Variations in shade are inherent in all kiln fired products and are one of the Natural Characteristics of Ceramic Tiles.
Shade variation can occur in all types of kiln-fired clay products including tiles. Consequently, each production run of tiles is given a shade number, which is printed on the outside of the carton. This number should be given to the tile supplier if additional tiles are required.
It is the tile layers responsibility to check the shade numbers on the boxes before laying commences. If different shade numbers are discovered, the tile layer must inform the client. If several areas, wall or floor, are being covered with the same tile, it may be possible to use different batches in separate areas.
Many contemporary ceramic tiles are designed to imitate the appearance of natural materials like timber and stone products, which frequently vary substantially in appearance.
Tile manufacturers use the latest digital ink-jet printing technologies to create surfaces which
reflect that natural variation. Ink-jet printing processes allow manufacturers to deliberately produce a multiplicity of patterns within one batch, which ensures that the finished products vary in appearance, just like the natural surface finishes they seek to emulate.
As a result of shade variation the shade of sample products displayed in tile outlets may vary from the products which are delivered.
There are two main types of shade variation: Variation from sample to actual (variations between production runs) and variation from tile to tile (intentional variations manufactured into the product).
Colour variation from sample to actual
This is the toughest shade variation to anticipate. This variation, also known as dyelot or tonality, is inherent in producing a unique product. Due to the nature of the production process and materials used, variations in colour is almost inevitable between production lots. (This is also the case with bricks, pavers, carpet, textiles and vinyl etc.)
Shades may be similar to those obtained in previous productions but they will rarely if ever be the same, therefore it is best to buy all material to be installed at the same time. (Ideally tiles from different batches should not be laid together. If for some reason this is to be done, tiles from each batch should be compared for compatibility before installation.)
It is also wise to keep some extra tiles aside, of the same production lot, for any future maintenance.
As ceramic tiles are a kiln fired product display samples are an indication of the tile. Colour and design may vary between sample and actual tiles supplied.
Colour variation from tile to tile
This is the type of variation that the manufacturer intentionally created in the tiles. Manufacturers are making ceramic tiles to resemble natural products (e.g. natural stone). The more the tile looks like stone the more it acquires natural stone characteristics – such as colour, texture and shade variations.
Manufacturers and distributors have started to adopt a colour variation guide. This guide rates ceramic tiles on a four-point scale that ranges from V0 through V4.
V0 Monochromatic – The tiles are very uniform, monochromatic colour with little or no variation.
V1 Uniform Appearance (Minimal Variation) – Differences among pieces from the same production run are minimal. The tiles should have uniform appearance and minimal variation.
V2 Slight to Moderate Variation – Clearly distinguishable texture and/or pattern within similar colours. The tiles have a slight to moderate variation in shade, design and texture.
V3 Moderate to Considerable Variation – While the colours present on a single piece of tile will be indicative of the colours to be expected on other tiles, the design and/or amount of colour on each piece may vary significantly. These tiles have moderate to considerable variation in colour,
design, texture and overall appearance.
V4 Substantial Variation – Random colour differences from tile to tile, so that one tile may have totally different colours from other tiles. Thus, the final installation will be unique. The tiles will have a substantial random variation in colour, design, texture and overall appearance.
Markings and Specifications
It is a good idea to keep an empty carton as most of the following key product information is usually printed on the carton:
As well as variation from batch to batch ceramic tiles can vary slightly within the batch itself. To ensure a successful installation tilers should mix the tiles during laying by working from a number of boxes at the same time.
In this way any small shade variations are blended amongst the installation evenly resulting in an aesthetically acceptable finish.
Credit: Australian Tile Council
Ceramic materials are time- honoured, ancient products, which are used extensively in every internal and external aspect of our built environment.
Today, tiles can be purchased in an extensive variety of formats which vary in size from tiny mosaic tesserae to giant pieces of porcelain.
Tiles vary in thickness from 5 mm to 25 mm. Products are manufactured from mixes of clay, sand and a variety of natural substances which are fired at extreme temperatures which frequently exceed 1200 degrees Celsius. The blend of raw materials and the temperature they are fired at determine the nature of the tile, and its suitability for use in specific applications. The firing process produces hard, rigid products which are fragile in certain circumstances.
However, once tiles are correctly installed, they are capable of withstanding heavy loads, and substantial levels of foot traffic, without bending or deforming. At this stage they are highly resistant to abrasion and their resistance to impact is increased. While the pressing stage initially sets the hardness properties, it is the final stage of the firing process that ultimately determines the hardness of the product. The high temperature production process produces a surface finish which is easy to clean and
maintain. Ceramic tiles are inert, they can be fully immersed in water without any change occurring. Significantly, the flames of a fire will not alter their structure. Consequently, tile can be adhered to any internal or external, vertical or horizontal, wet or dry surface that has been correctly prepared.
To summarise, tiles are
They can be laid in numerous residential and commercial applications. Hardwearing/Exceptional Life Cycle Life Cycle Analysis (LCA) studies have determined that correctly chosen and installed ceramic tiles materials can last as long as the building in which they are installed in.
The cost of periodic maintenance of floor finishes over a protracted extended period of time is expensive and constantly increases. Tile requires minimal maintenance.
The vast majority of ceramic floor tile installations can be cleaned by sweeping
away accumulated grit and light mopping or cleaning with a microfibre wipe.
The compact body of the product prevents impregnation by dirt, dust mites or other potential contaminants.
Fire and Heat Resistant
Tiles will not burn. The inert nature of the material determines that no toxins or volatile organic compounds (VOCs) will be released during a fire. Tiled surfaces delay the spread of fire, the surface cannot be burned or marked by a lit cigarette.
Chemical and Stain Resistance
Most ceramic materials are highly resistant to staining and have a very high resistance to a wide range of chemicals. Appropriate specified ceramic surfaces can be laid in laboratories, hospitals, abattoirs, or virtually any commercial environment. Many porcelain products are practically impervious, and highly resistant to liquid impregnation and subsequent staining. Glazed ceramic products do not stain.
Even extreme levels of ultra violet and other forms of light (sunlight) have no effect on the colourfast nature of tiles either glazed or unglazed.
Tiled surfaces adapt to the air temperature of a room, which minimises heating and cooling costs. Under tile heating systems can be installed during the laying process. Clay products absorb heat and naturally release it when the ambient temperature falls. Porcelain tiles are particularly effective heat banks.
Advanced ceramic products are produced with titanium dioxide fired into the surface of the tile producing hydrophilic properties which ensure that the tiles are extremely easy to clean. In addition an anti-bacterial effect is created, in the presence of any form of light the photocatalytic process produces O2 active oxygen which can decompose microorganisms such as bacteria, fungi, moss, mould and viruses, even the antibacterial resistant ‘super bugs’ are destroyed, this process also breaks down the toxic emissions such as nitrous oxide from motor vehicles. These products can be most beneficial when used in hospitals, on building facades and in private homes bringing major health and environmental benefits.
Credit: Australian Tile Council
This problem can occur on a variety of tiled surfaces. It is usually created when tile layers hastily complete the grouting process, without washing off residue grout effectively. Some contemporary ceramic products have slightly textured surfaces which can encourage grout to cling to the surface of the tile.
Tile layers should use a clean sponge and clean water to carefully remove excess grout, without dragging grout out of the grout joints. To do this effectively it is important not to commence the wash off process too soon. In addition, residue grout should be completely squeezed out of the sponge, and the water should be changed frequently.
On warm days grout will dry quicker and will be more prone to adhering to the tile’s surface. In those circumstances, smaller areas should be grouted to avoid sections drying too quickly, leaving behind a feint residue that later proves difficult to remove.
In most instances a light grout bloom will become evident, this can be removed using a dry rag. If grout has not been washed off effectively, this bloom or haze may reappear making the surface look smeared, dirty or dull.
If this problem occurs, the owner needs to address it promptly, as the longer it is left unattended the harder it becomes to remove the residue grout film, which will attract additional grime.
In some instances, latex contained in grout improvers may be part of the problem, the cementitious element of the grout will have been removed, but feint traces of the latex element of the mix may remain.
At this point, many home owners resort to using general household cleaners which may contain a mild alkaline or mild acidic element, which may not prove successful. Latex is usually removed by using an appropriate solvent to release it from the surface. The floor should be thoroughly cleaned with water prior to application of the solvent.
Epoxy grouts are more difficult to remove. These should always be applied and cleaned strictly following manufacturer recommendations. Never leave residues on the tile surface. Most epoxy grout manufacturers have specific dedicated products for the cleaning.
Fortunately, most of our leading manufacturers of adhesive and grout produce problem solving cleaners which will resolve the problem. If grout haze occurs, talk to your tile supplier for advice and consult with the tile layer to ascertain which grout was used.
Once the floor is cleaned it will no longer be necessary to use these special cleaners on a regular basis.
Always follow the manufacturer’s instructions to the letter. Conduct a test on a small out of the way section of the floor to check that the result is satisfactory.
This may occur in areas which lack adequate ventilation, it may be necessary to install an extractor fan. Mould can be removed by scrubbing with a scourer, using one of the following - bicarbonate of soda, methylated spirits, cloudy ammonia or epsom salts.
The popularity of porcelain products encouraged manufacturers to apply a light wax coating to the surface of each tile, to protect the surface of the tile from scratching during the packing, in transit and installation processes.
The majority of these wax coatings are water soluble, they can be removed using a water- based alkaline cleanser. Before removing solvent based waxes let the cleaner dwell on the
tile surface for 10 to 15 minutes to dissolve the wax. Your tile retailer can give you guidance. You should check if your chosen porcelain tile has been coated with wax, your tile layer should be alerted prior to installation.
Overuse of High Alkaline Detergents
As previously stated, clean water and a mild pH cleanser will be suitable for cleaning the majority of tile surfaces. Use of alkaline or acidic cleaners will often create problems. Alkaline cleaners should only be used to remove specific stains, they should not form a part of the regular maintenance programme.
This problem usually occurs in external applications of unglazed ceramic materials and natural stone. Efflorescence usually appears on the surface of a tile or around the joints in the form of a white powder. This unsightly problem is created by the transmission of liquid salts from below the tiles to the surface. In most new installations the residue can be swept or vacuumed away. The presence of excessive moisture is the prime cause of the problem. In some instances the problem reoccurs, always remove every trace promptly to prevent hardening and subsequent calcification.Specialist cleansers are available to treat the problem. These can only be employed when the source of the moisture is identified and if the problem persists a specialist should be consulted.
If you are wanting a less pronounced grout line where the tiles appear seamlessly together then select a grout colour that matches your tile selection. Selecting a grout colour that is exactly the same is near impossible but a shade lighter or darker can help tie everything together.
We recommend selecting a matching grout colour when your tile has only one colour and no variation.
If you are wanting a safe choice that will compliment any tile and space, then a neutral colour grout may be the best option.
A light grey or darker colour grout will have less of an impact and be a timeless design that will not date.
If you are wanting your tiles to stand out and have an impact, you can use a contrasting grout that will frame the tiles. This makes the tiles pop out and draws attention to them.
If you are selecting a contrasting colour grout then we recommend using thicker grout joints to ensure you really highlight the tiles using the colour grout selected
Generally floor tiles can be installed onto any surface that is structurally safe and sound. This means that the surface is clean, smooth, dry and free from any wax, soap, scum, grease or dirty and grime.
If the surface has any damage, is loose in any way or uneven then you must repair the surface before any installation of tile work begins.
Before the installation begins it is best to plan the layout of the tiles. This will largely depend on the design layout that you want to achieve however there is a standard process.
To start planning the layout of your tile installation, begin by finding and marking the centre point of the room. Draw a line from the centre of the room to the centre of each wall in the area and ensure that they are perfectly square.
The next step is to lay out some of the tiles you will install along the lines in all directions. Remember to leave space for the grout joints. The width of the grout joint will depend on what spacers you use or levelling clips.
If you find that laying out your tiles in all directions will leave cuts that are smaller than half a tile against the walls, then you should adjust the centre line by half a tile closer to the wall. This should be repeated along if centre line if necessary.
The centre lines also split the room into smaller grids so you can work within these grids.
The type of adhesive will depend on the type of tiles and area of installation. Make sure you carefully read the instructions, make and precaution on the adhesive packages to ensure correct use and application. When mixing the adhesive, only mix enough that you would use within 30 minutes to avoid the adhesive curing the bucket mixture.
When applying the adhesive, use the type and size of trowel recommended on the adhesive package. Spread the adhesive over the area of one tile at a time using the flat side of the trowel. After the adhesive is well spread, use the notch side of the trowel to comb the adhesive into the corners of the area the tile will be installed. Remove the excess adhesive so that a uniform and firm bedding of adhesive is left.
Make sure each tile is measured carefully before cutting. A pencil or felt tip pen can be used. Diagonal and straight cuts can be made using a standard tile cutter. Curved cuts should be done with a tile nipper which can chip away in small increments at a tile to ensure a smooth and accurate curvature.
When setting tiles onto the adhesive it is best to mix tiles from several boxes to ensure a blended effect if there is any variation within the tile. Tiles should be placed on the adhesive in a twisting motion, not a sliding motion. When two tiles are set together, place spacers in-between them to create the equal grout joint space.
If you are laying rectangle tiles in a brick bond patter, make sure that these tiles do not overlap more than 1/3. When the tiles are set, use a rubber mallet or hammer and tap on the tiles to knock out any air and to ensure a good bond to the level plane.
Remove any excess adhesive from the joints with a putty knife and from the top of the tile with a damp sponge.
Continue applying the adhesive and laying the tile in working sections in the same manner. Make adjustments as needed so the tiles are aligned straight, especially along the longest dimension of the room where variations will show.
Remember to cut tiles an extra 1/4 inch smaller at the edge of the flooring to allow for mortar and expansion.
Leave tiles for at least 24 hours before applying grout or walking on.
Grouting should generally be done 24 hours after the tiles have been installed. You should refer to the specific instructions and precaution on the grouting package before grouting. When mixing the grout, only mix an amount that will be used within 30 minutes.
Before applying the grout, remove the tile spacer. Then spread the grout on the tile surface by forcing the mixture into the grout joints using a rubber grout float. Remove any excess grout from the surface of the tile as soon as possible with the edge of the rubber float.
After approximately 15-20 minutes, use a damp sponge to clean the grout residue from the surface of the tiles. The sponge should be rinsed regularly and the water changed as required.
Once the grout has dried and the grout has formed a haze on the tile surface, polish it off with a soft cloth. Rinse again with a sponge and clean water if necessary.
Tiles can be installed on almost any structurally sound substrates just as long as they meet a few conditions. The surface must be clean, dry, smooth and free from wax, soap, scum, grease and any dirt or grime. If there are damaged, loose or uneven surface materials where the tiles are to be fixed, then these areas must be repaired, patched or levelled.
Wall Tile Layout
The wall layout of your tiles will depend on your design however there is a basic rule for laying wall tiles. Start by finding the centre point of the wall and use a level to draw a plumb line in the wall’s centre. Then plan the layout by laying out a row of tiles across the bottom of the wall from the centre line you have just marked. Be sure to take into account the uniform grout joints between each tile. The width of the grout joint must meet Australian Standards.
Laying out your tiles will identify if there are any cuts that need to be made. If the layout leaves cuts smaller than half a tile, then adjust the centre line half a tile closer to the side wall.
The next step is to identify and draw a guideline for the first row of tiles to be set above the floor substrate. This is critical if the floor is uneven or sloped (i.e. bathroom floor slope). To draw this guideline, find the lowest point of the floor using a leveller. Stack two tiles here and at the top draw a horizontal line on the wall above the second tile. With the level, continue the line around all sides of the walls to be tiled.
Firstly you will need to select the right adhesive that is appropriate for the wall you are tiling. There are a few different types of adhesives so it is best to ask for advice if you unsure. Carefully read and follow all instructions and precautions on the adhesive package. When mixing adhesive you should only mix the amount that is expected to be used over the next 30 minutes to an hour to avoid the adhesive curing the bucket.
To apply the adhesive, first place the tile over the area it is to be installed then lift it up and spread the adhesive across that area using the trowel recommended on the adhesive package. Remove any excess adhesive and make sure you do not spread a larger area than can be set in 15 minutes.
All tiles that are to be cut must be measured carefully and marked with a pencil or felt tip pen. Straight cuts are easy, you can use a tile cutter for this. If you have any curved cuts then a tile nipper is the best solution. Nippers chip away small pieces at a time to achieve a very accurate result. However if you have very long curved cuts then a rod saw is best.
Before setting any tiles onto the adhesive you should lay them out to check for any variation. Variation in shade is an inhere characteristic of both porcelain and ceramic tiles and it is always best to achieve a blended effect to avoid any box to box shade variation.
Begin installation by setting a tile in the centre of the space to be tiled and work in grids. Make sure you finish one grid before moving to the next. The method to set tiles should be a laying and twisting motion. Not a sliding motion.
Once the tile is set, remove any excess adhesive from the top of the tile with a wet sponge and the ground joint with a paddle pop stick or putty knife and insert tile spacers for each tile to leave equal grout joints between every tile.
There are many rules for different laying patterns. If you are laying rectangle tiles in a brick bond pattern then you must make sure that the tiles never overlap by more than 1/3.
Wait 24 hours before grouting unless otherwise specified on the adhesive package. Make sure you carefully read grouting instructions and precautions on the grout package. Be sure to only mix the amount of grout that you will use in approximately 30 minutes to avoid the grout curing the bucket.
To apply the grout, first remove any spacers from the joints and then spread the grout on the tile surface by forcing the grout mixture into the joints with a rubber float or sponge.
After applying the grout make sure ot remove any excess grout from the surface of the tiles immediately with the edge of your float. After approximately 15-20 minutes or when the grout visually begins to set slightly you should remove and clean the surface of tiles using a damp sponge. The sponge can also be used to smooth out the grout joints for a better finish.
Let dry until grout is hard and haze forms on tile surface, then polish with a soft cloth. Rinse again with sponge and clean water if necessary. Wait 72 hours for heavy use. Don't apply sealers or polishes for three weeks, and then only in accordance with manufacturer's recommendations.