Ceramic Basics

Ceramic Basics

Learn the basics about ceramic tile

Ceramic Basics

Ceramic tile is a beautiful option for any home. It is a time-tested flooring with exceptional durability. Tile presents almost endless design possibilities, available in numerous shapes, colors, patterns and glazes.

It is a great choice for families with children and pets, areas of the home that see a lot of traffic, dirt and mud and wet locations such as kitchens and baths. It is also an excellent choice for basements, cement floors, and other areas where moisture is present.

Benefits of Glazed Ceramic Tile

Ceramic tile is a practical, versatile and functional choice for floors, walls or countertops. Its extensive range of colors, textures, sizes and styles will allow you to create a living space that is a true reflection of your family’s lifestyle and your personal taste.


Properly installed ceramic tile will outperform and outlast nearly any other interior surface product made for floors or walls.

Scratch Resistant:

Grade III and Grade IV glazed ceramic tiles are extremely resistant to things that scratch other floors.

Fire Resistant:

Ceramic tile doesn’t burn or emit toxic fumes. Even a lighted cigarette will not do any damage when dropped on a ceramic tile floor. Hot kitchen pans will not scorch or melt the surface of glazed ceramic tile.

Water Resistant:

Most glazed ceramic tile has a dense body that is virtually unaffected by the accumulation of moisture. This means that spills from common liquids found in a kitchen can be mopped up and leave no trace or residue.

Fade Resistant:

Glazed ceramic tile is the most resistant of all interior surfaces to sunlight and UV degradation.

Easy to Clean:

Glazed ceramic tile resists stains, odors, and dirt and can be cleaned with a damp mop and common household cleaners.

Environmentally Friendly:

Ceramic tile is manufactured using mostly natural materials.

P.E.I Wear Ratings – The Porcelain Enamel Institute
  • Group I: – Only wall tile fall into this group
  • Group II: – Can be used for walls and floors-only light duty use such as bathrooms
  • Group III: – Recommended for all residential areas
  • Group IV: – Suitable for all residential and light duty commercial
  • Group V: – Recommended for commercial use- for wet areas where safety is a concern, such as in food service areas- exterior areas, shopping malls, swimming pools, etc.
Technical Stuff

Ceramic tile is a natural product made up of a number of naturally-occurring minerals, and water. Most tile for home use is made by the pressed-dust method, which presses the clay into a mold, that forms the body of the tile. The wall tile, mosaic tile, and floor tile produced by this process can be fired with our without glaze.

Glaze: A thin ceramic coating, or “glaze,” is applied to the surface, and then fired to give the tile its color and finish. Nearly all modern floor tiles are decorated with a glaze.

Ceramic Tile Thickness: Historically, thickness and hardness determined the use of a tile. Stove tiles, used to retain heat, were often several inches thick. Medieval floor tiles were usually one inch thick; encaustic tiles of the Victorian ear tended to be slightly thinner. Today’s floor tiles are thinner yet, and wall tiles are the thinnest, as a result of modern manufacturing methods.

Tile Density and Moisture Absorption: As its density increases, a tile becomes stronger and it absorbs less moisture. Tile density and moisture absorption are important for certain applications. For example:

  • Non-Vitreous Tiles – Tiles that absorb from 3% to 7% or more moisture are suited only for indoor use.
  • Vitreous Tiles – Tiles that absorb less than 3% moisture can be used for exterior applications where there are no freeze/thaw conditions.
  • Impervious Tiles – Tiles that have less than 0.5% moisture are related “frost proof” and may be used in nearly all exterior applications. Porcelain tiles, for example are Impervious Tiles, and recent technology has made this category more decorative and price competitive.

White Body Tile versus Red Body Tile: The color of the body is determined by the color of the clay that is available to the manufacturer. The quality of the tile is generally not related to the color of the body.

Caution: Ceramic tile flooring, like other types of smooth floors, can become slippery when wet. Allow time for the floor to dry after washing. Immediately wipe up wet areas from spills or wet feet.

Cleaning Products For Ceramic Tile

Protect your investment by using only recommended cleaning products. Your dealer will usually have these products in stock.

A Brief History of Ceramic Tile

Historically, the use of ceramic floor tiles goes back to fourth millennium BC. It was the Romans who introduced tile making in Western Europe. That art, however, was all but lost until the Mid-19th Century when Herbert Minton of Stoke-on-Trent, England, revived the lost art of Roman tile making.

English tile making was costly, time-consuming process in which layers of color were built up on the surface of the tile, one by one. The high cost of English imported tiles meant that only wealthy Americans could afford them. The English near monopoly actually stimulated the growth of the U.S. tile industry in the 1870’s.

During the 20th Century, American title makers gradually developed modern methods of production, with sophisticated machinery, new materials and decorating techniques. In the years following World War II, there were many advances in the industry. Commercially manufactured dust-pressed tiles, which had previously required more than 70 hours just to fire in the kiln, could be made in less than two hour from the raw material stage to finished tiles, boxed and ready to ship.

The new process ensured that the tiles were cut to a uniform thickness and size. The dried, unglazed tiles were sprayed with colored glaze as conveyors carried the tiles into the tunnel kilns. Such changes and developments in the production of floor tile brought forth a wide range of shapes and sizes, along with new colors, glazes and decorating techniques.

These new materials were not only cheaper, but they were not as fragile either. And they were lighter in weight and thinner, thus easier to transport and install.

If you have never used ceramic tile before or it has been a long time since you have done so, you will be amazed at the wide selection of colors, sizes, shapes and new textures that are now available.

Ten Steps to Ensure Satisfaction With Your Ceramic Tile Installation

Installation of ceramic tile requires a properly trained craftsman. Not all installers are equally skilled. Here is where your dealer serves an important function by matching the skills of your installer to the requirements of your job and the unique characteristics of the tile you have chosen.

It is important to rely on your dealer’s experience and judgment regarding installation. That’s why it’s smart to buy your tile and installation from the same dealer. This gives you a single responsible place to bring any questions or problems.

  1. Evaluate the condition of existing sub-floor and determine what measures will be needed to prepare the floor or walls for installation of the new ceramic.
  2. Decide who will remove and dispose of any existing tile or discard building products and do a final clean up after installation.
  3. Determine who will disconnect and reconnect fixtures and appliances and move furniture. Decide who will install protection to existing walls and nearby floors.
  4. Discuss and approve the exact tile installation pattern of your new floor or walls.
  5. Discuss and approve the location and type of base trim, transition strips and the method of meeting door jambs.
  6. Reach an agreement before the installation gets started for any additional service charges.
  7. Understand warranties and procedures for handling a service call.
  8. Inspect and approve the completed installation with the installer. Retain unused tile for future repairs if necessary.
  9. Shortly after installation, and once the tiles have been cleaned and dried thoroughly; make arrangements to seal the grout joints with a silicone sealer to help reduce future maintenance.
  10. Continue operating the ventilation system at normal room temperature for up to 72 hours after installation. If possible, open windows to increase the flow of fresh air.
Caring For Glazed Ceramic Tile

Glazed ceramic tile usually requires less maintenance then most other types of residential floors. It never needs wax or polish to bring back its shine. Just be sure to keep sand and grit off the tile, because they can scratch the glazing over a period of time. For general tile floor care, follow these steps:

  • Sweep or vacuum glazed tile regularly.
  • Wash regularly with a diluted mild detergent to remove dirt and grit.
  • Most common household detergents, such as Mr. Clean™ or Spic & Span™ as well as many others may be used.\
  • After cleaning with a mild detergent, rinse thoroughly with clean, warm water to remove any residue. If needed, wipe dry with a clean towel to remove any remaining film.
  • For soft water situations, you may need to use an all purpose cleaner, such as Fantastic™ or Top Job™. Apply to the floor, let stand 3-5 minutes then wipe with a sponge and rinse well.
  • Re-seal the gout joints twice a year to ensure stain protection.
  • Do Not Use oil-based or ammonia –based cleaners as they may discolor your grout.
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