Choosing the right tiles for your new home can sometimes be stressful! Mainly because most people in Singapore feel that tiles are expensive and installing tiles into a new home is a decision that will stick with you forever.
This is why we have come up with a list of items that you must know before making your tile selection!
A. Type of Tiles – Choosing the Correct Type of Tile
There are several different classifications of tiles. Allow us to walk you through what you need to know. The types of tiles available in the market are homogeneous tiles, full body porcelain tiles, half body homogeneous tiles, glazed porcelain tiles, and ceramic wall tiles.
1. Homogeneous Tiles
Homogeneous tiles (also known as ‘Full Body Porcelain Tiles’) are a type of unglazed porcelain tile. Consumers in Singapore have a huge misconception of what homogeneous tiles are! Many people may think that they want homogeneous tiles, but little do they know that homogeneous tiles are barely produced in this day and age, and Homogeneous tiles are actually what they do not want at all.
Have we gotten you scratching your head? Well don’t worry, we’re here to explain.
The main characteristic that is exclusive to only a homogeneous tile is that there is a consistent composition of material throughout the whole body of the tile (including its surface). Meaning to say, if the tile in question is a timber look, or even a marble look tile, there is no way that tile can be considered as homogeneous because there is definitely some sort of high quality glazed printing on the tile so that it can replicate the beauty of timber or marble. Even though the body of the tile may be of the same colour, the veins or pattern of the tile does not follow through its body. In order to be regarded as a true blue homogeneous material, you have to be able to see the veins and pattern of the tile at its mid section if you were to break it. This is definitely not possible.
Now that we know the true meaning of what an unglazed porcelain tile or a Homogeneous tile is, we can conclude that Homogeneous tiles are very limited in design. There has to be some sort of glaze printing on the surface of the tile in order for the tile to be able to accurately mimic the textures of wood, marble, or stone.
Fact Sheet for Homogeneous Tiles:
Durability: Outstanding breaking strength, and abrasion and scratch resistance. Heavy duty and able to withstand high traffic.
Water Absorption: Homogeneous tiles are fully vitrified tiles. Therefore, they are fired at insanely high temperatures. Water absorption is usually below 0.5%
Resistance to Chemicals and Stains: Very resistant. Homogeneous tiles are not at all porous, unlike natural stones.
Application: Can be used anywhere (regardless of wall or floor) – even on your drive way.
Disadvantages: Designs may be deemed as boring. Expanding from the definition we have provided earlier, homogeneous tiles are limited to designs of solid colour, or ‘salt and pepper’ (also known as ‘polka-dot’) design.
2. Coloured Body Porcelain Tiles
Coloured Body Porcelain tiles are the most popular Made in Italy tiles around the World today. As the name suggests, these too are also a type of porcelain tile.
These tiles have very similar characteristics to Homogeneous tiles, except for the fact that the full composition of material throughout the whole body of the tile is not consistent – only the colour is.
The colour of the body (sides and back of the tile) of Coloured Body Porcelain Tiles are manufactured to be the same colour as the base colour of the surface of the tile. For example, if we are looking at a brown timber look tile with timber veins, the sides and the back of the tile have to be brown too in order to be regarded as a Coloured Body Porcelain Tile. Likewise, a black marble look tile with white veins should have its sides and back to be black.
Enabling the base colour of the surface of the tile and its sides and back allows you to see the same colour should there be any chips on the surface due to wear and tear.
These tiles are more sought after than Homogeneous tiles because they can mimic any natural design and offer identical supreme performance as a Homogeneous tile.
Use them on your walls and floors of every part of your home tastefully and we are very sure you would not regret the outcome!
3. Half Body Homogeneous Tiles
These tiles are popular with the Chinese manufacturers. This type of tile was made to save on the material used to make a Homogeneous tile. It means that the tile only has a consistent composition of material from the surface until the mid section of the tile. The remainder of a tile uses a generic porcelain body that would differ in colour from its surface.
4. Glazed Porcelain Tiles
Glazed Porcelain Tiles are extremely popular in Singapore and all around the World. You get to experience the high performance characteristics of porcelain and at the same time enjoy very economical rates.
A Glazed Porcelain Tile has a surface layer called the glaze that will provide your tile with its pattern or design. This glaze is fused to a porcelain body. As a result, the colour of the body (sides and back) of this tile may differ from the colour of the surface.
The only setback about a Glazed Porcelain Tile is that should the tile suffer a chip on its surface due to impact, or should the surface wear off through abrasion over the course of time, you will see a different colour.
These tiles are perfectly fine for residential use. In your homes, traffic is extremely light and whatever stains that form are usually expected to be cleaned off relatively quickly. If we were to be talking about a heavy traffic shopping mall, Coloured Body Porcelain Tiles would be preferred.
90% of China manufactured tiles sold in Singapore are Glazed Porcelain and not Homogeneous nor Coloured Body, regardless of what your seller tells you.
5. Ceramic Tiles
Ceramic tiles are meant for use on walls only. They consist of a glaze fused to a ceramic body. Do note that the body is made of ceramic and not porcelain. Unlike porcelain, ceramic is more porous with water absorption rate of up to 6% (comparing to 0.5% for porcelain tiles).
The colour the surface of a ceramic tile will differ from its body. You will realise that the back of a ceramic tile will always seem a little powdery. Sprinkle some water on the back and you will realise later that the water has disappeared not through evaporation into the atmosphere, but due to absorption inside the tile!
Ceramic tiles are generally cheaper, lighter, and easier to install. We do not expect any heavy duty usage for wall applications so they are suitable for walls. However, using porcelain tiles for wall applications have become increasingly popular in Singapore.
B. Tile Surfaces – Anti-Slip Ratings and Scratch Resistance of Tiles
Now that you are pretty well versed with the type of tiles in the market, you will realise that you can use any type of porcelain tile for your floors and walls. We will now run through very quickly the different types of surfaces that a tile can have.
R9 rating of a tile means that the tile is matte and smooth and suitable for dry areas. Such tiles are usually resistant to scratches and very easy to maintain or clean due to its smooth surface.
R10 rated tiles are the most sought after tiles in Singapore. An R10 rating means that the tile is matte and smooth, but, has anti-slip properties when contaminated with oil or water. This makes such tiles suitable for your toilets. Being anti-slip and easy to clean at the same time seldom goes hand in hand!
An R11 surface is usually prickly and rough. They are suitable for wet areas and ramps, even if exposed to rain. An R11 tile would be preferred for your swimming pool deck, balcony, car porch, or even shower floors.
There are 2 kinds of Rough R11 tiles:
Using Carborundum: Such R11 tiles are flat looking but feels like sandpaper to the fingers or soles of your feet. If you wanted a seamless design whereby the internal and external areas of your home would use the same tile, such tiles are perfect. Aesthetically, you will not see a difference with your internal or external tiles. But, you get to enjoy the anti-slip properties for the external tiles.
Structured: The other kind of R11 tiles you can have are those that look bumpy, structured, or even rocky. They do not look flat.
The Italians refer to such tiles as ‘Lappato’. You may come across this term a lot if you happen to visit multiple tile showrooms in Singapore. Lappato tiles do not have anti-slip rating. These semi-polished tiles are easy to maintain and are good in terms of scratch resistance.
Likewise, polished tiles do not have any anti-slip rating. They are meant to be slippery and are usually avoided for use in wet areas. Polished tiles have a tendency to be scratched and should not be used in public areas that are exposed to heavy usage in the form of trolleys, strollers, and dragging of heavy items.
The term ‘Glossy’ is used to describe the surface of glazed and shiny ceramic tiles. We do not use the term ‘Polished’ because ceramic tiles are glazed cannot be polished.