Material and Types
Tiles can be made from different materials. However, there are some standard types. Tiles are manufactured as a piece of hard-wearing material using ceramic, stone, metal, glass, or various types of clay. The following tile materials can be found around the world.
Ceramic and Porcelain
Ceramic and porcelain tiles differ namely on water absorption rates. Tile that absorbs water at a slower rate is normally called porcelain, and is best for high-moisture spaces like bathrooms. Porcelain tiles are produced from a finer, denser, more impervious clay then ceramic. They’re fired at higher temperature, making them stronger, harder and more damage resistant than non-porcelain ceramic tiles. Ceramic tiles are usually produced by firing red or white clay in a kiln, and coating with a durable glaze which carries the color and pattern. While ceramic tiles are not suitable for outdoor use, they can be used in areas of light to moderate traffic. Also, ceramic tiles are not as hard as porcelain, so they can be cut easier.
Glazed Wall Tile
Glazed tiles are typically used for wall applications, and the most popular being subway tiles with width-to-height ratio of about 2:1. Glazed tiles are usually ceramic or porcelain. They are normally fired at a high temperature to create a dense, durable tile that’s resistant to moisture. The process of glazing allows for brighter colors and can create a glass-like surface. With glazed tiles, it’s important to remember that PEI Wear Ratings will tell you if the tile is best suited for walls.
Natural Stone Tile
The tiles remain popular today due to their ability to withstand wear and tear while retaining their specific characteristics. Normally, stone wall tiles are made from granite, marble, slate, a specific kind of limestone. These work well where moisture is not a concern. Natural stone tile will have rectified edges. They can be heavy, and all stone tiles are porous. It’s important to remember sealing before installation is complete. Natural stone tiles can be found in a variety of commercial and residential properties and applications, mainly in kitchens, bathrooms, and hallways.
Porosity & Firing
Porosity is the ratio of voids to solids in a tile, which affects the percentage of water absorbed into a tile. The denser the tile, the less water it absorbs. The classifications for the porosity of tile are: impervious (least absorbent), vitreous, semi-vitreous and non-vitreous (most absorbent). It’s important to understand a tile’s porosity because many spaces may require moisture-proof applications. For example, porous tile shouldn’t be used outdoors where cold weather produces freeze / thaw cycles.
The firing process affects the hardness of tile. Usually, hotter the firing and the longer it’s fired for, the harder the tile will be. For single-fired tiles, the glaze is applied to the raw material and baked once in a kiln. Double-fired tiles are thicker. After color or decoration is added, the tile is baked a second time.
Tile hardness ratings help you determine the right tile for a space. For instance, baths require a moisture-proof, nonslip material, while entryways need a hard, abrasion-resistant, moisture-proof tile. Some types of tile are harder than others, so tile is rated by a series of standardized tests. These tests evaluate a tile’s relative hardness, its ability to stand up to wear and the percentage of water absorbed. While some tiles are rated for indoor or outdoor use only, others can be used in either application.
The Porcelain Enamel Institute hardness ratings are:
Class I – No foot traffic. These tiles are for wall-only applications.
Class II – Light traffic. Interior residential and commercial wall applications. These are for areas where little abrasion occurs, such as bathrooms.
Class III – Light to moderate traffic. Use these in residential settings with normal foot traffic. They are also ideal for countertops and walls.
Class IV – Moderate to heavy traffic. These tiles are acceptable for all home use in addition to medium commercial or light institutional use.
Class V – Heavy to extra heavy traffic. Approved tile for all residential applications, heavy commercial work and institutional foot traffic.