There are so many different types and brands of tile, it can be overwhelming to choose for your project.
First of all let me say, cement tile is the most beautiful tile you will ever see. I remodeled my kitchen and my big splurge was the tile and the appliances.
When I was researching tile for my kitchen remodel project, I found a lack or REAL reviews on cement tile. I’m talking the nitty-gritty of reviews, actually telling the truth about how it installs, how it holds up and is it realistic for an average homeowner?
Well, if I had read a review like the following, I probably would have changed my mind.
Several critical points to consider if you are considering cement tile:
- The age of your structure/home/building.
- If the floor is level.
- Sub-floor materials.
- Thickness of floor your trying to transition to.
- Floor joist distance.
- Traffic in room.
- Use of room.
- Tiles are handmade.
- Grout color.
The age of the structure:
I have a home that was built in 1897. Which means, nothing is level or a true 90 degrees. Leveling our floor in the kitchen was quite an undertaking. The laminate wood flooring had hidden many flaws, but tile will show all your dirty little secrets. It must be level.
If the floor is level:
We were working with a half-inch of a dip in the middle of our kitchen. We chose to use self leveling.
My family put our handprints in the self leveling. When the cement tile gets removed someday, our mark will be on this house forever!
As you can see from below, we had 3 different sub-floors to work with. It was a hot mess.
Thickness of transition floor:
You need to have tile backer before you lay down the tile. The problem with this concept, you have to account for the 1/2 in thick tile, the 1/4 inch tile backer (which was the thinnest we could get and I don’t recommend using it for flooring). This added 3/4 inch of flooring without the mortar. We were matching up to wood laminate. We took out the top layer of 3/4 inch sub-floor to reduce the height of the floor, so we could put down the tile backer.
Floor joist distance:
This is the most important point to consider, at least in my personal situation.
Our joists are to code, but they are old, and they are not quite as level as they use to be back in 1897. The weight of the tile doesn’t help any. IF there is any play in the flooring at all, your grout will crack and your tile can crack too. This was not disclosed to me when i bought it or when i researched it.
Had I known this at all, I would not have chosen this tile. In fact, this point, was detrimental to my tile outcome. I now have cracking tile and grout.
I brought in a seasoned tile installer to tell me where I went wrong. He told me, the play in the floor was the downfall. Anyone considering cement tiles, needs to determine if there is any play in their floors.
Traffic in room:
In my house, we have 4 kids, and 2 dogs. We have visitors every day, and I work from home. We have a ridiculous amount of traffic in my kitchen. Which means, these tiles are used and abused. You need to consider if you have a high traffic room, this should affect your choice. These tiles are not as durable as the makers claim them to be.
Use of room:
The kitchen is not an ideal place to put the tiles, in fact, it is the least ideal place. It is greasy, messy and in our case in constant use. Which means, the grout and the tile are constantly exposed to drips, drops and splatter of “all the things”. Even with 4 coats of the sealer that was suggested by the manufacturer, we have oil stains on the tiles now.
In my personal, and professional opinion, I do not suggest cement tiles for kitchens.
Tiles are handmade:
This sounds like a dreamy original reason to pick the tiles, well it did to me. The problem with this, no two tiles are the same. Not the same thickness, the width or length. The first two boxes were relatively the same thickness, we put down mortar and carried on. They were relatively level and we were so excited.
Here’s me laying tile, blissfully unaware of the tiles that were not level, in my future.
The next box was a solid 1/4 inch thicker. The mortar had dried for the most part by that point, we had not choice but to either pull up the previous two boxes or carry on.
In hind sight, I should have stopped the installation at that point, but we carried on.
The end result is several ledges are higher than the rest. Almost no one else notices the differences in height, but it drives me insane.
If you look close you can see there are three tiles in this section that are horribly uneven.
Color of grout:
We chose white grout, which in hindsight we would not have done. The gray cement tile, leached into the white grout. Which has led to ugly discolored grout.
The final review:
If I had been told to consider all these points, it would have made me stop and think twice.
The picture below is perfect, because I chose to take a picture of the tiles that happened to be level in that area…
This was prior to regular use and right after we installed grout.
At a distance, the tiles are beautiful. Excuse the after picture, we had just painted our island.
3 months after installation:
The grout has cracked, a few tiles have cracked and the grey tiles have discolored the white grout. We are not happy with our end product.
I spoke with a local tile installer. He said the cement tiles tend to “suck the moisture” from the grout. That along with the movement in our floors, our tiles look terrible. We will be tearing them out in the spring to install new flooring…not cement tiles.
I hope this helped you! I wish I had this review prior to purchasing cement tiles for my project.