Since early civilization, tile has been used by builders for its durability, practicality and beauty. Today, tile still embodies these functional and aesthetic properties. Whether it is an old world charm you are looking for or a post-modern look and feel, designing with tile offers endless possibilities.
Ceramic tiles comes in two basic groups:
glazed , and unglazed
Difference between glazed and unglazed tile : Glazed tiles -are made the same as unglazed except that a glass wearlayer called a "glaze" is fused to its surface by means of tremendous heat. Unglazed tiles -are true inlaids. They are simply baked pieces of clay whose colors run throughout the body.
Most glazed tiles are not suited for herby commercial installations. They are generally suited for light residential to medium commercial use, but there are exceptions. Technology for glazed has improved dramatically over the past few years. There are some new glazes on the market that are hard and durable enough for the use in heavy commercial applications.
Advantages of glazed tiles:
The glaze offers the manufacturers the ability to produce an unlimited array of beautiful colors and designs.
The non-porous glaze creates a smooth surface that's practically stain proof.
Unglazed tiles are the work horses of the industry. They are generally thicker and denser than glazed tiles. They include such products as:
Quarry Tiles and Porcelains.
The tough inlaid qualities of most unglazed tiles make them ideally suited for, but not limited to, extra heavy commercial installation.
Many customers appreciate the natural qualities and beauty of unglazed tiles and choose them for residential areas.
Generally, the color range in unglazed tiles are limited to the natural colors of the clay...ranging from a light sand to a red brick, but there are exceptions.
Some manufacturers achieve a wide range of beautiful colors by mixing color pigment in with the clay.
Advantages of unglazed tiles:
Superior strength for heavy commercial use as well as residential.
The rugged surface texture and mat finish of the unglazed tiles give them good "slip resistant" qualities for use in wet areas.
Description of various popular tiles:
These are unglazed tiles made from natural clays and shale.
Their colors are usually limited to earthtones, ranging from red to a light tan, although some manufacturers offer a wider color range by adding color pigments to the clay.
Their body is both thick and dense, making them a popular choice for both heavy commercial and residential installations.
Their surface generally has good slip resistant qualities.
Porcelain tiles are made up of special clays and minerals similar to those found in china ware.
The special clays allow the product to be fired at extreme temperatures (2500 degrees F) resulting in a denser and harder body than most other tiles.
They are highly stain resistant and strong.
They come with a plain, rough, or polished finish.
The combination of beauty and durability makes them ideal for heavy commercial and residential installations.
These are either handmade or machine made pavers.
The machine made terra-cottas are much denser than the handmade tiles and can usually be installed outdoors as they are frost resistant.
The most popular handmade tile is the Saltillo tile from Mexico. (Saltillo tile is not frost resistant and can not be installed outdoors):
Saltillo tiles are crudely made, varying widely in size, shade and texture from one to another. Occasionally, they will even be marked with animal tracks.
These handmade tiles are very poroous and must be sealed and waxed to prevent staining and wear.
The colors range from terra-cotta to yellow to brown. Additional colors can also be achieved with the use of stains.
Mosaic tiles are small tiles, less than 6 square inches in size.
They come mounted on perforated paper sheets or latex mesh for easy installations.
They are usually very dense products that are tough and highly stain resistant.
Mosaics are ideal for shower floors because their small size gives them the flexibility to follow the contour of the floor as it slopes to the drain. The numerous grout joints also aid in slip resistant.
Their toughness and stain resistance also makes them ideal for counter tops.
While most quarry, porcelain, terra-cotta and mosaic tiles are unglazed, all of them can be produced with a glaze.
Any ceramic tile is suitable for walls, but the very thin, high glossed and decorative tiles are most commonly used.
The most popular size for wall tile is still 4 1/4" x 4 1/4" but there appears to be a trend taking place for larger, more luxurious tiles.
Wall tiles have a very soft glaze and porous body and therefore should never be used on floors or for outdoor applications.
These tiles, glazed or unlglazed, have the sufficient strength, impact and abrasion resistance to withstand weight and foot traffic.
They are usually thicker, denser and heavier than wall tiles.
If the substrate is strong enough to support the weight, floor tiles may also be used on walls and counter tops.
Various Gloss Levels
Glazed ceramic tile varies in gloss levels depending on the look the manufacturer wants to achieve. It can range from a mat, to a satin, to a high gloss.
GENERALLY speaking, the higher the gloss, the softer the glaze. Areas of the home that don't receive heavy wear, such as bathrooms, use a higher gloss level than area such as kitchens