Thinking of tiling a room with ceramic tile? Wondering what you should know before you go buy the tile?

Heres some basic information to get your started ---


We know: 1-Minute Lesson on Ceramic Tile

What is ceramic tile?

Ceramic tile is made from clay and then are hardened by firing in an oven or kiln. (Unlike cement tiles that are made from different materials and harden by drying.) Most ceramic tile is then covered with a glass-like substance called a glaze or frit.

What kinds of ceramic tile are there?

Ceramic tile is tested and must meet various standards for different uses. For instance, floor tile has different guidelines than counter tile.


When youre buying tile, be sure its been manufactured for the purpose that you intend, and ask if it meets American National Standards Institute (ANSI) guidelines for that use.


Here are some categories that the guidelines take into account:

  • Shapes and Dimensions classifies the tile by type (i.e. mosaic tile, quarry tile, paver tile, etc.)
  • Friction classifies the tile in relation to slipperiness, which is important in flooring
  • Visual Inspection classifies the tile by grade, thickness, warpage, etc. Basically, you will find standard grade and second (lesser) grade ceramic tile.
  • Bond Strength establishes the minimum bond strength of the tile in Portland cement mortar
  • Water Absorption important for choosing tile that will be used in wet areas or in areas that are subject to freezing
  • Others there are also guidelines for tile strength, hardness, chemical resistance, cracking and chipping.

What about the bonding material?

There are at least three kinds of basic adhesives to consider. Make sure the adhesive you choose meets the requirements for your intended use.

  1. Cement slurry, or wet set, is designed for use only on substrate or a mortar bed that is still uncured or plastic.
  2. Thinset, or Portland cement mortar, is designed to bond dry tile to backing or substrate. The adhesive usually requires you to mix water with it.
  3. Organic, or mastic, adhesives are designed for floors or walls, and bond the tile directly to a backing or substrate. These adhesives are usually premixed.

Tell me about grout

Grout is the material that you see in between tiles. Its both decorative and functional. Sanded grouts are used when the grout joint is more than 1/8 inch. If its less, than you use a non-sanded grout.


Different grouts are designed for different purposes. Be sure to get the right grout for your job. Grout types include:

  • Portland cement grouts a variety of different grouts for different purposes, including one modified with latex to add water resistance and better bonding. Some of these grouts come in colors, some do not.
  • Epoxy grouts made from epoxy, these grouts are usually resistant to staining, water and chemicals, and are very strong.
  • Furan grouts use no water, are difficult to install, come in a black color and are usually very resistant to chemicals


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