The tile you choose to install on your shower walls is the most defining element of your bathroom remodel. There are so many factors to consider when choosing your tile, from manufactured to natural stone, machined edges, small or large format, and thickness. The tile you choose will impact your waterproofing strategy by determining the amount of space that is vulnerable to moisture penetration.
Tile has been manufactured over the coarse of time in one form or another for installation in a shower area, with modern advancements, you have the benefit of choice in the design, while not loosing protection and durability. An important characteristic is the tile body, ceramics consist of natural clay that is heated using various techniques, which produces a final product that is less dense, in comparison to other materials. An alternative manufactured product is porcelain, which is made of a specific clay that is heated to a higher degree temperature, this process produces a final product that has a denser tile body. These and other elements will influence the permeability factor of your tile, or the tolerance levels to resisting moisture penetration, and also breathability for moisture to evaporate back put to the shower pan.
A natural stone tile in your shower area would make a very bold statement, but you also need to understand the performance characteristics for moisture management. Depending upon your choice in size and thickness, a natural stone tile can be very heavy, since it’s body is very dense. It is also very porous, which is not ideal in the wet area of your shower, but it can be sealed to decrease moisture penetration. For this reason, there is a constant schedule of maintenance, dependent on the type of sealer and also the shower usage. For some natural stone is an option for it’s beauty, despite the disadvantages.
A rectified tile has had it’s edges machined to allow for two pieces to meet at the joint with less inconsistency in the shape. This is an advantage for setting the tile with a minimum joint width, with near perfect lines, the placement can follow with greater symmetry. While the machined edges are an advantage, not all rectified tile in a lot will be of the same size, some tile pieces may be off by a fraction of an inch, and if your not aware of it, it may affect your entire installation. Mismatched tile sizes causes an even bigger problem, where you might believe that you have a uniform product, you may choose a minimum width joint, leaving less space for final adjustment, which ultimately would leave you with practically no space for grout to enter in between the joints.
Most manufacturers and retailers of tile provide you with a wide array of tile sizes in any given style. For smaller tile formats, such as 4 x 4s or 6 x 6s, you may not have as many choices or you possibly may need to look towards custom manufacturing. For larger tile formats, such as 12 x 12s, 12 x 24s, or 18 x 18s, a retailer may have more of these on hand since they may feel demand calls for it. Whether your choice is a small format tile or a more popular larger format, when considering how it affects your waterproofing strategy, the rule of thumb is, where there are less joints, there are less opportunities for moisture to enter behind the shower walls.
Since the major driver for a choice of tile is aesthetic appearance, your not always, if at all, going to be able to choose from any one particular thickness. The average tile thicknesses are going to be between 3/8 of an inch to 1/2 inch. A dense, thick tile certainly encourages some water resistance, but since it’s an option your can choose, you should not consider it to be an advantage.