The World of Ceramic Tile
What you will learn: how ceramic
tile is made; attributes of ceramic tile; the difference between "single fired" and "double fired" ceramic
tile; which substrates are the most suitable for ceramic tile; how to prepare substrates; what a "PEI" rating means.
Because ceramic tile looks like a fairly simple flooring solution, you might
think that your decision ends there. However, when you examine if ceramic tile is the right flooring material for your project,
you may find there are more options open to you than you thought.
Ceramic tile is made from
clay which is baked at very high temperatures, resulting in an attractive and very hard surface. Ceramic tile is a varied
material, some types glazed with a layer of liquid glass, others left untreated for a more natural, rustic appeal. It is worthwhile
learning about the right kind of ceramic tile to ensure that the type you choose is the one that is most appropriate for your
installation. Overall, ceramic tile is very low maintenance, particularly in terms of keeping the surface clean. Ceramic tile
retains virtually no dirt and can be kept clean with water and a damp cloth or mop. Ceramic tile is also naturally fire resistant
and can actually help to maintain a structure in the event of a fire, making it popular choice of flooring material by the
It used to be that it took several days of "firing," that is, baking the clay
in a kiln to produce a ceramic tile durable enough for use as flooring. Now, thanks to a process called monocottura (an Italian
term meaning "single fired") by which individual tiles are fired and glazed at the same time, the production time
on ceramic tile has been reduced to a matter of hours. Another advantage is a denser and therefore more durable tile with
a flat back allowing for an easier installation. A similar process called bicottura ("double-fired") breaks the
process in two. The clay is fired a first time and then again with a glaze added to the layer of ceramic. Tiles in this case
may be fired several times, and are generally a little less durable than monocottura ceramic tiles. Bicottura tiles should
really be restricted to an indoor application, mostly as wall tiles and backsplashes because of their softer body and their
Substrates: Things to consider before you floor it.
substrate is a catch-all term which refers to the subfloor or the sub-countertop on which you will be laying your flooring
or countertop, whether it is ceramic tile, granite or any other type of material. Much like other options, it is important
that the substrate be suitable for the type of ceramic tile you have chosen to install, and it is often necessary to make
sure that the substrate is adequately prepared. This is particularly true if the substrate is a newly laid surface itself.
Newly poured concrete needs to be cured for 28 days before your ceramic tile is laid down. Despite the type of substrate,
an overall characteristic of subfloors or subcounters should be their structural rigidity, not being given to expansion or
Another important factor when you are preparing to lay down your ceramic tile is whether the substrate
is level. An uneven substrate could cause the ceramic tile to become easily loosened, and may also cause the grout between
the tiles to pop. To prepare your substrate, the first thing to take care of is clearing away any dirt or dust that has built
up on the substrate. Also, it is important to remove any other substances – like peeling paint – from the substrate
to be sure that the tile will adhere.
Ceramic tile grading
the same as other types of flooring, some of the considerations to be taken into account for ceramic tile are hardness, slip
resistance, resistance to abrasion, and impact resistance. Generally, these are judged in terms of application. The decision
you make as to the proposed location of your installation, and the likelihood that the type pf ceramic tile you’ve chosen
will stand up to the conditions it will need to endure there should be carefully considered when choosing your ceramic tile.
To aid you in making an informed decision, there is a system of ceramic tile grading which standardizes the durability of
ceramic tile from the Porcelain Enamel Institute. This is what is called the PEI (or sometimes just "PE") rating,
which outlines all ceramic tile into groups according to suggested usage, specifically with the factor of foot traffic in
mind. The PEI rating will be a valuable tool for anyone looking to install ceramic tile, but is unsure of which type of tile
is most appropriate.
Ceramic floor tile offers a wide variety of choice and a unique aesthetic effect for
your space. Due to its natural make-up and texture, ceramic floor tile can serve many of your practical requirements as well.
As such, choosing ceramic floor tile is actually a very balanced choice.