Everything You Need To Know About Porcelain Tiles
It’s easy to be confused about porcelain tiles, where to use them, what is the right tile for your space? So our useful blog below will help to clarify fact from fiction.
What are Porcelain Tiles?
Very simply Porcelain tiles are a ceramic material manufactured from refined materials such as white clays, felspar, kaolin and fired at 1200 degrees. The result is very strong and dense tile with outstanding durability, which is resistant to abrasion, frost and chemical damage. They’re also water & frost resistant check here to see how porcelain tiles are manufactured.
Types Of Porcelain Tiles
Porcelain can have a number of finishes such as polished, natural & semi polished. The porcelain tile can they be classified further as follows:
- Full Body – The tile is consistent all the way through (it usually but not always comes in natural finish) but is unglazed.
- Coloured Body – Pigments are applied to colour the main of body of the tile that resembles the to finish of the tile. These products are usually finished with a decoration such as a marble or stone effect.
- Glazed Porcelain – The base body of the porcelain tiles is usually a white colour a glaze is then applied onto which a decorative finish is printed.
Rectified & Non Rectified
When tiles are fired they shrink in the call as the moisture is removed during the firing process, at the end of this process the tile will either have what is called a press edge finish or a rectified edge finish. Very simply rectification is an additional process then provide a precision straight edge to the product. This makes grouting & grout lines easier to handle.
Where Can Porcelain Tiles Be Used?
Porcelain tiles can be uses almost anywhere from external cladding and patio paving through to kitchen, bathroom and commercial areas they are the perfect material for many applications due to the many design options, resistance to frost, stain and chemicals and strength.
When using porcelain tiles the main consideration will be application, for example porcelain tiles are perfect for use externally for patio, terraces and much more but of course for floor usage they need to be anti slip and a matt / natural finish.
When using porcelain tiles internally in domestic situation it is entirely your choice whether to install polished tiles, natural tiles or semi polished tiles on your wall or floor.
When using porcelain tiles in commercial applications again the choice of tile for wall usage has very few restrictions. However when using porcelain tiles in high foot traffic areas and especially those areas that have the potential for slipping then it is important to use the correct product.
Anti Slip Porcelain Tiles
There are several classifications for anti slip tiles but the main test you need to be aware of in the UK is the Pendulum Test all of our porcelain tiles not only meet but exceed the minimum requirements set out below:
Based on recommendations from the HSE, you should use floor finishes that achieve a Pendulum 4S (slider 96) of 36+ for shod foot areas or a Pendulum TRL (slider 55) of 36+ for wet barefoot areas, to achieve a low slip potential environment.
The table below illustrates how the HSE categorise the results from the Pendulum test for both the 4s (slider 96) and TRL (slider 55).
|Classification||Pendulum Test Value (PTV)|
|High slip potential||0 – 24|
|Moderate slip potential||25 – 35|
|Low slip potential||36+|
Other Slip Test methods For Porcelain Tiles
Several other methods are available for testing the slip rating of floor tiles which are detailed below but we must reiterate the only test that the HSE recommends is the pendulum test detailed above.
The German ramp test is used to generate the DIN 51130 R ratings and DIN 51097 ABC ratings used commonly in North Europe.
R Ratings (DIN 51130) – This is a shod foot test which uses oil as a contaminant. These results are interpreted into 5 groups, R9 to R13. R9 being the slipperiest and R13 being the least. Please note: R9 is not suitable for areas requiring slip resistance. The are no such categories as R1 – R8.
ABC Ratings (DIN 51097) – This a wet barefoot where a soap solution is applied as a contaminant, the results from this test are placed into three categories:
- Class A – Dry areas including dry changing areas, dry barefoot corridors
- Class B – As A plus pools surrounds, communal showers, pool beach areas, wet change areas
- Class C – As A and B plus pool surround inclines.
R and ABC rating have generally been used to assess product suitability in the UK. However this is changing dramatically in accordance with recommendations from the HSE with the preferred test method being the Pendulum test.
There are standards throughout Europe for determining the dimensional characteristics (length, width, thickness, straightness of sides, rectangularity, surface flatness) and the surface quality of tiles.
ISO 10545.2 is the standard for dimensions on porcelain tiles. The ISO required value for bowing / warpage is ± 0.5%. This means on a larger 1200x600mm porcelain tile the bowing can be upto 6mm and still conform to the correct standards. Whilst most manufacturers have higher standards than the ISO standards and this amount of bowing would be very rare.
You also need to be aware that sizing of slabs is nominal size, so a product advertised as 600x600mm after rectification for example may well be 597x597mm.
Shade & Batches
Tiles are produced in batches with natural components and as natural products vary slightly, so can batches of tiles.
What this means is that if you buy your tiles within the same production run or batch, you don’t need to worry about shade changes (unless of course, your tile has a high variation. However when conducting remedial work then the shade & batch may differ.
Variation Within Batches are classified as per the below:
- V1 – Uniform Appearance. V1 tiles have very little differing tones and shades within each tile and between tiles within the same batch.
- V2 – Slight Variation. V2 tiles have slight variations within their design.
- V3 – Moderate Variation.
- V4 – Substantial Variation.
Porcelain tiles are the perfect material for almost any application the only thing that requires real consideration is where the porcelain tile is being used especially where its a floor tile being used in a external area or a area with high foot traffic.
Maintaining & Cleaning Porcelain Tiles
Porcelain & Ceramic tiles generally require minimal maintenance. When cleaning tiles simple brushing or mopping with a floor cleaner ( a mild solution ) will suffice for everyday cleaning.
For tiles used externally such as porcelain paving then general dirt can again be removed with hot soapy water or a mild floor cleaner. If the dirt is more stubborn organic dirt such as leaves or non organic such as rust from patio sets then we have specialised cleaners for the removal of more stubborn issues. Ceramic Tiles should not be used externally, only porcelain tiles are suitable for external use.
Glazed Porcelain Tiles such as garden pavers or more natural effect looking tiles do not require sealing, porcelain absorbs almost zero water an as such the sealer will add no long-lasting benefits to the product.
Polished Porcelain Tiles require some addition care- This is because because the surface of the porcelain tile has microscopic holes in it. These are produced by the polishing process. When the tiles are being installed adhesive or grout can become stuck in these microscopic holes and produce an effect called ‘grout haze’. This haze may make the surface of the tile appear dull and dusty.
Porcelain is an outstanding material for use both internally & externally it is very durable, frost proof and hardwearing, easy to maintain and clean. The main considerations are the finish, usage.
Porcelain can be used on both wall, floor, internally & externally*
Polished Porcelain should never be used on a external floor & when using polished porcelain addition maintenance may be required.
When using porcelain as a garden paver or in potential wet areas then you should aways use a natural / matt finish tile & we highly recommend to use an anti slip tile. This tile should active a minimum of R11 or more importantly exceed PTV 36+ on the pendulum test.