The Fairfield County, CT Guide to Planning Tile Installation

Undergoing tile installation service for residential home
Tile is a beautiful addition to any Fairfield County home or commercial business, but it's not all about appearances—a new tile installation serves as a water-resistant protective finish for your floor or walls that can last decades with proper care and maintenance. Tile has been used for thousands of years, and modern options really aren't that far removed from ancient versions. The fact that some ancient installations are still around today should tell you something about the durability of this versatile finishing material.

When it comes to Fairfield County tile installation projects, there's a wide variety of styles, sizes, shapes, colors, textures, and patterns available. The abundant options can make it challenging to find the perfect choice for your home, but it also gives you the opportunity to infuse your home with your own personal aesthetic by choosing the perfect tile installation. This guide gives you the information you need to plan a painless tile installation by a qualified Fairfield County handyman.

Ready to transform the appearance and functionality of your residential or commercial property? The professional tile installers at Mr. Handyman of Upper Fairfield County can help! Our licensed handyman team has plenty of experience with tile installation throughout Fairfield County, along with dozens of other reliable handyman services.

Tile Installation Vs. Repair: What Does Your Fairfield County Home Need?

Before you dive right into a tile installation project to replace an old wall or floor that is looking rather worse-for-wear, you may be wondering if that's actually the best course of action. Would repairs to your existing wall or floor be a better choice? That's a fair question, and in our team's professional experience with repair and installation over the years, it really comes down to two main considerations: how serious and widespread your damage is, and whether you have (or can find) a perfectly matched replacement piece.

If you're only dealing with a few small chips, a hairline crack, or a couple of loose tiles, professional repairs are likely all you need to return your wall or floor to a beautiful, solid surface again. Or, the pieces themselves might be just fine, but your grout is cracking, crumbling or just dingy, and it won't come clean no matter how much you scrub. The repair process may involve replacing grout and re-securing pieces, or it may be a matter of filling in surface problems with repair epoxy, then painting over and sealing it so your repair is invisible.

But if you have serious damage to a few pieces, or widespread damage across your entire floor or wall, replacement is likely going to be the best, most cost-effective choice. Numerous repairs would be very time-consuming, and the repaired areas would be weakened and require monitoring. More repairs would probably be necessary for the future, so it makes more sense to just have your entire installation replaced upfront so you have the peace of mind of knowing your wall or floor will be in excellent shape for a long time to come.

What Type of Tile Is Best for Fairfield County Tile Installation?

When it's time to choose the ideal tile installation for your Fairfield County home, it's easy to get distracted by all the beautiful options and forget to focus on what you really need and want in your house. There are some key considerations that will make it a lot easier to narrow down the vast array of choices and find something you will enjoy for many years to come, which we'll explain below. If you're interested in finding out more, check out our guide to planning a flooring installation in Fairfield County CT.

Material Options

Tile installation can be done with a wide range of material types. Porcelain or ceramic tile are by far the most popular options because they are highly durable, practically maintenance-free, and come in so many different styles, so you're sure to find something that matches your design aesthetic. Ceramics and porcelain are very similar—they are both made primarily from clay and kiln-fired, but porcelain is made from clay with a higher density and it's fired longer and at hotter temperatures than ceramic. That gives it added durability, but each type has its own pros and cons.

Fairfield County tile installation options include:

  • Ceramic and porcelain tile
  • Natural stone tiles such as marble, granite, slate, or travertine
  • Cement tile
  • Quarry
  • Glass tile
  • Metal or resin
  • Mosaic tiles

Purpose of Tile Installation

You may be thinking the purpose is pretty obvious—it's going to cover your floor or wall. But it pays to give some thought to where in your house the installation will be located and what the specific needs or restrictions may be for that area, and to suit your specific household. Here are a few examples of how the location of your new finish or your expectations for its purpose can impact your decisions:

  • Is your new material going on the floor in a high-traffic area that is prone to moisture, such as a bathroom, kitchen, mudroom, or entryway? If so, it makes sense to go with a durable, low-maintenance option that is not easily damaged or stained and offers high water resistance, like ceramic or porcelain.
  • Glass is far too delicate to be used on the floor, so you can strike it off your list if you're planning a floor installation. But if you want to have a kitchen backsplash or bathroom backsplash put in, glass is the perfect way to add depth and interest to a tile backsplash.
  • If you're thinking of having heated floors put in with your tile installation, ceramic or porcelain is the best option to go over the top of the heating mechanism. They are thin, uniform in width, and conduct heat well.

Maintenance Requirements

We tend to think of tile as a low-maintenance product, and that's usually the case. But different types of material, especially natural stone, can have different maintenance requirements and it's good to be aware of that before you make your choice. Slate and marble, for example, are stunningly beautiful and practically scream luxury, but they chip or stain more easily than man-made materials and need to be resealed regularly to keep them looking good. You might be just fine with a little extra maintenance in exchange for an installation that can serve as a conversation piece for the whole room, or you may want to choose something less flashy but more durable and low maintenance.

Choosing the Right Size

If you're not sure what size you should go with for your installation, a good rule of thumb is to make the size of the pieces roughly correspond to the size of the overall space. If it's covering the floor of a big room, large-format tiles are appropriate and can offer a dramatic style flair that doesn't look as "crowded" as small pieces on a large surface. The standard size is generally considered to be 12x12 inches, which is a safe bet for most floor spaces.

If it's going to be in a much smaller space like a bathroom wall tile installation, smaller sizes such as a subway or even tiny 1x2 inch mosaic tiles add some visual interest without being overwhelming. They can also fit around obstacles such as electrical outlets a lot easier, without having to be cut into awkward-looking pieces. Mosaic size is a great choice for a shower floor, because it can conform to the slope of the floor and the extra grout lines help to provide additional traction. Don't forget that you can also explore less-common shape and pattern options such as bubbles, honeycomb, herringbone, and many more.

Caulk and Grout for Your New Tile Installation

Many people confuse caulk and grout or assume they are interchangeable. While they are both typically parts of a tile installation, they are very different substances with different purposes. There is a bit of overlap in how they are used, but you can't replace one with the other. Grout is a cement-based masonry product that is used in the joints between tiles to space them out and prevent them from touching each other. It forms a strong bond with the cement backer board or substrate under the installation. Caulk, on the other hand, is a semi-flexible polymer that is typically made of acrylic or silicone. It is used along the edge of an installation where the tile meets another type of material such as drywall, or at the corner angle where two planes intersect. Caulking and grouting are the acts of applying caulk or grout.

You don't usually have to apply caulk over top of the grout, but it is a good idea in an area such as a shower where the grout will be frequently exposed to water. It also makes the installation easier to clean, because, unlike grout, caulk is not porous and can be wiped clean. Epoxy grout is also an option for moisture-prone areas—it forms a waterproof seal and doesn't need caulk over top of it.

Why Grout Is Critical for Tile Installation

Some homeowners ask us if their tile installation can be done without grout lines. It may be because they don't like the look of the grout, or just don't want to deal with the task of cleaning it. While that's understandable, eliminating the grout lines is not recommended. It may technically be possible, but it won't be up to professional standards and you'll likely regret the decision sooner rather than later. Here are the main reasons why grout is so necessary:

  • All houses shift and settle over time, and the grout is able to accommodate that movement better than the pieces themselves. Without grout, they would grind against each other and eventually crack.
  • Tiles may look perfectly uniform in size, but any experienced installer will tell you they absolutely are not. Grout lines hide tiny differences in size that would be glaring without them and make the whole installation look uneven.
  • Bacteria and particles of dirt can work themselves into even the smallest crack between pieces, making thorough cleaning virtually impossible.

Putting a New Tile Installation Over Top of an Old One

Our Fairfield County handyman team is sometimes asked if we can just put a new installation over the top of the old floor instead of going through the hassle of prying up all the old pieces. That may seem to make sense on the surface (pun intended), and it is possible in some cases—but there are some caveats you should be aware of:

  1. Since we're talking about a very heavy material, it's not a good idea to put it over another heavy layer unless the subfloor underneath is concrete. All that weight can damage floor joists and cause structural issues.
  2. The original layer needs to be a completely level plane with no damage, warping, or ridges that will interfere with the new installation, or it will not result in a flat surface. Most people don't want to cover flooring that is in great condition, so this is rarely the case.
  3. The new layer will raise the level of the floor and could create an uneven transition from other flooring types.

If you're not up to the task of removing the old material before a new installation is put in, no need to worry—our handyman experts will take care of removal before we install the new material.

Time For Tile Installation? Count on Our Fairfield County Handyman Team!

Whether you are living in Wilton, Westport, Ridgefield, or another part of Fairfield County CT, you can trust the team of service professionals at Mr. Handyman of Upper Fairfield County to deliver the highest standards of quality workmanship and excellent customer service. We are experienced with a wide variety of applications for tile installation, including exterior applications and commercial applications.

We'd love to hear from you! Give us a call today to schedule an appointment at a convenient time, or to speak with our knowledgeable customer care staff about our popular services in Fairfield County.