Australian tile council
What is a Porcelain Tile?
Whilst the preparation of ceramic and porcelain tiles are similar, it is the pressing and firing process which results in the porcelain tile having the superior characteristics of being much stronger and less porous, generally with a water absorption rate of 0.5% or less.
What are the types of porcelain Tiles?
a. Polished or Semi Polished: as the name suggests, an elaborate technique is used to finish the tile after the firing process. High quality porcelain does not require any further treatment after polishing.
Some lower density polished porcelain tiles must be sealed, depending on the manufacturer.
A polished surface is not a glaze, so do not be fooled into thinking that polished porcelain is glazed.
b. Glazed Porcelain: various techniques are employed by different manufacturers to glaze a tile. Once a porcelain tile has been glazed, no further treatment is required, in the sense that these tiles are considered non porous.
c. Matt or Natural Porcelain: generally speaking, this type of product comes out of the kiln in this form and undergoes no further processing.
A quality product requires no further treatment, ie. normally sealing is not required.
d. Rock Finish or Structured Porcelain: this type of porcelain is extremely textured and often used for externalpurposes. Normally sealing is not required.
Does my Porcelain Tile require sealing?
a. First and foremost you should ask your tile merchant whether the product you have purchased requires sealing. Then you need to determine what kind of sealer is best suited to your porcelain tile. Generally, the sealing of porcelain tiles is seen as an aide to the prevention of staining. As a rule, due to the low levels of porosity found in porcelain tiles, it is generally accepted that a penetrating sealer be used.
Normally it is polished porcelain that requires sealing due to the polishing process causing minute micro pores.
b. Some manufacturers pre-seal their products in readiness to the laying process, if your porcelain is not pre-sealed then pre-sealing prior to grouting, should generally be carried out where dark coloured grout is to be used on porous tiles.
This will ensure that the colour grout does not bleed into the tile. In some instances, you may wish to pre-seal dark porcelain tiles where light grout is to be used.
Cleaning wax residue from your tiles
Sometimes, in the production process, wax is added to the surface of the tile to protect it, to keep it clean and to keep it safe from scratching when in transit. There are various effective products on the market to clean this residue from the surface of the tiles and you should ask your tile merchant which product is best suited to your porcelain. Prior to tiling, you should ask your tiler if they will remove the wax once the job is complete.
Laying your Porcelain Tiles
In all cases the appropriate type of adhesive must be used. The substrate must also be adequate for the material to be used, that is, the flatness of the surface is paramount. If not tile lipping may occur.
In the case of floors, uneven surfaces may be levelled out with the use of a floor leveller or floor screed. Your tile fixer should be able to guide you through any questions you may have, so don’t be afraid to ask.
Cleaning and Maintenance
a. Once again, it is best to ask your supplier what kind of products should be used to clean and maintain your porcelain. Significantly, different types of stains may require different types of treatments. If you are unsure of what type of cleaners is most suited to your porcelain, it is recommended that a spot test be carried out with a general purpose cleaner in the first instance.
Your merchant will be able to assist you with the selection of the most suited type of cleaner.
b. With regards to maintaining a sealed porcelain tile, a good quality sealer should last 5 to 10 years. This can be ascertained from the manufacturer of the sealant used.
This is a process whereby tiles are cut during manufacturing, generally with a watered diamond blade, to ensure all tiles are consistent in size.
Costs of Laying
In many cases, the end result of laid porcelain requires a very straight level surface. Therefore in some cases tilers will charge a higher rate for laying and levelling porcelain tiles.
It is recommended that a qualified licensed tiler be used in all cases.