelled ground. Whenever the floor is not levelled it allows water to stagnate and when you step on the tile it will most likely be cracked because it is not on a firm floor.

Using a different colour of joining cement. Some people use a different colour to join the tiles. This might create an ugly look. It is advisable that you use the same cement colour as the tiles.

Leaving gaps. For floor tiles, some people leave gaps while placing them and with time, dirty water starts sipping from under the tiles.