Ceramic bathroom tile offers several distinct advantages. Commonly cited advantages to using this material include its water-resistant nature, durability, and aesthetics. Ceramic tile is generally available at costs comparable to other flooring materials and, in some cases, may even cost less than other floor coverings. In addition, ceramic bathroom tile is a very versatile building material that is commonly used for other applications besides flooring.
Due to its water resistant nature, ceramic flooring is a common choice in bathroom renovation and construction projects. If grout lines are sealed properly and the ceramic tile is undamaged, this flooring material is practically water proof. In some cases, ceramic bathroom tile can even withstand short periods of standing water without damage. Ceramic tile flooring is considered a permanent installation that should not need to be replaced within the lifetime of the homeowner unless it is damaged or becomes aesthetically outdated.
The water resistant nature of ceramic bathroom tile makes it a suitable choice for building complete shower enclosures, including walls, floors, and ceilings. To protect the sub-surface walls, a thin waterproof membrane is attached to the wall before the tile adhesive is applied. If untreated and poorly maintained, the grout lines of ceramic tile shower enclosures are subject to mildew, but this problem can be eliminated with regular maintenance and the application of ceramic tile sealer.
Back splashes around lavatories and wall tile are often part of bathroom renovations and construction. While these applications do not require the waterproofing membrane used in shower enclosures, tile sealer is used to reduce problems associated with water penetration and mildew. Designer effects and smooth, round edges can be achieved using decorative tiles and bull nose, a type of ceramic tile with a rounded edge on one side.
This type of tile can be installed by individuals with a moderate amount of training. Basic hand tools, which rival professional equipment, are available at low costs. More advanced tools, such as water saws, are used by professional tile installers to make installation faster, but are generally unnecessary for the do-it-yourself project.
The disadvantages of ceramic bathroom tile, which are commonly cited, include factors such as lack of warmth, breakage, or loosening of tiles. The cold to the touch feel of ceramic tile can be negated by installing a sub-floor tile heating system prior to tile installation. These electric systems are thermostatically controlled and can raise the temperature of the flooring to a comfortable level.
Breakage or loosening associated with ceramic bathroom tile is usually the result of poor installation practices. When tile is installed properly, the mortar forms a solid, impact-resistant backing that will protect the flooring from all but the most aggressive attacks. Using proper tools to apply the tile adhesive and creating an even layer of this mortar beneath the tile ensures that there are no empty air pockets, which commonly cause tiles to flex and break or come loose.