Homeowners in New Zealand are increasingly starting to appreciate the low maintenance and benefits of tile. No one wants to spend countless hours polishing hardwood floors, spot treating carpets, or dealing with the hassle of replacing damaged vinyl. Which makes tile an ideal modern flooring option. Not only does tile offer limitless designs to choose from, but it also provides the convenience that generations have relied on.
Modern vitried Porcelain tiles are not affected by spills or moisture. They are virtually non-absorbent (at less than 0.5% water absorption rate). Food or spillages are easily wiped away without harsh chemical cleaners required.
Tiles are also resistant to scratches, dents and UV damage. They are a perfect surface material for families with children or pets, those who love to entertain or simply those of us who don’t want the hassle of damaged flooring. Furthermore, tiles are extremely hygienic. The easy clean and impenetrable surface means that allergy-causing dust mites and bacteria cannot reside. A home with tiled living areas not only look great, but are also safe and clean.
Problems associated with a home's flooring usually relate to longevity and durability. For example, timber, engineered planks and laminate are prone to water, scratching, dents or UV fading. They may look great when newly installed, but over time inevitably scratching and dents occur due to normal wear and tear. Replacement, re-sanding and re-coating are necessary at an additional cost that homeowners don't often factor in. In more extreme cases, dragging of furniture and appliances or water damage can require the floor be fully replaced.
Similarly, coverings such as carpet, over a period of time, change in appearance. The fabric loses its pile thickness and eventually appears worn out due to foot traffic or furniture. It pays to be aware that most manufacturers consider this to be normal wear and tear without warranty coverage, along with a list of exclusions to “stain-proof” in the said warranty.
An interesting study conducted by the Tile Council of America shows that tiles are not only one of the most durable materials for flooring but, unlike many soft-flooring surfaces, retain their appearance for a far longer period of time. Modern porcelains are fired in excess of 1200°C, making them extremely resistant to wear and tear.
Building Code changes affecting NZ Homes
The European and Australian trend for fully tiled houses continues to increase as New Zealand’s waterproofing requirements align to Australian and European standards under E3/AS1.
Acceptable solutions under E3/AS1 for internal moisture regarding flooring changed in November 2021. Timber-based flooring and a multitude of other options are no longer allowed (as an acceptable solution) in areas that are within 1.5 metres of sanitary fixtures or sanitary appliances. This description not only encompasses bathrooms, toilets and laundries but now also kitchens and some adjoining areas within 1.5 metres of fixtures and appliances.
Now with only two instantly-acceptable solutions being tiles or sheet vinyl over a fully compliant waterproof membrane, it is clear there is more focus by NZ Councils on ensuring there is containment of water in all rooms of the home and protection of surrounding areas and adjoining tenancies — a positive and forward-thinking move to protect homeowners and renters.