All About Tile

Flooring University Tile

What is Tile?

Tile is a hard flooring made from a number of different materials, the most common of which are ceramic, porcelain or stone.

Ceramic Vs. Porcelain

What are the differences in tile materials?

Ceramic and porcelain are very similar. Both are made from clay, whether natural or created from pulverized rock, slate or marble. The clay is fired in a kiln to create the shape of the final tile.

Ceramic tile tends to be more cost-effective, easier for an installer to cut and provides a wider range of color options over porcelain.

All porcelain tiles are ceramic, but not all ceramic tiles are porcelain.

Porcelain composition must include feldspar. Feldspar is a crystal that, during the firing process, melts into a glass-like material and bonds all the other ingredients together. Porcelain tile is also fired at higher temperature than ceramic tile.

Due to the unique composition and firing, porcelain tile is denser than ceramic and less prone to breaking. While more expensive than ceramic, porcelain tile is still more cost-effective than natural stone tile. Additionally, because porcelain is extremely water-resistant, it better withstands exposure to low temperatures that cause freezing and thawing.

In addition to ceramic and porcelain, tile also can be made from natural material like travertine, granite, marble, slate and limestone. Natural tile is often more costly than ceramic or porcelain.

Are There Other Differences in Tiles?

A tile’s strength and durability is identifiable by its grade (or wear rating). A higher grade indicates a higher level of toughness and resistance to scratching.

Different Grades

Grade 1

Weakest of standard tiles, best suited for walls.

Grade 2

In addition to walls, can also be used for light traffic areas, such as a home bathroom.

Grade 3

The most common grade of ceramic tile. Suitable for home flooring and home kitchen countertops.

Grade 4

All home uses as well as commercial use with light foot traffic.

Grade 5

High traffic commercial use, often found in shopping malls.

Another indicator of durability is Mohs Hardness Scale. Used not just for tile, Mohs Hardness Scale quantifies the resistance of a material to being scratched. This is determined by attempting to scratch the material with each of 10 different minerals (talc, gypsum, calcite, fluorite, apatite, orthoclase, quartz, topaz, corundrum and diamond, listed in order of increasing hardness), which mineralogist Friedrich Mohs has given arbitrary values from 1 through 10 representing an increase in hardness. The material being tested receives a rating based on the hardness of the mineral which is able to cause a scratch.

The potential amount of moisture a tile can absorb, is measured through an ANSI (American National Standards Institute) water absorption test. The resulting scale provides insight into the likelihood of a tile to crack under moisture penetration. Ranging from non-vitreous (low density) to impervious (extremely dense), the denser the tile, the greater stability of the tile.

The Coefficient of Friction (COF) as determined by the ATSM (American Society for Testing and Materials) indicates the relative slip resistance of floor surfaces. The ATSM test evaluates tile under both laboratory and common site installation conditions when both wet and dry, and calculates the maximum force that is required to initiate motion of a 50lb rubber weight on the tile.

Schedule an Appointment to Find the Carpet that’s Right For Your Home!

Your Home Your Style!

Shop at home from the largest flooring selection in the Tampa Bay Area.
  • Date Format: MM slash DD slash YYYY
  • :
  • Business Hours: M-F 9 am - 7 pm, Sat 9am - 5 pm, Sun 12 pm - 5 pm

Why Should, or Shouldn’t, I Choose Tile Flooring?

Tile flooring offers several benefits over other types of flooring. Made from natural clays and water, tile is a natural, eco-friendly option. Tile flooring will not emit any VOCs (volatile organic compounds) and does not hold allergens, bacteria or odors, making it a healthy choice. In comparison to other flooring options, tile has the lowest life-cycle cost when measuring the price of maintenance and materials against the average tile flooring lifespan. Tile also offers the lowest water absorption rate of any flooring surface, meaning not only will it naturally resist stains and dirt penetration, but that water will not damage the flooring itself.

Unfortunately, the low water absorption rate has a side effect that is the largest disadvantage of tile flooring. Because water will sit upon tile, rather than being absorbed into the flooring, there is an increased likelihood of slipping on a tile floor over another more absorbent flooring material. Luckily, many tiles are now created with slip-resistant surfaces. The fact that water creates a slick surface on tile flooring means caution should be used when installing tile in water-prone areas like bathrooms, kitchens and adjacent to exterior doors.

Different shapes and sizes of tile for flooring

What Sort of Style Options Are Available For Tile Floors?

Tile flooring offers several benefits over other types of flooring. Made from natural clays and water, tile is a natural, eco-friendly option. Tile flooring will not emit any VOCs (volatile organic compounds) and does not hold allergens, bacteria or odors, making it a healthy choice. In comparison to other flooring options, tile has the lowest life-cycle cost when measuring the price of maintenance and materials against the average tile flooring lifespan. Tile also offers the lowest water absorption rate of any flooring surface, meaning not only will it naturally resist stains and dirt penetration, but that water will not damage the flooring itself.

There are seemingly endless ways to personalize tile floors, through shape, size, shade variation and pattern.

Tile comes in many different shapes, from square and rectangular to circular and even irregular, indefinable shapes as may occur in nature.

Along with differing shapes, tiles are available in many sizes. A common belief is that tile size should be chosen based on room size. Small tiles can make a small room feel less constricting, while large tiles can help a large room feel less overwhelming.

Shade Variation

When choosing tile for a room, it is important to understand shade variation. Shade variation is the difference in both color and texture between individual tiles in a single product. Shade variation is classified to help a buyer understand what they can expect in their final flooring.

V0/Very Uniform Appearance – tiles will be uniform in color and have a smooth, uniform texture.

V1/Uniform Appearance – minimal differences in color and texture between pieces of a single product.

V2/Slight Variation – clearly distinguishable differences in texture and pattern but consistency in color among the pattern.

V3/Moderate Variation – while the colors and texture of a single tile are indicative of all the tiles within the product, the quantity of colors and textures on a single tile may not match the next.

V4/Substantial Variation – not all tiles will contain the same colors and/or textures. No two floorings made up of tiles from the same product will be identical.

Tile Patterns

Another factor that will play into the final look of a tile floor is the pattern in which the tiles are laid. While there are no hard and fast rules on tile patterns, it is generally held that the size of the room should be taken into account when selecting a pattern. It is recommended that the chosen pattern can be repeated at least four times within the space.

When it comes to pattern possibilities, even a floor of uniformly sized square tiles has two different options.

Rectangular tiles of a uniform size increase the number of potential patterns.

Using tiles of different shapes and/or sizes together can lead to countless opportunities for a unique and truly personalized floor.

Tile Pattern Options for Flooring

Find a Bob’s Carpet and Flooring Location Near You!

How is Tile Flooring Installed?

Tile Floor Spacing and Installation

Successful installation of tile flooring can be a time-consuming process for a beginner, as much depends upon the placement of each tile in relation to the last and the multiple steps involved.

Proper surface preparation is critical. Any damaged or uneven areas should be repaired or patched and then leveled.

Before securing any tiles to the subfloor, the entire tile pattern should be planned and laid out. On a clean, dry, level surface, the next step is to locate and mark the center point of the room.

Once the pattern is planned and approved, approximately ¼” of adhesive (thin set) is applied to a small section of the total surface. Notches are combed into the adhesive and tiles are placed into the adhesive one at a time, twisted and set gently into place.

At the walls, the final tiles will be tapped gently into place as there will not be room to twist them into the adhesive. Any finishing or edging should be added at this time.

With all tiles in place, any spacers are removed and grout is applied. The grout should be forced into the joints so that no air bubbles or pockets remain. Excess grout is removed. When a haze appears on the tiles the surface should be rinsed and then hand-buffed with a clean towel.

Allow the grout and adhesive to completely cure and settle. After several weeks (check manufacturer recommendations), a sealant can be applied to flooring.

Schedule an Appointment to Find the Carpet that’s Right For Your Home!

15 Stores To Serve You!

Come into one of our 15 Tampa Bay Area locations and find carpet, tile, hardwood, laminate, luxury vinyl and sheet vinyl at the lowest prices.
  • Date Format: MM slash DD slash YYYY
  • :
  • Business Hours: M-F 9 am - 7 pm, Sat 9am - 5 pm, Sun 12 pm - 5 pm

Comments are closed.