20 September 2019

Does it matter? Bathroom tiles edition

When we want to finish up our bathroom interior, ceramic tiles are undoubtedly the most frequently chosen option. Their purchase however can pose some difficulties – bathroom tiles are produced in a wide range of sizes. What is the best guiding principle when choosing them? And will large tiles work in a small bathroom?

The decision to choose ceramic tiles for the bathroom is not as simple as it might seem at first, because the tiles vary in size. Like, a lot. Currently, there are several dozen different formats of ceramic tiles on the market – from 1.5×1.5 cm (mosaic) to 120×120 cm (megaplate). A 30×30 cm tile has been accepted as the industry standard. Other common dimensions (in cm) are: 30×60, 20×50, 60×60, 90×60, 45×45. Note: ceramic tile dimensions are standardized in accordance with PN-EN 14411. This means that the permissible difference on one side of the tile is +/- 0.5% of its working length.

Nominal, factory and actual size

Before buying bathroom tiles, it’s worth knowing that their sizes are divided into nominal, factory and real. The nominal size is the dimension to describe the plate, given in centimeters. Customers are the ones who focus on it most often. However, the factory dimension, i.e. the one used in production, is more precise. If the nominal size is 30×30 cm, then the factory size of the tile can be about 297×297 mm.

The actual dimensions of the tiles may, however, differ from both the nominal and factory dimensions – this is due to the process of shrinking and deformation of the tiles during firing. Therefore, the tiles are sorted at the factory and marked with the appropriate caliber. The caliber is the actual insert size that was measured during the inspection. Each factory has its own marking system – you can find it on the tile package. The caliber can be expressed both by numbers (1, 2, 3 …) and letters (A, B, C …). When buying several packs of tiles, we should pay attention to whether the glaze in them has exactly the same caliber, otherwise there may be undesirable misalignment of tiles during their laying.

Can large tiles be used in a small bathroom?

Of course! Many people think that large format tiles visually reduce the bathroom, while the  ‘large tile = large bathroom’ stereotype has long been refuted. Currently, all tile formats (even large ones) are acceptable in small bathrooms,. Large tiles, however, should be laid without joints – or rather using an extremely thin joint; this way we will get the effect of a uniform plane. Not only that: bright, large gloss tiles further illuminate a small space. Large tiles in the bathroom have another advantage: they are simply practical, because they are easier to keep clean. Small tiles have more joints, and they are prone to quickly catching dirt and even mold.

Let’s remember that having a small bathroom is a big arrangement challenge – why make it more difficult then by giving up large format tiles?


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