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“Ceramic” or non-porcelain tiles are generally made from red or white clay fired in a kiln. They are almost always finished with a durable glaze which carries the colour and pattern. These tiles are used in both wall tile and floor tile applications, are softer and easier to cut than porcelain, and usually carry a PEI 0 to 3 rating. Non-porcelain ceramic tiles are usually suitable for very light to moderate traffic and generally have a relatively high water absorption rating making them less frost resistant and they are more prone to wear and chipping than porcelain tiles.

Ceramic floor tiles are made from clay which is baked at very high temperatures, resulting in an attractive and very hard surface. The wet clay, usually quarried, is extruded into shape before firing. Ceramic tiles are always glazed as they are fired at a lower temperature than porcelain. They are a varied material, some types glazed with a layer of liquid glass, others left untreated for a more natural, rustic appeal. They are either monocottura (single fired), where the glaze is applied before the initial firing; or bicottura (double firing), where the tile biscuit is fired, and possibly decorated, before the glaze is applied for a second firing. In the early days, often the biscuit was made from clay of a very strong red or brown colour.

This wasn’t an issue unless you drop something heavy on the tile chipping off the glaze. Imagine a beautiful bright white floor tile with a big brown or red spot in the middle…difficult to fix or rectify. Nowadays a lot of the manufacturers are making the effort to better match the colour of the biscuit and the finished glaze coating so any chips are less noticeable. 

Ceramic tiles are likened to say a plain sponge cake with a coloured icing on top. Chip through it and you’ll see the plain sponge beneath. Full bodied tiles, like porcelain or terracotta are more like a traditional fruit cake where it’s the one material the entire way through the tile from top to bottom.

It is worthwhile learning about the right kind of ceramic floor tile to ensure that the type you choose is the one that is most appropriate for your installation. Overall, ceramic floor tiles require very low maintenance, particularly in terms of keeping the surface clean. Ceramic floor tiles retain virtually no dirt and can be kept clean with water and a damp cloth or mop. Ceramic floor tiles are also naturally fire resistant and can actually help to maintain a structure in the event of a fire, making it popular choice of flooring material by the safety conscious or those in bush fire prone locations.

Every room in the home provides its own challenges and requirements for the flooring installed there. Luckily, ceramic floors are able to withstand almost any interior environment. The hard, durable surface of these tiles means that high traffic living rooms and hallways won’t be a problem. At the same time glazed ceramics can be installed in bathrooms and kitchens where water issues may be a concern.  

Ceramic floor tile grading

It is much the same as other types of flooring, some of the considerations to be taken into account for ceramic floor tile are hardness, slip resistance, resistance to abrasion, and impact resistance. Generally, these are judged in terms of application. The decision you make as to the proposed location of your installation, and the likelihood that the type of ceramic floor tile you’ve chosen will stand up to the conditions it will need to endure there should be carefully considered when choosing your ceramic floor tile.

To aid you in making an informed decision, there is a system of ceramic floor tile grading which standardizes the durability of ceramic tile from the Porcelain Enamel Institute. This is what is called the PEI (or sometimes just “PE”) rating, which outlines all ceramic floor tile into groups according to suggested usage, specifically with the factor of foot traffic in mind. The PEI rating will be a valuable tool for anyone looking to install ceramic tile, but is unsure of which type of tile is most appropriate. 

Some tile importers/wholesalers may have their own internal classing system and these are usually numbered between 0 and 6. It is a stepped or progressive classing so 0 for instance may not be suitable for floors at all where-as a class 5 is for pedestrian areas over a sustained period of time with some scratching dirt through to a 6 which is higher traffic areas like foyers, workshops, commercial kitchens, railway platforms etc. 

Where can your tiles be used and what is a PEI rating?

PEI classes range from 0 to 5. The Porcelain Enamel Institute rating scale is not a measurement of quality. It is a scale that clearly indicates the areas of use each manufacturer recommends and has designed their tile to fit. A PEI 2 tile has been designed for areas where very low traffic and soiling is anticipated.

In most cases the aesthetic detailing of these tiles is of prime consideration. You will often find high gloss levels, vibrant colorations and metallic elements in this group of tile.

Conversely, a PEI 5 tile has been designed for abusive extra heavy foot traffic. The technical aspects such as surface abrasion resistance will be considered and must be achieved first before aesthetic effects are incorporated.

Class 0 – No Foot Traffic:
Wall tile only and should not be used on floors.

Class 1 – Very light traffic:
Very low foot traffic, bare or stocking feet only. (Master bath, spa bathroom).
Class 2 – Light Traffic:
Slipper or soft-soled shoes. Second level main bathroom areas, bedrooms.
Class 3 – Light to Moderate Traffic:
Any residential area with the possible exception of some entries and kitchens if extremely heavy or abrasive traffic is anticipated.
Class 4 – Moderate to Heavy Traffic:
High foot traffic, areas where abrasive or outside dirt could be tracked. Residential entry, kitchen, balcony, and countertop.
Class 5 – Heavy Traffic:
Ceramic tile suggested for residential, commercial and institutional floor subjected to heavy traffic.

Can ceramic tile be used outdoors?

To be used outdoors, we recommend the tile must be frost-proof and unglazed for floor use. If it is a glazed tile, be sure it has an appropriate anti-slip rating and ideally make sure the absorption rate is 0.5% or less.

Should a sealer be used on ceramic tile?

A glazed tile is already stain proof, so there is no purpose to putting on a sealer. It won’t bond on properly creating hassles for you further down the track. You may put a penetrating sealer on your unglazed tile or your grout joints. The penetrating sealer is an invisible, stain resistant shield that is absorbed into the surface.

Maintaining ceramic tile installations

One of the best things about ceramic floors is that they are very easy to care for. The hard surface resists scratches and scars, while the glazed or sealed layer rests above the material, protecting it from stains and water. However there are occasions when tiles will break, grout lines will start to deteriorate, and the floor will need to be repaired. Luckily, dealing with this is a relatively straightforward exercise with a simply mop over with warm to hot water and a low detergent based cleaner like the Spirit brand Neutral Cleaner. Sealing the grout or at the least mixing an additive in with to the grout preinstalling it will help to keep your grout so much cleaner for so much longer.

Affordable ceramic tiles in South West Sydney, the Southern Highlands and Tablelands

With the contemporary style of airy, open-plan areas with large living areas, your floor becomes a very important part of the home. That’s why it’s essential to find a flooring solution that perfectly suits your style and taste, creating a comfortable environment that makes people feel right at home as soon as they walk through the door.

Ceramic flooring tiles

High gloss tiles in home
One of the most popular tiling solutions is the ceramic flooring tile. Once restricted to just the bathroom, kitchen or outdoors, they can now be used in any part of the home. This is mainly thanks to the advancements in design that give customers more choice than ever before on the colour and style of their ceramic floor tiles. From the bedroom through the living room to the kitchen, you’re sure to find a ceramic tile to suit your needs.

Experts in ceramic tiles

Man laying DIY tiles
Hayters are one of the leading suppliers of ceramic tiles in NSW, stocking a vast range of indoor and outdoor tiles to suit all styles, tastes and budgets. If you’re interested in a ceramic flooring solution but aren’t sure if it’s right for you, call their friendly team today on  02 4629 6000.  With more than 20 years’ experience in the tiling industry, they have a wealth of knowledge and expertise to help find the perfect product for you.

Contact Hayters today

To find out more about Hayters high-quality ceramic tiles, or for a free quote, call their friendly team today on 02 4629 6000.
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