Ceramic Tile Flooring

Ceramic tile comes in an amazing array of diverse colors, styles, shapes, dimensions and more. They are made by large manufacturers to small artisans, from New York to Milan. There is something for every budget and style, with tile. Dollar for dollar, ceramic/porcelain tile may be the best investment you can make in your home. Design versatility combined with durability, creates a product of lasting value.  Ceramic tile flooring is a great option for both homes and businesses.  For more information on ceramic tile give us a call!

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What are the benefits of tile?

Value:
Ceramic/porcelain is a material of lasting beauty that actually appreciates in value. It is an investment that lasts a lifetime.

Long Lasting:
Ceramic/porcelain tile is the most durable flooring and facing material available. It is color permanent, abrasion resistant, and can not be cut, torn, gouged, or punctured.

Easy Care:
No need to wax, polish or buff. Simply wiping glazed tile with a damp sponge or sponge mop is all that is necessary to maintain its luster. Routine cleaning with a soapless detergent will keep your tile looking new.

Diverse:
There are an infinite selection of sizes, shapes, colors, patterns and textures to choose from. You have the capability of satisfying every design need.

Aesthetics:
Ceramic/porcelain tile enhances every environment, from a formal dining room, to a kitchen countertop, an entry way, or a master bath suite… tile is as beautiful as it is functional.

It has been said that what you don’t know won’t hurt you. We strongly disagree. We believe that what you do know can help you. Especially when you’re shopping for floor covering.
Knowing which ceramic product is best for a particular room, and the activity in that room, can help you shop wiser, and can save you money in the long run — unwise buying decisions can lead to costly replacement.

That’s why we created this section. We want you to know.

We want you to know all about ceramic products. Whether it’s at our store or here in our website, we want you to understand, learn, experience — know — as much about ceramic as you need to.
So that you choose the right product for the right purpose at the right price.
We call on our experience to provide you with valuable information, delivered in an easy to understand way, so you make the smartest decisions for you, your family and home.
We believe that, the more you know about ceramic, the more inclined you’ll be to do business with people in the know.

So please come along, read more to learn if beautiful and versatile ceramic tile is the answer for your flooring needs.

Know this: ceramic is many things.
Ceramic is dynamic. Its unique character, texture and nature-made material add energy, excitement and enchantment to any room.

Ceramic is optic. Its multitude of styles, shapes, patterns, colors and finishes offer you a visual home from elegant, quiet and sedate to vibrant, emotional and provocative.
Ceramic creates magic and mystique. With a tradition that dates back to ancient civilizations, ceramic tile can be found in a variety of settings in diverse cultures and structures around the world.

From palatial homes, institutions and government buildings, to mystical religious structures like cathedrals and mosques.

Old yet contemporary.
Ceramic tile has been around for centuries, and with today’s technology manufacturers have created new design and application possibilities that were not available a decade ago.
If you have never used ceramic tile before or if it has been a long time since you have done so, you will be amazed at the wide selection of colors, sizes, shapes and new textures that are now available.

Natural ingredients make it a natural for homes.
Ceramic tile is a natural product made up of clay, a number of other naturally occurring minerals, and water.

Glazed ceramic tile has a ceramic coating applied to the tile body, which gives the tile its color and finish. Glazed ceramic tile is the natural choice for your interior floors and walls.
And there’s logic to glazed ceramic, through these numerous qualities.

Durable – a properly installed ceramic tile will outperform and outlast nearly any other floor covering product created for the same application.
Easy care – and that’s for you, right? Glazed ceramic tile resists stains, odors, and dirt and can be cleaned up with a damp mop or sponge or common household cleaners.

Ceramic tiles are essentially a low-maintenance material. However, even glazed tiles are somewhat porous, and require care and attention, especially in heavy traffic areas.
In our ceramic maintenance segment we’ll share ideas on how to keep tiled surfaces looking their best, and performing well for you year after year.

Scratch resistant – Grade III and Grade IV glazed ceramic tiles are extremely resistant to scratching and you never have to worry about a cut or tear like you do with some other types of floors.

Environmentally friendly – ceramic tile is manufactured using natural materials and does not retain odors, allergens, or bacteria.

Beautiful and versatile – modern ceramic manufacturing technology has created virtually an unlimited number of colors, sizes, styles, shapes and textures that will add rich beauty and character to any room’s decor.

Fire resistant – ceramic tile doesn’t burn nor emit toxic fumes. Even hot kitchen pans or skillets will not scorch or melt the surface of glazed ceramic tile.
Water resistant – most glazed ceramic tile has a dense body that permits little or no accumulation of moisture. This means spills from common liquids found in a kitchen are not a big concern.
In summary, ceramic tile is a practical, functional choice for your floor that offers you a unique opportunity for self-expression because of its beauty, flexibility and design potential.

Ceramic tile exhibits a versatility of colored glazes and decoration, and can range from simple terra cotta tiles to highly decorated individual ceramic tiles creating intricate mosaics. Your choices are almost endless.

But whether it be a simple layout, or a decorative patterned design, ceramic tile is important in defining the character of the home.

Their simple geometric design make ceramic tile easy to design into different sized spaces and in a diverse range of home styles, and explains much of the popularity of ceramic tile throughout history.

The extensive range of colors, textures, sizes and styles will allow you to reflect your personal style, to create a living space that is a true reflection of you and your lifestyle.
Or you can opt for an understated look with more universal appeal, which will help add value to your home.

Unrivaled in visual appeal and lasting beauty, ceramic tile will elevate and enhance any room in virtually any style home. We hope our entire section on ceramic products will add to your knowledge and understanding, and make you a smarter shopper.

Let Fine Floorz help you choose the right tile options for your project.

Regardless of which floor covering product you eventually decide on, it will be constructed or manufactured in some manner. But how ceramic is created is in a world all its own.
The process is ancient and the resulting benefits are many and desirable: beauty, durability, practicality and versatility.
Ceramic tile is a work of art you walk on — a spectacular entryway, a refreshing bath/spa surface, a gourmet kitchen’s feast for the eyes. Ceramic tile is art underfoot that you admire as owner and covet as visitor.
Understanding how ceramic is made provides you with knowledge of it right from its birth. That’s important information because these are the materials you’ll be living with for years to come should you choose this flooring product.
Knowing ceramic construction also helps you better understand and evaluate its performance aspects. You’ll discover why some ceramic products are easier to clean than others; why some are more durable.
Plus, understanding how ceramic is made can make you a better shopper, help you determine ceramic flooring value and keep you “in the black” regarding your home improvement budget.
So please read on and we’ll help you learn how ceramic is made, cover the various steps involved, discuss alternate types of ceramic, and offer you an easy to understand abrasion rating system.
Ceramic production unites earth and fire.
The main ingredients of ceramic tile and its general manufacturing process has not changed that much throughout the centuries.
All ceramic tiles are created from natural products extracted from the earth that are shaped into tiles and then fired in kilns at extremely high temperatures.

A guide to the two classes of ceramic tile.
There are 2 main types of tile construction: glazed and unglazed.
When you look at a glazed tile from the side you can see 2 layers. The body of the tile, or largest layer, is called the bisque. The top layer is called the glaze, as in glazed donut.
Glazed tiles have a hard non-porous, impermeable surface after firing. They are more stain resistant than unglazed tile and are easy to clean. Something to consider for those more active areas of your home like the kitchen and baths.
Unglazed tiles add a whole different beauty to your home. They are solid colored all the way through and do not have a top layer of glaze. This is often referred to as through-body construction.

They have no additional surface applications and are typically more dense and durable than glazed tile. Thus they are more suitable for interior and exterior applications where wearability is a concern.
If your home has areas of heavy activity or kid “zones,” unglazed tile may be just the answer.
There are 5 steps in the ceramic tile manufacturing process: Mining, Blending and Mixing, Pressing, Glazing, and Firing.
Step 1 is basic and organic.
The process begins with the mining of the raw materials, which is a mixture composed of mostly clay and minerals.
Step 2 transforms mud into fine sand.
The clay and mineral mixture is blended and mixed into a semi fine powder.
Water is added to form a wet slurry or mud-like consistency. Then the slurry is pumped into a large dryer.
And the result? A fine clay powder that feels like warm, fine sand.
Step 3 sees a form take shape.
Next, the clay is pressed or formed into a tile shape. These pressed tiles are called green tiles at this stage.
There is also another method called extrusion which can replace the pressing step. Extruded tiles are formed by forcing the clay material through a mold for the desired shaped versus pressing the tile.
However, pressing is the more common method used today. And after the green tiles are formed they are dried to remove some of the moisture.
Step 4 is the glaze phase.
It’s the next step in the manufacturing process for those tiles that will have a glaze.
If the tile is to remain unglazed it skips this step and goes directly to the firing kiln.
The glaze liquid is prepared from a glass derivative called frit and colored dyes. The glaze is applied by either a high-pressure spray or is poured directly onto the tile.
Step 5 really heats things up.
The ceramic tiles are now fired in the kiln at temperatures around 2000 degrees Fahrenheit.
Tiles that are fired once after the glaze is applied are called monocoturra tile or single fired.
The other type is called biocuttura or double fired tile. Biocuturra tiles are first fired after the green tile is dried and then fired again after the glaze is applied.

An optional, durable choice is porcelain.
Aside from the 2 types of ceramic tile, glazed and unglazed, there is another category that continues to gain popularity – beautiful, elegant, porcelain tile.
Porcelain tile is made up of 50% feldspar and is fired at a much higher temperature than regular ceramic tile. This makes porcelain tile much harder and more dense than other tile products.
Their high performance and low water absorption ratings of less than 0.5 percent make these tiles a worthy choice for your home.
Additionally, porcelain tile can be used for interior and exterior applications as well as heavy or commercial areas.
After the finished tiles have been inspected for quality assurances, they are packaged, crated and ready to be shipped.
Understand this to be a savvy tile shopper.
Not all ceramic tile is suitable for each area of your home. The beautiful, decorative tile you might put on your kitchen backsplash may not be recommended for installation on the floor.
Most manufacturers have a rating system that is based on or supported by the American Society for Testing & Materials (ASTM). Many times you can find these ratings on the tile sample or in the product catalog.
The most common system rates ceramic tile abrasion resistance or the overall durability of the tile. There are 5 classes you should know about.

Class 1: no foot traffic.
These tiles are suggested for interior wall applications only and not for the floor.

Class 2: light traffic.
These tiles are suggested for interior wall applications and for residential bathroom flooring only..

Class 3: light to moderate traffic.
These tiles can be used for residential floor and wall applications including bathrooms, kitchens, foyers, dining rooms and family rooms. They’re a good all-around performer.

Class 4: moderate to heavy traffic.
These tiles are recommended for residential, medium commercial and light industrial floor and wall applications including shopping malls, offices, restaurant dining rooms, showrooms and hallways.

Class 5: heavy/extra heavy traffic.
These tiles can be installed anywhere. They will hold up in floor and wall applications at airports, supermarkets and subways. Tile doesn’t get any tougher.
You may also see a rating for Slip Resistance, which is measured by its Coefficient of Friction (COF). The higher the COF the more slip resistant the tile. This is important when selecting a floor tile for areas that get wet, such as your shower or bathroom floor.
Other ratings listed by the manufacturer might include: scratch resistance, moisture absorption, chemical resistance and breaking strength.
This concludes our section on how ceramic is made – its different types of construction, its manufacturing process and how tile is rated in terms of activity.
We hope that knowing how ceramic tile is made will help you with the decision on whether it’s made for your home and for your style of living.

What’s important to know about tile types, sizes, styles and grout.

The world of ceramic tile is wide and spectacular, with a seemingly endless family of product choices and style options.
Ceramic tile flooring and wall products are offered in a broad range of textures, patterns and sizes.
When combined with a spectrum of grout and glaze options, they offer significant design options for any room in virtually any home style.
The goal is to know what is the best combination of aesthetics, style and performance that fits your floor covering budget.
To help you know, shop and decide, we offer this section.
Here we explain ceramic types, sizes and styles and offer you all the information you need to make smart choices.
We invite you to join us as we describe the beautiful and vast world of ceramic tile styles.
A universe so large there’s bound to be a ceramic tile perfect for your home and lifestyle.
The basic 3: transforming, timeless and tasteful.
There are 3 types of ceramic tile: glazed, unglazed and porcelain. Understand them and you’re home free.

Glazed ceramic tiles are coated with glass-forming minerals and ceramic stains.
Typically, they have a matte, semi-gloss or high-gloss finish.
They can offer better stain and moisture resistance than unglazed tile.
Glazed tiles can also have different finishes and you should be aware of them for future considerations.
High gloss finishes can be more slippery and scratches can become more visible, while matte or textured finishes help with traction and scratches, and dirt is less visible.

Unglazed ceramic tiles are very hard and dense. They come in various surface treatments and textures.
Typically, these are installed outside your home as they do not offer much protection against stains compared to glazed ceramic tile.
Unglazed tiles do have good slip resistance, however please note that they do require sealing to help prevent staining.

Porcelain tiles usually fall in the ceramic tile category and are the hardest and densest tiles available.
Because the color in porcelain tile goes all the way through, they are non-porous, resist scratching and can withstand temperature extremes.
Sizes, and selection, abound.
Ceramic tile is manufactured in sizes ranging from one inch to twenty-four inches square. So bring a tape measure when you go shopping.
Ceramic tile is normally boxed and priced by the square foot, regardless of the size of the individual tile itself.
You should also know that tile size is relative. Tile is usually referred to by its nominal size, not its actual size.
During the firing process, ceramic tile will shrink, on average, by about 10% in size. For example a 12” by 12” floor tile will actually measure 11-7/8 inches square.
Currently, the most popular ceramic floor tile are the larger sized tiles such as 13” by 13”, 16” by 16” and 18” by 18” sizes.
Tile size takes its cue from the room size.
When considering what size tile would be appropriate for your given space, start by determining the size of the room.
Often times, people think that small rooms call for small tile. That is not necessarily true. In fact, incorporating a larger size tile in a smaller room will visually increase the size of the space. And fewer grout lines will help create a cleaner surface appearance.
Conversely, using a tile size that’s too small creates more grout joints that may make the floor look too busy, again depending on the size of the space.
The bottom line here is that, as with all design elements, scale plays an important role in creating a room’s overall balance. So, please consider it carefully to achieve your desired look.

Ceramic can take on many disguises.
The look of natural stone is very popular but some consumers prefer ceramic over stone due to price and maintenance considerations.
In answer to consumers’ demands, ceramic and porcelain manufacturers have created tiles that offer textures, colors and patterns resembling natural stone products.
Of the sought after looks in ceramic and porcelain tile, slate, travertine and marble are just a few.
To further enhance the natural look, tile can also be made to feature heavy textures, chiseled and hammered edges, and even resemble tumbled stone.
Ceramic tile texture is related to its style. So feel free to feel! The feel of a tumbled stone or slate looking ceramic tile will be irregular and somewhat rough.

A tile simulating marble or granite on the other hand, will have a very smooth, polished feel. In addition to the feel, textures also vary in degree of shine, ranging from dull to semi-gloss to glass-like.
Ceramic is right at home, outdoors.
Ceramic tile is a versatile product, with many styles designed for today’s popular outdoor living areas.
Outdoor tile typically features non-skid finishes designed for safety when wet, sometimes installed on patios, walkways, or around pools.
Another important characteristic of ceramic tile designed for outdoor applications is its resistance to frost.
It’s a cold, hard fact. Ceramic tile manufactured for outdoor use has very low water absorption, minimizing the cracking, chipping and other effects of expansion when the temperature falls below freezing.

Know this about ceramic customization.
In addition to ceramic tile styles, manufacturers also offer decorative inserts, medallions and mosaics that are used to create intricate patterns and beautiful borders.
Tile size 2”x2” and smaller are usually referred to as mosaics and are often used with different colors to create a pattern or decorative inset.
Some of these smaller tiles also come in different shapes, such as hexagon, so feel free to let your imagination run free.
Patterned borders made up of different size tiles or different colors can create beautiful looks.
Simple variations in color, shape or size can be patterned within a room, or across several adjoining rooms.
When creating a pattern with different tiles, you should know that the more prominent tile that is throughout the largest areas is called the “field tile”.

Let your imagination run free, ceramic will keep up to it. Combining styles and patterns of ceramic tile flooring with countertop and wall products can also create beautiful designs, and give your room an aesthetic balance.
Floor and wall tiles may be designed to look similar, but floor tiles are generally thicker and are textured to make them safer to walk on.
Wall tile styles are typically designed to have higher gloss, and are manufactured in smaller sizes. The large floor tiles are not designed to adhere to walls.
What you need to understand about grout.
Grout is a type of cement that is used to fill the space and provide support in tile joints.

There are two types of grout commonly used in home installations; Portland cement based, and epoxy based.
Both of these grout compounds may have sand added to provide additional strength to the tile joint.
Sanded grout is recommended for tile joints 1/8th of an inch and larger. Unsanded grout is typically used in joints that are smaller than 1/8th of an inch.
Grout can be pigmented to give a nearly infinite range of colors, shades and hues. Pigment is added to the cement at the job site when the grout is mixed.
Grout color and thickness will change the appearance of the floor and room dramatically.
Using a white or a light colored grout highlights the color in tile. Choosing a dark grout with a light tile, or light grout with a dark tile will emphasize the geometric pattern of your layout.
So be wise and plan accordingly.
A leader in style, design options and performance, ceramic tile is the popular choice of homeowners across the country and around the world.
With the knowledge shared here we hope your ceramic flooring shopping experience is more complete, comfortable and confident.

Buying ceramic tile can be challenging, unless you know this.

Click here for a full size video
The good news is that ceramic flooring offers you a multitude of styles, textures, patterns and price points. However, all that variety, and decisions, can be real challenging for the unknowing shopper.
In this section we’ll introduce you to information on topics such as ceramic tile trim, color and shading, moisture absorption and grout. All in our effort to make you a smarter shopper long before you open your checkbook or get out the charge card.
That way your final decision not only creates a warm, beautiful living environment but also delivers what ceramic floors are noted for: excellent durability and easy maintenance.
So we invite you to read on. Come learn the ins and outs, the tips and hints, the delights and discoveries of this unique product called ceramic tile.
For those who love to customize, ceramic rules.
The beauty of ceramic tile is the flexibility you have with design options, especially through the use of the accent pieces: trim work and decorative tiles.
However, if you’re interested in applying trim work and decorative tiles you should know that there is a definite step-by-step procedure.

The correct order of this process is to first identify the room and its application, select the type of tile, then its color and shade, and then its texture and size.
Finally, a layout pattern is designed, the trim and decorative patterns are determined, and the grout color and type are chosen.
Adhering to this process will ensure a smooth installation without any missing elements.
To help you insure a smooth understanding of floor tile trim terminology, allow us to cover a few definitions.
Floor Tile Trims
Bullnose. It has one rounded finished edge on the tile to give a nice finishing touch. Sometimes it is also used as a substitute for cove base.
Corner Bullnose. It has two rounded finished edges on the tile to be used to complete a corner.
Sanitary Cove Base. It has a rounded finished top like a bullnose to cover up the body of the tile.
Important tips on variation, texture, shading and color.
Many of today’s popular styles of ceramic tile are designed to look and feel like natural stone, emulating their rugged surface and color variations.
It’s important that you understand these variations when designing with ceramic tile.
These tiles are intended to show color and texture variations, just like natural stone. Since the composition of the tile’s glaze also varies, different tile styles will also exhibit different gloss levels.
You should also be aware that solid color tiles provide a consistent look, however shade variation is inherent in all fired ceramic products and certain tiles will show greater variation within their dye lots.

Shade variation is usually listed on the back label of each sample with a low, moderate, high or random rating. Here, to help you, are the definitions:
Low. Consistent shade and texture
Moderate. Moderate shade and texture variation
High. High shade and texture variation
Random. Very high shade and texture variation
The color of the body of the tile is determined by the color of the clay used by the manufacturer that is available in their geographic region.
Look at the body of the tile to see if the color is red or white. The quality of the tile is more related to the quality of the manufacturer, not the color of the body.

Color variations will also be present between manufacturers’ samples of the same color and throughout installed countertops, wall tile or ceramic floors.
Color consistency is something you should understand and carefully consider when selecting ceramic tile. Our sales associate will be happy to review with you what to expect from different ceramic tiles.
What smart shoppers should know about moisture absorption and tile density.
As the composition of glaze varies, different styles of tile will exhibit different gloss levels and surface textures. This is important to note when choosing your ceramic tile flooring.
For example, in areas that are used while wet, such as your shower or bathroom floor, they should have low moisture absorption and good slip resistance.
Moisture Absorption means that, as the density of the tile increases, the amount of moisture that tile can absorb becomes less.
Tile Density means that, as the weight or the density of the tile increases, it becomes a stronger tile.
Tile density and moisture absorption have an indirect relationship to each other. What this means is that as the density of the tile increases the moisture absorption rate becomes less.
Tile density and moisture absorption is important for you to understand when selecting tile for different applications. Here is some information to help in your decision making process.
Non-Vitreous Tiles are tiles that absorb 7% or more moisture. They are suited for indoor use only.
Semi-Vitreous Tiles are tiles that absorb from 3% to 7% moisture. They are applicable for indoor use only.
Vitreous Tiles are tiles that absorb less that 3% moisture. They are referred to as frost resistant tiles but cannot be used in exterior areas where freeze- thaw conditions could cause tile cracking.
Impervious Tiles are tiles that have less than .5% moisture absorption. These tiles are frost proof and can be used in exterior areas or on the outside of building facades.

The ins and outs of grout.
Grout is typically mixed on site, but slight color variations can occur within different areas of the same installation with the same grout color, and can vary from the manufacturer’s sample you saw in the store.
This can be attributed to variations in temperature and humidity at the time of grouting and it’s just a fact of life.
It is also common to see grout variations when comparing the grout color in a tile floor and the same grout color on the tile countertop or wall.
When choosing a grout color you can select a color that blends in with the overall color of the tile to minimize the appearance of the grout.
Or you can select a grout color that is lighter or darker than the tile.
If the tile is installed in a high traffic area then you may want to select a darker grout.
Exact layouts, type of grout and grout joints widths are determined by the tile setter at the time of installation and are governed by the actual size and shape of the tile, and the exact dimensions of the areas to be covered.
Once the tile has been laid and grouted, it is your responsibility to maintain all caulked areas to guard against water damage. Grout may also darken over time in areas with heavy water use.
Also, changes of season can cause surfaces adjoining the tile to expand and contract, causing the grout to crack and separate.
A word or two about subfloors.
No subfloors are perfectly level. So, you may hear hollow sounds where your subfloor’s surface dips and ridges.
Be assured that this does not affect the integrity or installation of the ceramic tile. Hollow sounds are normal and are not considered a product or installation defect.
Get on top of the bottom line. Know the entire cost of ownership.
The “cost per square foot” of your ceramic floor is just one component of the entire project cost. To ensure there are no surprises, and the ceramic you select fits within your overall project budget, be sure to ask us to calculate the total cost of your floor covering project.
Here’s a list of potential additional expenses you may incur:
Furniture removal/replacement.
Demolition/disposal of old floor covering. Depending on the existing floor covering, this can be an expensive item; also, be sure to include the cost to dispose of the old floor covering.
Subfloor preparation. Depending on the condition of the subfloor, it may require additional work.
Product delivery.
Installation. Determine the cost per square foot to install it.
Materials required to complete the installation. Your new floor may require additional materials to install it properly.
Also, don’t forget to ask the retailer and consult the manufacturer’s warranty and care guide for directions on how frequently your floor should be cleaned and the cost to clean it.
There’s a lot to know and consider before buying your ceramic tile floor, but it’s well worth the effort.
If you’re a smart and knowledgeable ceramic tile shopper it will put us in fine spirits. And, hopefully, put your home into showcase status.

Installation day is coming, know this to prepare.

So, you’ve reviewed this site, smartly shopped our store and have made your ceramic purchase decision. Well done, but you’re not completely done.
Allow us to offer two more words of advice: be prepared. Get ready for the day your new ceramic flooring will arrive for installation.
Being prepared and involved will help insure that the installation process is done smoothly and efficiently, and, hopefully, eliminate expressions of “I wish I’d asked about…”.
Knowing what to expect will also be a lot less stressful on you, your family and your home.
To that point, we’ve built this section around many of the things you should be aware of, plan ahead about, and carefully consider.
Let the pros do the job.
Installing this type of floor is difficult work, labor intensive and extremely exacting.
We strongly recommend you call upon a reliable, seasoned, dedicated professional to install your ceramic floor. That way you can be assured of a beautiful, efficient and correct installation.
However, while installing ceramic tile flooring is a skill that is developed through years of experience, your understanding of the basics of installation will increase your knowledge of the process and enhance your confidence in the professionals working in your home.
Ceramic tile installers are craftsman with age-old skills. Expertise has been handed down from one generation to the next over dozens of centuries.
The substrate is where it all begins.
Over the years, new methods and materials have been introduced, but tile setting remains the same hand-operated, labor-intensive process that it has been since ancient times.
That process begins with the preparation of the tile foundation, or what’s called the substrate.
Common materials used as tile substrates in home installations include concrete, plywood, and drywall.
Each substrate has its own unique set of issues, yours included, and is prepared according to industry and manufacturer guidelines. So you can rest assured it’s done to recognized standards.
The first step in your ceramic tile installation involves the cleaning of the substrate. Dirt, moisture, and oil can interfere with the adhesion of the tile, so care is taken to remove all foreign debris prior to beginning.
Next the installers will level the surface of the substrate. Why is this step necessary? It’s to provide a strong support base for the tile, and to ensure that the individual tiles will appear flat when installed.
Flat, obviously, is the goal. If the substrate is not level or flat, the result could be tiles not being set correctly that can cause chipping or cracking when weight is applied.
Once the substrate has been leveled it may have a waterproofing layer applied to it. This is important in installations where the tile is frequently exposed to moisture, like kitchens, bathrooms, and exteriors.
Through thick and thin, tile setting has progressed.
In the past, ceramic tile was installed using what is called the thickset or mud set method.
In this method, a thick layer of mortar was applied to a waterproofed and steel reinforced substrate.
This provided a strong, flat base onto which the tile was installed.
The thickset method is effective, but it’s an involved and labor-intensive process. An alternative method was searched for – and found.
Today, many tile installers have opted for the industry accepted and more efficient thin set method, where the tile is adhered directly onto a backer board that is nailed to a plywood or concrete substrate using a much thinner layer of mortar.
This backer board is called a CBU, or cement backer unit, which provides a supportive and water resistant layer between the porous substrate and the mortar and tile applied on top of it.
The best-laid ceramic floors are planned.
Once the substrate has been prepared, the next step is to create a layout plan.
This plan shows the dimensions of each room, and will help determine the amount of ceramic tile and other materials needed for the installation.
The installer will use this plan to estimate the amount of product needed, and to anticipate any installation issues that may be caused by architectural features like stairs, transitions, and cabinets.
The installers will also use the layout plan to determine the pattern and orientation of the installed tile.
Chalk keeps things straight.
A chalk line is commonly used to lay down a guide for the installer to work from.
This leaves a temporary line that can be used as a straight guide.
Forget point “A”, installers start at point “T”.
Next, a single row or column of tile is laid directly on the substrate without adhesive.
This step gives the installers a better sense of how the tile will fit into the room.
Another row or column is then added perpendicular to the first, forming the shape of a ‘T’, giving the installer a starting point for their tile setting.
Once the installer has determined the correct layout, the next step is to apply the adhesive mortar to the substrate.
Next, grout comes into play.
Once the tiled floor has been set into place and left to fully cure, usually 12 to 24 hours, the grout is applied.
Grout is available in a wide range of colors, and in sanded and unsanded forms.
Sanded grout is commonly used for grout joints that are wider than 1/8th of an inch. This type of grout joint is typically used with floor tile because it helps strengthen tile joint and it will not sag after it is cured.
Unsanded grout is used with narrow grout joints typically found with wall tile and many natural stone installations.
So, you may be wondering, how long before I can walk on my new floor?
The mortar and grout need 24 hours to cure before walking on the tile.
This ensures that the tiles won’t shift or become loose before the adhesive thinset mortar and grout have a chance to set.
In some installations the tile may be mopped daily for several days to prevent the grout from cracking, pulling moisture from the underlying mortar, or curing unevenly.
And that is how your new ceramic floor would be professionally installed.
What to know and do before installation day
Furniture is first on your to do list.
Remove all furniture and other objects and materials from the areas where the installation will take place. Some installers will move your furniture, but there may be an additional charge for doing so.
Before moving, you’ll also need to empty the contents of china cabinets, closets and the like.
Be aware that the area of installation must be climate controlled (heated or air conditioned). Indoor humidity should be maintained between 45-65%.
Make a decision on your old floor covering.
Please consider how your old floor covering will be taken up and disposed of. We recommend that you check with us about the cost and the method of disposal.
If you prefer to remove your present floor covering, do it at least one day prior to installation to allow for cleanup and floor preparation. If removing old carpet, please leave tack strips in place and pull the staples out of the floor from the original pad.
Now turn your attention to the trim.
In many cases, moldings and baseboards need to be removed for installation. Your installer may do this but at an additional charge and they will probably not be responsible for damage or breakage due to dry or brittle wood.
Painted baseboards, woodwork and paint may need retouching after the installation is complete. If necessary, this is your responsibility.
Next on the list is the subflooring.
Your existing subfloor may need to be prepared to receive the ceramic, or a new subfloor may be required. We suggest you discuss this with us and, if subfloor work is necessary, that it be done by qualified professionals. It is important that the subfloor be as clean and level as possible.
Know this about your doors.
When your new floor is installed, there’s always the possibility that the doors, especially closet, basement and bedroom doors, may not clear the new floor and swing free.
Some installers will remove doors in order to install the new floor and re-hang them if possible. They probably won’t shave or cut down doors to insure clearance. You should check with us as to their policy and the cost. You may need to arrange for a qualified carpenter to provide this service after the installation of your new floor.
Check up on the clean-up.
Installing new ceramic will produce waste.
Usually these materials are collected by your installer and left at your trash collection site. Check with us before the day of installation so you’re clear about the clean up, if there are added costs to do so, and ask about the plan for remnants.
What to know and do during installation day
Plan on being home.
Be prepared to be at home the day of installation and be available in case the installation crew has questions. Your presence will insure that the correct ceramic is installed in the right areas. Because it is difficult to estimate the length and circumstances of each job, some installers may not be able to give you an exact time of arrival. We suggest you be flexible and keep in touch with us.
We insist on wall-to-wall safety.
Your installers will use a variety of tools and techniques that can make the work area hazardous. Please make sure that your children and pets are kept out of the work area on installation day.
Walk through, don’t run.
We recommend that, prior to the completion of the installation, you walk through the job with the chief installer. This will give you the opportunity to ask questions and be clear on any final details.
What to know and do after installation day
If you are sensitive to dust and odors, good ventilation should be established for 48 to 72 hours after installation.
When it comes to preparing for your ceramic tile installation, we want you to know. Know all about the steps to take and the issues to consider. That way, installation day is a positive experience and the first of many days of enjoying your beautiful ceramic tile.

Ceramic Tile Maintenance

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Sooner or later, time and traffic, life and living, will take its toll on any floor covering. Ceramic tile is no exception. But take heart, keeping your tile as clean and beautiful as its first days in your home just takes know-how.
In fact, understanding the best methods to care for your ceramic flooring will help maintain its beauty and keep it close to its original condition.
Plus, knowing what’s expected of you regarding upkeep can be a determining factor in which type of ceramic tile to purchase.
All reasons why we called on our years of experience and created this section on ceramic upkeep.
Ceramic tile should be swept and not beaten.
It’s important to sweep a tile floor regularly. Dirt can adhere to the surface of tile, particularly styles with a textured surface. Regular sweeping loosens and removes most of this dirt.
Don’t forget those labor saving devices, either. Feel free to use a vacuum cleaner to sweep, but be sure to use one without a beater bar to avoid dulling and scratching the tiles.
However, the attachments that accompany vacuum cleaners are useful to collect dirt along edges or in between tiles.

Don’t let dirt have its way.
Be sure to use walk-off mats to minimize and contain dirt being tracked in at entryways. And shake them often.
This reduces the amount of dirt being tracked across the tile floor, and reduces the wear to the finished surface.
Ceramic tile floors should be damp-mopped regularly using the manufacturer’s recommended grout and tile cleaners.
For heavier soil, you can spot clean the floor with a sponge or clean cloth using the recommended cleaners.
Rinse well and wipe dry for more shine. Textured tiles may require mild scrubbing with a soft brush or electric polisher/scrubber.
After cleaning with a mild detergent rinse thoroughly with clean, warm water to help remove any leftover residue. If needed, wipe dry with a clean towel to remove any film.
For soft water situations you may need to use an all-purpose cleaner.
Apply to the floor, let stand for 3 – 5 minutes, lightly scrub with a sponge, rinse well and you’re home free – dirt free too.
For heavier cleaning tasks there are cleaning products available from your local grocery store that can be used to remove soap scum, hard water deposits, and mildew stains.
You’ll want to consult the cleaning product’s instructions to make sure the product is compatible with your type of tile.
After cleaning, rinse well and wipe dry for optimum shine. And maximum pride.
Cautions and considerations.
Avoid using steel wool, scouring powders, or other abrasives that can scratch the finish of the tile.
Don’t use bleach or ammonia based cleaners, as these products can discolor your grout if used too often.
Also, do not clean glazed tile with oil-based cleaners.
Be fast on your feet. Try to clean up spills as quickly as possible so that the grout or tile doesn’t become stained.
While ceramic tile is considered very durable, it’s not indestructible and may crack or chip under extreme force.
Take the proper precautions when moving heavy objects across your tile floor. Get a small army to help you move that grand piano.
Cover furniture and table legs with protectors to guard your floor against damage.
Keep in mind that if a repair is necessary in the future, the replacement product may be a slightly different dye lot and/or texture than the initial installation.
However, the good news is that, with time and usage, the repair will blend in with the original product.

Two measures for prevention: caulking and sealing.
Once the tile has been laid and grouted, it’s your responsibility to maintain areas exposed to water by caulking.
Caulking will prevent expensive subsurface damage, as well as keep the tiled areas looking their best.
Depending on your lifestyle, sealing new tile and grout may be an option.
After the installation process is complete and the grout has had ample time to cure, sealing the grout and tile can provide protection from dirt and spills by slowing down the staining process.
Today there are also innovative grout colorants you should be aware of.
These products can transform the original color of grout and in some cases can act as a form of sealant. Please be aware that non-epoxy grout joints should be treated with a silicone sealer.
Knowing how to care for and maintain your ceramic floor will help keep your investment beautiful, durable and a source of pride for years to come.
For more maintenance information specific to your ceramic tile flooring, remember to consult the manufacturers’ recommendations.

Cracked or broken ceramic tiles that are set over drywall are difficult to replace properly. This is because the drywall is usually also damaged and may need to be repaired first.

Whenever you install new ceramic tile be sure to save some tiles in case you ever need to replace a few. It’s almost impossible to buy a new tile to match your existing one. Even if you can get the exact same brand and color, the color may be a little different than the ones produced a few years ago.

Replacing Broken Tile

Grout SawIf a single tile has been cracked or chipped, you can usually repair it without replacing the underlayment.

To replace one tile, first dig out the grout around it. Do this with a special tool called a grout saw. A utility knife works well too. For a group of tiles, dig out around the section of tiles you’re replacing.

broken tileShatter the broken tile into small pieces by hitting it with a hammer and a nail set. Be sure to wear safety glasses because pieces may go flying.

Pry out the pieces carefully and scrape off the grout and adhesive with a chisel or putty knife. If drywall is under your tile, be careful not to dig into it. Clean out all the debris and get the surface as clean as possible.

tile adhesiveIf you’re replacing a group of tiles, you should try to set them with the same type of adhesive as the original tiles. For one tile you can just use a silicone adhesive. The trick is to put the right amount of adhesive on so the new tile will sit level with the original ones.

Press the tile into place and clean up any adhesive that oozes through the joints. If you’re replacing a tile on a wall, tape it into place until it dries. Let the adhesive set up for the recommended amount of time.

Grouting tile

Find a grout to match that of the existing grout color. If you’re only grouting a small area you can pick up a little container of premixed grout. Work the grout into the joints with a grout float. In a small area you can just use your finger.

Wipe off the excess grout and use a sponge to shape the joints and remove the grout left on the tile. This might be a good time to

regrout all of the tile, especially if you’re in a shower or other high-moisture area. This will also make your repair job less noticeable.

Regrouting and Sealing Tiles

Glazed tiles have hard, sealed surfaces. Grout is porous and absorbs water, so it can get moldy. It can even let water pass through into the wall.

For these reasons tile should be sealed periodically to prevent any moisture penetration, especially in areas that are exposed to water. And grout should be replaced if it gets moldy.

First clean the grout joints, then apply a silicone or water-based grout sealer to the joints. As long as the tile is glazed it’s ok if you get some sealer on the tile surface, but you’ll need to wipe it off before it dries.

In wet areas, if grout lines have cracked there’s a good chance that water has seeped through to the underlayment. And if your underlayment is drywall, there’s probably some damage and it may need replacing.

Cracks in dry areas probably mean settling of the underlayment or shifting with temperature changes.

If cracks are small and clean, you can just press in new grout with your fingers. If cracks are large and have dirt or mildew in them, first scrape out the old grout with a grout saw or utility knife.

Vacuum or brush out any dust or dirt from the joints. Then use a cleaner to remove any dirt, oil or soap scum. Allow it to dry.

Use a mildew-resistant grout with a latex additive to grout the joints. Then clean the tiles off with a sponge and let them dry

ASTM
Most manufacturers will have a rating system that is based on or supported by the American Society for Testing & Materials (ASTM). Many times you can find these ratings on the tile sample or in the product catalog. The most common system rates ceramic tile abrasion resistance or the overall durability of the tile. Other ratings might include: scratch resistance, moisture absorption, chemical resistance and breaking strength.
Biocuttura Tile
Ceramic tiles are fired in a kiln at temperatures around 2000 degrees Fahrenheit. Biocuttura Tiles are first fired after the green tile is dried and then fired again after the glaze is applied. Also call Double Fired.
Bisque
When you look at a glazed tile from the side you can see 2 layers. The body of the tile, or largest layer, is called the bisque. The top layer is called the glaze.
Bullnose
A ceramic floor tile trim that has one rounded finished edge on the tile to give a nice finishing touch. Sometimes it is also used as a substitute for cove base.
Ceramic
Ceramic tiles are created from natural products extracted from the earth that are shaped into tiles and then fired in kilns at extremely high temperatures.
CBU
Today, many tile ceramic tile installers have opted for the industry accepted and more efficient thin set method, where the tile is adhered directly onto a backer board that is nailed to a plywood or concrete substrate using a much thinner layer of mortar. This backer board is called a CBU, or cement backer unit, which provides a supportive and water resistant layer between the porous substrate and the mortar and tile applied on top of it.
Classes 1-5
Class 1: no foot traffic. These tiles are suggested for interior wall applications only and not for the floor.
Class 2: light traffic. These tiles are suggested for interior wall applications and for residential bathroom flooring only.
Class 3: light to moderate traffic. These tiles can be used for residential floor and wall applications including bathrooms, kitchens, foyers, dining rooms and family rooms. They’re a good all-around performer.
Class 4: moderate to heavy traffic. These tiles are recommended for residential, medium commercial and light industrial floor and wall applications including shopping malls, offices, restaurant dining rooms, showrooms and hallways.
Class 5: heavy/extra heavy traffic. These tiles can be installed anywhere. They will hold up in floor and wall applications at airports, supermarkets and subways.
COF
Most manufacturers will have a rating system that is based on or supported by the American Society for Testing & Materials (ASTM). Many times you can find these ratings on the tile sample or in the product catalog. One rating system measures Slip Resistance, which is measured by its Coefficient of Friction (COF). The higher the COF the more slip resistant the tile. This is important when selecting a floor tile for areas that get wet, such as your shower or bathroom floor. Other ratings listed by the manufacturer might include: scratch resistance, moisture absorption, chemical resistance and breaking strength.
Corner Bullnose
A ceramic floor tile trim that has two rounded finished edges on the tile to be used to complete a corner.
Extrusion
Extruded tiles are formed by forcing the clay material through a mold for the desired shape versus pressing the tile.
Field Tile
When creating a pattern with different ceramic tiles, the more prominent tile that is throughout the largest areas is called the “field tile”.
Firing
The fifth step in the manufacturing of ceramic tile. The tiles are fired in the kiln at temperatures around 2000 degrees Fahrenheit.
Frit
Part of the fourth step (glazing) in the manufacturing of ceramic tile. The glaze liquid is prepared from a glass derivative called frit and colored dyes. The glaze is applied by either a high-pressure spray or is poured directly onto the tile.
Glazed
Glazed ceramic tiles are coated with glass-forming minerals and ceramic stains. Typically, they have a matte, semi-gloss or high-gloss finish. They can offer better stain and moisture resistance than unglazed tile. When you look at a glazed tile from the side you can see 2 layers. The body of the tile, or largest layer, is called the bisque. The top layer is called the glaze. Glazed tiles have a hard non-porous, impermeable surface after firing.
Glazing
The fourth step in the manufacturing of ceramic tiles. Glazing liquid is prepared from a glass derivative called frit and colored dyes. The glaze is applied by either a high-pressure spray or is poured directly onto the tile.
Green Tiles
The third step in the manufacturing of ceramic tile. Here, clay is pressed or formed into a tile shape. These pressed tiles are called green tiles at this stage.
Grout
Grout is a type of cement that is used to fill the space and provide support in tile joints. There are two types of grout commonly used in home installations; Portland cement based, and epoxy based. Both of these grout compounds may have sand added to provide additional strength to the tile joint. Pigment is added to the cement at the job site when the grout is mixed.
Impervious Tiles
Tiles that have less than .5% moisture absorption. These tiles are frost proof and can be used in exterior areas or on the outside of building facades. You can use these where winter is for real.
Moisture Absorption
As the density of the tile increases, the amount of moisture that tile can absorb becomes less. Tile density means that, as the weight or the density of the tile increases, it becomes a stronger tile. Tile density and moisture absorption have an indirect relationship to each other. What this means is that as the density of the tile increases the moisture absorption rate becomes less. Tile density and moisture absorption is important for you to understand when selecting tile for different applications.
Monocuttura Tile
Ceramic tiles are fired in a kiln at temperatures around 2000 degrees Fahrenheit. Tiles that are fired once after the glaze is applied are called Monocuttura Tile or single fired.
Mosaics
In addition to ceramic tile styles, manufacturers also offer decorative inserts, medallions and mosaics that are used to create intricate patterns and beautiful borders. Tile size 2”x2” and smaller are usually referred to as mosaics and are often used with different colors to create a pattern or decorative inset. Some of these smaller tiles also come in different shapes, such as hexagon.
Nominal Size
Tile is usually referred to by its nominal size, not its actual size. During the firing process, ceramic tile will shrink, on average, by about 10% in size. For example a 12” by 12” floor tile will actually measure 11-7/8 inches square. Currently, the most popular ceramic floor tile are the larger sized tiles such as 13” by 13”, 16” by 16” and 18” by 18” sizes.
Non-Vitreous Tiles
Tiles that absorb 7% or more moisture. They are suited for indoor use only.
Porcelain
Porcelain tile is made up of 50% feldspar and is fired at a much higher temperature than regular ceramic tile. This makes porcelain tile much harder and more dense than other tile products. Because of its highly durable make-up, porcelain is more resistant to scratches and can withstand temperature extremes. Also, because porcelain is non-porous, it’s very stain resistant, has very low water absorption ratings (Less than 0.5%) and thus can be used for interior and exterior applications as well as heavy-use and commercial areas. Finally, because porcelain’s color goes all the way through, small scratches or chips are less noticeable.
Pressing
The third and most common step in the manufacturing of ceramic tile. The clay is pressed or formed into a tile shape. These pressed tiles are called green tiles at this stage.
Sanded Grout
There are two types of grout commonly used in home installations; Portland cement based, and epoxy based. Both of these grout compounds may have sand added to provide additional strength to the tile joint. Sanded grout is recommended for tile joints 1/8th of an inch and larger.
Sanitary Cove Base
A ceramic floor tile trim that has a rounded finished top like a bullnose to cover up the body of the tile.
Semi-Vitreous Tiles
Tiles that absorb from 3% to 7% moisture. They are applicable for indoor use only.
Shade Variation
Shade variation is inherent in all fired ceramic products and certain tiles will show greater variation within their dye lots. Shade variation is usually listed on the back label of each sample with a low, moderate, high or random rating. Low: consistent shade and texture.
Moderate: moderate shade and texture variation.
High: high shade and texture variation.
Random: very high shade and texture variation.
Substrate
The process for installing a ceramic floor begins with the preparation of the tile foundation, or what’s called the substrate. Common materials used as tile substrates in home installations include concrete, plywood, and drywall.
Thickset/Mud Set
In the past, ceramic tile was installed using what is called the thickset or mud set method. In this method, a thick layer of mortar was applied to a waterproofed and steel reinforced substrate. This provided a strong, flat base onto which the tile was installed. The thickset method is effective, but it’s an involved and labor-intensive process.
Thinset
Today, many tile installers have opted for the industry accepted and more efficient thinset method, where the tile is adhered directly onto a backer board that is nailed to a plywood or concrete substrate using a much thinner layer of mortar.
Through Body
Unglazed tiles that are a solid color all the way through and do not have a top layer of glaze are often referred to as through-body construction. (See Unglazed.)
Tile Density
Tile density means that, as the weight or the density of the tile increases, it becomes a stronger tile. Moisture absorption means that, as the density of the tile increases, the amount of moisture that tile can absorb becomes less. Tile density and moisture absorption have an indirect relationship to each other. What this means is that as the density of the tile increases the moisture absorption rate becomes less. Tile density and moisture absorption is important for you to understand when selecting tile for different applications.
Unglazed
Unglazed tiles are a solid color all the way through and do not have a top layer of glaze. This is often referred to as through-body construction. They have no additional surface applications and are typically more dense and durable than glazed tile. Thus they are more suitable for interior and exterior applications. Unglazed tiles do have good slip resistance, however please note that they do require sealing to help prevent staining. They come in various surface treatments and textures.
Unsanded Grout
There are two types of grout commonly used in home installations; Portland cement based, and epoxy based. Both of these grout compounds may have sand added to provide additional strength to the tile joint. Unsanded grout is typically used in joints that are smaller than 1/8th of an inch.
Vitreous Tiles
Tiles that absorb less that 3% moisture. They are referred to as frost resistant tiles but cannot be used in exterior areas where freeze- thaw conditions could cause tile cracking.