Types Of Tiles


Types Of Tiles

We walk you through the different kinds of tiles and their many uses in all areas of your home.

The two main types of tiles are ceramic and porcelain. Ceramic tiles are generally cheaper than porcelain tiles but not as strong. Lower-end ceramic tiles are generally not recommended for outdoor applications, although they can be protected with a sealer.

High-end porcelain tiles are saltwater and chlorine safe, won’t absorb oil and other food matter from entertaining and barbecue areas and are more resistant to losing their colour over time.

There are a number of products on the market that mix the best qualities of porcelain and ceramic. These are suitable for situations where a full porcelain tile is not required, like under a patio.

Make sure you’re buying good quality, pre-treated tiles, or at the least, are using a good sealer.

Ceramic tiles

Terracotta – the cheapest ceramic tile, terracotta is porous, prone to chipping and cracking, and will stain. Natural terracotta is not ideal for outdoor use, but there are some manufacturers making pre-sealed, salt-safe products.

Stone – includes limestone, travertine, marble, and more. Natural stone tiles have a great look. They’re more expensive than terracotta, and while they are more durable – especially older stone, like marble – you should still seal them if you are using them outdoors.

source: awdac.com

Porcelain tiles

Glazed porcelain – this tile has a porcelain ‘biscuit’, or foundation, over which a ceramic is applied, to give the look of, for example, terracotta, but with more durability.

Glazed through-body porcelain – the drawback of a glazed porcelain tile is that the surface glaze has the same weaknesses as a normal ceramic tile – it’s prone to chipping, and when it does, you’ll see the differently coloured porcelain biscuit underneath. A glazed through-body tile mixes a pigment into the porcelain so the biscuit looks the same as the glaze. If the glaze chips, it won’t look so unsightly.

Double charged – this is a popular choice because it gives the look of natural stone like marble and granite, but with the strength of a full porcelain tile. They’re so called because two different hues of porcelain are fused together when the tiles are made. Although these tiles don’t have the headaches of natural stone, they are more expensive.

Round edge and bullnose – some retailers such as Amber offer a service to give tiles a rounded edge, for use on stairs or around a pool. They can also take this concept a step further with tiles of a uniform thickness, and laminate them together and shape into a bullnose. These laminated tiles are then used to create an aesthetic overhang effect like a paver.


Generally a good way to ascertain the quality of tiles is by the country of origin. Tiles from Italy, Spain, and Arab countries, for example, are produced to a higher standard than tiles from countries like China.

Don’t just buy a tile if it’s porcelain, make sure it’s been made properly. For example, a good tile may be vitrified – fired at the same temperature as glass, 2300C – which will give the tile massive strength. However a cheaper porcelain tile may not be sealed properly.

Non-slip rating

For outdoor applications, tiles must be non-slip, as governed by an Australian Standard. Tiles are given an ‘R Rating’ based on how they perform in a test using a ramp and oil. The lowest allowed rating is R9, and the highest possible is R12. For pool areas, the tile must be at least R11.

Strangely, the texture of the tile is not a good indicator of its slipperiness. The most non-slip tiles are some of the smoothest – high-quality tiles from countries like Italy and Spain.

source: homeposh.com

Installing tiles

Tiles must be laid on a concrete slab, which will give the tiles a uniform flatness. They are glued to the slab and finished with grout between the gaps.

If your tiles are not already protected against the elements, you need to apply a pre-sealer to them before laying. The oily mixture makes it easy to fix the tile with grout. After the tiles are laid, a penetrating seal is applied. This mixture literally penetrates halfway through the tile to protect it. This process is especially important for ceramic tiles.

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