Types of Tile Materials You Should Know
Tile is one of the most favorite design materials for both kitchen renovation and bathroom renovation. It has been used since Roman times, and even though excellent man-made materials have become popular in recent years, tile is still valued for its beauty and cost-saving potential. All tile can be classed into four main types: ceramic/porcelain, glass, quarry, and stone.
Ceramic and Porcelain Tile: Workhorses of the Tile World
Best for low-cost surfacing with an almost infinite choice of styles, when we talk about tile being cost-effective, we are talking about ceramic tile. While not all ceramic tile is cheap, it is possible to find bargain ceramic tile which still can add to the beauty of your home. Ceramic tile starts with clay—shale, gypsum, and sand—and is worked into a material called bisque. The bisque is shaped into tiles and is fired in a kiln up to 2500 F. The higher the temperature, the stronger the tile will be. By its very nature, ceramic tile is porous. So a glaze must be applied to the tile and then the tile is fired again to harden the glaze. Sometimes, the glaze is applied before the bisque is fired for the first time.
Glass Tile: Bright, Shiny, Beautiful
Best for creating showy, flashy, fun vertical surfaces, glass mosaic, often associated with design trends of the early 2000s, still holds firm as the tile of choice for limited vertical surfaces that get lots of attention. It is commonly used for kitchen and bathroom backsplashes. Because it cracks under pressure, glass mosaic is not appropriate for floors. Most mosaic glass comes attached to a web backing that allows you to install one square foot at a time. Glass tile has a sparkling, lustrous beauty that cannot be matched in other types of tile materials.
Quarry Tile: Tough and Traditional
Best for outdoor flooring and indoor floorings such as foyers and hallways, in the past, quarry tile came from quarries. Just like you see in old photographs of Vermont quarries, the tile was cut away, ground, and polished. But now manufacturers use the extrusion method for making a vitreous clay tile that is almost as hard as natural stone.
Quarry tile has a rough surface, which means that it is perfect for flooring because it provides a good grip. But it also means that quarry tile is not good for kitchen countertops because it is very porous. However, even though quarry tile can be sealed to make it less porous, it is still not appropriate for food preparation surfaces.
Stone: All-Natural Beauty
Best for kitchens and bathrooms. In recent years, granite has become the big winner in the kitchen design sweepstakes. It should be noted, though, that granite looks great but it does have its problems. Granite easily cracks, and like quarry tile it is porous, so it must be sealed and polished on a regular basis. Not only that, granite and marble are easily scratched and are not always resistant to high temperatures such as those from hot kitchen pots.
Still, the variegated coloring and texture of natural stone cannot be duplicated by ceramic tile. It is endlessly fascinating and provides unique design accents for your house. So, despite natural stone’s shortcomings, it still wins out from a design perspective. Natural stone can be inhospitable to bare feet when used in bathrooms. This is why installation of radiant heating mats under the stone is highly recommended for bathrooms.
How do you prepare a surface for tiling?
Once you have decided on your tiles, it is time to prepare your surfaces so they are ready for tiling. Having a clean, smooth surface is very important to give you the best start – but what does this involve.
- Using a hammer and bolster or stripping knife, remove any current tiles or wallpaper from the surface.
- Assess the condition of the wall; check that it is flat and that any holes or cracks are minor. If required, repair the holes and cracks with plaster.
- For any exposed studwork or new boxing, apply appropriate cement backer boards to the surface with adhesive or screws as per the manufacturer’s instructions, This will help with waterproofing and make them level for tiling.
- Most types of tile adhesive will require the surface to be sealed prior to applying adhesive. Check the manufacturer’s instructions first.
At this stage, seek out advice from professionals if required – ensuring this foundation work is correct will decide whether your tiling is a success.
Porcelain tiles are also made of clay with a smattering of sand and feldspar and baked in the kiln. But they are baked at higher temperatures, making them more dense and durable.
What you need to know about porcelain tiles
- Scratch resistant
- Stain resistant
Where can you use porcelain tiles
- Kitchen backsplash
- Wall cladding
- Wall decor
- In outdoor areas
What are the dos and don’ts of maintaining porcelain tiles
The cleaning and maintenance for ceramic and porcelain tiles are almost the same as they are made from similar materials. The only difference between these two types of tiles is that porcelain being the stronger version requires less maintenance than ceramic.
Why Use Porcelain Tiles?
Porcelain is a lot more dense than ceramic and has a much lower moisture content, making it perfect for both walls and floors thanks to its extremely durable nature. A ceramic tile is pressed at 300kg/cm2, whereas a porcelain tile is pressed up to 500kg/cm2. By increasing the pressure during the pressing process, voids and cavities within the bisque are reduced which makes the tile less porous and suitable for external use.The low absorption rate also means that it’s ultra-hygienic and stain resistant too.
Porcelain tiles have a much longer average lifespan than ceramic tiles too – providing they’re kept under ‘normal’ conditions, they will last for hundreds of years (a general rule of thumb says 1mm of thickness = 100 years wear. By way of comparison, ceramic tiles will endure for around 3 – 20 years (dependant on ‘traffic’).
Whilst it’s not unusual to use ceramic tiles on floors, the durability and hardwearing qualities of porcelain tiles makes them a popular choice. Not only that, developments in tile printing technology has meant that there are now a huge variety of porcelain tiles available that faithfully replicate natural materials such as slate, marble, and timber, as well as man-made composites such as concrete and even ferrous metals, only minus any of the associated maintenance.
How To Care For Porcelain Tiles
Providing you have followed the installation advice applicable to the particular porcelain tiles you’ve purchased i.e. sealing if required, then the tiles should be extremely easy to care for once they’re installed. For porcelain tiles with gloss or satin finishes, simply wipe down with a damp cloth and warm water and dry or buff with a soft towel to keep them looking their shiny best. For porcelain tiles with matt or riven finishes, use the same method but minus the buffing.