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Frequently Asked Questions

What is the difference between ceramic and porcelain tile?
The term “ceramic tile” is often used as a generic name for all types of tile. But the composition of true ceramic is very different from that of the other types. Ceramic is made primarily of clay mixed with various minerals and water. This composition is then processed with heat to create the solidified product. Since ceramic material is porous, the top surface is usually sealed with a glaze.

Glazed ceramic tile is very durable, and when properly installed and cared for, it will last longer than any non-tile material used for the same purpose. It is also one of the easiest surfaces to clean, and because of its composition, it will not absorb odors, nor support allergens or bacteria. When coated with a Grade III or higher glaze, ceramic tile is highly resistant to scratching and moisture. Another important feature is that it will not burn, emit toxic fumes or scorch.

The primary ingredient in the composition of true porcelain tile is finely ground sand. Unlike ceramic, processing of the porcelain composition involves pressure and extremely high temperature. The end result is a very dense, glass-like material with a water absorption rate of less than .5 %. Because of its density and composition of natural ingredients, porcelain tile has all the same excellent qualities of glazed ceramic.

Recently, porcelain had experienced a surge in popularity due to a statement sometimes made by salespeople. They tell consumers that porcelain tiles are the same color all the way through. This may have once been true, but the new design creations have led to the addition of a design layer. Like glazed ceramic, the top surface of some porcelain tile is glazed to produce a specific colored finish.

When comparing price and durability, there is little difference between ceramic and porcelain tile. Expensive and inexpensive styles are available in both types, and under normal circumstances, there would be no noticeable difference in wear between the two.
 
What is the difference between glazed and unglazed tile?
Glazed tile is coated with a surface finish (glaze) fused to the body by firing at very high temperatures. Because of the ease of adding color, pattern and texture to the glaze, style, color and design are virtually unlimited. The color of unglazed tile results from the natural clay of the tile body or pigment added to the clay. The colors are more limited but because that color extends throughout the tile, wear is not visible. Unglazed tile is, therefore, an excellent choice for the most heavily trafficked areas.
 
How durable is ceramic tile?
Ceramic tile, properly installed, should last the lifetime of your home with minimum care. Tile will not show wear when used on walls; unglazed floor tile also will not show wear. Glazed floor tile is dependent on the durability of the glaze and body and the amount of traffic to which it is subjected. Most manufacturers do classify the durability of their tile. Rating O: Walls Only Rating 1: Light Traffic (residential bathroom floors) and Counter Tops Rating 2: Medium-Light Traffic (residential interior floors except kitchens, stairs, landings, and entranceways) Rating 3: Medium-Heavy Traffic (all residential areas and commercial areas with similar traffic) Rating 4: Heavy Traffic (all residential and most commercial areas) Rating 5: Heaviest Duty Traffic (all residential and commercial areas)
 
Will ceramic tile break or chip?
Ceramic tile is more susceptible to breaking before installation than after. After proper installation, it is very difficult to break or chip tile unless it is hit with a heavy object such as a hammer having a small impact area. Structural breaks can occur if there is movement in the substrate. If damaged, individual tiles can be replaced.
 
Will tile be slippery, cold, or hard on my back, legs, feet?
Slip resistance varies with the type of tile. Textured or unglazed tiles can be more slip resistant than glazed tiles but a glazed tile surface would not be more slippery than other hard surface floors i.e. vinyl or hardwood. Slip resistance is greatly diminished on both glazed and unglazed tile when liquids are present. A mat is advisable in any area where water or other liquids could be present on the floor. Tile holds the temperature of the room, which is cooler than our body temperature so it feels cold to the touch. Nuheat or Laticrete floor warming systems are available to keep the floors at a comfortable temperature year round. Standing for long periods of time on any hard surface can be uncomfortable. A soft mat placed in an area where you stand for long periods of time would help and also absorb any liquids spilled.
 
Does ceramic tile require special floor construction?
Standard floor construction of 2" x 10" floor joists spaced 16" on center with 5/8" plywood subfloor and 3/8" plywood underlayment is suitable. However, more than 20 years' experience shows that a rigid, cementitious backer board is superior to plywood as an underlayment. A clean, structurally sound concrete slab is suitable and does not require additional underlayment.
 
Can tile be used outdoors?
There are numerous porcelain and quarry tiles that are frost-resistant and are excellent for patios, porches, pool decks, etc. Their slip resistance will be dependent on the surface texture, and slip-resistance is important! Glazed, frost-resistant tiles are recommended for vertical exterior surfaces only. The tile manufacturer will indicate if a particular type of tile is frost-resistant. A frost-resistant installation method is essential.
 
What should I know about grout?
Grout, the colored mortar between tiles, has been drastically improved in recent years. It is available in numerous colors to coordinate with your tile choice and different features, so you can choose one that best suit your lifestyle. You can check out the three levels of grout systems available from Laticrete.

SpectraLock Pro Grout
SpectraLock Pro offers the highest performance, color uniformity, durability and stain resistance of epoxy grout.
Inhibits the growth of stain-causing mold and mildew in the grout joints with Microban antimicrobial product protection. Uniform color-no blotchiness or shading Easy to maintain, cleanable to the original color. Stain resistant, no need for topical sealers Tough, durable and crack resistant Outperforms cement based grout High fashion with Dazzle component A component of the Laticrete 15 year residential warranty and Laticrete 10 year system warranty Greenguard certified for better indoor air quality. Use on floors and walls, both interior and exterior. 40 Lifestyle colors

PermaColor Grout (for grout joints 1/16" to 1/2")
PermaColor offers the maximum performance available in a cement-based grout, providing consistent color and Microban to resist stain-causing mold and mildew. It is Ideal for floors and walls in both interior and exterior installations.

Consistent color-no blotchiness resists efflorescence Stain-resistant Equipped with Microban Strong and durable cement based grout-resists cracking and powdering A component of the Laticrete 15 year residential warranty and Laticrete 10 year system warranty Greenguard certified for better indoor air quality Kevlar Reinforced-exclusive feature provides superior strength for a cement-based grout Ideal for floors and walls 40 Lifestyle colors Sealer will improve stain-resistance.

1500 Sanded Grout  (for grout joint widths of 1/8" up to 1/2")
Designed for exterior and interior use-ideal for both heavy-duty uses outdoors and for long lasting beauty indoors. Uniform color-Laticrete grout colors are. specially blended to be uniform in color. Available in 30 designer colors. Should be sealed to improve stain-resistance.

1600 Unsanded Grout (for narrow grout joints 1/8" or less) Excellent for wet and dry areas. Easy Maintenance. Available in 30 non-fading colors. Should be sealed to improve stain-resistance. Interior and exterior use.
 
What should I use to seal my grout and how long will the sealer last?
Epoxy and urethane based grouts do not require sealers due to their low porosity and stain proof/resistant features. However, it is recommended that you seal cement based grouts. For these applications, we recommend Aqua Mix Grout Sealer. The expected where is up to 5 years depending on the maintenance products used, cleaning methods used, type of area and exposure to extreme weather conditions.
 
When do I seal tile and how often?
Glazed tile generally does not require a sealer. There are some specialty glazes that manufacturers suggest the use of a penetrating sealer. Aqua Mix has recommended sealers for all types of unglazed tiles and natural stone. Expected wear depends on the product and ranges from 1 to 15 years.
 
Does ceramic tile have shade variation?
As is true with other quality decorating products such as textiles, carpet, wall coverings, and wood, ceramic tile does have shade variations. Hand-crafted tiles generally have the greatest variation, and this quality contributes to their unique beauty. Samples are meant to represent the tile as adequately as possible but may vary to some degree. Be sure to inspect your tile before it is installed to determine if it meets your approval.
 
Is textured tile harder to clean and what do I use to clean floor and wall tiles?
Glazed textured tiles are impervious, so dirt remains on the surface for ease of maintenance. Unglazed textured tiles have a tendency to grab dirt because of their slip resistant feature making cleaning more challenging.
We recommend Aqua Mix products, which can be purchased through your flooring dealer or tile contractor.
 
Should ceramic tile be waxed?
Do not wax glazed ceramic tile. Your tile is more durable than wax and will become more beautiful with regular minimal maintenance. A small amount of neutral detergent in warm water plus a clean rinse are suggested.
 
How does ceramic tile price compare with other floor coverings and wall finishes?
The initial installed cost of ceramic tile may be higher than other finish materials. Today's improved technology, marketing and competitive pricing have decreased the margin of difference. When considering the true cost comparison, you must look at the life span of ceramic tile. Due to the fact that you probably will never have to replace your tile and the low cost and easy maintenance, ceramic tile is the least expensive of all finishes. Statistics show that an investment in ceramic tile will increase the value of your home.
 
Will a larger size tile make small spaces look bigger?
This is a personal design perception. Larger tiles are being used in all size rooms. Large tiles can help to make a space feel larger because it less busy with fewer grout joints.