From traditional porcelain and ceramic options to colourful mosaics, the floor is your easel and tiles are the perfect solution to your flooring puzzle.
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Understanding Tiles Styles
Ceramic tiles are made of clay that is baked at very high temperatures. Ceramic tiles have a glazed surface and come in a wide range of colours and patterns. The glaze applied can either be gloss or matt. The edge of the tile is generally a cushion edge, which is a slightly rounded edge.
The two main types of ceramic tiles are wall and floor. Floor tiles can be used on both wall and floor but wall tiles can only be used on the wall.
Porcelain Tiles are made from fine grain clay which is fired at extremely high temperatures. This makes the tile extremely strong and virtually nonporous.
A full bodied porcelain can have a Polished, Matt (Honed) or External (Rockface) finish.
A glazed tile has a glaze applied to the surface making it impervious to stains and easy to maintain. Glazing can be either shiny or matt, this provides extensive range of colours and designs.
Glazed porcelain tiles are also very popular; a glaze is fired onto the tile, which can be either Matt or Gloss finish. Once the glaze is fired onto the tiles they are considered non-porous.
The glaze, either Matt or Gloss, allows the tiles to have many colour and style variations. They can have a very similar appearance to natural stones.
A mosaic tile is a very small tile. Generally they are mounted onto backing which is usually 300 x 300mm. These sheets can then be cut to size.
Mosaics come in a wide range of colours, sizes, designs and styles and made from a range of different materials – porcelain, ceramic, glass, stone etc.
The finish of the mosaic will need to be taken into consideration as to where the product is going to be use. They are most commonly used in the kitchen as splash backs and in the bathroom as feature strips.
Frequently Asked Questions
WHAT IS A SLIP RATING?
A slip rating is a standardised rating covering four different test methods for tiles to indicate the level slip resistance performance in various applications and conditions. The main methods used to test slip resistance in Australia are the ramp (‘R’ rating) and pendulum slip testing classifications. Based on the test results, manufacturers will classify tiles for use in specific locations.
Remember, some ceramic tile products will require more post installation maintenance than others. In some instances these treatments and a variety of other factors may change a product’s slip resistance performance such as:
- Poor cleaning practices
- Build-up of grime or cleaning material residues
- Exposure to chemicals which may affect the surface of the tile
- Surface wear which abrades the surface of the tile and reduces its natural slip resistance.
DO TILERS GENERALLY CHARGE EXTRA FOR LAYING LARGE TILES, PORCELAIN TILES, RECTIFIED TILES OR GLASS FEATURES?
Tilers generally will have a fixed rate for fixing standard ceramic and glazed porcelain tiles. Most tilers will however, charge additional rates for handling large format tiles (600 x 600 and 800 x 800) including glass, patterns, or hard structural tiles like vitrified porcelain. The extra rates are usually for things like time and use of wet saws. Always ask a registered tiler up-front what additional costs there may be and provide details on the type of tile you’ve purchased (e.g. size, tile type, tile edge etc.).
CAN TILES BE LAID OVER EXISTING TILES OR VINYL?
Yes, however you should always seek advice from a registered tiler first.
ARE TILES USED INDOORS DIFFERENT FOR THOSE USED OUTDOORS?
Yes. External tiles are exposed to harsher conditions than indoor tiles. For this reason, outside tiles need to be resistant to the elements. Depending on the level of exposure to the elements, tiles suitable for external applications will require a “Ramp Test Slip Rating” of R10 or higher (e.g. R11, R12 commercial grade).
CAN ALL TILES BE USED ON THE FLOOR?
Only porcelain tiles (either full-bodied, vitrified or glazed porcelain tiles) can all be used on floor and wall applications. Some ceramic tiles can also be used on floor applications, but not all. This will be detailed within the product lists and labelling on the tile.
Tiles with a floor suitability indication can also always be used on walls.
DO TILES NEED TO BE SEALED?
Glazed tiles (glazed porcelain and glazed ceramic tiles) are already stain-proof and do not need to be sealed.
Polished porcelain tiles however are unsealed, and by the nature of the polishing method, become even more porous and absorbent of stains and require regular sealing to avoid staining. Innovative manufacturing of porcelain tiles has resulted in the creation of “nano” and “double loaded” pre-sealed tiles in all finishes. These polished, honed and matt finishes do not require sealing (although manufacturers recommend a sealing application beyond 10 years, depending on the level of foot traffic)
WHAT IS THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN GLAZED AND FULL-BODIED TILES?
Glazed tiles are coated with a liquid glass, which is then baked into the surface of the clay. The glaze provides an unlimited array of colours and designs and protects the tile from staining. Unglazed tiles are much the same, except their surface is not coated.
Full-bodied porcelain tiles do not show wear because their colour extends throughout the tile, which is ideal for high traffic areas.
HOW CAN I TELL THE DIFFERENCE VISUALLY BETWEEN A PORCELAIN TILE AND A CERAMIC TILE?
Firstly, there are two types of porcelain tiles: full-bodied/vitrified porcelain and glazed porcelain.
- Full-bodied/vitrified porcelain tiles are dense and incredibly hardwearing. The colour and pattern is present throughout the entire thickness of the tile.
- Glazed porcelain tiles are also dense and hardwearing in comparison to ceramic tiles.
All porcelain tiles are denser and can be quickly identified from a ceramic tile by their weight (when holding similar sized tile). Porcelain tiles are much heavier. Ceramic tiles are usually made using red or white clay and are almost always finished with a glaze. They are lighter, softer and easier to cut than a porcelain tile, and usually carry a PEI zero to three rating. Another quick test to determine a ceramic tile is by wetting it slightly on the back—you’ll find the water will absorb into the tile very quickly.
IS PORCELAIN TILE MORE EXPENSIVE THAN CERAMIC TILE?
Yes. Porcelain tile is more expensive because it is a higher quality product. Porcelain is an extremely hard and non-porous product. It has a water absorption rate of less than 0.5 per cent making it very stain resistant.
IF I DROP SOMETHING ON MY CERAMIC TILE FLOOR IS IT GOING TO BREAK THE TILE?
Ceramic tile is a very durable flooring product when installed correctly. What will most likely happen is the item you drop, like a plate or glass, will break while the tile may just suffer a chip or crack.
ARE GLOSS TILES SLIPPERY?
Tiles are mostly installed in wet areas, and while gloss tiles are no more slippery than matt tile when wet, a non-slip mat in the bathroom is always a good idea.
WHAT'S THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN PORCELAIN AND CERAMIC?
Porcelain is a full-bodied tile—it’s harder than ceramic and can be used on both floors and walls.
Glazed porcelain can be used externally but is dependent on the area of installation as it can be slippery when wet.
Ceramic is a clay base tile and is lighter in weight. While most ceramics are only used on walls, there are some available in a floor tile but the range is limited.