Tiles are a combination of clay, minerals and solvents that are shaped and sized and then heated to very high temperatures. At this point, the tile can just remain as is – unglazed and without decoration – and will be considered finished. Without the glaze, the tile is very porous and, although attractive in a rustic way, it wouldn’t be appropriate to use it at this stage in areas where spills or moisture might be common, like the kitchen.
Glazing adds a non-porous element to the surface of the tile that’s usually impermeable and therefore good for all areas, including kitchens and baths, foyers and countertops. It is a good idea to take this one step further and seal the grout around the tile so that it’s also waterproof.
Besides being beautiful, ceramic tile is a highly practical and functional surface. Among its many benefits are… It’s strong, colorfast, and flame-resistant, it doesn’t conduct heat or electricity, it’s hygienic, it won’t absorb odors or emit hazardous chemicals, it won’t swell or contract in extreme temperatures, and it’s easy to clean.
If the tile is to be used outdoors, look for weatherproof tiles. Furthermore, if it will be walked on, you may wish to consider a slip-resistant tile. If you find just the right tile but it’s not slip-resistant, don’t worry — you can have it treated for slip resistance.
Did you know that 45 percent of all accidents happen in the home and that 95 percent of those accidents involve slipping and falling? With that in mind, it might be wise to treat all your tile floors with a slip-resistant application.
If the tile is to be used on a kitchen counter, find one that is not only glazed but also scratch-resistant. You won’t want to use it as a cutting board, but it should be durable enough that you can set pots and pans and cooking utensils on it.
Is the tile going to be put on a wall? It will probably be susceptible to less wear in this location than a floor or countertop tile, so less highly-treated tiles such as hand-painted or artisanal ones may be appropriate.
These guidelines can help you to get started thinking about the world of tile options available to you. Make an appointment today or just stop in our showroom and we’d be happy to help you figure out the rest!
(Adapted from “Choosing the Right Tile,” by Rosemary Sadez Friedmann, HGTV)