Floor Tiles Skirting

Thin Porcelain tiles skirting, Gaza 2019

Floor tile skirting is a short wall tile to protect wall from water and to give the walls a nice finishing. The main function of floor tile skirt is to protect the wall from water during floor cleaning. Furniture against the walls will scratch and damage it, tile skirting keep a small distance between wall and furniture. Also tile skirting keep a nice appearance of the connection between tiles and walls. Floor tiles skirting can be made from different materials according to the space function.

skirt is protect the wall from furniture scratching, Gaza 2020
skirt is protect the wall from furniture scratching, Gaza 2020

Tile Skirting Height

Since tile skirting function is to protect the wall from water, several centimeters height are enough. The tiles skirting nice height is 7 cm, I have tried shorter and higher skirt but wasn’t nice as 7 cm in height. Keep in mind that for some special cases, like when the wall has marble cladding one or two centimeters are enough. Select skirting material with low water absorbing to protect marble from water. Select a black granite skirting it will look as a nice shadow line detail.

For tile cladding wall there is no need to install tile skirting. Another special case when there is a wall in less than 15 cm height, like what is used for handrail balcony or curtain wall detail. I prefer to avoid few cm painting wall over the skirting, therefore skirting could be higher or from the same material as sill to appear as a block of marble.

Balcony with low parapet height that need emperador sill full height
Balcony with low parapet height that need emperador sill full height. Gaza Alhelou petrol station 2018

Skirting Cutting Problem

Many companies produce tile skirting in a certain size, these skirts have a straight edges.  Other times, craftsmen cut tiles in certain heights to make the tile’s skirting. There are several methods to cut a porcelain or ceramic tiles either by manual tile cutter, grinder or a saw machine. Cutting tiles using manual tile cutter or grinder won’t have a straight edges. Craftsman will install bad cut edge at the bottom, to avoid it appear to the human eye. Then cement grout used to fill the bad cut edge connection. This cut method can be used if there is much tile pieces that have at least one straight edge. The best tile cut method is saw machine to have straight edges. Not all tiles contractors have in-site saw machine, therefore sometimes they send it to marble workshop to cut them.

skirting cutting problems, show that low edge has bad cut and filled with cement grout that has problems too. Gaza 2020
skirting cutting problems, show that low edge has bad cut and filled with cement grout that has problems too. Gaza 2020

Skirting Round Edges

At the British International School in Gaza project, it required a recognition from the UK. One of the main requirements to get the recognition was student safety, therefore they asked to round skirting edges. The marble flooring and skirting disassembled, then send them to marble factory to round the top edge. Full-body porcelain can round it edge, while full-color porcelain the round edge will have similar color to the edge and won’t look nice. However, can’t round ceramic or veneer tiles because the bisque layer is weak and have a different color.

Skirting round edge from Omani marble, Gaza 2016
Skirting round edge from Omani marble, Gaza 2016
Marble skirt in lathe profile for wall wood cladding
Marble skirt in lathe profile for wall wood cladding, Gaza 2011

Skirting Corners

It’s important to notice that skirting require a 45 degree cut as shown in the following photo. It can’t install over each other to avoid tiles bisque layer to appear. Half on half and other detailed connection doesn’t suite the skirting scale. Also 45 degree corner connection suite when the skirt has a top round edge.

Granite round edge skirting and 45 degree corners, Gaza 2020
Granite round edge skirting and 45 degree corners, Gaza 2020

Plaster Paint  and Tile Skirting Details

As tile skirting role to have a nice wall floor appearance, the wall-skirt detail is important. Most walls have plaster and painting finish and sometimes a wallpaper finish is used. 

For plaster craftsmen like to end their work 15 cm from the top of concrete. 10 cm is the finish floor level, then tile skirt require 7 cm. This means tiles craftsman have two choices either to lay skirting tiles over plaster works or to remove the plaster then lay the skirt. I prefer to remove the plaster then to lay tile skirt to have less thickness skirt. Another finish alternative, when plaster craftsman leave 20 cm from the top of concrete instead of 15 cm. This way they need to finish the 3 cm plaster after the tiles work finish and before tile joint grout begins. 

For painting works, the most important to make a sharp edge between painting and tile skirt, and it’s better to make a round edge to have a nice finish. Also for wallpaper it’s important to know where to end the wallpaper.

Thin Porcelain tiles skirting, Gaza 2019
Thin Porcelain tiles skirting, Gaza 2019
Thick Porcelain tiles skirting that have over lap bad connection filled with cement grout, Gaza 2019
Thick Porcelain tiles skirting that have over lap bad connection filled with cement grout, Gaza 2019

Tiles Expansion Joint

For high temperature countries like Arab Gulf, tiles expansion joint is important. In outdoor and large spaces expansion joint can be installed each 4 meters in both directions. Another expansion joint at room boundaries and in the connection between wall and floor. A centimeter that doesn’t have either tiles or a mortar, then it’s filled with rubber material like SikaFlex or other products. Then the tiles skirt will cover the expansion joint and won’t appear for the human eyes.

Tiles Skirting Connection with Doors

The connection between door and tiles skirting is a sensitive detail. Where door frame install after tiles works and sometimes after the painting works to keep it clean. So site engineering has to give the tiles craftsman where the tile skirting ends. So when the door frame installed they have a nice finish together. Sometimes interior designers make a door frame base to avoid bad connection with tile skirt.

Bad skirting connection with door. Gaza 2020
Bad skirting connection with door. Gaza 2020
How to make curved walls skirting ?

Well, tiles and natural stone materials can’t bend according to the wall curve. Therefore the best solution is to divide the skirt into smaller width size according to the wall curvature. Dividing the skirt width will give a not bad solution that will have a bad appearance.Curved wall skirt using small width species, Gaza 2016

Skirt mortar problem, notice that the tile that doesn’t fill with mortar have echo sound. Gaza 2020

How to Select Ceramic and Porcelain Tiles

How to select a trendy porcelain tiles
How to select a trendy porcelain tiles, Alsiksik showroom Gaza 2019

Ceramic and porcelain tiles are artificial building materials made of clay, with a nice colored layer then a glaze layer in the top. The alternatives in clay types – the bisque layer – is different from ceramic to porcelain. If it’s red then it’s definitely a ceramic tile, ceramic is weaker and has more pores than porcelain.

Porcelain is treated by firing process to increase it strength in order to resist scratching and water absorb. Porcelain types are veneer surface, full-color and full-body porcelain. Veneer is just a thin top printed layer with off-white color bisque. Full-body porcelain has colored bisque layer, usually it has different colors to form particles or to have veins like style. Full-body tiles is allowed to surface grind for maintenance, also if the surface scratch the body has the same texture. Full-color porcelain is a cheaper alternative, it has two layers, the top surface is printed and bisque has color similar to surface texture.  

Last several years, when tiles’ production bloomed. The tiles have more textured finish alternatives ranging from shiny, soft reflection, rough and in addition to 3D geometric tiles. As a trend, designers use the tiles that similar to wood, natural stones and concrete like tiles. Porcelain production’s developed to have products that are similar to natural materials in texture, reflection and seamless tiles prints. 

Ceramic and Porcelain tiles in similar shape to wood and stone
Porcelain in similar shape to wood and stone, By ORIGIN DESIGN, Zahi Alrayyes, Gaza 2019

Ceramic and Porcelain Tiles Texture

Rough and 3D geometric tiles become more popular recently. in order to have an appearance closer to natural materials. Some tile’s designs have several 3D forms to create a more natural and realistic appearance. Rough and 3D surface tiles are not suitable for floors, where it’s hard to clean. Rough and 3D geometric tiles designed for a wall decoration. Use 3D geometric and rough tile to create a focal point by applying a graze light to it. This idea suite small spaces like toilet and bathroom. For rough surface tiles use a defined boundary wall that doesn’t have openings or fixtures to avoid bad connections.

Ceramic and Porcelain tile with 3D geometric tiles at Abu shareia showroom
3D geometric tiles at Abu shareia showroom, Gaza 2018
A porcelain collection that have different textures, Alsiksik showroom Gaza 2019
A porcelain collection that have different textures, Alsiksik showroom Gaza 2019
3D white ceramic matt tiles with lights effect
3D white ceramic matt tiles with lights effect, Gaza 2018

Ceramic and Porcelain Tiles Printing

There are two methods of tiles printing, the printing veneer and full-body casting types. In both methods, it’s always better to have different printings. The different prints will have a more natural appearance, four and more seamless prints will increase the tiles price. Full-body casting will definitely have seamless tiles, since it’s casting the mix could have slightly different tones. The different tones will look ugly next to each other, each tile package has a tone number, keep an eye on that. To reach economical casting solutions, producers created combination type of porcelain. The combination by casting the top surface at porcelain bisque. The combination type porcelain is the tiles manufacturing trend, the tiles casting is in competition to veneer printing tiles price.

Casting surface porcelain tiles, Algefari showrrom Gaza 2019
Casting surface porcelain tiles, Algefari showroom Gaza 2019

Ceramic and Porcelain Tiles Reflection

Ceramic and porcelain tiles has glaze layer, this  glaze layer could be matt, slightly reflect or high glossy.  The traditional shiny tiles that have a high gloss became timeless. The matt and rough tiles’ finish took it place to look similar to natural materials. 

Porcelain manufacturing contain the firing process, this by applying a high temperature to porcelain. Firing process give the glaze layer strength to resist scratching and fill the surface pores to be a waterproof layer. The porcelain fire process disadvantage is that glaze layer will wave. The waving will appear more in high glossy tiles, and decreasing in less shiny surface and won’t appear for matt surfaces.

Porcelain tiles waving problem
Porcelain tiles waving problem. Gaza 2019

Matt tiles suite lighting design more than glossy tiles. When light source reflect at glossy tiles will it mirror the light source gives visual noise. Designers use matt and rough tiles that doesn’t reflect light, to have a visual comfort.  The only problem face matt and rough tiles is cleaning, where the rougher the surface is, the harder to clean it surface. Therefore we prefer not to use at floors. But also keep in mind that a high gloss tiles is hard to clean, it has always to appear elegant and shiny. 

different reflection tiles at Hamada showroom, Gaza 2020
different reflection tiles at Hamada showroom, Gaza 2020
Comparing between porcelain and marble reflection
Comparing between porcelain and marble reflection. The left is porcelain and right is marble. Gaza 2019

FAQ

Ceramic tiles bisque is red?

Most common it’s red but no, it’s can be a white clay as well. Many tiles showrooms present white clay ceramic tiles as it’s porcelain to increase the ceramic tiles price. Ceramic has more pores than porcelain, if it’s rough it’s white ceramic clay. Also you can test it by applying water to tile back, where ceramic absorb water more than porcelain.

Ceramic red clay, Gaza 2020
Ceramic red clay, Gaza 2020
Ceramic white clay, Gaza 2020
Ceramic white clay, notice it has more pores than porcelain, Gaza 2020
Porcelain clay, notice that porcelain back is rough to enhance mortar bonding to it Gaza 2020
Porcelain clay, notice that porcelain back is rough to enhance mortar bonding to it Gaza 2020

Beauty of Travertine Veins

Travantine is a natural stone classify as limestones. Travertine stone is unique by it veins, pores and holes, this what gives it more aesthetic value. These make travertine soft, absorbent and it doesn’t resist the weathering action well. Travertine become known by its veining, it’s the beauty of travertine. Also Travertine is known by its warm natural range of colors, in tones of beige, cream, brown, yellow, orange, red, gold, silver and a wooden like texture. Travertine formed in salted lakes from calcium carbonate. In most often travertine found in Italy, Turkey, USA, Mexico, Peru and Croatia. This post will discuss several topics you need to know before selecting travertine. 

Classic Travertine shows it pores, veins and texture
Classic travertine texture. By Zomord Marble 2018.

Travertine Applications

For thousands of years travertine is used as a common building material for walls and decorations. Since travertine has pores and holes, which is hard to fit some applications like floor, stairs and sinks. Travertine holes need to be filled, and pores to seal in order to achieve these applications function. Travertine holes could filled with cement grout or marble adhesive. 

Classic and noche travertine together. It's show travertine holes. Arrange travertine together.
Notice travertine holes. This is classic travertine beside Noche travertine -wooden like texture – at Alhoreya Building, Alzahra city 2019 by Zahi Alrayyes

Cement grout is holes filler, where cement will absorb water and it became darker. Also cement won’t have the same reflection as travertine surface. On the other hand, marble adhesive is available in many colors as well as transparent base. Marble adhesive doesn’t effect from water and will remain with the same color. The disadvantage of marble adhesive that it will break and fragment when exposed to sun rays. Therefore, as holes filler and joints between tiles, it’s better to use cement grout for outdoor and marble adhesive for indoor applications. 

Travertine back side. it shows the holes and pores
Classic travertine back side. by Zahi Alrayyes. Alzahra city 2019

Pores also affect how travertine will look over time, sealer can protect travertine and keep the surface beauty over time. There are several products in the market to protect travertine surface and keep the same glossiness or the rough surface. Be aware that rough surface is harder to seal, because it has more pores and it requires a matte sealer. 

Sink made of yellow travertine, The travertine holes are filled and pores are sealed
Sink made of yellow travertine. at Zomord showroom, Alburej 2017.

These solutions allow designers to select travertine as marble and granite, especially because travertine has unique colors and texture. The below photos shows the use of travertine as sink, stairs and other applications.

counter top sink made of noche travertine, The travertine holes are filled and pores are sealed
counter top sink made of noche travertine. By Zomord marble 2019

Travantine Veins

As mentioned above, travertine is unique by it softness, veins and holes. Travertine is groups of light and dark veins. The most important thing is to arrange travertine tiles before installation in order to have the continuous veins. Arranging will show the travertine tiles as art, a mass, or as slab of travertine. To have a continuous veins there are two methods, the continuous and book match arrangement. 

Continuous veins arrangement, when tiles are cut parallel to veins directions. Arranging tiles in stacked bond, or running bond that I recommend. Running bond is better because it will interlock the different tones together. Continuous veins arrangement is the best technique for travertine tiles.

Classic and noche travertine, in continuous veins
Classic and noche travertine, in continuous veins. Alhoreya Building Gaza 2019 by Zahi Alrayyes

Diagonal veins cut is suitable to be arranged continuously or in book match arrangement. Marble and travertine tiles and slabs that has a clear diagonal veins are suitable for book match arrangement. Book match arrangement adds aesthetic value to walls, the wall will look as continuous paint of travertine. To have a continuous veins for book match arrangement, where the back of travertine need to be polished.

Book match travertine veins. Noche travertine, wood like travertine.
Travertine wall cladding by Kamal Abdelhadi. using travertine noche -the wooden like texture- Gaza 2018

The scale of travertine veins has an important impact, where most people consider smaller veins is more beautiful. This is true for interior scale, or in applications that is close to human eye. On the other hand the larger veins is more suitable for applications that has longer distance from human eye like architecture scale. Then in both cases you can enjoy the appearance of travertine veins to appear as a mass, or a natural rock.

Continuous travertine tile's veins
Classic travertine. It’s shows travertine as one mass. This by arranging travertine veins together. Alhoreya Building, Alzahra, Owned by Hossam and Wassem Salman Alhelou By Architect Zahi Alrayyes 2019

Travertine Cross Veins

Cross veins travertine is also available. Cross veins cut required a rigid and solid travertine stone. it’s popular for American Travertine, the orange travertine like the one in the below photo. It’s like particles of different colors and tones instead of continuous veins.

Cross veins travertine stairs cladding. American orange travertine
Cross veins travertine stairs cladding. American orange travertine by ORIGIN DESIGN Architect Zahi Alrayyes at GIZ office. Beirut tower, Gaza 2017.

Travertine Decoration

Travertine Tiles and mosaics are available in different sizes and arrangement as decorations. Whites, greys, yelows, oranges and red shades makes the small tiles sizes and mosaic look nice. From french set, to straight arrangement, and other shapes that have classic appearance.

Orange, red and yellow, hue travertine color for flower box, By Maher Abuseif, Alzwayda 2018

Travantine Finish Surface

Travertine came in different surface finish, range from polished, matt, brushed to rough surface. Personally i don’t like travertine with high reflection, rough travertine surface reflect the less amount of light and sound. This makes it suitable for building cladding, where weathering will add more aesthetic value to it. Also it’s suitable for interior spaces, especially public spaces that require less echo wall cladding finish materials.

FAQs

How to install travertine walls?

Travertine can install at walls either by casting, using cement mortar or glueing using tile adhesive. I prefer to install using transparent tile adhesive for two reasons. The first reason is that travertine has pores and holes which means cement could be pure during casting, which will look ugly. Another reason I prefer gluing, is also because pores and holes that tile adhesive could stick easy in them to enhance the connection between wall and travertine. To gluing the travertine it requires to plaster the wall in a good leveling, and remember that tile adhesive can’t have a thicknesses like cement mortar and casting methods.

What are the available travertine sizes in the market?

Travertine is available in similar sizes as marble range from, Slabs, Tiles and Stairs. Slabs are available in size of 1.7*2.8m in thickness of 3cm. Tiles are available in size of 30*60 and 120*60 in thickness of 1.8cm. Stairs are available in several sizes, where the thickness of going in 3cm and 1.8cm for risers. The length of the stair step typically is 120 and 130cm and could be longer. Also there are other sizes like 15*15*1.8cm in diagonal veins direction and also french set, mosaic and other decoration sizes. Travertine red shades french set.Travertine slab

Porcelain Stairs Design

Development of outdoor stairs tiles, Before and after
Before and after installing stairs tiles for ORIGIN DESIGN office entrance. Gaza 2019

This project is stairs porcelain tiles as application for Using Tiles for stairs, the project is outdoor stairs for ORIGIN DESIGN office entrance. The old situation as shown in the before and after photo is black tiles and four steps of Rosa Beta granite. We have redesigned the stairs and garden to have four steps each in size of 120*150 cm. Beside the steps, will add grass in sloped level to enhancing stairs beauty, this beside rearrange and developing the landscape. Through this topic we will discuss stairs building stages from drawings, selecting tiles, building blocks, tiling and finishing.

Prepare Drawings and Selecting tiles

Stairs drawings designed according to available tiles at the market, usually designers have knowledge about tiles sizes at the market. The process after choosing the tiles size, is to select the proper tiles texture and color. In this project, I have selected parquet in size of 15*120 cm to fill area of 90*120 cm. Unfortunately, choices were limited in this size, and I haven’t like tiles texture and color for this size. As an alternative I have found 120*20 cm parquet tiles in color I like, but this size doesn’t fit the drawings. 4 tiles pieces will cover area of 120*80 cm, in addition to cut a piece to 120*10 cm, but it won’t look professional.

Drawings for stairs tiles using 15*90cm parquet and white matt tiles in surrounding
Drawings for stairs tiles using 15*90cm parquet and white matt tiles in surrounding. GAZA 2019

Another alternative in the market was a Spanish parquet tiles from UNDEFASA in size of 15*90 cm. This mean we can rearrange tiles where 8 tiles will cover area of 90*120 cm perfectly. For border tiles and risers, we selected light gray 120*60 cm Italian tiles from ABK in thickness of 7 mm. Both tiles color and texture match, and they add to stairs design beauty. 120×60 tiles need to be cut in size of 15*120 cm and few in size of 30*120 cm. In order to have a clear edge cut, we sent the tiles to marble factor to cut tiles using saw machine. Now tiles are ready for the next stage.

Building the Stairs

After ordering building materials from cement blocks, cement, lime and sand. And demolishing the old steps, in order to prepare the site for building as shown in the drawings. The block walls top-level built to be lower than tiles level by 5 to 10 cm. This due to block dimensions and to allow craftsman adapting the steps levels. Then to fill sand between steps walls, and top 10 cm was mix between sand and cement. The mixture between sand and cement will enhance the ground strength, If there is a water leakage it will become a concrete surface. After finishing these works, now we are ready for tiling stage.

Building large step oudoor stairs
Building large step oudoor stairs. Gaza 2019 by Zahi Alrayyes for ORIGIN DESIGN office

Stair’s Tiles

Usually craftsmen begin to install stairs from first step at the bottom then going upward. in this case, it’s more convenient to use downward method by installing step tread then the riser. Another advantage of building upper level going downward because there is a certain upper level and flexible lower level. 

Tilling stairs tile going and rizer using cement mortar
Tilling stairs tile going and rizer using cement mortar. Gaza Palestine 2019. at ORIGIN DESIGN office

First of all craftsman arrange tiles at straight level, matching parquet colors together making area of 120*90 cm. Then add gray tiles around them, we face a problem where the gray tiles are 119.5 cm instead of 120 cm. Also parquet make area of 121×90 cm, we planned to install parquet without grout, but still there is a millimeter between each. The solution was to cut a 1.5 cm from a parquet tile to have area of 120*90 cm. Together with the light gray tiles it made an area of 150*120 cm. 

Installing cement grout, Vitra CG1 in light grey color
Installing cement grout, Vitra CG1 in light grey color. Gaza Palestine 2019. at ORIGIN DESIGN office

After installing the step tread, for the riser we use regular connection, where tread will lay over the riser gives straight angle. Also risers between each other will gather using 45 degrees method, to appear as one mass. 

Tiles Finishing

Finishing showing the beauty, especially for tile edges details. Grout is important, we used Vitra Cement grout CG1 white color for the stairs. Using liquid colors to give it a color similar to tiles, The parquet color is mixed using black, brown and mustard color. For the gray color we mixed to the black and a little brown color to the white cement grout. Notice that to have a well bond cement grout to the tile, you need to clean cement and sand between tiles. Then to fill the grout probably and leave to setting well. Then using metal sponge, clean the rest of the grout, you need to clean tiles well because they are rough.  

outdoor large stairs tiles using parquet and white matt tiles
outdoor large stairs tiles using parquet and white matt tiles. Gaza 2019 by ORIGIN DESIGN.
Why tile size is 119.5 cm instead of 120 cm ?

This is related to shipping and size of shipping container. Tiles pack by cardboard to reach 120 cm, then it could fit the wooden plate. These few millimeters will save a lot of money. And sometimes this happens during cutting tiles at factory, Saw cutting will have the blade thickness around 3 mm. Therefore i prefer laser cutting tiles where it’s more accurate and thinner during cutting. 

Why not using a tile adhesive for the grout?

Tile adhesive will crack when sun rays reach it, so it doesn’t fit outdoor applications. Another reason not to use tile adhesive, that tile adhesive has fast setting, and it couldn’t clean the rest of the grout by metal sponge. It need to grind the material, this fit marble but tiles can’t be grinding.

Using Tiles for Stairs

rough stairs tiles white color, at lighthouse restaurant Gaza 2011

Selecting proper tiles for stairs is a hard mission, because stair is in high traffic area. Designers choice a high strength cladding material like granite because it’s solid. Due to high price of granite, usually people choose the cheapest granite type. Rosa Beta, has a low price because it doesn’t look nice, traders says “Rosa Beta is granite in marble price”. Using marble is the next option, but marble surface will scratch and fragment due to stairs’ high traffic. However marble is weak and nice, but could maintenance easily by grinding and polishing it surface. after maintenance and renovation marble will look as it’s installed yesterday. Porcelain tiles is economical choice, it’s artificial material where tile body could be different from tile’s face according to different types. This post will cover how to select tiles for stairs, what are riser and tread connections types and how to install stairs’ tiles.

How to Select Porcelain Tiles for Stairs

Selecting the proper stair tiles is a sensitive mission. Take in mind few things while choosing stair’s tile: the tile’s classification, the size of the tile, the glossiness, and finally choice anti scratch tile.

  1. Do not use ceramic tiles, ceramic body is weak and stairs has high traffic. Also ceramic’s body color usually is red and this doesn’t fit the connection between step’s riser and tread. Even for porcelain’s tile Choice full body tile or color body’s tile. 
  2. Choose proper size tile’s to fit stair’s width. In market, there are tiles in size of 120*40 cm and 120*60 cm. These tiles size fit with stairs’ in width of 120 cm or less. Using small tile’s size isn’t recommended because tiles will be weak and easy to break.
  3. Choosing matte tile’s or high glossiness, depends on the context design. Personally i don’t like glazed porcelain, because glaze layer is usually wave. Matte tile’s is a better choice especially for riser and step tread connection as we will discuss in the next paragraphs. 
  4. One last thing to take in consider especially for high glossiness glazed tiles. Due to stair’s high traffic, tile could scratch, it’s recommended to choice anti scratch tiles. Also you can test scratch resistance at material lab.

Stairs Tile’ Edges Types

The difference between marble and porcelain, marble’s edge could polish to have safe edge in nice finish. This due to marble’s body and surface are the same material. When it comes to tiles, even full body tiles, tile’s polished edge glossiness won’t appear as nice as the surface glossiness. Therefore designers look for special edge details for riser and step treads that fit porcelain material. There are several types for edge details either by installing tile trim or polished porcelain tiles: bull nose type, straight riser, or to use advanced details like Costa Retta or Gradone types.

Tile trim

This by installing a porcelain, metal or stainless steel tile’s trim at the connection between riser and step tread. The tile trim will have a hard edge however it doesn’t have a high aesthetic value.

Tiles for stairs

Some manufacturers produce tiles for stairs, these tiles in width of 30cm and different lengths. What is unique of these tiles that it’s design with edge suitable for stairs and an anti-slip lines. Those lines are important to implement in stairs with tile, marble or granite finish.

Tiles for stairs with anti-stip lines
Tiles for stairs with anti-stip lines. Gaza 2019

Bullnose

This type of stair’s tile, by cut and polish the edge of step tread in round or semi-round end. The edge will be safe and hard to break. On the other hand, the tile has to be full body or color body, to allow edge polishing. Another disadvantage of this type that not all tiles contractors could implement it, because it requires special machines.

Bullnose stairs porcelain tiles method
Bullnose stairs porcelain tiles method

Straight or Angled Riser

Simplest way to install stair tiles. Where riser installed at right angle or acute angle to improve the safety of the staircase. In case of acute angle, craftsmen create a template to install riser, this makes the job easier and aligned. In right angle, tread lay over the riser, and 45 degrees edge use when tile’s body difference than the surface. It depends on the quality of tiles, remember that 45 degrees edge connection is weak.

45 degrees stairs porcelain tiles method
Straight 45 degrees stairs porcelain tiles method
Angled stairs porcelain tiles method

Straight Nose (Costa Retta)

This by creating a detailed step nose from several tiles pieces. Implement this type require an experienced craftsman. The void of nose is filled with cement mortar. Costa Retta is Italian word mean straight nose, this type has a high aesthetic value.

Costa Retta stairs porcelain tiles method

Large Step (Gradone)

This method also has a step’s nose but it’s simpler to implement than Costa Retta. This by gluing a tread as shown in the following photo. Gradone mean long step in Italian, also this type has a nice appearance.

Gradone stairs porcelain tiles method
Gradone stairs porcelain tiles method

Installing Tiles on Stairs

Installing stair tiles need a professional, he needs to also calculate the height of stair’s risers. Then making few millimeters slope at step’s tread toward downward. Tread slope is necessary to prevent water from collecting on each stair tread, for long periods of time. Tiles laid over cement mortar, and below the mortar a mix of sand and cement in 1:1 ratio. The cement and sand mix, will be a concrete when water reaches it through tiles or tile’s grouts. The last important thing to implement is anti slip lines at each step, this is necessary for outdoor and glazed stairs.

Conclusion this, installing tiles at stairs is economical but has to choose the right tile and install it the correct way. The following photo is porcelain tiles’ stairs installed 13 years ago in high traffic outdoor restaurant. Thousands of people pass through this staircase daily, the stair situation still good compared to it low price.

porcelain tiles 30*30 cm rough white color in a restaurant in Gaza 2005. The stairs is in a good condition comparing to 19 years old tiles in very busy public space.
Porcelain stairs, Lighthouse Restaurant Gaza 2019

PHOTOS FOR STAIRS TILES APPLICATIONS

Stairs Tiles with travertine lines
Stairs Tiles with travertine lines at Gaza 2016 by Zahi Alrayyes.
outdoor large stairs tiles using parquet and white matt tiles
outdoor large stairs tiles using parquet and white matt tiles. Gaza 2019 by ORIGIN DESIGN.

For more information and example check out Stairs Tiles Design post at TashteebBlog

FAQs

How to finish porcelain tiles 45 degree corners?

You have two options, for outdoor use cement grout, it won’t give the best solution. For indoor and away from sun rays, use marble adhesive it will give better appearance and finish as shown in the following photo. Notice that sample done by Zomord marble using 12 mm thickness porcelain. It used a marble adhesive, which is hard to paint in black color, because it base is white, it need much color to seem dark gray.
porcelain edges finish, using marble adhesive in black color. By Zomord marble Gaza 2020

Marble Floors Disadvantages

Installing Marble at Floor, ORIGIN DESIGN, Gaza 2019

Marble flooring give the interior an elegant appearance, however marble floor have many problems because marble is sensitive. Installing marble at floor is more sensitive than wall. At wall dust and water will slide away from marble, but on floor it remain at marble ruining it surface.

Level surfaces problem

One of marble floors disadvantages is surface level. After extracting marble from quarries , marble cuts into slabs using band saw or bridge type saw. Band saw produce a wave surface, comparing to bridge type saw it’s produce a straight surface. During installing of marble flooring, craftsman has to level the floor surface. IF the marble cut using band saw machines craftsman has to arrange the tiles in a way to avoid different surface level.

To check if marble surface leveled, keep you eyes at floor reflection, the reflected photo has to be straight not sporadic or wave. In case that marble surface isn’t leveled, it requires grinding marble and polishing it. Personally I don’t recommend grinding marble because original grinder will lose for longer period. 

Fragmentation of marble Surface

Another marble floors disadvantages is surface fragmentation. Marble floor has to be always clean, where dust and sand at floor with people movement will scratch marble surface, marble will lose reflection of marble. When small area in marble scratched it will affect other areas and will make the surface look bad. Although i prefer grinding marble only if the marble surface scratched, it will return as it installed last month.

Marble flooring disadvantages
Marble flooring disadvantages, Omani marble, Gaza 2016

Water as we discussed before, its ruin marble. Grinding marble surface can protect from natural factors like dust and water, but marble sides and back will gain water. It will gain water if there is a problem with sewage or water supply system underneath the marble. Therefore marble sides and back has to be protected against water and moisture. 

Porcelain Tile Mortar

Tile mortar used to bond tiles to wall. There are two main options as mortar, cement mortar and tile adhesive mortar. Cement material is not glue, dissolving cement with water become fluid state. It poured in between other materials pores and when it dries it becomes rigid and bonding different materials. Porcelain doesn’t have pores, means cement will not bond with it. Unlike ceramic where cement mortar poured into ceramics, it bonding it to wall. As well as, the wall need to be rough to increase bonding mortar to wall. Tile Adhesive is white cement, with materials like glue and other admixture to increase setting time. Since tile adhesive has glue, it’s better than cement mortar for porcelain.

Cement mortar make either from white or Portland cement. Portland cement has dark gray color, it gives the porcelain tiles darker tone color. Therefore white cement is better especially for white and light colors tiles. Mixing cement mortar at site, where each 50KG cement bag need 12 Sand buckets and 0.5 bucket of lime.  Lime gives the mortar elasticity to enhance workability, in high humidity areas we prefer to use hydrated lime S. Sometimes, craftsmen add shampoo to cement mortar which I reject because it weakens the mixture. Notice that cement has initial setting time, and mortar has to used within half an hour. When installing porcelain with cement mortar make a mixture of water and cement only, and pour it between tile and cement mortar.

installing large size tile by cement mortar
installing large size tile by cement mortar, 2019

Mortar adhesive is available in different types, ISO13007 has classified the tile adhesive in codes. The following table will describe the main letter used to write the code, and what each means.

ISO13007 table

To convert the above table to function
C1E : Internal use for ceramic flooring, small tiles
C1TE : Internal use for ceramic walls, small tiles 
C2E : Internal use for porcelain or large scale tiles flooring
C2TE : Internal use for porcelain or large scale tiles walls
C2TES1: External use and swimming pools.
C2TES2 : External use building elevations.

What is Salted Water Effect on Tile Mortar ?

Using salted water is forbidden in construction. Salted water reduce mortar life, the appearance of efflorescence and then tile will loose and fall. Always use a drinking water to protect the beauty of tile work and to increase it life. Since porcelain and ceramic tiles’ laid on  tile adhesive or cement mortar . Both has cement that contain calcium hydroxide which is formed during the cement hydration. When rain water pass through tiles grout will dissolve calcium hydroxide then tile will lose from mortar. Avoiding this use salt water resistant sealer admixture to mortar for avoiding this problem even with drinking water.

This information in enough to understand tiles mortar. Notice that low quality tiles mortar will ruin the tiles, take the right decision and feel free to ask any questions. 

How to Select Trend Parquet Tiles

In the last several years, parquet tiles – the wood like – become very popular. It gives a warm feeling to the space; it’s more suitable for house than a public space. In this article we will discuss the specifications of parquet tiles, to understand how to select and buy it.

parquet flooring
parquet flooring, Gaza 2018
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Methods of ceiling marble cladding

Marble ceiling cladding gives the architecture feeling of marble masses, the building appear as a piece of marble. However there are several types to install marble at ceilings, each method has advantages and disadvantages. Through this article we will discuss ceiling cladding methods,then you can make a decision about which method to use.

There are three methods of installing marble at ceilings. A method before casting the slab and two methods after casting the slab, one of them is using mechanical system. We will discuss the mechanical way of installing in another topic.

Before casting slab method

it’s the most common and simplest way of installing. Where marble place on the wooden framework, and it installs a steel inside the marble. Marble adhesive used to connect marble tiles together. This method sounds easy but it doesn’t reach a good result because it may move during concrete casting. Tiles could move, then it is recommended to put a mortar over the marble to enhance the bond and to protect marble adhesive from ruin by sun rays.

A problem facing this method, frameworks surface is hard to get it leveled, and any defect will appear clearly. Solving this problem can be either by chamfer the tiles edges, then it’s hard to notice its not level. Another alternative is to adopt the wood frame level, either by putting an over layer plywood to re-level the surface. For professional it’s recommended to make cladding surface lower than the rest of the slab by 5 cm. Then put sand into this area and arrange marble tiles as its verse tiling, then you can control the level precisely. 

marble cladding for ceilings methods
During working at marble cladding for ceiling, and before installing it rips blocks and steel bars. Gaza 2018
This craftsman, install Travertine tiles for ceiling cladding, using before casting method. He uses small marble pieces to gather tiles at same level by marble adhesive. Gaza, ORIGIN DESIGN, 2019
marble cladding for ceilings defects
marble cladding for ceilings defects, Gaza 2018

After casting slab – by casting method

This method has a better quality than the previous method, but it is not suitable for a large area. By making a new framework underneath the slab and by leaving the thickness of the marble and a space for cement mortar. Then steel wire will connect to the marble tile, after that arrange marble at the framework. Then connecting the marble wires to a steel mesh connecting to the concrete slab, and then it’s ready for concrete casting. We need to cast the concrete from the top, this by opening a 10 cm open at the concrete slab. But be aware to add more water to the concrete and extra cement to have a good concrete suitable for this job. It’s better to open several openings for casting at the slab. Because we need concrete to reach the top and air will get out through them.

After Casting method, Gaza 2018

As much as marble has a brilliant appearance at ceiling but also installing it is not an easy job, and it’s hard to fix and defects after installing. 

How to fix marble ceiling cladding defects?

Usually for before casting methods, and some installation defects appear after removing the slab frameworks. Some tiles aren’t at the same level, this time we tried to solve this by doing a groove between the tiles. A three grooves along the balcony solved much of the problem. Here are photos from before and after for solving the problem. 

Marble cladding for ceiling that has some defects, where tiles aren't at the same levelMarble cladding for ceiling that has some defects, where tiles aren't at the same level, solved by doing groves between tiles

Everything you need to know about Tiles Grout

Grout is tiles joint – small space – between tiles, this space function is to allow the craftsmen to align tiles together. Typically spaces between tiles range from 2 to 4 mm and it measured by plastic grout spacers.

The size of tiles joints can affect the tiles style either modern or classic. For modern appearance usually we recommend arrangement tiles directly with no space. This fit laser cut tiles case, where tiles are well trimmed at 90 degrees angles. On the other hand, saw cutting tiles will have classic appearance. Saw cutting tiles are cheaper than laser cutting tiles, but during manufacturing it could have a difference in tiles size. This could appear clearly by eyes therefore it’s better to use large tiles joint about 7 mm wide. However in classic appearance tiles it more beautiful to leave a large grout space, but be aware to buy a good brand ground to avoid color changing.

Grout function is to align tiles together and it’s not expansion joints, because it could fill by cement grout or in marble tiles cases could fill with epoxy or marble adhesive. Both fillers type could be colored to appear in harmony or in contrast with tiles. 

tiles grout important, and what to fill it. The photo is for a Creama nova marble, Gaza 2019

As expansion joint we recommended to leave around a cm between tiles and walls. The expansion joint will cover by tiles’ skirting. Expansion joints need to be clear from sand and mortar, then to fill with highly stretchable material like Sikaflex. Then it covers with tiles skirting.There is a special accessory for tiles expansion joints where it installed outdoors in high temperature countries.

According to ISO standards 13007, where grout classified according to materials to resin grout RG and cement grout CG. The cement grout classify to CG1 and CG2, of course CG2 is better. You can search about Iso standards 13007 for more information. Notice that there are few other factors affect grout quality. For example, the tile joint has to be clear from sand or dust, so the grout find a place it self. 

Cleaning Tiles Grout

Many people suffer from tile grout cleaning, especially floor cement grout. For cement grout, where cement has pores that could collect dust and dirt. Then the cement grout will become darker and look old. There are some chemical products that clean cement grout like Grout Cleaner from Fila. It will clean the cement pour from dust and dirty then partly close those pour. Designer sometimes use dark color cement grout, in order to protect it from color difference. Compared to epoxy or using marble adhesive as tiles grout, where it has less pour that won’t collect dust and dirt. The epoxy and tile adhesive grout is using only in indoor where sun will fragment it, making creaking and disassembled with walking friction.

FAQs

Can i use Portland cement as cement grout?

Yes, cement grout is made of cement, either white or Portland cement – gray -. Then add pigment to give it a color and zinc to enhance it strengths. So if you want cement color grout add zinc to Portland grout and use it as tile grout. Use black pigment to make darker grey if you like.

Porcelain Tiles Size & Space Scale

As an architect, who’s always looking for new materials in the market. recently I noticed that traders and tiles showroom compete to provide a larger scale tiles. Before 2017 the larger common tiles size was 60*60 cm, then I begin to find 120*60 cm by 2017, then it reached 100*100 cm by 2018. Since they could market and sell these sizes, the market now in 2019 is full of large scale tiles even on sizes of 70*305 cm and 160*320 cm. Some products with high glossy, Matt and others with rough surfaces. 

large size porcelain slab in size of 160 x 320 cm Calcutta book match veins, Zomord marble 2019
large size porcelain slab in size of 160 x 320 cm Calcutta book match veins, Zomord marble 2019

Porcelain Texture

Personally, I love large scale tiles, however others always think that tiles size is related to space scale. The grout between tiles isn’t the thing in my view point. I keep my eyes on the texture, the veins size. This beside the tiles’ arrangement, the grout size and color. I like 120*60 porcelain tiles which have stone like with rough texture, or a Matt surface with veins, This tiles size show the texture clearly and show the beauty of continuous veins.

Installing a large scale tiles

On the other hand, Installing a large size tiles require a skilled craftsman, where it could install regularly using cement mortar indoors. But as porcelain is solid has fewer pores that doesn’t allow cement to bond with tiles. The large size of tile means more weight, which requires installing use tile adhesive. The adhesive has glues which increase the bond between the wall and tiles. Since tile adhesive is the best choice to install large size tiles, there is an important requirement to prepare the surface. The surface need to be leveled because craftsman can’t control the thickness of tile adhesive. Therefore cement block walls need to be plastered leveled, in order to have a nice wall tiles.

Two tiles craftsmen installing large scale porcelain tile with cement mortar, Gaza 2020 by Dbabesh
Two tiles craftsmen installing large scale porcelain tile with cement mortar, Gaza 2020 by Dbabesh

As we mentioned before porcelain is solid and it pores is not enough to bond tiles with the mortar. Producers solved this problem by making the back of the tile by rough texture. As shown in the following photos, there are different textures and grades that can be made for the tiles back, generally thicker that allow mortar or tile adhesive to bond with the tile that is better. 

120x60 cm large size porcelain tile size has rough back for better bonding, Gaza 2019
120×60 cm large size porcelain tile size has rough back for better bonding, Gaza 2019
Porcelain clay, notice that porcelain back is rough to enhance mortar bonding to it Gaza 2020
Porcelain clay, notice that porcelain back is rough to enhance mortar bonding to it Gaza 2020

Porcelain Tiles In Interior and  Product Design

The development of porcelain production, and the appearance of large size tiles or slabs. Give the interior and product designers new dimensions, to use porcelain tiles and slabs in kitchen tops and cabinets surface, furniture and toilet basin. Still the usage of porcelain tiles develop with time and we are still waiting for new ideas from designer. Porcelain tiles are not only for wall and floor cladding anymore.

porcelain tiles basin Calacatta hidden pop up with lilac marble wall
porcelain tiles basin Calacatta hidden pop up with lilac marble wall. Gaza 2019 By Zomord Marble

Conclusion

Large size porcelain tiles as any product have advantages and disadvantages as mentioned above. Now after reading this you can decide if the large size tiles fit this space or not. Feel free if you have any questions!

large tiles look like marble, Gaza 2019
large tiles look like marble, Gaza 2019