In the industry, ceramic tiles generally describe pressed edge (bevelled), glazed clay or porcelain tiles. These are general purpose tiles suitable for most applications.
Installation is simple and economical.
In the industry porcelain tiles generally describe polished, honed, matt glazed rectified edge (square) full bodied porcelain tiles. Large format (600 mm upwards) has become very popular.
With all rectified tiles, porcelain or clay, height differences from tile to tile once installed, are easily detected, and tolerances of greater than 1mm are not generally accepted.
To avoid disappointing results, surface preparation is important, and hand fixing individual tiles throughout the installation is necessary to achieve optimum results.
The finished product is a beautiful, virtually seamless floor. Installation is difficult and time consuming.
Granite, Marble, Travertine, Sandstone, Limestone, Bluestone etc are all natural, mined products available in polished, honed, natural, flamed, bush hammered, split finishes to the tiled surface. Different finishes suit different applications.
Natural stone products are popular with clients that prefer the natural colours, hues and patterns of quarried products rather than the manufactured, contrived appearance of ceramics, porcelain and glass.
Most stone is rectified edged (square) and once installed height differences from tile to tile are easily detected, and tolerances of greater than 1 mm are not generally accepted. To avoid disappointing results, surface preparation is important, and hand fixing individual tiles throughout the installation is necessary to achieve optimum results. Natural stone tiles are available in calibrated and un calibrated versions, and due to the influx of cheap Asian imports, product delivered to site can invariably be in between the 2 types. This creates increased labour time in sorting thicknesses and increased hand fixing and can compromise the quality of finish produced.
Installation is difficult and time consuming, stone tiles can be up to 25 mm thick, and all tiles must be cut with a wet saw.
Natural stone is also available in random split pieces, available in larger or smaller grades. This product makes great feature walls and floors.
Installation has a high degree of difficulty and is extremely time consuming.
Glass tiles are available in mosaic format 10mm- 100mm, to large format 600mm.
Glass tiles are extremely difficult to cut, and generally need to be cut by water jet.
This means cut tiles need to be marked and sent to a water jet factory for cutting. This increases labour time/installation costs.
Mosaic tiles are manufactured in natural stone, porcelain, ceramic, and glass.
Sizes are available from 10mm to 100mm, and are glued onto a string net or paper approximately 300mm x 300mm in size.
Many things can contribute to a poor outcome when installing mosaic.
Background preparation is essential. The wall or floor must be flat/true to plane as any dip or hump will show through the finished tile surface. Mosaics cannot be hand fixed (height adjustment with adhesive) as they are bonded to a backing. Adjustment is very difficult.
Proper set out is essential as adjustment of whole sheets is not possible. Cutting of mosaic is very difficult (some materials are much easier to cut than others) cuts need to be hidden or avoided wherever possible.
Installation has a high degree of difficulty.