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
A universe so large there’s bound to be a ceramic tile perfect for your home
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
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
Unglazed ceramic tiles are very hard and dense.
They come in various surface treatments and textures.
Typically, these tiles 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
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
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
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
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
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
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.