Porcelain and Ceramic Tile Flooring - Floor City USA
The correct subfloor structure is critical to performance.
Ceramic tile, more than any other form of flooring, requires the proper subfloor system and setting materials. A double subfloor system with the total thickness of 1-1/4", over floor joists 16" on center is required. The top subfloor layer should be exterior grade plywood or an underlayment specifically designed for ceramic tile installation like cementitious backerboard.
Special setting materials are available which will allow ceramic tile installations over existing floors that are solid and already meet the above requirements. Failure to provide a sturdy base can cause grout to crack and release or tile to crack.
Although many ceramic tiles may look similar, there are quality differences
The quality of raw materials, the firing process, utilization of the latest technological advances in tile production--including the sophistication of glazing applications--and the tile design itself will determine the quality and cost of the finished product.
Selecting the right wear rating is an important step when selecting floor tile
Floor tiles tested for its foot traffic wearability are given a "wear rating" which in turn identify areas in which the tile may be installed. These wear ratings range from 1 to 5. Wear ratings should be at a least 3 for residential applications with the exception of bath areas which may use tiles rated 2. Tiles with a rating of 4 are suitable for heavy duty residential and light duty commercial applications. A rating of 5 is suitable for all residential and commericial applications.
Certainly, a tile with a rating of 5 is proned to be a more expensive tile, afterall, this tile could be installed in a mall or an airport capable of withstanding hundreds of thousands of people trampling over it for years before showing any wear.
A home will not experience such traffic. Insisting on a "5" will significantly decrease the number of choices while (usually) increasing the cost. If you happen to see a tile you like, at the right price, and it just happens to be rated a 5, then consider yourself fortunate. But, please, don't think you must have a 5-rated tile for your home because you have three dogs, eight children and an uncle that drops everything when a "4" will serve you very well.
Use caution when selecting tile for exterior installations. Unglazed quarry tiles, tiles with a textured surface, pavers, and stone are all possibilities. If deciding between a ceramic or a porcelain tile, you'll want a porcelain tile for any outdoor application.
There is a difference between ceramic and porcelain tiles
Both start with clay. However, to make porcelain tiles, manufacturers add stone by-products such as feldspar and quartzite to the clay. It is then fired at much higher temperatures (than ceramic tiles). This process makes the "bisque" (body of the tile) much denser. In fact, by definition, a porcelain tile has a porosity of .5% or less. Ceramic tiles generally have a porosity of 3-7%. For this reason porcelain tiles are a better choice for exterior applications than ceramic: porcelain tile will not absorb moisture, freeze, and crack whereas ceramic tiles could.
Color-Body and Through-body Porcelain
Because a tile is porcelain, it does not mean that the color (of the tile) goes all the way through (top to bottom). Although, there are "color body" and "through body" porcelain tiles that do maintain the same color throughout. These tiles will almost always cost more than regular glazed porcelain tiles.
Rectified tiles are cut on all four sides AFTER the firing process. This creates a very square tile that, when set, can virtually eliminate grout lines. That is, the tiles may be butted against each other as with travertine or marble. Now, the catch: just because the tiles are "perfectly" square, the levelness of your slab or subfloor will determine how close the tiles may be placed. The more level the slab/subfloor, the closer the tiles can be set.
Request the best in setting materials
New latex modified mortars and grouts provide better strength while also allowing greater flexibility.