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

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.