“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.