Tiles are considered one of the ecofriendly building materials because they limit the cutting down of trees as it would be for wooden materials. Currently, there are no tiles made in Uganda and all tiles are imported. According to Phalid Ssenyondo, a tiles dealer at Maruda enterprises in Nakasero, tiles are imported from India, Spain, Italy, Dubai, Iran, and China.
It is not just a matter of going to a tile shop and point at the tiles you want. Before you buy tiles, you should have the following concepts in mind.
• “Knowing the room for which you want the tiles is very important because different rooms are designed to be furnished with different types of tiles depending on purpose of room. Mismatching the tiles will make your house look disorganised,” Ssenyondo cautions.
For example, kitchen floor tiles are designed to withstand heavy traffic and are very durable.
They are also resistant to spills and stains. In the bathroom, there is usually a lot of moisture so the tiles you use here have to withstand these conditions. Floor tiles are not slippery so they usually feature a subtle raised pattern
• The colours of the tiles should blend and match with the room they are to be fixed.
The lighting effect in the room has an impact on the type of tiles you want to install.
• Emmaunuel Gambarombo, the operations manager at Building Material Uganda, says if it is a high traffic area where many people pass more often such as shopping mall, “You need tiles resistant to such force and repeated daily cleaning. There are tiles that are likely to wear out and lose their initial colour due to frequent cleaning.”
Such light duty tiles need to be fixed in less busy places but the buyer may not know, so, they need guidance from an experienced tiles dealer to advise accordingly.
• The size of the room also matters because if you use very small tiles for a large room, they will look more like pavers than tiles. Also, tiles that will be installed indoors and outdoors have different requirements.
• “Wall tiles should never be used as floor tiles. Tiles are made with different degrees of durability and strength. Since no one will walk on the walls, wall tiles are usually lighter and more fragile than floor tiles. Once you use the wall tiles for the floor, they will break soon and will not suit your expectation,” says Gambarombo.
The pricing of tiles depends on the durability and their country of origin.
“There are countries such as Italy and Spain that make very durable tiles so their prices are really high. A buyer is told about the available options, their durability and what costs they will incur for a particular type,” Ssenyondo says.
Tiles from Italy and Spain cost from Shs38,000 to Shs40,000 per square meter while those from China may cost about Shs28,000 per square metre.
According to Angela Nalugo, the director Building Materials Uganda, many workers in tile shops are not knowledgeable, so, they fail to advise their customers on the right tiles and their particular function.
An average tile shop will also advise you on the right adhesive to use and also recommend an expert that will help you fix the tiles. They will also give you maintenance tips.
• Sweep or vacuum your tile floors a couple of times a week. Once you have removed the dirt, you are ready to mop.
• Mix a mild detergent with hot water and apply with a rag. Change your bucket of cleaning solution often so you won’t have a dirty mop that leaves a cloudy film of dirt on the floor.