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Characteristics of ceramic wall and floor tiles

Characteristics of ceramic wall and floor tiles

We know how important your home is and so picking the right tiles for the right environment is paramount.

Here we talk about the different types of tiles you can buy and where you can use them in your home.

GLAZED OR UNGLAZED

Glazed tiles have a surface that is covered by a coloured layer of glaze. This glaze gives the tile important design characteristics such as colour, shininess, pattern, shading, etc., as well as technical properties such as hardness, slip resistance, etc.

Unglazed tiles, on the other hand, tend to be perfectly uniform in surface and thickness and usually have no decoration or pattern.

WITH A COMPACT OR POROUS BODY

The body of the tile can be totally impervious to any water absorption or there can be tiny ‘pores’ in the body of the tile which can absorb small amounts of water.

Most wall floor tiles are very slightly porous and care should be taken if using these tiles outside. The more modern ’porcelain’ floor tiles are totally impervious to any water absorption.

RED OR WHITE CLAY BODY

Depending on the clay used, the body of the tile can be various shades of red or brown (red body) or whitish (white body). For certain unglazed tiles, mainly porcelain different colours can be obtained by adding colouring pigments.

PORCELAIN

Porcelain tiles are totally impervious, highly compact, glazed or unglazed floor tiles. They are totally frost proof and have a higher impact resistance than normal floor tiles. The name comes from the Italian Gres Porcellanato and has nothing to do with porcelain pottery.

QUARRY TILE

Made from unglazed natural clay, they are extremely hard wearing and often used in commercial locations. Most quarry tiles require sealing before and after grouting.

TERRACOTTA

These floor tiles are made from unglazed, natural clay. They vary in water absorbency and stain resistance and are generally unsuitable for exterior use and areas of potential heavy staining.  All terracotta tiles need sealing and/or polishing, as well as regular maintenance.

MOSAIC

Mosaic tiles are small pieces of ceramic tile or glass usually sold in sheets on a mesh backing for ease of fixing.

NATURAL STONE PRODUCTS, mainly Slate or Marble

These products vary enormously in wear-ability.  Some are extremely hard and others quite soft, most need sealing or polishing and can vary a great deal in colour, thickness & flatness.

SHADING

All tiles can vary slightly in shading, even within the same batch. When fixing, use 3 or 4 boxes at a time to mix up the tiles.

DIMENSION & APPEARANCE

There may be small variations in the size and flatness of ceramic tiles of the same batch. Although now quite rare, we still recommend using spacers to compensate for any such variations.

CHEMICAL & STAIN RESISTANCE

Most glazed tiles are resistant to household chemicals and domestic stains. For commercial use, please check the technical characteristics for your desired tile.

Care should be taken when selecting unglazed tiles for use in areas of potential heavy staining such as kitchens.

CRAZING

Crazing looks like hairline cracks under the surface of the glaze. Although mainly a thing of the past, crazing can still occur in certain situations. Lead-based or deep glaze colours tend to be more prone to crazing, but movement, heat & cold and thickness of adhesive can also be factors. As such, no glazed tile is guaranteed against crazing.

SLIP RESISTANCE

There is no such thing as a non-slip floor tile. For areas where slip resistance is desirable, choose a tile with a rough surface or specific anti-slip characteristics.

QUALITY

All tiles are subject to stringent quality control after production to ensure that they meet the highest standards. Ceramics Planet Ltd only buy 1st quality tiles from factories whom we know and trust.

Tile manufacture is mostly of a very high standard, but all tiles should still be checked for any defects before tiling begins.

HARDNESS & DURABILITY OF GLAZED FLOOR TILES

The durability of glazed floor tiles is measured by counting the number of rotations of an abrasive wheel required to break through the glaze and expose the base clay. The grades are known as PEI grades:

PEI Grade 1

PEI Grade 2

PEI Grade 3

PEI Grade 4

PEI Grade 5

 Wall tiling only

 Domestic Bathroom Floors only

 Average domestic use i.e. Conservatory or bathroom

 All Domestic use & Medium Commercial Use

 All Domestic & Heavy Commercial

 

FROST PROOF and FROST RESISTANT

The resistance of ceramic floor tiles to frost damage depends on the water absorbancy of the clay used in the biscuit or body:

Most ‘Red’ Clay

Most ‘White’ Clay

All ‘Porcelain’

 Frost Resistant to about –5 degrees Centigrade

 Frost Resistant to about –10 degrees Centigrade

 Totally Frost proof

 

CHOOSE THE RIGHT GLAZED FLOOR TILE

HOME USE

Bathrooms & Toilets

PEI Grade 3 or higher

 For very light bathroom floors, PEI Grade 2 can be used.

Conservatory & Dining Rooms

PEI Grade 3 or higher

 

Kitchens, Hallways & Entrances

PEI Grade 4 or higher

 

Outside Porch & outside use

PEI Grade 4 or higher & Frostproof

COMMERCIAL USE

Light to Medium Commercial Use

PEI Grade 4 or higher

 

Medium to Heavy Commercial Use

PEI Grade 5

Pubs, Take-aways, etc.

If you are using unglazed tiles or natural stone, the main consideration will be hardness.

For inspiration visit our Pinterest page for images on kitchens and bathrooms.

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