SELECTING YOUR TILER
The creation of a beautiful well completed new or renovated bathroom, kitchen or any other area with wall or floor tile installations is a very satisfying experience.
To ensure that there are no expensive errors, regrets or on-going maintenance problems and that you actually have achieved what you intended, does usually require skill and experience from a professional tile layer.
As the tile layer registration, accreditation or endorsement is not compulsory in all states in Australia, it is sometimes a concern as to who you actually choose to install your tiles.
The following steps should be of assistance:
Ask for a written quotationIt is very important for you to know the cost involved. A written quotation demonstrates that both parties understand what work needs to be done, to achieve an excellent job.
The more detail in the quote, the better, as it assists in avoiding disputes at a later date. Also, you must agree on price prior to the work starting.
Ask the tiler for their references, whether they are qualified and their trade experience.
Compare PricesObtain 2 or 3 quotations. This will give you a realistic idea of how much the installation should cost. Remember that price is not the only criteria and that you may get only what you pay for
Check ReferencesA reputable tradesperson will always allow you to make contact with 2 or 3 of their recent customers so that you can make enquiries about the quality of their work and their code of ethics.
Ask yourself these questions
- Was the tile layer easily contactable?
- Did they arrive on time?
- Did they appear content to do the job?
- Can I communicate with them easily?
- Was the quotation delivered on time, fairly priced and did it cover all work required?
- Am I sure they understand what I want & expect?
- Am I comfortable with this person to handle my work?
Look at the complete picture
Price is not everything. Lowest prices could mean poor workmanship, but the most expensive prices do not necessarily guarantee the best workmanship.
Remember that workmanship includes presentation, minimum amount of inconvenience, cleanliness and overall professionalism.
“If the quotation is fair, the references are good, the timing is suitable and you feel comfortable that the tile layer understands what you are trying to achieve, then choosing the right tile layer for your tile installation should be easy.”
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THIN PORCELAIN TILES
We’re loving the innovation & design coming out of Italy at the moment; especially with the increasing range of thin porcelain tiles. Not only are they between 3.5mm & 5.5mm thick but they are also available up to an impressive 3000mm x 1000 mm in size.
Here’s a little bit of information about them:
- Thin porcelain is produced by a different machine than normal porcelain & ceramic tiles. Normal tiles are pressed at 4500 tonnes. Thin porcelain is rolled through a machine at 16000 tonnes, pushing all the tension out of the tile as well, making it less likely to crack. Giving a 3mm tile the same strength as a normal 9mm tile.
- Larger formats allow greater coverage and minimal grout joints, which provides an impervious surface suitable for all surfaces including commercial kitchens, bench tops, wet areas, external floors and cladding and more.
- Thin porcelain has a bending strength. It can bend to create a circle with a radius of 5m.
- Thin porcelain can be used to tile over existing floors or walls. Please ensure that the surface you are tiling on does not have more than a 3mm tolerance.
- Laying thin porcelain on walls & floors: Adhesive must be used on both the tile and the substrate. (6mm trowel for substrate & tile). *Suitable adhesive must be used. Please contact us for more information*
- Thin porcelain is manufactured with raw materials that do not contain any synthetic substances and therefore offers the security of Fire resistance, Thermal Shock resistance, Durability and Easy cleaning- superior to that of wood and carpet.
- Thin Porcelain is Eco friendly -
Ideal for the construction on low-energy buildings for floor & wall coverings.
Examples of bending:
- Curved walls
- Shower floors (to achieve the required fall)
- Create the fall before laying the tile.
- Cut out the hole in the centre of a 1000x1000 tile for the waste.
- Lay the 1000x1000 piece- put weight on the tile until adhesive dries.
- Hotels/ Apartment buildings can use to tile over top of existing tiles on top levels with out having a problem with weight.
- Hotels etc.- No noise or disruption to guests in other rooms from removing existing tiles.
- Renovating Shops, Restaurants, Hotels etc.- Less time to stay closed for- Tile straight over the top & can be walked on the next day.
- No mess from demolition/ removing existing tiles.
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TYPES OF TILES
PRESSED OR EXTRUDED
Ceramic tiles can be formed either by pressing or extrusion. Pressed tiles are obtained from a paste that is compacted and formed by a high pressure press. Extruded tiles are formed by passing the raw materials in the form of a paste through a special tube forming a strip of clay which is then cut into tiles.
GLAZED OR UNGLAZED
Glazed tiles have a surface that is covered by a coloured layer of glaze. This gives them important design characteristics (such as colour, shininess, decoration, shades of colour etc.) and technical characteristics (such as hardness, impermeability to water etc.). All these characteristics, both technical and aesthetic, depend on the type of glaze and may vary greatlUnglazed tiles, on the other hand, are perfectly uniform both in surface and in thickness, and normally have no decoration or patterns.
RED OR WHITE BODY
Depending on the raw materials used, the body of the tiles can be coloured (any colour shade from yellow to reddish brown) or else they can be whitish (sometimes white). In glazed tiles, the colour of the body is relatively unimportant. For certain unglazed tiles, different colours can be obtained by adding colouring pigments.’
WITH A VITRIFIED OR POROUS BODY
The body of a tile may be Vitrified (Impervious), otherwise it may contain ‘pores’ that are linked to one another in various ways. An extremely powerful microscope would be required to see this characteristic of the body. In order to measure porosity, the quantity of water that is absorbed in given conditions is measured. In other words, water absorption is measured. The higher the water absorption, the more Porous the body, whilst compact Vitrified structures have a low water absorption.
BI-COTTURA (DOUBLE FIRED)
These tiles have been fired twice (at temperatures around 700 degrees C), usually firing the body first, then applying the glaze and marrying the two layers with a second firing. They usually have porous bodies and are suitable mainly for wall tiling.
MONOCOTTURA (SINGLE FIRED)
Tiles that have been fired once at a higher temperature (around 1200 degrees C) than bi-cottura thereby creating a stronger tile which is more suitable for floor tiling, but can also be used for wall tiling.
These are tiles that have been fired and glazed (the same as normal monocottura tiles) but have a superior vitrified porcelain base.
Their advantage over a glazed monocottura tile is that the glaze characteristics are usually stronger due to the higher temperature firing that can be used because of the porcelain base. This usually results in a stronger bond between the glaze and the bisque equating to a stronger impact resistance.
UNGLAZED PORCELAIN (VITRIFIED TILES)
Extremely dense tiles that commonly have a speckled appearance throughout the tile. Are extremely hard wearing and usually used in commercial floor tile applications (shopping centers and foyers of commercial buildings). Are fired at temperatures of up to 1350 degrees centigrade.
Polished Porcelain is unglazed porcelain that is highly polished. Usually comes with beveled (arrised) edges and rectified edges providing uniformity of size allowing for close jointing to create a complete imitation of natural stone (marble).
Can be used on both walls and floors.
Requires an extremely flat substrate to prevent edges or corners ‘kicking up’
Tiles that have their edges cut by a diamond cutter or water jet cutter to produce ‘rectified’ edges calibrated to a precise size.
The intention is for the tiles to be close jointed providing the customer with the look and appearance of natural stone or marble at a lower price.
In many cases the edges of the tile are shaved (arrised edges) to prevent damage to the edges.
Can be used on walls and floors.
QUARRY TILES (EXTRUDED TILES)
Quarry Tiles are manufactured by pushing clay under pressure through an extrusion.
Due to this manufacturing process, these tiles commonly are thicker and less exact in size than normal (dust pressed) tiles thereby requiring larger grout joints when installed.
Extruded tiles are ideally suited to outdoor floor application.
MOSAIC TILES (GLAZED, UNGLAZED and GLASS)
Mosaic Tiles are small square tiles that are mounted on sheets rather than packed individually. They usually have a mesh backing or a specialized paper facing which assists in laying process. These tiles require a thin mortar bed and special techniques to be laid successfully.
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WHY CHOOSE CERAMIC TILES
Why should you choose a ceramic or porcelain tile for your new project?
Ceramic tiles are easy to maintain. Besides cleaning, there is no special maintenance involved.
Easy to clean
Sweep and wash! It doesn’t get simpler and cleaner than that. Ceramic floors make excellent floors as they can be easily wipes and disinfected from spills.
If the grout gets dirtier than you like, you can use a specially formulated grout cleaner to help get the dirt off.
Ceramic tiles are cost effective. As with all tiles, the more high end the tile you choose, the higher the cost of the project; the more detailed the design, the more you’ll pay.
Got a chip or crack? Make sure to keep a few extra tiles around in the event of a crack. You can attempt to replace the tile yourself or find a handyman or tile contractor to do it for you.
Vast style and design options
There are literally thousands of different ceramic tiles around the world. The shapes, colors, styles and designs are vast.
Reduces household allergens
Unlike carpets and rugs, tiles do not attract dust and dust mites. Homes with ceramic floor tiles have less dust in the air, making the air in your home much healthier by reducing the amount of household allergens. This is a fantastic benefit, especially for those who suffer from dust-related allergies.
Ceramic tiles are made from raw materials, including clay, sand and glass. These materials are combined with other recycled materials to form ceramic tile. Many ceramic tiles are made from recyclable content. Ceramic tiles can also help to reduce your energy use by keeping your house cooler in the summer. They also add some insulating qualities to your home for the winter.
You won’t have to worry about accumulation of moisture in ceramic tiles. You can also wash the floor with lots of water if desired. Unlike timber floors, water will not damage ceramic tiles.
No more needs be said.
Because a tiles colour and pattern is fired in a kiln, the colour is chemically fixed and impervious to UV fading.
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CHOOSING, INSTALLING and CARING FOR CERAMIC
Choosing the right tiles
There are tiles for all environments however there is no one particular tile that is suitable for all situations.
Wall and floor tiles perform two functions: an aesthetic, decorative function and a technical function in as much as they should be made from materials that can resist different types of environmental stress without breaking or deteriorating.
These two functions are fundamental and essential; there cannot be one without the other. It is therefore essential that you choose a tile that is both aesthetically and technically suitable for your application.
Are Tiles Slippery
There is no such thing as a non slip tile. There are many factors that contribute to a slip and fall, for example, the overall building design, contaminants on the tiles (including water), whether the person was running, walking, limping, etc., whether they were children or elderly, etc.
Ceramic tiles are rated according to their contribution to the risk of a slip or fall.
It is therefore recommended that you seek advice from the retailer as to the suitability of a particular tile for its intended use.
The application and use of ceramic tiles is beyond the control of the supplier and it is therefore the end-user’s responsibility to manage the risk of slip and falls.
Some simple actions you can take to manage slips and falls are the replacements of floor mats in entry ways and wet floor areas, strategic placement of handrails for the elderly and regular cleaning of pedestrian areas to prevent a build up of everyday contaminants and the immediate clean up of water or spillage that may occur on your tiles.
All tiles must be laid in accordance with the Australian Building Code and the appropriate Australian Standards.
A tile is only one component of a much larger building system that requires careful planning before the tiles are fixed. It is strongly recommended that you employ the skills of a licensed/qualified tiler to install your tiles. Ensure that you and the tiler have a written contract detailing the scope of work. Failure to do so has legal implications and may void any warranties.
Prior to Installation
- Ensure you discuss the design of your project and your expectations with the tiler and that you include any special arrangements in the contract, for example, the extent of clean up required.
- Ensure that there are sufficient tiles to complete your job, as there are no guarantees that extra tiles of the same batch (colour and shade) can be supplied at a later date.
- It is suggested that a small quantity of extra tiles be kept on site after the job is finished. It can be very difficult to match tiles if repairs are necessary at a later date.
- Shade variations are inherent in all kiln fired clay products. It is possible that the tiles you receive will be slightly different from the sample or display shown to you in the showroom - this is normal.
- Arrange for your tiles to be delivered well ahead of time. Check the tone or shade markings of all the tile cartons to ensure that you have been supplied with tiles from the same batch. Open two or three cartons and inspect the tiles for correct colour and acceptable shade. Failure to do so may result in disappointment as fixing of the product constitutes acceptance of the product.
As tiling commences, make sure that the light in the room being tiled is as close as possible to the permanent lighting. Ensure the tiler mixes tiles from three or four different boxes so as to ensure proper blending of any colour variation that may exist.
As the work progresses, take time to have periodic checks:
- Ensure that the blend and effect is maintained and no defective tiles are laid.
- It is highly recommended that hidden areas (under the stove, fridges, in pantries and cupboards) or detached areas (toilets and laundry floors) are tiled last so that if extra tiles are needed, batching will not be crucial.
It is essential that, if you have any doubts or concerns about the job as it progresses, you stop the tiling and immediately contact your tile supplier before tiling any further.
Cleaning is the next step of the installation process.
Ensure that the tiler removes all waxes, grout and grout residues. In the production of ceramic tiles, certain technical limitations will occur, which may manifest themselves in the form of minor marks and blemishes.
The latter are generally considered a characteristic of the tile and not a defect. Under normal lighting conditions these characteristic marks may not be noticeable. However, they may become obvious when highlighted by some forms of oblique lighting, for example, halogen and high illuminate white lights.
All tiled surfaces should be viewed from a distance of 1.5m under non-critical light. Further, make sure your expectations have been met by inspecting the finished job whilst the tiler is still on site.
Due to the technical limitations in the manufacturing process, mosaic tiles are subject to greater shade variations than other ceramic tiles. Ensure that you are happy with the colour and shade variation before installing the tiles. Suppliers will generally credit the tiles at this point in time however no claims can be made once the tiles have been installed.
Polished Porcelain Tiles
OPTICAL HAZING: Whilst polished porcelain has a glossy surface, this does not mean it has the characteristics of a mirror. In fact, it is subject to a natural phenomenon known as optical hazing, presenting a smoky haze when the surface of the tile is struck by oblique light sources, for example early morning sun, halogen and white lights.
The effects of optical hazing can be minimised by careful design planning, such as, the use of curtains and blinds, and the careful placement of furniture.
Optical hazing is not considered a fault in the tile and does not affect the technical characteristics of the tile.
Please see our article ‘Optical Hazing and Polished Porcelain Tiles’ for more information.
Care and Maintenance
It is recommended that ceramic tiles should be laid after all heavy construction has been completed and that the tiles be covered during construction as debris will collect or dropped on the floor, creating damage. Cementitious residues present on the tile surface should be cleaned with a grout cleaner.
Do not use abrasive cleaners or chemicals, which could permanently scratch the surface of the tile. Daily cleaning with a mild detergent is best. If more rigorous cleaning is necessary use a proprietary tile and grout cleaner from a tile supplier.
Daily Cleaning Guide
- Sweep or vacuum loose dirt off the floor.
- Use a proprietary cleaner, following the manufacturers instructions
- Remove the cleaning solution with a clean mop or vacuum.
- Rinse with clean water.
- Remove water from the floor by drying and buffing with a dry towel or mop.
Disclaimer: This information is to be used as a guide only and should not be taken to constitute professional advice or a formal recommendation and we exclude all representations and warranties in relation to the content. All consumers should seek professional advice through their local store for their specific and individual application.
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CLEANING AND MAINTENANCE
Suitable and easy maintenance of your ceramic or porcelain tiles, is just as important as your original decision to purchase and have installed your choice of tiles.
You are obviously expecting long term performance and pleasing appearance.
Your aim should be to:
- Keep your tiles clean and maintain them in a pleasing and hygienic condition.
- Maintain the surface to retain the initial surface performance attributes.
- Remedy any potential situation that may permanently damage the surface
To do this effectively we recommend these few tips:
- Use door mats to keep abrasive dirt and sand off your tiles
- Vacuum before you clean. It’s a great way to remove all the loose dirt from the surface of your tiles and the grout joints.
- Use non-abrasive and soapless cleaners. Vinegar and warm water is a proven and natural way to maintain your tiles. If you have stubborn spots try a paste of bicarbonate of soda and water, or contact us for specific cleaning advice.
- Please keep in mind, nothing is indestructible. Due care should be taken to protect your floor from furniture scrapes, spiked shoes and heavy items being dropped.
Initial Clean after Installation
Obviously, the initial clean after installation will require a more concerted effort as there will always be a bit of grout haze present. (The installer should not leave any adhesive or grout residue on the tile surface)
The major portion of these contaminates will be able to be removed using easily available household cleaning agents with perhaps the necessity to use scrapers / scouring pads in hard to reach positions.
Use non-metallic type scourers only as metal may leave metallic marks.
Care must be taken with gold, silver, platinum type finishes as they are relatively soft and do require particular care. Some hand made, partially glazed or lower fired items such as metallic features and mosaics etc. may need care so as not to affect the surface. Do not use abrasive cleaners, scouring pads ect. on these products.
In all cases of treatment with cleaning materials, follow up with a thorough water washing.
Grout and Joint Cleaning
All internal corners, tiling edges, grout lines and movement joints from time to time will require some extra attention so as to ensure that no build up of contaminates occur. These areas may require specific cleaning with cleaners and scourers to return them to their original appearance.
Mould or discolouration is basically the result of lack of removal of soap, shampoo and other contaminates left in corners that dry and build up. If this occurs, scouring the area will be necessary even scraping off these items out of corners may be required. Please try this with bicarbonate of soda and water or vinegar at first. If you need a chemical cleaner, please contact us for advice.
Tiles and similar finishes require regular cleaning so that contaminates do not build up.
They are ideal finishes but they do not clean themselves.
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GUIDE TO PORCELAIN TILES
What is a Porcelain Tile?
Porcelain tiles are merely a form of ceramic tiles.
Whilst the preparation of ceramic and porcelain tiles are similar, it is the pressing and firing process which results in the porcelain tile having the superior characteristics of being much stronger and less porous, generally with a water absorption rate of 0.5% or less.
What are the types of Porcelain Tile?
- Polished or Semi Polished: as the name suggests, an elaborate technique is used to finish the tile after the firing process. High quality porcelain does not require any further treatment after polishing.
- Glazed Porcelain: various techniques are employed by different manufacturers to glaze a tile. Once a porcelain tile has been glazed, no further treatment is required, in the sense that these tiles are considered non porous.
- Matt or Natural Porcelain: generally speaking, this type of product comes out of the kiln in this form and undergoes no further processing.
A quality product requires no further treatment, ie. normally sealing is not required.
- Rock Finish or Structured Porcelain: this type of porcelain is extremely textured and often used for external purposes.
Cleaning Wax Residue from your Tiles
Sometimes, in the production process, wax is added to the surface of the tile to protect it, to keep it clean and to keep it safe from scratching when in transit. There are various effective products on the market to clean this residue from the surface of the tiles and you should ask us which product is best suited to your porcelain. Prior to tiling, you should confirm with your tiler if they will remove the wax once the job is complete.
Laying Porcelain Tiles
In all cases the appropriate type of adhesive must be used. The substrate must also be adequate for the material to be used, that is, the flatness of the surface is paramount. If not tile lipping may occur.
In the case of floors, uneven surfaces may be levelled out with the use of a floor leveller or floor screed. Your tile fixer should be able to guide you through any questions you may have, so don’t be afraid to ask.
This is a process whereby tiles are cut during manufacturing, generally with a watered diamond blade, to ensure all tiles are consistent in size.
Costs of Laying
In many cases, the end result of laid porcelain requires a very straight level surface. Therefore in some cases tilers will charge a higher rate for laying and levelling porcelain tiles.
It is recommended that a qualified licensed tiler be used in all cases.
Please also see our article ‘Optical Hazing and Polished Porcelain Tiles’
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