Here are some common Questions & Answers about ceramic and porcelain tiles:
What is a Porcelain Tile ?
A porcelain tile is defined by its lower water absorption typically .5% The clay is a better quality, usually white and the tile is fired at a higher temperature typically 1200 degrees C.
What is a Ceramic Tile?
Ceramic tiles are relatively thin slabs of Ceramic Material in varying shapes and thickness. They are made from a mixture of clays, sand and other natural substances such as carbonates and fieldspar. The raw materials for the tile body are carefully mixed and ground and moulded into the required shapes, they are fired at high temperatures between 1000 degrees Celcius and 1250 degrees celcius depending on the type of the tile to be manufactured.
What’s the difference between Glazed and Unglazed Tiles?
Tiles can be unglazed or glazed. Basically an unglazed tile contains the same colour and base raw material throughout the body and normally have no decorations or patterns. A glazed tile consists of the clay body (or bisque) covered with a glaze that is applied, and fired, separately. The glazes are formed from sand, kaolin clay, previously prepared glazes and oxide-based pigments to provide the colour.
What is Glazed Porcelain?
Glazed porcelain floor tiles have all the characteristics of porcelain. Frost resistant, chemical resistant, low water absorption, high abrasion resistance plus the advantages of a glazed tile, which makes these tiles ideal for domestic use. The use of top quality raw materials with this new process gives a deeper glaze and smoother surface and the cohesion between the porcelain base and the glaze make for greater impact resistance.
Is porcelain tile better than ceramic?
Porcelain usually has a much lower water absorption level than normal glazed ceramic tiles. They can usually be distinguished by appearance i.e. the colour / grain goes right through to the back of the tile. Porcelain tiles are frost proof and therefore more suitable for outside areas where temperatures drop to freezing.
There are now many tiles available with a porcelain biscuit and a pattern glazed onto the surface and in these cases the pattern does not go right through.
What is the difference in wall tiles and floor tiles?
Floor tiles have a different rating of glaze hardness which makes them suitable to walk on without showing wear. Floor tiles also have a stronger biscuit. It is the combination of glaze hardness and bisque hardness that makes them suitable for foot traffic. Wall tiles are usually a softer biscuit as they are double fired and the glaze is not trafficable. You can put floor tiles onto a wall but not wall tiles onto the floor.
Can I use any floor tiles outside?
Firstly the recommendation is to use a tile with a water absorption of 3% or less to ensure that the tile is frost resistant. It is best to use a slip resistant tile outside and we have a large range of indoor and outdoor tiles that match, and give you a flow without compromising safety. Outdoor tiles have a textured or sanded finish and are tested for slip resistance rating. If you are doing a deck with no external access you may use a tile that has a degree of texture though not necessarily an anti-slip tile.
Can I use any tiles in and around my swimming pool?
You must use a floor grade tile which has a suitable porosity for the chemicals used in your pool. You must think about whether your pool is salt or chlorine, and whether you live in a frost free area. We recommend not less than 3% water absorption.
Are grouts waterproof and will the grout lines go mouldy?
Our grouts have inbuilt mould inhibitors so as long as the wet areas are aired you won’t have any problems. We do however, suggest that you seal all grout lines to assist in long term maintenance and to stop staining from the dyes in bathroom products or kitchen splashes.
How do I clean my tiles? Do I use normal household cleaners?
You can, however it is best to use a soap free cleaner which will not cause build-up and dull the look of your tiles. We are able to recommend the most suitable product for your requirements these have been tested especially so that the pH levels won’t cause any breakdown in the grout or grout sealer.
Do I have to use small tiles in a small area?
No, there are no standard size rules. Larger tiles will have less grout lines so will look less busy. It is best to focus on the colour and texture of the tiles that you like rather than the size. Of course if you have a tiny bathroom a 600×600 size tile will be a little excessive and difficult to install.
I want ‘GRIP’ tiles for my bathroom. Aren’t shiny tiles slippery?
It is what we do to tiles that makes them slippery. Soap or shampoo build-up can cause this problem. A stainless steel shower tray can also be slippery when build-up occurs. A degree of caution is always necessary i.e. use a bathmat. Remember that wet lino or concrete are also slippery. Choose a tile you feel comfortable with. Grip or slip resistant tiles are usually designed for outdoors and will be difficult to keep clean indoors.
Why do I have to use an underlay?
To stop movement in the existing floor which could cause the tiles to crack. Determine the substrate/joist spaces and establish if it is feasible to use ASA adhesive.