A Buyer’s Guide to Ceramic Tile

Ceramic tile is about as strong as it is versatile. While these characteristics are of course, of significant benefit to the homeowner, it does add an additional layer of difficulty when making that all important buying decision. If you know a product will stand up to the wear and tear of daily life for decades to come, how do you choose between two or more options that are seemingly just as good? Ceramic tile may be a synonym for quality in the building world, but it might benefit you to learn a thing or two about some of the more widely used types of tile before you decide to visit your local ceramic tile suppliers.

3D render illustration of white tile floor with grid line for background.

Glazed & Unglazed

Sometimes it’s difficult to foresee how certain products will perform in certain conditions, so it’s important to ask as many questions as possible. For example, high-gloss glazed tiles are beautiful, but they can be quite slippery when wet, making them a less than ideal option for flooring in areas where water may be present. Many people however use high-gloss tile as backsplash in the kitchen or to provide points of interest when refinishing a fireplace. In short, it’s best to know the different applications the various styles of tile can be used for. 

Why choose glazed over unglazed, or vice versa? Glazed tiles contain a protective glass coating that makes them easy to clean, and immune to stains and water damage. Unglazed on the other hand lack that extra layer of protection, so they will need to be re-sealed periodically. Unlike glazed tiles that have a clean, polished aesthetic, unglazed tiles are often chosen because that have a more natural look compared to its counterpart. Both glazed and unglazed tiles make excellent canvasses for tile sized artwork.

Terracotta & Mosaic

Often seen as a natural tile steeped in history, terracotta and mosaic tiles are both made of clay, with some differences. Terracotta is made from a red clay bisque, and is fired at a comparatively low temperature. The result is a natural-looking albeit more fragile tile. Mosaic tiles are made using clays featuring manually added pigments, and so are available in a wide range of colors. Stylistically, it’s generally recommended that mosaic tile types are used sparingly in the home as their vibrant colors tend to overwhelm the eye. These vibrant colors do much better out of doors where they can be surrounded by equally vibrant and bold colors. 

Many people view terracotta as being rather plain, but these worldly tiles tend to look better with each passing year. Weathered terracotta tile simply seems to possess the old world charm that so many homeowners are looking to replicate. Be mindful that due to its relative fragility, the terracotta tiles that you select may not stand up well against frost or freezing/thawing conditions. If in doubt, consult your ceramic tile supplier

Quarry Tile

If you think quarry tile sounds tough, you’d be right. Quarry tile is a hard paving tile that is made using minerals (shale, feldspar, and clay) and a process similar to that used in brickmaking. These tiles tend to be harder than other tile types due to the extreme heat at which they’re produced. Unlike terracotta, quarry tile is not porous so they have an inherent ability to stand up to excessive moisture. Another point of differentiation is that quarry tiles never have a surface glaze applied to it. The result is a very robust, industrial-looking tile that has many commercial applications. Though perfectly acceptable to install quarry tile in the home, quarry tile is considered to be the creme de la creme of tiles used in the workplace due to its exceptional anti-slip qualities and natural aesthetic.  

In short, ceramic tile can be used in a number of ways in addition to increasing the longevity of your home’s floor. While each is aesthetically pleasing in their own right, they each have qualities that make them more ideal for certain applications over others. Unfortunately, these varying applications aren’t always evident to the buyer, so it’s always best to speak to someone who can shed some light on how to best use each of the different tiles described above. If you have any questions, the professionals at Sarana Tile are always happy to assist anyone looking to start a reno project in their home. 

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