Tile Materials, Styles and Finishes
Economy Grade tiles
An item listed as a “Economy Grade” will have failed quality inspection for cosmetic, rather than functional, reasons.
A rectified tile has been cut after manufacture to ensure that it is 100% square. For example, a production batch of ceramic tiles which have been manufactured at 305mm x 610mm will all be re-cut to 300×600 at the same time to ensure they are all the same size and are truly square.
Vitrified means that the tile does not absorb water. Glaze vitrified means that the tile has also been glazed.
A non-vitrified tile is considered non-vitreous when water absorption exceeds 7%.
Variations in tile sizes
Floor tiles can vary by 0.75% and still be within the Australian standard. A 400mm x 400mm floor tile can vary from 397mm to 403mm. Tile sizes are only ever given as nominal measurements.
Outdoor tiles are exposed to harsher conditions and therefore need to be resistant to the elements, such as rain, frost and slipperiness.
Nano finishing is a pre-seal which eliminates the need to seal polished porcelain tiles after they are installed.
Glaze is made up of ground glass and colour pigments which are used to create unique designs. It is a surface covering that is vitrified by firing and strongly adhered to the ceramic or porcelain body tile.
Commercial tiles are generally priced in the cheapest price bracket as they are a mixture of first and second quality products which are graded by the factory at the time of manufacture. In most cases people buying commercial tiles should expect some slight colour and size variations along with some small surface imperfections. Laid using some basic knowledge the end result will still look great.
Ceramic tiles are a light weight clay-based tile. They are pressed at a lower pressure rate and fired at a lower temperature than porcelain tiles. This manufacturing process means they are always finished with a durable glaze which carries the colour and pattern. This glaze can be either gloss or matt and in some instances there can be an additive to the glaze to give the tile an external rating. The edge of a ceramic tile is generally not rectified which means the tiles should not be laid any closer than 3mm-5mm apart depending on the quality of the substrate.
Porcelain tiles are made using very fine, high quality materials with high silica content. Pressed at a high pressure rate and fired at high temperatures, they are typically much less porous than other tiles and do not always require sealing.
Porcelain tiles can either be glazed (with a gloss, matt or textured finish) or unglazed (with a natural, polished or textured finish).
Typically large format porcelain tiles are rectified which means that the tiles are cut after manufacture to ensure that that they are square. This allows for the tiles to be laid with a minimal grout line of 1.5mm as per Australian standards.
Mosaic tiles are very small tiles, typically less than 100mm square and are most commonly known as splashback tiles due to their popularity as a finish for kitchen and bathroom splashbacks. They are available in many different materials including porcelain, ceramic, glass, natural stone and others. They also come in various finishes.
Commonly sold pre-mounted on mesh or paper sheets around 300x300mm in size, these sheets can be cut down to generate a pattern when mixed with other tiles. For example a 300x300mm sheet of 50x50mm mosaics could be cut down into narrower strips and joined together end to end to create a feature in a shower wall.