Q. What are the basic types of tile?

Glazed and unglazed Porcelain, Glazed Ceramic, Glass, and Natural Stone

Q. What is the glaze on glazed tiles?

Tile glaze is basically a protective liquid glass coating that’s sprayed or poured onto the surface of the tile before being hardened in an oven. This makes the tile less porous than the unglazed version.

Q. Are unglazed tiles as stain-resistant as glazed tiles?

No, not usually. While there are certain unglazed tiles that are so dense they are almost stain resistant, a glazed tile is practically stain-proof.

Q. Do my tiles need sealing?

There are two very good reasons to seal certain tiles. Firstly, if a tile is quite porous, and most stone tiles are, water can penetrate and permeate through them. While this may or may not affect the structure of the tile, it would certainly create a breeding ground for algae. Secondly, some natural stone will extrapolate effervescence, which will take the form of a white powder that leaches out from the tile. This is caused by the salts in the stone becoming too wet. However, if too much sealant is used and the stone is not allowed to breath then the grouted joints will suffer the effects of effervescence. 

We also find that some porcelain tiles need to be sealed, so our advice would be to check this out with your supplier. Glazed tiles do not need sealing, but the grouted joints can be sealed to keep them looking fresh and cleaner for longer, and also to stop water penetration. 

Q. What is a vitrified tile?

Porcelain and vitrified tiles are one and the same.  A vitrified tile is a full-bodied tile with no surface glazing which allows the colour of the tile to run all the way through. As such, any future accidental chipping would not show up as much as it would on a glazed ceramic tile. These tiles are extremely hard wearing and are very often used in shopping centres because of their resistance to scratches. Because of the full body of these tiles, many different textures can be moulded into the tile to take on a more natural stone look. 

Q. What is a rectified tile?

Rectified tiles are tiles that have been trimmed to exact sizes with a wet saw, and you can usually tell these tiles by their clean, sharp, square edges.  The advantage of this is that each tile is dimensionally accurate and as a result can be laid with a much smaller grout joint.

These tiles can be very unforgiving though, and if you have an uneven wall that isn’t properly prepared they will show up every lump and bump. However, as professionals we go to every length to avoid uneven and “lipped” finishes. The results we have had with theses tiles have been amazing and if done well, they can look absolutely stunning on large wall areas.

Q. What is glazed porcelain?

The latest advancement in porcelain tiles involves blending the benefits of porcelain products (durability and low porosity) with the benefits of ceramics (low maintenance, endless colour range and low production cost) to create a hybrid product called ‘glazed porcelain’. These products have proven to be very popular and are being used more and more.

We have used these hybrid tiles on a number of floors now and have had great results.

Q. Is porcelain better than natural stone?

Nothing compares with the beauty and variation in colour and formation that natural stone offers. However, natural stone tiles are very expensive and, with the exception of granite, they are quite porous. Because of their porous nature, from the moment they’re laid these tiles will require a lot of ongoing maintenance; this is where porcelain tiles have the advantage over stone.

Porcelain tiles are 30% harder than stone tiles and are more durable. They are also less likely to wear and may not require sealing.  Porcelain is a brilliant man-made product, but it will never have the soft feel of stone.

Q. Can I use floor tiles on the wall?

Yes you can. But, when selecting your ceramic tiles just be aware that while floor tiles can be used on walls, wall tiles are specifically produced for walls only.

Wall tiles are not designed to take the extra weight exerted on a floor from foot traffic and furniture.  Because the clay body of wall tiles is porous and not as thick as floor tiles, wall tiles used on floors will probably end up cracking.

Q. Can you use tiles outside?

Jon Bon Jovi released a great album in the late 80’s called “Slippery When Wet”. While the large majority of floor tiles can be used outside, there is a huge selection of great external tiles available with special non-slip surfaces.


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