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Ceramic tile type - What to Choose!

Ceramic tile types

Date created

Thursday, 12 May, 2016 - 19:13

Last updated

Thursday, 12 May, 2016 - 19:13

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Learn about the different types ceramic tiles, indoor and outdoor ceramic tiles. Choosing the correct tile for your renovation.

Ceramic Tiles

Ceramic and wall tiles continue to be an excellent choice for home owners today. Ceramic tiles serve both a functional and decorative purpose. There are many colour and size choices available and if you visit a tile shop the choice may seem endless. The range includes: large format floor tiles, glass, clay, glazed, unglazed, textured, smooth, metal, cut stone, outdoor, porcelain, mosaic, natural stone and slate.

Most tiles are clay based and are made from refined clay that has been baked in a kiln. However not all tiles are created equal, as they are made with different chemical compositions and are baked at different time lengths and temperatures. This process results in the tiles being created fairly soft and easy to cut through to very hard and able to withstand extreme outdoor temperatures and traffic.

With this in mind what are the main types of tiles and what do I use them for?


Outdoor floor tiles make for a great patio floor. Slip resistant and durable tiles make for the best choice. These come in vitrified and textured glazed. The best choice is vitrified as the colour is right through the tile and general wear over time is negligible . Also Vitrified tiles have a very low moisture absorption rate making glaze unnecessary and therefore more durable to the outside elements.


Indoor application and personal choice will influence the decision made when choosing indoor tiles. Kitchen splash back tiles can be large format if you like, however many people prefer small mosaic tiles in many different styles and combinations. Your local tile shop should have many examples and displays to help with your decision.

Indoor tiled floors are more than ever a large part of the modern home. This is because of the great finish and modern look it gives and ease of cleaning. Floor tiles come in a textured, slip resistant finish or a smooth, glazed finish. Your local sales person will be able to guide you in your choice.

Wet area tiling

Bathrooms are one of the most expensive and functional areas of the home. A bathroom room can add great style and value to the home. Bathroom tiles come in many designs and colours. You may wish to choose a plain gloss or matt finish wall tile and highlight the room with a great border tile. Border tiles come in just about any colour and size you can think of and in most bathrooms form a integral part of the bathroom design and layout. Most tiles can be used in bathrooms, glass, stone, vitrified, etc. however outdoor tiles can be too rough textured to suit a bathroom. Stone and stone boarders will need to be sealed by a stone/state sealer before use to stop water absorption and staining.

Tile and Stone terms:

  • Abrasion resistance The degree to which a floor tiles surface will withstand friction (the wear of foot traffic).
  • Bull nose tiles Tiles featuring a rounded edge used to finish steps and sometimes walls.
  • Decorated tile Ceramic tiles that have been embellished by means of hand paint, silk screening, decals or other techniques. This produces great highlights for kitchen splash backs, such as country scenes.
  • Finishes Textural or visual characteristics of a tile surface. For glazed tile this may be high gloss, satin or matt. Porcelain tiles can be polished, semi-polished, or natural. Other finishes include: hammered, embossed, rippled, or ribbed, to name but a few.
  • Format The size of the ceramic tiles for example 10x10inches, 10 x 10 cm, 1000 x1000cm or m2. etc.
  • Glazed porcelain A very popular type of indoor floor tile. Made with porcelain clays but glazed to achieve different effects. This type is best cut with a wet saw as they are strong and dense.
  • Granite A granular type of stone ranging in colour.
  • Grout joint Space left between tiles to be filled with grout. The size of this space can be narrow or wide depending on installation and aesthetics.
  • Insets Small, mostly decorative tiles used in combination with larger or plain tiles to create a pattern.
  • Limestone A type of sedimentary stone.
  • Mosaic tiles Ceramic mosaic tiles are defined by their size generally less than 15cm square. Some are mounted on a mesh backing for easy installation.
  • Sealers Clear coating sometimes applied to unglazed floor tiles to protect the surface from staining.
  • Slip resistant tiles Tiles treated to prevent slipping either by adding an abrasive grit to the glaze or a texture to the design of the tiles surface structure such as ribs, ripple etc.
  • Vitrified tiles Vitreous tiles absorb less then 3 percent moisture. Porcelain stoneware tiles are fully vitrified making a layer if glaze unnecessary for the tile to be impervious to water.
  • Wastage Generally add 10 percent to the amount required, to allow for wastage due to cutting etc. If the installation is complicated such as a lot of cutting for a design or around many doorways, the amount for wastage may need to be increased to 15 percent.