Tiles - Frequently Asked Questions 

Q: What is the difference between ceramic and porcelain?

Q: What types of tiles are there?

Q: How do I know the difference in quality when choosing a tile?

Q: Is a tile floor cold?

Q: What is the difference between floor and wall tiles?

Q: Can I use wall tiles on the floor?

Q: Can I use floor tiles on the wall?

Q: How do I know which tile is suitable for my application?

Q: What is the difference between glazed and unglazed tiles?

Q: What size tile should I choose?

Q: Are tiles slippery?

Q: What types of tiles can be used outdoors?

Q: How do I know how many tiles I will need?

Q: Should I purchase some spare tiles?

 

Q: What is the difference between ceramic and porcelain?

A: Ceramic tiles are made from a mixture of clays which have been fired at a high temperature to give the tile its hardness. It is then glazed and re-fired or left unglazed depending on their intended use. Ceramic tiles have a water absorption rate of 5% and above. Porcelain tiles are basically a higher grade of ceramic tiles. They are made from finer clay and refined to a higher purity. They are also fired at a higher temperature than Ceramic tiles. Usually around 1200 degrees C. They are a highly durable tile with a low absorption rate usually less than 5%.

It should be noted, all tiles are NOT the same,

just like any product better core materials and manufacture processes produce a higher quality tile that will:

·        install better

·        look better when installed

·        wear better

·        resist stains better

·        be easier to clean and maintain

 

 

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Q: What types of tiles are there?

A: Glazed

Body of the tile is coated with a glaze (usually liquid glass) coloured and blended to offer vast range of choice. Once fired the glaze becomes hard and produces a surface that is stain resistant, scratch resistant, does not fade and is easy to clean. The quality of the glaze, method, and thickness of application/manufacture can vary considerably and have a huge impact on the performance of the tile.


Unglazed

Body tile is fired with no surface coating, surface colour is the same through the complete thickness of the tile, producing a very durable tile that does not usually show the effects of heavy traffic. The most common unglazed tiles are Terracotta tiles or Porcelain tiles which have the same colour on the surface as they do on the back.


Ceramic

Mixture of clays, made glazed or un-glazed but most often glazed. Quality of both clay biscuit and glazed surface can vary in quality substantially.


Quarry

Made from natural clay and in some cases pre-sealed, usually surface is natural clay fired colour and unglazed.


Terracotta

Made from natural clay and in most cases pre-sealed, usually surface is natural clay fired colour and unglazed.


Porcelain

Made from a high quality clay, refined and fired at high temperature, hard wearing, low porosity, usually frost proof with great flexural strength.


Natural Stone

Limestone, sandstone, travertine, marble, granite and slate are natural products which are quarried from the earth, they are either volcanic or sedimented and can vary in hardness. In most cases these may require sealing and maintenance.


Mosaics

These can be made using porcelain, ceramic, glass or natural stone.


Agglomerate

Manufactured using marble or granite chips usually mixed with polyester resin or epoxy.


Conglomerate

Manufactured or naturally sedimented combining pebbles, stone etc. usually mixed and/or bonded with cement.

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Q: How do I know the difference in quality when choosing a tile?

A: There are many key elements to a quality tile. These differences are often not easily detectable by the consumer during the selection process but certainly can become apparent during installation and in the future years of use. The porosity and strength will vary. The glaze will also vary in quality and hardness. Size, straightness and calibration in a lower quality tile will often be inconsistent. All tiles are NOT the same, there are differences that will only become apparent during and after installation and over time and use. It is very important to understand just like ANY product all tiles are NOT the same.

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Q: Is a tile floor cold?

A: A tile, whether it be ceramic, porcelain or natural stone is usually a good retainer of heat. Therefore it can be the warmest floor in your home or building. It also depends on the air/substrate temperature under the floor and the exposure to sunlight etc. Under-floor heating is a good option to warm your floor and can also provide an efficient, effective heating solution that gives you comfort throughout your home, therefore fulfilling your complete heating requirement.

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Q: What is the difference between floor and wall tiles?

A: Floor tiles are of a higher quality and hardness level than wall tiles, and can stand up to the floor environment. Usually Grade or PEI rating 3, 4 and 5 are suitable for floor use. Floor tiles are designed to bear weight and endure foot traffic. Wall tiles are usually thinner to allow for easier more practical use.

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Q: Can I use wall tiles on the floor?

A: No, they have softer biscuit and glazes, they can chip and crack in that environment. In most cases wall tiles do not have grade or PEI ratings, they are only suitable for wall applications.

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Q: Can I use floor tiles on the wall?

A: Yes, floor tiles can be used on the wall. They are in most cases larger and thicker so consideration will have to be given to the thickness of architraves, scotias etc. In some cases the type of wall boarding and fastening will also need to be considered.

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Q: How do I know which tile is suitable for my application?

A: You will need to consider all the use and conditions your application is going to subject the tile to.

See our section on: ‘Things to consider to select the right product.’

It is a good idea to list all your requirements and discuss with an experienced and competent person.

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Q: What is the difference between glazed and unglazed tiles?

A: Glazed tiles are coated with a liquid which is baked onto the clay. Glazes provide a huge range of colours and designs and can protect the tile from staining. An unglazed tile is not surface coated, the surface is the same as the body of the tile. There are various surface options ranging from matt or honed to polished. Unglazed tile often does not show wear as the colour extends through the tile.

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Q: What size tile should I choose?

A: This all depends on the look you would like to create, the size of the area you are tiling. You can create many different looks and illusions with tile, using different sizes, shapes and colour. You may like to consider if you would like to accentuate the dimension of the tile, perhaps even contrast grout colour. If your tile has a natural pattern perhaps this is self defeating. A larger tile can help an area to appear larger as there are fewer grout joints.

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Q: Are tiles slippery?

A: There are many different surface finishes so the result can vary. Tile is about as slippery as vinyl or wood. Naturally, if the floor gets wet any of these hard surfaced materials will become slippery. It is important to select the right tile for your requirement, eg. interior or exterior, wet or dry, level or gradient. There are many tiles that have slip resistant surfaces. But keep in mind, that the more abrasive the surface is the more difficult it may be to maintain.

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Q: What types of tiles can be used outdoors?

A: Most tiles that are frost resistant may be used outdoors. However, if your outdoor area is not covered over for safety reasons it is recommended that they are slip resistant to an appropriate degree.

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Q: How do I know how many tiles I will need?

A: Calculating the tiles required can be done in many different ways as there are many different ways in which the tiles may be installed. The installation pattern can vary the quantity of tile required. If you know the size of the tile you will be using and how you want to set out the area you can count exactly how many tiles you will require. Or you can calculate the area of each wall area and/or floor area and add between 5% and 15% allowance for cuts and wastage. It is always beneficial to have your installer complete a site measure for accuracy. This is very important. If you purchase too many tiles they usually cannot be returned. It is a good idea to allow spare tiles as the same batch will never be available again and you may require some for future purposes.

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Q: Should I purchase some spare tiles?

A: It is always a good idea to purchase and hold on to a few spare tiles. As they are made in ‘batches’ your tiles are one of a kind, the same batch will never be available again. Spare tiles will be very handy in the future for a repair, alteration or addition that may be required.

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