Sunday, December 11, 2011

Ceramic tiles and stones: making the right choice

It is easy to walk into a showroom, view different styles and select the “looks” you like. You do need to make sure, however, that the type of tile you select is the right one for your floors.

To simplify your selection choice, it is helpful to divide tile into two categories: Ceramic tiles and Natural stone tiles.

It is easy to walk into a showroom, view different styles and select the “looks” you like. You do need to make sure, however, that the type of tile you select is the right one for your floors.

To simplify your selection choice, it is helpful to divide tile into two categories: Ceramic tiles and Natural stone tiles.

Ceramic tiles

When considering ceramic tile, you should first understand its properties. Ceramic tile can be glazed or unglazed and waterproof or porous.

Glazed Ceramic Floor Tile

"Glazed" tiles are generally machine-made clay tiles, pressed in a die and fired in a kiln to provide color and a hard surface. They come in a larger variety of colors and tones and are more stain resistant than unglazed tiles. Because of their surface, glazed tiles are often used on walls or countertops.

Unglazed Quarry Tile

This variety brings the simple authentic looks of terra cotta into any design scheme. Contrary to glazed tile, the natural color of Quarry tile is present from the start and is part of the tile itself. They are naturally stain and slip resistant, and are available with an abrasive grain for even greater traction. This tile combines durability and beauty. Quarry tiles come in sizes up to about 12 inches wide.

Porcelain Tile

Porcelain tiles are fired at a high temperature, making them very dense and durable. Porcelain tiles are versatile – they can be used in any room of the house and are an excellent choice for outdoor conditions. They don’t wear down quickly, even under heavy traffic and they are also amongst the most water-resistant of all tiles.

Terracotta (or Saltillo) Tiles

The tiles, from Mexico or Europe, come in both handmade and machine-formed varieties. Terracotta offers a handcrafted look with a lot of character. They do however require a little more maintenance. Terracotta is porous so needs a coat of sealer every year. They can be used outdoors, but only in nonfreezing climates.

Natural Stone Tile

Marble, granite, and slate are common natural stone choices. Natural stones are available in two different surface textures:

* Polished tiles which are shiny and sleek-looking, but slippery when wet.
* Honed tiles which have a dull but less-slippery finish.

Marble Tile

This timeless stone classic can provide any interior space with elegance and beauty. They can be honed or polished for the desired effect.

Application: Suitable for interior walls, moderate-duty floors and exterior cladding in non-freeze/thaw areas. Not recommended for areas subject to water or grease accumulation.

Granite Tile

Formed by volcanic action, the flecks of quartz, feldspar and mica give Granite its own special character. Polished or honed, this tile is very distinctive.

Application : Recommended for interior and exterior walls and heavy-duty interior floors. Polished finish not recommended for exterior or interior floors subject to water or grease accumulation.

Slate Tile

This fine-grained metamorphic rock radiates a subtle, natural beauty. Since slate resists fading, abrasion and chemicals and is impervious to freeze/thaw cycles, its beauty will last for years to come.

Application: Recommended for both interior and exterior floor, wall and specialty uses, e.g., Stair treads tabletops and cladding. Not recommended for exterior or interior floors subject to water or grease accumulation.

Ceramic tile or stone floors can turn ordinary rooms elegant and lend your rooms a new natural beauty. The durability of tile flooring also makes it an excellent floor covering choice for any area of your home. Investing in floor tiling can provide an option that not only brings luxury to the home but is also practical and suited to the effects of everyday life.

Choose the right resistance

A PEI classification of 0 through 5 can be considered. The Porcelain Enamel Institute rating scale is not a measurement of quality. It is a scale that clearly indicates the areas of use each manufacturer recommends and has designed their tile to fit. A PEI 2 tile has been designed for areas where very low traffic and soiling is anticipated. In most cases the aesthetic detailing of these tile is of prime consideration. You will often find high gloss levels, vibrant colorations and metallic elements in this group of tile. Conversely, a PEI 5 tile has been designed for abusive extra heavy foot traffic. The technical aspects such as surface abrasion resistance will be considered and must be achieved first before aesthetic effects are incorporated.

Class 0 - No Foot Traffic:
Wall tile only and should not be used on floors.

Class 1 - Very light traffic:
Very low foot traffic, bare foot only. (Master Ensuite, spa bathroom).

Class 2 - Light Traffic:
Slipper or soft-soled shoes. Second level main bathroom areas, bedrooms.

Class 3 - Light to Moderate Traffic:
Any residential area with the possible exception of some entries and kitchens if extremely heavy or abrasive traffic is anticipated.

Class 4 - Moderate to Heavy Traffic:

High foot traffic, areas where abrasive or outside dirt could be tracked. Residential entry, kitchen, balcony, and countertop.

Class 5 - Heavy Traffic:
Ceramic tile suggested for residential, commercial and institutional floor subjected to heavy traffic.

Friday, December 9, 2011

Ceiling Tiles, Ceiling Panels

Ceiling tiles

Ceiling tiles
are lightweight tiles used in the interior of buildings. They are placed on a steel grid and, depending on the tile selected, may provide thermal insulation, sound absorption, enhanced fire protection, and improved indoor air quality.

Also frequently called ceiling panels, or drop-ceiling tiles, they offer the advantage of easy access to wiring and plumbing above the ceiling grid, and can be easily changed, removed, or replaced as needed. They are fabricated from perlite, wood, mineral wool, plastic, tin, aluminum, and fibers from recycled paper.

Some tiles are available with decorative photo/transfer surfaces, some are approved for installation under fire suppression sprinkler heads so the sprinklers do not show, some are approved for use in food preparation areas, and some are certified for indoor air quality by the GreenGuard Institute.

Tiles are available that resist mold and moisture damage, that have enhanced acoustical properties, and that can be easily trimmed with household scissors. Recycling old tiles depends upon the material used to make them, and some landfills no longer accept traditional mineral fiber tiles, so they must be recycled to the manufacturer.

Floor tiles, Ceramic floor tiles, Glass floor tiles

Floor tiles

These are commonly made of ceramic or stone, although recent technological advances have resulted in glass tiles for floors as well. Ceramic tiles may be painted and glazed. Small mosaic tiles may be laid in various patterns.

Floor tiles are typically set into mortar consisting of sand, cement and often a latex additive for extra strength. The spaces between the tiles are nowadays filled with sanded or unsanded floor grout, but traditionally mortar was used.

Natural stone tiles can be especially beautiful. However, as a natural product they are a little less uniform in color and pattern and require more planning for use and installation. Since stone tiles are mass-produced, they have very uniform width and length dimensions.

Stone tiles such as those of granite or marble are sawn on both sides and then polished or finished on the facing up side, so that they have a uniform thickness. Other natural stone tiles such as slate are typically "riven" (split) on the facing up side so that the thickness of the tile varies slightly from one spot on the tile to another and from one tile to another.

Variations in tile thickness can be handled by adjusting the amount of mortar under each part of the tile, by using wide grout lines that "ramp" between different thicknesses, or by using a cold chisel to knock off high spots.

Some stone tiles such as polished granite and marble are inherently very slippery when wet. Stone tiles with a riven (split) surface such as slate or with a sawn and then sandblasted or honed surface will be more slip resistant.

Ceramic tile for use in wet areas can be made more slip resistant either by using very small tiles so that the grout lines acts as grooves or by imprinting a contour pattern onto the face of the tile.

The hardness of natural stone tiles varies such that some of the softer stone (i.e. limestone) tiles are not suitable for very heavy traffic floor areas.

On the other hand, ceramic tiles typically have a glazed upper surface and when that become scratched or pitted the floor looks worn, whereas the same amount of wear on natural stone tiles won't show or will be less noticeable.

Natural stone tiles can be stained by spilled liquids; they must be sealed and periodically resealed with a sealant in contrast to ceramic tiles which only need their grout lines sealed. However, because of the complex, non repeating patterns in natural stone, small amounts of dirt on many natural stone floor tiles do not show.

Most vendors of stone tiles emphasize that there will be variation in color and pattern from one batch of tiles to another of the same description and variation within the same batch.

Stone floor tiles tend to be heavier than ceramic tiles and somewhat more prone to breakage during shipment.