A guide to buying, installing and caring for ceramic tiles

Ceramic tiles date back to Biblical times and have proven to be one of the most practical building materials ever made. The purchase of ceramic tiles for your home is a major investment and will enhance and protect your home whilst adding to its capital value.
Having made the decision to use ceramic tiles in your home it is important to be well informed about the product you are using so that your tiling experience is a positive one and that the completed job meets your expectations.
It is also important to recognise that despite all professional assistance available, you are the master of your project and you should take responsibility for the progress of the project. These guidelines are offered to make that experience a favourable one.

Choosing the right tiles for the right use

There are tiles for all environments; however, there is no one particular tile suitable for all situations.

Wall and floor tiles perform two functions:

  • An aesthetic, decorative function;

  • A technical function in as much as they must be made from materials that can resist different types of environmental stress without breaking or deteriorating.


These two functions are fundamental and essential; there cannot be one without the other. It is therefore essential that you choose a tile that is both aesthetically and technically suitable for the application in which the tile will be used.

Are tiles slippery?

There is no such thing as a non slip tile. There are many factors that contribute to a slip and fall, for example, the overall building design, contaminates on the tiles, was the person running, walking, limping, were they children or elderly etc.
Ceramic tiles are rated according to their contribution to the risk of a slip or fall. It is therefore recommended that you seek advice from the retailer as to the suitability of a particular tile for its intended use.
The application and use of ceramic tiles is beyond the control of the supplier and it is therefore the end-users responsibility to manage the risk of slips and falls. Some simple actions you can take in managing the risk of slips and falls are the placements of floor mats in entry ways and wet area floors, strategic placement of handrails for the elderly and regular cleaning of pedestrian areas to prevent a build up of everyday contaminants.

Regulations

All tiles must be laid in accordance with the Australian Building Code and the appropriate Australian Standards.
A tile is only one component of a much larger building system that requires careful planning before the tiles are fixed. It is strongly recommended that you employ the skills of a licensed tiler to install your tiles. Ensure that you and the installer have a written contract detailing the scope of work. Failure to ensure the latter has legal implications and may void any warranties

Prior to installation

Ensure that you discuss the design of your job and your expectations with the installer. Include any special arrangements in the contract; for example, the extent of cleaning required.

  • Ensure that there are sufficient tiles to complete your job, as there are no guarantaees that extra tiles of the same colour and shade can be supplied at a later date.

  • It is suggested that a small quantity of extra tiles be kept on site once the job is finished. It can be very difficult to match tiles if repairs are necessary at a later date.

  • Shade variations are inherent in all kiln fired clay products. It is possible that the tiles you receive will be slightly different from the sample or display shown to you in the showroom; this is normal.

  • Arrange for your tiles to be delivered well ahead of time. Check the tone or shade markings on all tile cartons to ensure that you have been supplied with tiles from the same batch. Open two or three cartons and inspect the tiles for correct colour and acceptable shade. Failure to ensure the latter may result in disappointment as fixing of the product constitutes acceptance of the product.

During laying

As tiling commences make sure that the light in the room being tiled is a close as practically possible to the permanent lighting. Ensure the tiler mixes tiles from three or four different boxes so as to ensure proper blending of any colour variation that may exist.

As the work progresses take the time to have periodic checks:

  • Ensure that the blend and effect is maintained.

  • No defective tiles are laid.

  • It is highly recommended that hidden areas (under stoves, fridges, in pantries and cupboards) or detached areas (toilets and laundry floors) are tiled last so that if extra tiles are needed, batching will not be crucial.

  • It is essential that, if you have any doubts or concerns as the job progresses, you stop the tiling and immediately contact your tile supplier before proceeding any further.

After laying

Cleaning is the next step of the installation process. Ensure that the tiler removes all waxes, grout and grout residues. In the production of ceramic tiles certain technical limitations will occur; these may manifest themselves in the form of minor marks and blemishes. The latter are generally considered to be a characteristic of the tile and not considered a defect. Under normal lighting conditions these characteristic marks may not be noticeable. However, they may become obvious when highlighted by some forms of oblique lighting e.g. halogen and high illuminate white lights. All tiled surfaces should be viewed from a distance of 1.5m under non critical light.

Make sure your expectations have been met by inspecting the finished job whilst the tiler is still on site.

Mosaic tiles

Due to the technical limitations in the manufacturing process, mosaic tiles are subject to greater shade variation than other ceramic tiles. Ensure that you are happy with the colour and shade variation before installing the tiles. Suppliers will generally credit the tiles at this point of time; however no claims can be made once the tiles have been installed.

Polished Porcelain tiles

Polished porcelain tiles are different to other ceramic tiles in that they are unglazed. It is therefore recommended that unless advised otherwise these tiles should be sealed.

Important note: Before sealing the tiles it is essential that all cementitious and wax residues are removed from the tiles. Failure to do so will result in these contaminants being trapped below the surface of the tile. It is recommended that the cleaning and sealing be done by the same contractor.

Optical hazing: Whilst polished porcelain has a glossy surface, the latter does not mean it has the characteristics of a mirror and therefore will not perform as a mirror. As such it is subject to a natural phenomenon known as optical hazing presenting as a smoky haze when the surface of the tile is struck by oblique light sources. For example, early morning sun, halogen and white lights.
The effects of optical hazing can be minimised by careful design planning, such as, the use of curtains and blinds, and the careful placement of furniture.

Swimming Pools & Spas

GNS Ceramics does not recommend tiling in areas that are affected by abrasion, excessive vibration and movement, impact, thermal and mechanical shock. We do not recommend tiling on a fibreglass substrate. 
We recommend:
1. all work is carried out by licensed contractors experienced in the laying of mosaic tiles. Installation shall be in accordance with the Australian Building Code and AS3958 part 1 and 2 “Guide to the installation of ceramic tiles” and “Guide to the selection of a ceramic tiling system” respectively.
2. our mosaic tiles be fixed utilizing 

   a). either a combined epoxy grout and adhesive, or
   b). a thick bed combined latex fortified cementitious grout and adhesive, in conjunction with the floated method of application.
   c). the grout and adhesives used be chemically resistant and suitable for use externally in full immersion with none or low porous materials.
   d). all mosaics are stored in a clean dry space. Do not allow the tiles to get wet or damp prior to installation.


Note: Glass mosaics are translucent. We therefore recommend that grout and adhesives are of the same colour. The use of contrasting or different colours may result in the consumer’s expectations not being met. We also recommend that adhesives be applied with a view to removing voids as these may be visible through the glass

Care and maintenance

It is recommended that ceramic tiles should not be installed until all heavy construction has been completed.

It is vital to protect the tile to avoid construction related problems. During construction, dust debris will collect on the floor creating hazardous and slippery conditions. The dirt and debris may soil the grout as well as the tiles.

It is recommended that the tiles be covered to protect them from other trades.

Cementitious residues are always present on the tile surface although it may be invisible to the naked eye. The residue will absorb dirt thus giving an impression that the tiles are hard to clean. The latter must be removed using a proprietary grout remover.

Do not use abrasive cleaners and chemicals which could permanently scratch and damage the surface. Daily cleaning with a mild detergent is recommended. If more rigorous cleaning is required we recommend the use of a proprietary tile cleaner from a specialty tile supplier.

Daily cleaning

Sweep or vacuum the floor of loose dirt.

 

  • Using a proprietary tile cleaner follow the manufacturer’s instruction.

  • Remove the cleaning solution from the floor by using a clean mop or vacuum.

  • Rinse with clean water.

  • Remove water from the floor.

  • Buff with a dry towel or mop.

©2020 by GNS Ceramics.