There are three main types of ceramic tiles: Glazed, unglazed and porcelain.
- Glazed tiles are coated with glass forming minerals and ceramic stains. These tiles offer better stain and moisture resistance than unglazed tiles. Usually they come in a matte, semi-gloss or high-gloss finish. High gloss finishes can be slippery when wet and scratch easily. Matte and textured finishes however will have more traction, not scratch so easily and make dirt less visible.
- Unglazed tiles are very hard and dense. Generally, unglazed tiles are used on the exterior of the premises. These tiles do not provide a lot of protection against stains when compared to glazed tiles but they have good slip resistance. It is a good idea to seal these tiles to help prevent staining.
- Porcelain tiles comprise of 50% feldspar and are fired at much higher temperatures during the manufacturing process. The higher the temperature a tile is fired the stronger the tile. Therefore, these tiles are very durable, more resistant to scratches and can withstand extreme temperatures. Porcelain is naturally stain resistant because it is non-porous and has low water absorption ratings. Porcelain tiles can therefore be used for interior and exterior applications including heavy use and commercial areas.
Porcelain tiles contain all the benefits of ceramic tiles but due to their composition, they can be pressed at higher pressures and fired at higher temperatures. Remember the higher the temperature, the stronger the tile.
Porcelain tiles have higher impact resistance, stain resistance, and frost resistance. For more information, refer to porcelain tiles under ceramic tiles above.
There are three types of porcelain tiles:
The process of manufacture for glazed porcelain is very similar to glazed ceramic tiles. The only difference is the raw materials used. Glazed porcelain uses higher grades of clay, making the body slip of the tile better in quality.
Due to the quality of the raw materials being greater than ceramic tiles, the temperature and pressing rate of the these tiles is higher than ceramic tiles.
In other words, the tile is less porous and much harder than ceramic tiles. These tiles are therefore very durable and carry a high PEI (Porcelain Enamel Institute) rating.
With glazed porcelain the colour and design of the tile is printed onto the tile and then the tile is covered with a glaze and fired at high temperatures. Think of the tile in two parts: the first is the base of the tile (the body slip or tile bisque) and the second is the pattern and/or colour that are glazed onto the tile.
- Full Bodied:
Full-bodied porcelain tiles carry the pattern and/or colour of the tile from front to back. In other words, the tile has the same design all the way through the tile.
In manufacturing these tiles, the colours and/or patters are mixed into the clay in the beginning of the process. Then the powder is placed into the mold before being pressed and fired in a kiln.
These tiles are more expensive than glazed porcelain tiles because of the amount of raw materials used throughout the entire tile.
These tiles are used in high traffic areas such as shopping malls, office corridors, and hospitals.
- Double-glazed (Loaded) or double charged:
Due to the expenses related to full bodied tiles, a cheaper alternative is offered by double charged tiles. The process of manufacture is similar to full bodied tiles except that when the coloured clay is placed into the mold, it is only filled half of the way. The other half is filled with uncoloured clay and therefore reduced the costs of raw materials. These two layers are then pressed and fired.
Natural Stone comes from three basic kinds of rock:
- Sedimentary, from which we get travertine and limestone;
- Igneous from which we get granite;
- Metamorphic from which we get slate and marble.
All natural stone tiles require sealing.
- Travertine is crystallised limestone. It has a lot of surface pitting due to its honeycomb structure. The pits of travertine can be filled with resin or grout to give the tile a solid surface. If left unfilled the surface is much more textured.
- Limestone is “young” marble and is formed from seashells and sediment. One can expect a certain amount of surface pitting and edge chipping. It is best used in bathrooms, dining rooms, and hallways.
- Sandstone is made up of loose grains of quartz sand that are rough in texture. Sandstone is very porous despite being a very hard tile and must be thoroughly sealed.
- Granite is the hardest of all flooring applications. It is nearly as hard and durable as a diamond. High gloss finishes will resist scratching and etching making it a perfect choice for the kitchen floors.
- Marble is crystalised limestone. It is soft enough to be sculpted with simple tools but hard enough to last many lifetimes. Marble carries with it the history of Rome and Greece and provides a sense of sophistication to any room.
- Slate is comprised of clay, quartz, and shale. It is very dense and can be used for floors, walls, and roofs. Slate is water resistant and is therefore great for exterior applications such as patios and swimming pools.
- Manufactured Stone is made from natural stone chips that are bonded together. These products offer the natural look of stone but are stain and scratch resistant, provide consistency and strength and are practically maintenance free. No sealing is required.
NATURAL STONE FINISHES
Different finishes provide further diversity within the natural stone categories.
- Polished Surface creates a mirror like shine. Granite, marble, and limestone are often polished and require varying degrees of maintenance to retain their shine.
- Honed Surface produces a matte or stain finish. Fewer scratches will be shown and the tiles require little maintenance. Slate, limestone, and marble are your best choices for this finish.
- Acid Wash Finish creates an antique look. Scratches are barely shown with this finish and most stones can be acid washed.
MOSAICS & LISTELLOS
Mosaics are decorative and are made from small pieces of coloured glass, natural stone, ceramic, porcelain, and metal. Mosaics are generally fashioned into small square pieces that are fixed to a mesh backing in columns and rows. Hence, mosaics are generally sold in sheets.
The mesh backing protects the tiles on installation, allows the pieces to be cut to fit specific areas while ensuring the grout gap between each small mosaic tile is uniform. The colour palette for mosaics is huge. Nearly every colour imaginable is available.
Listello is derived from the Italian word meaning “decorative border”. It specifically refers to natural stone, ceramic, porcelain or metallic borders. They typically have an interlocking pattern and are often created in a poured or molded form that gives the tiles a rich, textured, and three-dimensional form. Listellos come in all shapes and sizes and are predominately fixed to walls or floors piece by piece.
Mosaics and listellos are used to accent wall or floor tiles. They are popular for kitchen splash-backs, bathrooms, and showers to provide a break or border in the tiles giving the room something extra. Mosaics are often used in shower floors because the many grout joints provide an anti-slip texture.
Tile adhesive is made of cement, sand and special additives. It comes in a powder form, is generally mixed with water to a paste like consistency, and is used to fix tiles, natural stone, mosaics, and listellos to different surfaces.
Tile adhesives are used to fix tiles to wall and floor areas in residential buildings, commercial buildings, hospitals, industrial plants, swimming pools, and so forth.
Bonding additives are specially formulated to be used in conjunction with cement-based adhesives and grout for areas of complicated application such as areas that are consistently wet. High traffic areas or where increased flexibility and strength are required are further examples.
Adhesives come with various curing times ranging from 6 hours, 12 hours, and 24 hours. Depending on the type of product being fixed, its location, the amount of foot traffic and other considerations determine which adhesive is best suited for the job.
Our highly trained sales representatives will assist you with the advice needed in choosing the correct application for your products.
Grout is used to fill the joints between the floor and/or wall tiles. Depending on the colour, style and material chosen will determine which grout should be used to achieve both a functional and aesthetic aim. Remember that the width of joints also plays a role in deciding which grout to use.
Standard grout is cement based and used for exterior and interior applications for a maximum joint width of 8mm. Minimum joint widths for walls is 2 mm and for floors is 3mm.
In high traffic areas, areas that are consistently wet or where the application is complicated, it is advisable to mix a bonding additive to the standard grout. The bonding additive is a latex based liquid formulated to work in conjunction with the grout to provide additional flexibility and bond strength. The grout will cure one shade darker if bonding additive is used.
For areas where high acid, alkaline, or chemical conditions exist, a chemical resistant tile grout should be used. Usually these grouts are epoxy based. This grout can be used for interior or exterior application to grout joints with a maximum width of 15mm on walls or floors.
When grouting quarry and porous non-glazed tiles it is recommended that tiles be sealed first to prevent any staining of the tiles with the grout.
An anti-stain grout is also available for the grouting of highly absorbent tiles such as sandstone. The product can be used for interior and exterior application to grout joints up to a maximum width of 15mm on walls and floors. This grout reduces “picture stain” framing.
The majority of grouts are cement based and come in colours ranging from white, different shades of grey, terracotta, black, dark, and light brown, beige and oatmeal.
Laminate floor offer a cheaper yet realistic alternative to marble, natural stone or hardwood floors. They are easy to clean and are very durable. The prices for laminate flooring replicating either hardwood or granite or marble is approximately the same because the process of manufacture is similar.
This flooring application comes in already cut pieces each having a tongue and groove section. Similar to a large puzzle these pieces are inserted one into the other to provide a uniform, easy to clean surface.
Traditionally laminate floors were installed with glue being applied to the tongue and groove of each plank and once they were installed, it was impossible to separate the planks without damaging them.
Today, we offer a far more reasonable installation where no glue is required. These planks can be separated and reused if necessary.
There are four layers to laminate flooring:
- The Balancing layer is the bottom, stabilizing layer, which stabilizes the floor plank and is resistant to moisture.
- The Core layer comprises of high-density fiberboard that is saturated in resin to toughen the core and further resist water.
- The Pattern layer is a thin paper layer that has been printed with a stone finish or wood grain and gives the laminate a natural looking surface.
- The Wear layer is a clear resin layer that protects the plank from stains, moisture, penetration and dings.
Laminate flooring is recommended for residential areas or alternatively it can be used in commercial areas with low traffic flow.
Vinyl flooring does not stain, dent or fade and is very durable and water resistant. Vinyl flooring comes in many colours, shapes, textures, and patterns. It can imitate wood, marble, and tile.
Vinyl flooring can be applied practically anywhere but it is a favourite for kitchens, laundries and bathrooms. It provides a soft feel underfoot similar to a carpet but is much easier to keep clean.
Vinyl flooring is an affordable alterative to tiles or hardwood. The price range is large though. The more expensive the vinyl products the greater the colour variations and thickness of the vinyl. Some vinyl flooring is coated with aluminum oxide, which increases its resistance to scratching.
We sell the following tiling tools should you consider laying the tiles yourself alternatively your tiler has requested some tools to complete the job:
- Tile cutters
- We offer diamond wheel cutters for both manual and electric cutting.
- Notch trowels
- A notched trowel is used to apply the adhesive to the tile before fixing the tile to the wall or floor. The tool contains a cold-rolled steel blade with either a vinyl or wooden handle. Trowels are sold with V-shaped, U-shaped, and square notches.
- Spacers come in various sizes and are used when laying tiles. The main purpose is to provide the grouting gap between the tiles. By using the spacers, the joints between each tile are uniform and will allow the tiles to be laid symmetrically before grouting.