PORCELAIN TILES GUIDE
Unique finishes, large format sizes and hardwearing properties, Porcelain Tiles are the go to tile if you want an uber chic, hotel look in your home. Here is our guide to buying porcelain tiles, covering the types available and the benefits this product offers you.
Like the faithful white bathroom suite, porcelain is a longstanding classic that you certainly can't go wrong with. Porcelain tile is made from ceramic clays and has adorned walls and floors of great halls and tiny chambers throughout history. It's only within the last century or so where mass-manufacturing has made it possible for elegant porcelain tiles to be available on a wider market.
Since porcelain tiles have now reached large-scale production, the availability has spread far and wide, and the increase in demand hasn't slumped. Because of the consistent demand, factories around the world have been innovative in their production of porcelain. The most incredible innovation in porcelain production is its ability to mimic countless natural and man-made materials due to the advancement in 3D printing.
WHAT ARE PORCELAIN TILES?
In general, Porcelain tiles & Ceramic tiles are both made from Clay and other naturally occurring materials and fired in a kiln, however the clay used to make Porcelain tiles is more refined and purified, and fired at higher temperatures than traditional ceramic tiles. A ceramic tile is also pressed at 300kg/cm2, whereas a porcelain tile is pressed up to 500kg/cm2, this makes them denser, water resistant and oil resistant.
The dense, hard surface of porcelain has made polishing a viable alternative to a glazed surface. This means that a tile can be fired, then polished creating a shine without a glaze.
Full body porcelain tiles carry the colour and pattern through the entire thickness of the tile, making them virtually impervious to wear, and suitable for any application from residential to the highest traffic commercial or industrial applications.
Porcelain tiles are available in unglazed, matte or a high-polished finishes.
WHERE CAN YOU USE PORCELAIN TILES?
With so many different Porcelain tiles available, you will be spoilt for choice as you can use porcelain in all areas of the home. Since Porcelain is much harder than ordinary ceramic tiles, this makes it suitable for any high traffic areas throughout the home, meaning they can be your 'forever home' tiles. So if you want to sophisticate your bathroom into a timeless escape, or elevate the look of your kitchen or hallway, these tiles are a definite contender since you know that these will never become old hat.
The popularity of larger format sizes means that you can also create seamless effects from lounge to dining areas, which is an added bonus as the flow between rooms will open up your living spaces.
Full body porcelain tiles are also suitable to use externally and are fast becoming 'the' ultra contemporary solution to blend indoor and outdoor design schemes. Selecting an R10 full body porcelain will ensure you have an exceptionally hard wearing solution which will be slip resistant and can endure the most extreme weathers going - bonus!
HOW TO CHOOSE THE RIGHT QUALITY PORCELAIN TILES
Prices vary considerably when comparing high street to internet retailers, where some can be double the price! Our range of porcelain tiles are relatively inexpensive which does not mean they are low quality at all. The best way to check if a tile is worth the price is to get a sample to take a look at their quality. Your sample should be free from any markings or pin-holes in the glaze. If polished they should have a consistent sheen and the base colour should be clean and crisp.
Another way of checking if a Porcelain tile is suitable for your project is referring to its hardness rating. Most dependable porcelain lines will have been rated for use by the Porcelain Enamel Institute (PEI) abrasion test. This test is rated on a scale from one to five and will save so much time, as it means you instantly have the answer to your ‘is this porcelain suitable for…?’ question. Plus you don’t have to actually speak to a specialist/tiler: bonus!
Here is the PEI scale broken down:
- PEI 1 – Walls only
- PEI 2 – Walls and floors – only light foot traffic, such as in a bathroom.
- PEI 3 – Walls and floors - normal foot traffic, general residential use.
- PEI 4 – Walls and floors - residential and medium commercial use.
- PEI 5 – Walls and floors - good for all residential and heavy commercial use.
You may also want to consider their slip resistance too, especially as polished surfaces are such a key trend at the moment. The tile industry uses the draft informative index (ISO 10545) classification of Ceramic Tiles according to their slip resistance. This classification is determined by testing tiles in both wet and dry conditions prior to installation.
The Two Classes Within The ISO Standard:
- CLASS 1 <0.4 dynamic Coefficient of Friction
- CLASS 2 >0.4 dynamic Coefficient of Friction
Here are the ‘R’ ratings in detail
R9 <0.2 COF:
Mainly smooth glazed tiles which will record this low value when wet. These tiles should only be used in dry areas and should be excluded from wet environments.
R10 >0.2 COF<0.4 COF:
Generally glazed tiles which show these values only when wet, although it is possible for unglazed tiles to fall into this classification too. These tiles may be considered for domestic areas such as kitchens, and other dry areas.
R11 + R12 >0.4 COF<0.7COF:
Tiles falling into this classification will include some glazed tiles and most unglazed tiles. If a tile has this CoF as a minimum, dry and wet, it may be regarded as safe for installations including bathrooms, kitchens, porches, hallways, cloakrooms, utility rooms and living rooms. They may also be suitable for installation in public areas such as WCs, communal showers, swimming pools, cloakrooms, and expansive areas such as shopping centres, airports, and hotel foyers.
HOW TO INSTALL
Owing to their low water absorbency they are very tough and more difficult to cut, so a standard tile cutter will unfortunately not cut them. You will require a professional, heavy duty tile cutter or diamond wheel cutter for the best finish.
Porcelain tiles can be drilled however a standard drill bit will burn out. You can get special Diamond drill bits specifically for porcelain, which should be available in your local hardware shop.
Other than cutting and drilling you fit Porcelain tiles up to 1000mm in the same way as standard ceramic tiles, However tiles over 1000mm will require to be fitted with a tile leveling system - for further information please see our Porcelain Fitting Guide.
DO PORCEALIN REQUIRE SEALING?
The answer to this question depends on the type of porcelain that you have. Most porcelain tiles do not require sealing, therefore require almost no effort in order to keep them looking sleek. However for those of you who have a polished porcelain, then you will need to seal them, as the manufacturing process will leave microscopic holes in the surface which could over time hold dirt. So it’s important that you check which type of porcelain you have, and whether or not they require sealing.
HOW TO MAINTAIN YOUR BEAUTIFUL PORCELAIN TILES
As long as you’ve followed the installation advise for your chosen porcelain, looking after your porcelain tiles is easy!
Just hoover or brush your floor weekly and then mop with warm soapy water. If your surface is polished you can buff them with a damp cloth. If you have sealed your polished tiles you will need to ensure that you don’t strip the sealer form the surface with abrasive cleaner, use a liquid soap like Waxwash as this cleans without damaging the surface of you porcelain.
If you spend a little time following our guide and looking over the different styles available to you, you will be assured that your tiles will be premium quality and will last forever.