Types of tiles – Some concise tips to help choosing tiles for your renovationNovember 11, 2019
By George Abou-Haidar
Technically, most tile types are “ceramic”, that is, they are made from natural clay that is mixed with water and moulded, then baked in a kiln. It is the density of the clay, manufacturing process and additives used in manufacturing that define tiles. Hence, ceramic tiles are generally characterised as porcelain (also “Vitrified”) or non porcelain.
Non porcelain ceramic:
- Made from natural clay that is mixed with water and moulded.
- Contain a glazed finish to add protection from water and scratches
- Baked in a kiln until hardened.
- Comes in a wide variety of colours and sizes
- More cost effective than other tile types
- Fairly easy to maintain
- Usually made with bevelled edges
- The glazing is usually not the same colour as the tile, and if chipped, will expose the contrast in colour.
- Final tile size may vary, even if baked in the same batch. This is due to the heating and cooling of the natural materials in the manufacturing process.
- Not as resistant to moister or damage when compared to porcelain.
Porcelain (or vitrified) ceramic
The term “Vitrified” refers to tiles with low porosity, that is, their water absorption is mainly less than 0.5 %, resulting in less moisture absorption. Porcelain ceramic tiles can be also known as vitrified tiles, and the terms are sometimes used interchangeably to describe the same type of tile
- Made with dense clay and silica
- Can be glazed or un-glazed, with the glaze being added in the baking process
- Can be manufactured in several ways:
- Soluble salt: The tile is printed with liquid colour screen printing technology and then polished. This type of tile can be described as being halfway between full body and glazed.
- Double charge: Made of two pressed colours resulting in a thick design on top. Good for high traffic areas.
- Full Body: Colour is baked throughout the entire tile, resulting in uniform colour inside and out.
- Glazed: Made with a glazed surface that can be imprinted with any design pattern that does not require any sealing after manufacture.
- Porcelain tiles are denser, harder, more resistant to damage and scratching, making them more durable than non porcelain ceramic
- They are more resistant to moister, particularly the glazed
- The “full body” type does not result in contrasting colours when chipped or damaged. Therefore damage is usually almost unnoticeable
- They are said to be more allergy friendly than non porcelain ceramic
- Glazed versions are less slip resistant
- All types are significantly more expensive than non porcelain ceramic
- They are generally heavier than non porcelain tiles, and therefore a little harder to work with
- Final tile size may vary in the same batch. This is due to the heating and cooling of the natural materials in the manufacturing process.
The term “rectified” simply refers to a tile with mechanical edge finishing. Because of the nature of the baking process (see “disadvantages” above), tiles may not be uniform in size. By mechanically finishing the edges, this problem is eliminated and the tile gains a more precise facial dimension.
- Rectified tiles are guaranteed to be the same intended size and shape
- Have a square edge, making them easier to lay close together and therefore decreasing the size of grout lines
- Some people prefer bevelled edges