Our Philippine House Project – Tiling

Share the joy
In our new Philippine house we ceramic tiled just about everything!  Bob grew up in the northern U.S. In his childhood home the only tiles were in the cramped bathrooms or vinyl in the kitchen.  For him, the cool tiled floors and the barefoot life in the Philippines are a luxury.  In the Philippine, tiled floors are durable, economical and practically universal.  The building material stores are filled with tiles from all over the world.

Our house, except for the bathrooms is tiled with a creamy smooth 40cm square tile made by White Horse Ceramics in Malaysia.  The cost was P66 per tile — about $1.50 US.

Tile arrives from seller “Moostbrand” in Iloilo

Creamy tile from Whitehorse tile in Malaysia

Setting tile in kitchen-living room

Completed tiling

Completed tiling

We economized in the bathrooms using Philippine tile,  called “Eurotile”, we guess in the hope it will gain European cachet . It seems to be good tile.
Tiling in bathroom

Tiling in bathroom

Floor drain

For our porches, we splurged on 16″ x 16″ Spanish tile which were on sale for P68.

Spanish porch tile

We were fortunate to have an excellent tiler on our crew, Filimon Asonda of Mandurriao, Iloilo City.  He was with us from the very beginning, the building of our perimeter wall, to the end of the masonry work around the house.  We paid him P350 per day, the same as our foreman.  The combination of a good selection of affordable  tile and Filimon’s skills led us to continue our tiling from the house to the garage.  We did not use tile adhesive in laying the tile except on the bathroom walls.  We just used ordinary Apo Portland cement.

We also tiled the storage room in the garage/bodega.  This was to correct a drainage problem in which water from the garage drained into the storage room.  The tile raised the grade in the storage room enough to keep the water out. Next we tiled the laundry area.  For both we used the same Eurotile we used for the bathrooms.

Tiling in laundry

Tiling in laundry

With the addition of the laundry area and the storage room the garage really became more than a garage.  We decided to tile the garage floor too.  We found some 16″ x 16″ Lepanto tile on sale.  They were similar to the Spanish tile we used on our porches, although we did feel the quality was not as good as the Spanish.
Tiled garage floor and storage room

Tiled garage floor and storage room

Our final tiling project was to build a path from the garage to the front door.  We poured 20″ x 20″ concrete step-stones.

In the center of each step-stone are four 8″ x 8″ Lepanto tiles (about P12 each).  This path allows us to walk from the garage to the house without tracking in dirt and allows Bob to dispense with all footwear, a true pleasure for him.

Making step stones

Tiled path to house

Well, maybe it’s not really the end.  We’re talking about building a small outdoor “dirty” kitchen and comfort room for the bahay kubo.  Then, of course, as the gardens take shape we’ll want a path going there.  Such unending projects are either the bane or the focus of retirement, depending on your perspective!

Almost all tile (and lots of other materials) were purchased from Moostbrand in Jaro, Iloilo City.  We received good service from Moost.  As we unpacked the many boxes of tiles, we reserved the broken tiles and took them back to Moostbrand where they were replaced without charge or argumentation.  Moostbrand did deliver some “grade B”  tile to us.  We returned it and replaced it with the Eurotile mentioned above.

Grade B tile - returned

2016 Update.

We like to keep readers updated as to how things have worked out over time, to share our problems so that our readers may avoid mistakes we have made, or to at least know what to expect.  See also Beware of clay soils in Philippine construction.

2016. Cracks in tiles.

2016. Cracks in tiles..  

It is six years since our times were laid.  2016 is the first year that we have had a significant problem with hairline cracks in our tiles.  Why?  We are not sure, but here are some possibilities.  We do not want to exaggerate the problem.  We have hairline cracks in about ten of the many hundreds of tiles we installed throughout the house.

Type of tile.  We used at least three types of tile.  Most of the flooring is a Malaysian-made tile shown in the photos.  It is these tiles which are developing the hairline cracks.  Tile making is an ancient art with many variations in materials and characteristics.  Considerations must include both hardness and some degree of ductility.  The Malaysian tile seems wine-grass hard.  The Spanish-made tile we used on our porch has no cracks.

Bedding material.  In laying both the Malaysian and Spanish tile we used ordinary Portland cement.  In our bathrooms, our tile layer advised us to use an elastic mortar, which we did. There are no cracks there.  Perhaps we should have used the elastic bedding for all the tile?

Filling.  We used a relatively sandy filling under our floors rather than pure gravel.  Could this have been part of the problem.  The concrete floors themselves are unlikely to be a cause.  The floor is thick and strong.  Many of the cracks first showed up in doorways.  That is probably because each room was a separate pour, so the doorways are a junction between two different pours.

Sorry we can’t offer definitive solutions.  If your house is ten or twenty years old and has no cracks, please let us and our readers know how you accomplished that feat.



Comments (14) Write a comment



    • Venus,

      Sorry for late reply. We did not use tile adhesive for our tiles, except for the CR walls. We just used ordinary cement to bed the tiles. They were pretty careful to get the level of the floors as correct as possible when they poured the floors. Any discrepancies were corrected in the tile bedding. I would leave it up to your tile installer with the understanding that you expect perfection 🙂 Bob


      • Hi Bob and Carol,

        I would be glad to imply that there are some reasons why there are visible hairline cracks on your floor tiles. I’m trying to make inferences on how your tiles broke and I’m not making any statements as a form of insult to some of your aspects (e.g. tile quality, proper handling, installation issues, etc.)

        1) Something heavy dropped on the tile and it received a sharp blow.
        2) The tiles that you may have used are below quality which means that the tiles you used are not going to last in a good condition for a long time.
        3) Tile adhesive is not applied on top of the concrete substrate.
        4) It’s possible that the builder or whoever laid the tile didn’t use correct materials or high-grade ones.

        I hope that these reasons helped you know why you got these unwanted and odd cracks on your tiles. Enjoy living here in the Philippines, Bob. 🙂


        • James, thanks for your comments. All of the cracks are in doorways. We could not pour more than one floor per day so each doorway represents the junction of two pours done on different days. I feel that the imperfect interface between the floor pours led to weak points where they intersected.


          • Oh, I see. Yes, what you said is right and I agree. I never knew that the tiles you were talking about are located in the doorway. Well anyway, have fun here in the Philippines.


  2. Pingback: Our Philippine House – Ceramic Tiling Updated | goILOILO.com

  3. Peter, we decided to tile the garage. The balance of the drive is very short. I think tile is a good solution, especially since concrete finishing here is often not very smooth.


  4. Hi Bob, ..whats the plan with the driveway? Reason I ask is that I’ve got a neighbour with a black concrete driveway and its looks dreadful. Much like we see concrete walls with black mold and its become my pet hate with building. Cause is naturally the constant wetness but whats the answer?
    There are “sealer” type applications on the shelves and apparently you can add “Sahara” to a mix to close the pores and prevent capillary action. There are some very hard shapped concrete tiles that look good but they will still become black after a few years ……so ?
    Laying a drive is expensive and is a large area on display. When it goes black its really yuk!
    Maybe an ordinary glazed tile over a 4 inch concrete base would provide the answer at least then you could replace them if needed.
    Maybe a “vapour barrier” underneath would be the answer, provided the drive was slightly elevated and able to drain way ie not absolutely level ?
    Any experienced advice on hand ?


  5. I see the flowers are blooming and the Papaya is already bearing LOTS of fruits!! do I see a young Mango tree and a few Banana plants??


    • Hi Natie, the papayas are amazing. They have so much fruit we had to build supports to hold up the tree. They are good too. We have three Guimaras mangoes plus one Indian and lots of other fruit too, including a batuan and Kefir lime! In another year things are going to be looking good. Carol is out planting Gardenias now, right outside our bedroom window.


  6. hello, Bob and Carol–haven’t been “around” for a while, but happy to see your progress–I know you would already have moved in by Christmas…

    lovely tile-work! easier to maintain. also LOVE that storage/laundry area by the garage!

    Barefoot, eh??? remember the song “Barefootin” in the 60s?? that’d be you in your new house…I’d do the same in my house–nice cool, smooth tiles under my feet in the summertime heat.

    the dazzling fall leaf display has past, and they have started cutting the Rockefeller tree at Mahopac, NY…the Holiday season has just begun here. We finally have TFC ( Pinoy Channel) and marvel at how early the season starts in our country..makes one homesick. best regards!!!


  7. Looks great. I really like the steping stones with the 8X8 tile set in the concrete. That is a great idea and you can always make more and change them around if you want. I bet you guys are glad to be coming to an end.


  8. Its amazing how many different tiles are available in this country. We looked at the large diy places at Filinvest and were gogglised! They do a great job of putting suggested enclosures on display for people like us who cannot imagine the final outcome. The tile soap holder is a good idea for the shower but it always has soggy soap remains that need cleaning up after use. Its a better idea to have them up as high as possible so that the top is not seen and that saves a job. People also use white tile grouting that looks smart when new but soon becomes moldy gray, better to use a dark gray at the onset. ..another save work tip.
    We used some very nice rectangle shaped tiles that look like white cedar planking for our top gazebo and were very pleased. However now three years later we are having difficulty removing marks from the flowering plants that wind round the walls. Suppose this is the nectar but its a devil to get off. Should have used a darker colour tile………


  9. Pingback: Our Philippine House Project – Tiling | Philippines or Bust

Leave a Reply

Required fields are marked *.