An introduction to ceramic tiles

Some say “what you don’t know won’t hurt”. I disagree. That’s why I have decided to write this ABC of ceramic tiles, whose aim is to be a quick reference point for those who want to learn more about this functional material, what types of ceramic are available and what their benefits are, so that you can make an educated decision for your projects.

The term “ceramic tile” is often used as a generic name for all types of tile, but its composition and characteristics vary. Ceramic is made primarily of clay mixed with various minerals and water. The composition is then processed with heat to create the solidified product. Since ceramic material is porous, the top surface is usually sealed with a glaze.

Ceramic tile has been around for centuries, and with today’s manufacturing technology has created new design and application possibilities that were not available a decade ago.  There are several different types of tile out there and they vary in manufacturing process, technical properties and performance.

Glazed tiles

Glazed tiles are the obvious choice for walls in bathrooms, kitchens and laundry areas. Glazed tiles are attractive on conservatory floors and in reception rooms, but may not be suitable for wet or outdoor use or heavy traffic floor areas.

Unglazed tiles

Generally used in domestic and industrial installations, unglazed tiles are available with a slip resistant surface profile for floor tiling in wet areas. They are usually wear, stain and frost resistant, making them ideal for laundry and utility rooms, bathrooms, playrooms and garages.

Porcelain tiles

Extremely attractive and very hard-wearing tiles that have extremely low water absorbency. Available as wall or floor tiles, sometimes glazed often with good anti-slip properties, they can be used internally and, providing they are slip resistant, externally. These tiles are suitable for domestic and commercial use.

Made with special clays and minerals that are kiln-fired at temperatures exceeding 1300° Celsius, porcelain ceramic tiles are harder, denser and more durable than other ceramic tiles. They are typically frost proof and highly stain, scratch and water resistant. Extremely low water absorption precludes normal stains and makes cleaning quicker and easier. Porcelain tiles can be installed in both interior or exterior applications and perform well in heavy traffic areas. In addition to performance, porcelain tiles are aesthetically pleasing and have become one of the most widely specified and selected products for flooring and wall surfaces. They offer a wide selection of sizes and colours to satisfy the needs for most residential and commercial installations.

There are essentially three types of porcelain tile. First, there is glazed porcelain tile in which the body of the tile is fully covered by glaze. Usually the body of the tile is a different colour than the surface and you can tell that by looking at the face of the tile and then turning it over. If the body is of a different colour there is a good chance that it is a glazed porcelain tile. Another type of porcelain tile is colour-core tile. This is where the body is an integral part of the overall colour of the tile. If you see the body colour on the face of the tile you are most likely looking at colour-core porcelain. Thirdly, there is through-colour porcelain tile, consisting of the same colour all the way through the body of the tile. The advantage is that if you scratch the surface you are less likely to see it, because the colour underneath comes through and blends in.

N_Grigio_Chiaro (nat)

Rectified tiles

Rectified tiles are subjected to a mechanical process, consisting in their accurate cutting to specific dimensions, with the accuracy up to +/- 0.3 mm. The main benefits of rectified tiles are:

  • You can rely on the fact that each and every tile has the exact same dimensions of the rest of the production lot, so that you can create patterns.
  • The ”visually jointless” laying is possible. With that said, in view of the water expansion of ceramic tiles, it is recommended to lay the tiles on the joint, which should amount to a minimum of 1 mm in the case of the rectified tiles.

 

Maintenance

Ceramic tiles are essentially a low maintenance material and this is partly the reason of their success.  A handful of rules will help you preserving the beauty of the tiles for as long as possible:

  • Sweep thoroughly and mop with a clean damp mop.
  • If necessary, a mild household detergent can be used.
  • Do not use abrasive cleaners or brushes with hard bristles.
  • Clean up spills immediately.
  • Use the detergent  recommended by their manufacturer, allowing the detergent to remain on the surface of the tile as recommended, and rinse thoroughly with clean water to remove the detergent and the emulsified residue.
  • Choose a product compatible for cleaning the tile and grout at the same time.

If you follow these few simple guidelines, with proper care and attention, a correctly installed, good quality ceramic / porcelain floor tile should give many years trouble-free service.

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In summary, ceramic tile is a practical, low-maintenance and functional material that offers you a unique opportunity for self-expression because of its beauty, flexibility and design potential. It is the ideal choice for high traffic areas and area subject to moisture, including kitchens, bathrooms and basements. Ceramic tiles are extremely durable, hygienic (they do not retain odors, allergens, or bacteria), water-, stain-, and wear-resistant, and easy to clean. Now days, there is an endless array of colours, patterns, shapes, and sizes available.

Because color and design are so important, we at paolo.interiors pride ourselves for selecting the best quality tiles, with an eye on what is aesthetically pleasant and at the same time practical in everyday life, bringing you a wide mixture of colours, sizes, textures, and finishes to express the uniqueness of each and every project.  All our porcelain and ceramic tiles meet the British Standard for ceramic tiles (BS EN 14411 or equivalent).

We call on our experience to provide you with valuable information, delivered in an easy-to-understand way, so you make the best decisions for you and your clients. For more information, do not hesitate to contact us.

N_Grigio_Medio (nat)

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With over 10 years of experience within the industry, Paolo is an expert tile and stone consultant. Driven by the passion of what is aesthetically pleasant and at the same time practical in everyday life, Paolo has a strong voice within the marketplace and he is not afraid to use it.