Ceramic Tile Walls and Floors
2011 Shawn Cole. All Rights Reserved. This material may
not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)
Different Types of Tile
There are many types of tile available
at the stores from which to choose. The following is an over-all
description of the different types of tiles.
Quarry tile comes in a variety of
colors such as orange and red with varying thicknesses. These
tles are manufactured with or without a glaze on the top surface.
They are impervious to grease, liquids, and easy to care for.
They are extremely durable.
There is a wide variety of designs and tile finishes. Some tiles
have very little texture while others have a deep design impressed into
the tile. These tiles are made from clay or a mixtue of clay and
other materials which are then kiln-fired. Tiles referred to as
"ceramic tile" are suitable for very light to moderate traffic.
They hae a high water absorption rating making them not suitable for
outdoor use. Ceramic tiles are more prone to wear and chipping
than porcelain tiles.
The tiles are available in three basic finishes
gloss finishes are very shiny but will
show scratches. This finish does not hold up well ina high
traffic area where small stones or dirt on your shoes will easily
scratch this surface.
finishes are not shiny and have a dull surface
appearance. This surface does not show scratches and is very
suitable for medium traffic areas. If you prefer a more shiny
appearance, there are finishes and sealers on the market that will add
a little shine to the tile surface.
finishes look as if they have two layers
Porcelain tiles are also classified as ceramic tiles. They are
made by pressing dust from porcelain clays into a tile. This
results in a dense textured tile which is impervious to liquid and has
a fine grain with a smooth texture on the top surface of the
tile. These tiles are frost resistant and uphold well in cold
areas such as unheated porches and outdoors in milder climates than
Illinois. Porcelain tiles are available in matte, unglazed,
glazed or a high polished finish. Some basic characteristics of
porcelain tiles are:
tiles are much harder
than non-porcelain ceramic tiles, making thema choice for the heaviest
residential and light commercial traffic areas. Glazed tiles are
coated with a liquid glass which is then baked in a kiln into the top
surface of the tile. The glazing process is what provides the
wide variety of colors and designs of the tiles. Glazed tiles are
stain proof so there is no need to apply a sealer to the tiles as is
sometimes done with unglazed tiles.
tiles are similar to the glazed tiles
except the surfae is not coated
body porcelain tiles mean that the color and the
pattern are not just on the surface but are throughout the entire
thickness of the tile. This means that this type of tile is
impervious to wear and an excellent choice in high traffic areas
in both residential to industrial applications
Manufacturers make tiles with 5 different classifications known as the
PEI Rating System. The classifications are not a rating on the
quality of the tile but only used to help categorize which specific
tile should be selected for a particular use known as a "wear
rating". This rating system explains the mystery of why porcelain
tiles that look the same vary so much in price. Some tiles are
manufactured for light traffic areas while others are manufactured to
hold up under extreme heavy traffic and abrasions.
The building owner can use this rating system to determine which tile
should be purchased for the area the tiles are to be installed
Purhasing a tile with a Class 1 rated for light traffic would not be
suitable to use in an entrance which receies heavy traffic. The
higher the durability to wear explains why some tiles will cost
more even though they may look identical to the less costly tile.
|No foot traffic
|Use these tiles for wall tile
only. These tiles should never be used as floor tiles
|Very light traffic
|Walk on these tiles with bare
feet only. Used in master bathroom floor tile
|Walk on these tiles with
soft-soled shoes or slippers. Use in bothroom flooring
|Light to moderate traffic
|These tiles are used in any area
of residences but ar enot suitable for entrances or kitchens where
there is more traffic in that area
|Moderate to heavy traffic
|These tiles are excellent for
entrances and kitchens and where dirt and abrasive substances clinging
to shoes may be encountered. This rating is also good for
|This is the tile rating for
tiles to be used in entrances, high traffic areas, and commercial
buildings subject to heavy foot traffic.
Since tiles are manufactured by many different companies, it is
important for the building owner to be able to determine the quality of
the tiles. While most tile stores and large stores such as
Menards, Lowe's and Home Depot should only stock quality tiles, it is
still the responsibility of the purchaser to determine the quality of
the tiles you are purchasing. The following information will take
the mystery out of choosing quality tiles.
First determine the PEI rating of the tile for which are you are
interested. Be sure the PEI rating matches where you are
installing the tile based on the durability and traffic area to be
on the box.
DO NOT ASSUME that just because the boxes are next to each other or on
the same pallet, they are from the same manufacturing "run".
Tiles manufactured in different "runs" may not be identical in color,
etc. The differences between manufacturing runs (the amount of
tile mixed, dried, coated, etc., are exactly the same) Your eye
may or may not detect the differences in color or pattern if you lay
them down on the floor in the store.What looks identical in the
store lighting with different run numbers, may show the
differences with different lighting in your building. This isnot
the same as buying paint at different times because the paint is mixed
by a computer to ensure the exact color match. Be sure that
there is a sufficient quantity of tiles of your project.
sure to purchase about 20% more tile than you think you need.
to be cut near the wall and you cannot
assume that one tile can be cut in two pieces and each used. One
piece may require cutting at more than 50% of the tile and the
remaining is scrap. You can always return unused boxes through it
is a good idea to keep an extra box or two. A kitchen ceramic
floor could be damaged if you drop a cast iron pan on one of the
tiles. Remember it is easier to replace one damaged tile
than have to replace an entire floor because of wear damaged tiles.
about 16 tiles on the floor of the store. Look
at the individual tiles from different angles. Can you see any
blotches or blemishes? Do the tiles appear the same or do some
stand out as different? Good quality ties will appear the same
without outstanding imperfections.
at the edges of the tiles Good quality
tile has straight edges. Check that none of the tiles have the
appearance of wavy thicknesses across the edge of the tile. Check
that the tile is not bowed. Look down the edge of the tile.
Is the edge straight? If not, after the tile is grouted, the
grout will eppear wider ins ome areas of the tile and thinner in others.
16 tiles on the floor in the store and walk on them. Do
any seem to depress under your weight? Did nay of th tiles
crack? This is the easiest way to determine that the tiles are
the tiles the same size? Look at the tiles
laid out on the floor. Your eye can detect if the tiles are not
the same size. Quality tiles should not vary more than 1/32 of an
inch. More than that, your eye will catch the wavy line of grout
your hand across the tiles on the floor. Do any of
the tiles feel "thicker" at the edges than others. If so, this is
called "lippage". Your eye will catch the difference in the
thicknesses at the dge of the tile after grouting. If there is
enough of a difference, your bare feet will feel the difference.
No amount of grout will correct this tile imperfection.
imperfections. Walkaround the tile laying on
the floor. Does you eye catch any imperfections that look like a
dimple or that the glaze appears to be missing on the surface?
Thee imperfections are caused when dirt is on the surface prior to
glazing or the actual surface of the tile is not coated
properly. Some manufacturers separate tiles with imperfections
into different grades. Other manufacturers simply ignore the
imperfections and package the perfect tiles with the imperfect tiles.
the grade of the tile.
This is used to determine the quality of the tile. Look for
the box to be stamped "standard grade" to ensure quality tiles.
Standard grade mans that the ceramic tile has passed a visual
inspection for color and consistency and warping at a distance of three
(3) feet. If the box is marked "second grade", it means that the
tile was visually inspected at a distance of ten (10) feet.
Second grade tile may contain an irregular glaze, irregular
thickness, or defective color match within the same run or batch.
Purchasing tiles at a reputable store, you should never see boxes
stamped "second grade".
back that are unique to the manufacturer.
a different pattern to distinguish its tile from
other manufacturers. This pattern does not affect the ability of
the tile to be cemented to the floor or wall.
to 3/4 inch thick. The thicker
the better. The thicker tile willb e more expensive
larger the tile, the easier it may crack.
Imperfections in the flatness of the floor underneath the tile will put
more stress on the larger tiles than the smaller tiles. An 8 inch
x 8 inch tile will usually withstand imperfections better than a larger
12 x 12 inch or 18 x 18 inch tile. Being an apartment
building owner myself, I would recommend never putting in a tile floor
with tile larger than 12 x 12 inches. Tenants are usually not
careful about how they treat the flooring and have een known to
be down-right brutal in the damaging flooring. This is another
reason to always keep extra replacement tiles. A little more
expensive in buying etra tiles can forestall or prevent having a tenant
damage do many tiles that the entire floor must be replaced.
only the tile that has been rated as "slip resistant" by the
manufacturer's laboratory test. Slip resistance is defined as the
amount of resistance tile offers a shoe sole material to the flooring
material wet or dry. Avoid installation of high gloss glaze tile
on heavily used floors with high foot traffic. The high shine
glazes scratch easily and are very slippery when wet.
- Seal the group
after installation This is especially
important when using white grout. Sealing the grout will keep the
color looking as it was when installed.
- Test the
hardness of the tile yourself by using the Moh
Hardness test to determine what material scratches the tile. Any
floor tile rated over "6" is good for a floor tile.
|Gypsum (or a fingernali)
|Calcite (or a copper penny)
|Apatite (or window glass)
|Feldspar (or a steel file)