Choosing Flooring: Tile

Tile continues to grow in popularity as a floor covering, with good reason.

  • Tile has a natural, handcrafted look that's durable and easy to care for.
  • Tile works well in areas with high foot traffic, and it's especially suited to entry areas where water and dirt enter the house.
  • Design patterns are limitless when using all of the possible combinations of size, texture and color.
  • You can further expand your creative toolbox with hand painted tiles and colored grouts.

By combining various geometric layout and numerous trim tiles your design options are practically limitless.

Selecting Tile

Finding a tile you like is easy. Just make sure it's the right one for your floor and choose a tile that's rated for the area you where you plan to install it. Entryways need a hard, abrasion-resistant, moisture-proof tile. Baths require a moisture-proof non-slip material. Slip-resistant tile is treated with an abrasive material to "rough up" the smooth surface for safety. Some tiles are rated for indoor or outdoor use only, others can be used in either application.

Floor tile is usually 1/2" to 3/4" thick, manufactured in squares measuring 4"x4" up to 24"x 24". Other shapes, such as octagonal and hexagonal are available. (Wall tile is thinner and comes in squares from 3"x 3" up to 6"x 6".)

Mosaic tiles are two inches square or smaller and can be installed individually. Mosaic tiles are also available in pre-mounted paper or fabric mesh sheets.

Tile Ratings

All tile feels hard, but some types of tile are actually harder than others. Tile is rated by a series of standardized tests. The tests evaluate a tile's relative hardness (the Moh scale), its ability to stand up to wear and the percentage of water absorbed.

The Porcelain Enamel Institute hardness ratings are:

  • Group I - Light Traffic: residential bathroom floors where bare or stocking feet are the norm.
  • Group II - Medium Traffic: home interiors where little abrasion occurs. Don't use in kitchens or entries.
  • Group III - Medium-Heavy Traffic: any home interior.
  • Group IV - Heavy Traffic: homes or light to medium commercial areas.
  • Group V- Extra Heavy Traffic: use it anywhere.

These ratings are important, but don't get too bogged down in analysis — they serve to help you find the right tile for your application.


Pay closer attention to the ratings test that measures the percentage of water absorbed, or porosity. A tile's porosity is critical especially when choosing tile for kitchens and baths, since these areas need moisture proof flooring. Porous tile should not be used outdoors where cold weather produces freeze/thaw cycles. The classifications for the porosity of tile are: Impervious (least absorbent), Vitreous, Semi-vitreous, and Non-vitreous (most absorbent).


The hardness of tile is affected by the firing process. Usually, the longer and hotter the firing, the harder the tile will be. The raw tile material, called bisque, is either single-fired or double-fired.

  • For single-fired tiles, the glaze is applied to the raw material and baked once in a kiln.
  • Double-fired tiles are thicker. Raw material is baked a second time after additional color or decoration is added.

Installing Tile

On the do-it-yourself project scale, installing tile ranges from easy to challenging. Tiles usually require some cutting to fit. They're applied with mortar or other adhesives, followed by a final application of grout.

As with all types of tile, areas that require precision cuts may be more difficult. Flooring presents its own set of concerns. Since tile is not a resilient material, it requires a very stable subsurface. Subfloors frequently have to be built up to the thickness required for tile flooring.

See the chart below for some common (and some less common) floor tile.

Wednesday, 10 March 2010

Cleaning Porcelain Tile Flooring

Cleaning Porcelain Tile Flooring

Porcelain tile is among the easiest of flooring materials to clean. Porcelain tile can be easily swept or vacuumed twice a week. You can also clean your porcelain tile with a damp sponge mop. Use a solution of 1/4 cup of white vinegar to 2 gallons of water, allowing time for drying.

Although porcelain tile is by definition impervious, it is still possible for its surface to stain. You may choose a cleaner specifically formulated for porcelain tile. However,unglazed surfaces sometimes assume the color of the cleaning solution. For these and other important issues, here is an account of how to clean multiple types ofporcelain tile surfaces.

Unpolished porcelain tile

Following is a simple procedure to clean unpolished/unglazed porcelain tile flooring with a moderate soil load.

  • Sweep or vacuum the dirt from the floor.

  • Saturate the floor with cleaning solutions and hot water, stir and allow it to stand on the floor for 5 � 10 minutes. Do not allow cleaning solutions to dry. Also, for this procedure, do it on small areas at a time.

  • For more difficult stains, scrub the cleaning solution with a floor machine equipped with an abrasive pad or stiff nylon-bristle brush. For residential applications and small areas, use a scrub brush.

  • Wipe away the dirty cleaning solution and rinse the surface of the porcelain tile with clean, clear water with a mop or a wet vacuum.

  • You might have to use a more aggressive cleaning method if the unpolished porcelain tile is heavily stained.

Polished tile

For polished or glazed porcelain tiles, these instructions must be followed for general cleaning:

  • Sweep or vacuum loose dirt and dust from the floor. Use an untreated, dry dust mop instead of a broom.

  • Mop the floor with a mild cleaning solution. The concentration of the detergent should be 50% less than the amount used on an unpolished porcelain tile floor.

  • Rinse the porcelain tile floor with clean and clear water thoroughly.

  • Dry carefully to increase the shine and to prevent water spots.

Part 2

Textured tile

A textured porcelain tile surface demands for some additional cleaning procedures. Just a standard wet-mopping will not effectively clean such surface. It requires you to clean it more requently and do it in a specified manner. For cleaning textured surfaces, follow these instructions:

  • Sweep or vacuum dust and debris from the floor. For sweeping use a soft-bristle broom and sweep in two directions. First follow the direction of the tile, and then sweep diagonally to ensure complete cleaning of all foreign material that might be residing in the texture.

  • Saturate the surface with a neutral cleaning solution in hot water and stir. Allow the cleaning solution to remain on the floor for five to ten minutes. Scrub the floor with a brush, again using a two-direction method.

  • Rinse the porcelain tile floor with clean, clear water to remove the cleaning solution.

  • For high traffic locations, it is recommended to scrub the floor once a day and wet mop at regular intervals.

Preventions and Safety Measures:
  • Do not clean porcelain tile flooring with ammonia or with cleaners that contain any bleach and/or acid for cleaning. Acid and ammonia based cleaners may alter grout color.

  • Do not use any oil-based detergents, wax cleaners, or sealants.

  • Do not use agents that contain any dyes or colors on unglazed porcelain tile.

  • Use rugs at outdoor entrances to prevent grit from being tracked onto the tile flooring.

  • Do not use steel wool pads, because the loose steel particles may cause rust stains in the grout.


Kathy said...

Hi! Thanks for sharing your tiles cleaning tips. We had our ceramic tile (Tampa, FL- where we lived) for 20 years. My mom just love tiles since it is low in maintenance and yes, easy to clean. Actually, I'm also looking forward to have tile flooring on my own house and I will also love to try your cleaning tips. Thanks again

derek said...

We are planning to renovate our kitchen floor, with this tip I know now what tile rating is appropriate to use on our kitchen. Thanks.

tile flooring