According to the World Floor Covering Association (WFCA), ceramic tiles are made with clay, minerals, and water. The tiles are then fired and glazed (which is where the color and look come from) because the ceramic is porous. Ceramic tile is also easier to install and, according to the National Kitchen + Bath Association (NKBA), has a higher water absorption rate of about ½ inch of water, which makes it less frost resistant.
Due to its low moisture absorption rate, porcelain tile can be installed outdoors whereas ceramic tile generally cannot. Porcelain tiles are stronger than ceramic and require special tools to install.
Despite their differences, both porcelain and ceramic are durable, easy to clean, and available at all price ranges.
Color body porcelain tiles, on the other hand, are created with continuous colored stains from the glaze surface throughout the body of the tile. This lessens the visibility of chips and scratches that may occur. The color remains consistent throughout the tile, but the surface design doesn’t extend throughout the tile’s body.
- PEI Class 1 Rating (No foot traffic) – Recommended for wall use only in residential and commercial applications.
- PEI Class 2 Rating (Light traffic) – Recommended for both wall use and bathroom floor applications.
- PEI Class 3 Rating (Light to moderate traffic) – Recommended for countertops, walls, and floors where normal foot traffic is expected.
- PEI Class 4 Rating (Moderate to heavy traffic) – Recommended for all residential applications as well as medium commercial and light institutional.
- PEI Class 5 Rating (Heavy to extra heavy traffic) – Recommended for all residential as well as heavy commercial and institutional applications.
- Bullnose – a ceramic floor or wall tile trim that features a single rounded finished edge.
- Bisque – the larger of a tile’s two layers. The top layer is called the glaze.
- Ceramic – a natural product extracted from the earth that is shaped into tiles and then fired in kilns at extremely high temperatures.
- COF – coefficient of friction. The higher the COF, the more slip resistant the tile is.
- Corner Bullnose – a ceramic floor or wall tile trim with two rounded finished edges, used to complete a corner.
- Extrusion – the process in which clay material is forced through a mold for the desired shape versus pressing the tile.
- Field Tile – in a pattern, the tile that is most prominent across the largest area.
- Frit – a glass derivative that is applied to ceramic tile as part of a glaze liquid, along with colored dyes, by a high pressure spray or is poured directly onto the tile.
- Grout – type of cement used to fill the space between and provide support for ceramic tile.
- Moisture Absorption – as the weight or density of a tile increases, it becomes a stronger tile and absorbs less moisture.
- Mosaics – intricate patterns of ceramic tile, often created with 2”x2” tiles or smaller.
- Porcelain – tile comprised of 50% feldspar and fired at a much higher temperature than ceramic tile, which results in a harder and denser product that is resistant to scratches and can withstand extreme temperatures.
- Sanded Grout – grout with sand added to provide additional strength to the tile joint.
- Shade Variation – inherent in all fired ceramic products. Certain tiles will show greater variation within their dye lots. Typically listed on the back label of each sample with a low, moderate, high, or random rating.
- Low – consistent shade and texture
- Moderate – average shade and texture variation
- High – extreme shade and texture variation
- Random – severe shade and texture variation
- Tile Density – the weight of a tile. As it increases the amount of moisture that tile can absorb becomes less.
Brick is a classic pattern that will work for any rectangular tile. Each row of tile is typically offset by half a tile width, which results in long and horizontal lines that can subtly widen a room. A third or fourth of a tile width offset may be better and provide a more stable installation for some tiles. You can use this installation pattern anywhere, especially in spaces where one simple tile is used throughout the space.
The size of the tile you choose will work best in proportion to the size of the room. For instance, smaller tiles will help to make small rooms feel less constricted while larger tiles will keep big areas from feeling overwhelming.
Here are a few tips for preventing damage to tile:
- Test scouring powders and sealants on a small area before cleaning the full area.
- Use a sealer on grout joints shortly after installation and make sure to use products that are compatible with cleaning grout joints.
- After cleaning, make sure to rinse the entire area with clear water in order to remove any cleaning solution residue.
- If you do ever have tile that has been damaged or broken make sure to get it removed and replaced by a qualified tile contractor.
- Cleaners that contain acid or bleach shouldn’t be used for routine maintenance.
- Wax-based cleaners, oil based detergents, and harsh cleaning aids like steel wool should be avoided.
- Unglazed tile should not be cleaned with an agent that contains color.
Standard tile can cost anywhere from under $1 per square foot to $10-12 per square foot. Tile mosaics usually cost at least $8-10 per square foot and can exceed $20 per square foot.
Most ceramic tile costs between $1 and $4 per square foot, but there are exceptions to this price. Porcelain tiles cost between $2 and $6 per square foot. Wood look tile is relatively expensive, especially if it’s porcelain. Expect a wood look to cost anywhere from $4-12 per square foot.
Floor installation will cost anywhere from $2-5 per square foot depending on the company, size of the tile, the installation pattern, and the local market.
- White tile – clean white and cream colored tiles have made their way to the forefront when it comes to home décor. Light colors make rooms feel more open and a crisp white backsplash works seamlessly with both contemporary and rustic décor.
- Herringbone – offers a clean cut look while still drawing the eye and standing out.
- Mosaic – became popular a few years ago and is still going strong. However mixed square tiles are becoming less popular, now it’s all about rectangular tiles. They create more of a subtle streaked look that is more in style now.
- Extra Large Format Tile - makes a small room feel bigger and a large room feel positively expansive.
- Natural Look – wood look laminate and stone like porcelain are perfect ways to get the earthly feel that is popular right now.
- Cool Colors – Light blue, green, or gray tiles are a perfect way to make a room feel open and airy while the color will catch your eye.
- Patterned Tiles: it doesn’t matter what color tile just as long as they’re patterned. Most bathrooms and kitchens are full of straight lines and hard surfaces and a patterned tile can bring in some softness.
- Creative Layouts: they can happen when you arrange rectangular metro tiles vertically instead of horizontally, in straight lines as opposed to a brick pattern.
- Colored Tiles: they’re becoming a growing trend as you will be seeing wall tiles with a more saturated color.
- Hex and Shaped Tiles: these can be used both on floors and walls and are a great way to create style and design with limited effort.
- Return to Terracotta: it’s making a comeback, believe it or not. This trend is all about the quality of handmade items and their raw materials in a clean and simpler way.
- Black is the New Black (again): black is making a comeback, although when did it ever really go out of style to begin with?