A tile is not a tile is a tile

All tiles are not created equal. The material used, additives added, manufacturing and finishing processes all influence the quality of the end product when it comes to tiles. 

Ceramic and porcelain tiles are the most commonly found, but there are also cement tiles, marble tiles. travertine tiles, slate tiles, and glass tiles.

Knowing which one to choose to suit your needs, might be tricky and requires thorough research.

Considerations

Appearance, maintenance, cost and availability are all factors to take into account when choosing a tile. 

You might have decided on a certain look that you want to achieve through your tile floors, but how much is it going to cost?

Marble tiles are a beautiful option, but the same look can be achieved through a porcelain tile at half, if not less, the price. 

When it comes to cleaning, tiles must be the easiest floor finish to clean and maintain. It can be cleaned using common household cleaning agents and a mop.

Tiles come in various designs, shapes, colours, textures, and sizes. You will have unlimited choices when choosing a tile. 

Types of tiles

Ceramic tiles

Ceramic tiles are made from clay and other minerals which is compressed and then baked in n oven (kiln). The tile is then glazed to add an extra protective layer, special designs, and colours, and then fired again. This glazing seals and protects the tiles.

Ceramic tiles usually have a red clay body with a definite glaze visible on top. 

This causes chips to be quite visible. 

Ceramic tiles are shaped before baking, resulting in tile sizes that can differ slightly. 

The main difference between ceramic and porcelain tiles is the tile bodies. While ceramic tiles have a red body, porcelain tile bodies are the same colour throughout the entire body of the tile, usually white. This makes cracks and chips in porcelain tiles, less visible.

Ceramic tiles can be installed easily by do-it-yourself enthusiasts. They are light, easy to handle, easy to cut, and does not require specialist glue or equipment. 

Porcelain tiles typically come in bigger sizes than ceramic tiles and are heavier and harder to handle. 

Porcelain tiles

Porcelain tiles are made from a denser type of clay and baked at higher temperatures than ceramic tiles, resulting in a harder bodied tile with an absorption rate of less than 0.5%. Ceramic tiles can have an absorption rate of up to 3%.

Porcelain tiles can be manufactured to resemble concrete, wood, stone and even marble. Porcelain tiles are available in large to extra large and lately, slab formats going as big as 3000 x 1500mm sizes. 

Porcelain tiles are hard, strong, durable and impervious to moisture.

Porcelain tiles are cut after baking (rectified) which means the size is more consistent throughout, resulting in smaller grout lines when the tiles are installed. 

Lower absorption rates mean that porcelain tiles can be used in outdoor applications and very wet areas such as bathrooms. 

Porcelain tiles are more expensive than ceramic tiles and needs a special type of glue when being installed. It is harder to cut porcelain tiles and requires a specialist to install. 

Natural stone tiles

Natural stone tiles include marble tiles, granite tiles, slate tiles, and travertine tiles.

Natural stone tiles can be used inside as well as outside as it has a texture that is slip-resistant. Natural stone tiles are extremely durable, easy to clean and maintain.

It has a timeless look and being a natural product, no two tiles are exactly the same. 

While the cost of natural stone tiles can be a major drawback, it is a lifetime investment you make in your home. 

Natural stone tiles require an expert to do the installation. 

Mosaic tiles

Mosaic tiles can be a mixture of materials such as glass, mirror, ceramic, porcelain, stone, and even metal, typically cut into smaller pieces and combined onto a mesh sheet for easy installation.

While mosaic tiles are mostly used for decorative purposes against walls and splashbacks, it can be used on floors, especially shower floors, as well. 

Many tile suppliers or some installers will cut tiles into smaller shapes to form mosaics. 

It is not recommended to cut ceramic tiles into mosaic as it may chip on the edges. 

Mosaic tiles are used to add interest, texture and colour to tile installations. 

Why tiles are a good option

Endless possibilities!

Tiles come in a wide variety of designs and colours. The possibilities are really endless when it comes to selecting tiles. 

From small little mosaic tile to extra large format tiles and many sizes in between, you are likely to find a size to suit your house. 

While large format tiles are popular, it can often add to the cost when choosing tiles. 

Cost

The pricing of tiles are twofold. There is the cost of the materials itself (tiles and tile glue) and the cost of installation. it is important to take both these costs into account when buying tiles. 

Porcelain tiles are not only more expensive than ceramic tiles, but the cost of porcelain tile cement, can also be about twice the price of ceramic tile adhesive. 

Appearance

Tiles come in various patterns and textures and can simulate many materials such as concrete, marble, wood, terrazzo and even steel. 

Maintenance

Looking for a floor finish that is easy to clean and maintain. Then look no further than tiles! 

It can be cleaned using common household cleaning liquids, water and a mop. 

It will last for a lifetime and keep looking as good as new if well maintained. 

Durability

Tiles are subject to cracking, but a creacked tile or two can easily be replaced.  So, always make sure to buy a few extra boxes to keep in storage, as colour matching different batches can be a problem in the long run. 

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