All You Need To Know About Tiles
Below is every term you will come across when selecting or using a tile. On the ball do our best to make everything in your renovation experience as simple as possible.
A to Z in Tiles
ANTI-SLIP (LOW-SLIP) TILES
Tiles that have been treated, or specifically produced to reduce slipping. Common processes are adding grit to the glaze of a tile, or producing a tile with a structured or rocky surface to a tile. Tiles can also be acid etched to increase the slip resistance factor. Maintenance has an effect on the overall slip resistance e.g. build-up of dirt and grease will decrease the slip-resistance of the tile surface.
All tiles are generally produced in batches. Generally batches will vary slightly in shade and colour and calibration (finished size). A certain degree of shade variation is inherent in all tiles, be it glazed or unglazed. The manufacturer will limit the amount of shade variation in a carton by sorting the tiles as they come off the production line. Manufacturers assign tiles a batch number to identify them as belonging to the same batch. When tiling a continuous area, tiles from the same batch should be used to ensure consistency in shade, colour and calibration. If tiling two or more separate areas then you can get away with different batches but you need to make sure the boxes don’t get mixed up between areas.
Where the edge of a tile is angled rather than perpendicular to the face of the tile.
This is the structural part of the tile (i.e. singular from the glaze), or often the part the industry refers to when talking about the material or mixture from which the item is made.
A trim tile with a rounded edge used to finish wall installations, turn outside corners or applied to the leading edge for some steps.
This is generally made from red or white clay and from slightly different raw materials to porcelain tiles. Ceramic tiles are usually finished with a decorative glaze. Ceramic tiles are used for both wall and floor applications, but are ‘softer’ than porcelain tiles. Generally best suited to lighter wear traffic, ie residential rather than commercial & tend to carry a PEI of 1 to a maximum of 3 rating.
Coloured bodied tiles are created with continuous coloured stains from the glaze surface throughout the body of the tile. Synchronising the colour of both the glaze and body lessens the visibility of any chipping or scratches which may occur. The colour remains consistent throughout the tile, but any surface design does not continue through the tile body.
Tile on which the facial edges have a distinct curvature that results in a slightly recessed joint.
A two-part grout system consisting of epoxy resin and epoxy hardener, especially formulated to have impervious qualities, stain, and chemical resistance.
The final surface applied to the face of a tile that determines its visual and tactile characteristics.
FULL BODIED (THROUGH BODIED) PORCELAIN TILE
This refers to a porcelain tile where the colour and pattern run right through the entire thickness of the tile making it virtually impervious to wear, as the colour or pattern does not change even if the surface is worn down, scratched or chipped. Such tiles are typically suited to high traffic areas and commercial installations.
Glazed tiles are coated with glass-forming minerals and ceramic stains and offer better stain and water resistance than unglazed tiles. Glazed tiles have a hard non-porous, impermeable surface after firing. They can have a matt, semi-gloss or high-gloss finish. These tiles do not require sealing from water, because they are already sealed.
GLAZED CERAMIC TILE
A ceramic biscuit that has been coated with an opaque glaze, usually for decorative purposes. Soft bodied, this is easy to cut and is mainly recommended for walls. Ceramic floor tiles are generally recommended only for residential use and low traffic installations.
A very popular type of indoor tile. The body of the tile is made from porcelain, but colour/decoration is added to the surface for aesthetic purposes. Porcelain tiles are harder, the material more dense and as a result stronger than its ceramic counterpart. Generally, a wet saw is required for cutting during the installation process.
Gloss tiles are sprayed with a glaze that produces a shiny, reflective surface after firing. These tiles resist dirt and stains and are easy to clean. As a result, they work well in high-maintenance areas that require frequent cleaning such as kitchen and bathroom walls.
An undulating, textured finish that provides low-slip qualities, and can resemble natural rock. They are normally used for external areas and places that need extra traction (wet areas, for example).
This is the material used to span the void between tiles. Non-rectified tiles require a joint of around 3mm, whilst rectified tiles can utilise much smaller joints due to the straightness and angularity of the sides. Grout gives strength to the tile installation, and is much more than a utilitarian material as it can affect the overall design and look of a finished installation. The use of an epoxy grout creates a moisture and stain barrier, and it is considered more hygienic than standard grout. See the Design Tips section for more information on picking the right grout.
Honed tiles have a semi-polished to matt look, which is created by polishing using a mechanical procedure which does not remove any material of the tile. The result is a smooth with a soft look and a slightly duller colour than the polished tiles.
Small, sometimes decorative tiles used in combination with larger or plain tiles to create patterns. Small square inserts are also known as a taco or tozzetto.
A condition where one edge of a tile is higher than the adjacent edges, giving the finished surface an uneven appearance.
Narrow decorative border tile, often designed to compliment a range of field tiles.
Matt tiles are smooth and flat and create a more informal and softer look. This finish is created by stopping short of the last stage of polishing. A matt finish shows fewer scratches, and requires very little maintenance.
Has water absorption of 7% or greater. Usually used as a wall covering and suited for indoor, dry area use only.
This rating is established by the Porcelain Enamel Institute to rate the resistance of ceramic tiles to visible surface abrasion. Commonly referred to as “abrasion resistance”, this is the most commonly used industry rating for wear. Ratings go from 1 to 5 with 5 being the most durable. To eliminate the possibility of choosing the wrong product, most manufacturers use the following P.E.I guide to rate the durability of each tile.
- Group 1: Tiles suitable for residential bathrooms where softer footwear is worn.
- Group 2: Tiles suited to general residential traffic, except kitchens, entrance halls, and other areas subjected to continuous heavy use.
- Group 3: Tiles suited for all residential and light commercial areas such as offices, reception areas and boutiques.
- Group 4: Tiles suited for medium commercial and light institutional applications such as restaurants, hotels, hospital lobbies and corridors.
- Group 5: Tiles suitable for heavy traffic and wet areas where safety and maximum performance are a major factor such as exterior walkways, food service, salad bars, building entrances, around swimming pools or shopping centres.
Where the straight edges of a tile have been rounded and softened, giving the tile a pillowed look.
These tiles are shiny, flat and reflective, obtained by polishing the surface with an abrasive wheel until it shines. The process removes up to 1 mm of material from the pressed surface. They are easy to keep clean and are popular for living, dining and bedroom applications
Tiles that are made up of 50% feldspar and fired at a much higher temperature than regular ceramic tiles, which makes it much harder and denser, with a lower absorption rate than other tile products. It is more resistant to scratches and can withstand extreme temperatures. Porcelain tiles are harder, more resistant to stains, scratching & wear than non-porcelain tiles and as such are perfect for all types of installation from light traffic to very heavy commercial wear.
Unlike a typical factory-edged tile, a rectified tile has been cut to size after the firing process. This process creates a precise, 90 degree angle edge and, as a result, can be laid with a tighter grout joint than an un-rectified tile. This gives a smoother, more sophisticated and continuous look to the room overall.
Fully vitrified tiles are made from fine particles and fired to high temperatures (1250 degrees) which results in a denser tile with extremely low porosity (moisture absorption of less than 0.5%). Porcelain stoneware tiles are fully vitrified making a layer of glaze unnecessary for the tile to be impervious to water.
Used to define the excess tiles that may be required to factor in cutting. Generally this is 10% of the quantity required. However if the installation is complicated or involves a lot of cutting or a very large tile is being used, the amount of wastage may need to be increased. It is important to factor in sufficient wastage when you purchase your tiles because if you do find yourself short, you may not be able to get tiles from the same batch later.