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

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