A common refrain in flooring advice is to make sure the tile you are using has the right level of moisture resistance for where it will be laid. The reason for this is straightforward: moisture can damage floor tiles and the subfloor and cause costly damage that could otherwise be avoidable. Now, if you love the flooring installation process, the occasional tile replacement probably won't annoy you as much. For everyone else, making sure your tile is moisture-resistant can cut down on the headaches. Accounting for moisture is important even outside of moisture-heavy rooms like bathrooms or kitchens since there are many different ways that floors can get wet. Flooring in Toronto, for instance, has to contend with the city's weather, including bouts of humidity, snowfall and snowmelt, spilled drinks, or really any other cause that can bring moisture in contact with the tiles for a prolonged period of time.
Moisture-Related Flooring Problems
Broadly speaking, moisture will cause one of three problems for your floor tile: puckering, warping, or mould and mildew.
Also known as "tenting," this is when the edges of the tile (near the joints) will lift out of place. Puckering is tied to the tile installation process and the adhesive that gets used. During the adhering process, the tile can suck up moisture from the adhesive and surroundings, causing the curing process to speed up in a way that weakens the strength of adhesion. The tile, due to the moisture, will also swell. The increased size and weakened adhesive does not always produce puckering immediately, but can cause the tile to "pop" during the summer months when heat makes the material expand even more.
Also known as "blistering," this is when the tile appears to deform or develops bubbles in its surface. Warping is the result of moisture infiltration and water damage. When water slips under a tile or into its surface, it will spread out into whatever space it can find. This action, combined with people walking over the tile, applies pressure. Since water cannot be compressed, the pressure forces bits of the tile to deform and rise. Alternatively, the water can cause a similar effect by freezing and expanding.
Mould and Mildew
Mould and mildew both thrive in damp environments, especially ones rich in cellulose. This makes moisture patches under tiles lovely places for spores to grow. In addition to being unsightly when they spread out from the floor or wall, mould in particular can pose air quality and health hazards. Although the feared, toxic black mould is rare, many people have allergies or sensitivities that can give them skin or respiratory problems from being in mouldy environments.
Moisture-Resistant Flooring Options
Whether you are looking to tile your bathroom or live in a humid climate, here are the top types of floor tile to consider when you want to keep moisture at bay.
Ceramic or Porcelain
Ceramic tile is manufactured and sealed so it is resistant to moisture and dirt. Porcelain is a more durable version of ceramic tile and offers a firmer build by comparison as it is fired for longer and as a result, is less porous, allowing for less water absorption. Both of these options have a well-established pedigree of use in bathrooms due to their simple refusal to let water through. There's a reason bathtubs are made of porcelain, for instance.
Stone tile can be a porous material but, depending on the exact type and how it is sealed, it can also become impenetrable to water. Porosity is rated as one of four categories—from most to least vulnerable to moisture: non-vitreous, semi-vitreous, vitreous, and impervious. Marble in particular is a good type of stone tile to use for offering an elegant and durable look, but be aware that it can be slippery when wet.
Vinyl tile is renowned for versatility, ease of care, and its ability to come in countless styles—including ones that replicate the appearance of wood or stone. Depending on the exact brand you use, vinyl tile can feature specific mould/mildew inhibitors, a high water resistance or, at the top end, the ability to be waterproof.
Laminate tile is similarly durable to vinyl and comes in comparable visual variety. The main difference is that laminate tiles have wood fiber layers in them. This means that, although laminate is fine in areas dealing with ambient moisture, it should be avoided in locations that may suffer flooding.
Get Moisture-Resistant Flooring from Centura Tile
Centura Tile has been a leader in tiling since 1933. Over the decades, Centura has developed an extensive inventory of tiles suitable for any environmental conditions so you can find the most water-resistant, easy-care, easy-install, easy-anything tile you need.
To learn more about interior design options, different tile types, or to ask other tiling queries, feel free to contact us or visit a Centura Tile dealer near you.