Cottage Q&A: Can I use tile in an unheated bathroom?

tile-being-laid-down-in-bathroom Photo by Yunava1/Shutterstock

Can I use tile in an unheated bathroom? —Robert Mitchell, Milton, ONT. 

“Of course you can,” says Rick O’Brien, the owner of Muskoka Tile Master in Bracebridge, Ont.

“But I’d go with a porcelain.” Porcelain tiles are dense and absorb less water than standard ceramic tiles. This makes them naturally more resistant to freezing from moisture trapped inside. Stacey Pieper of Livingwood Floors in Salmon Arm, B.C., recommends unglazed or “through-body” porcelain. These tiles don’t show wear as easily: the tile is called through-body because it’s the same colour all the way through. (So if you accidentally drop something heavy on it—oops—the chip isn’t as obvious.) Mortar matters too. You’ll want one that can handle freeze-thaw conditions, says Donato Pompo of Ceramic Tile and Stone Consultants. Look for “polymer modified” or “latex-modified” mortars—they absorb less moisture.

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