Updated at: 07-09-2022 - By: Helen Skeates

Even if you think you know a lot about tile, there are probably a few questions in the back of your mind. Don’t worry if you’re having trouble figuring out floor or wall tile. We’ve put together a tile FAQ to answer the most often asked questions we get from curious souls.

What are you waiting for? Let’s get this party started.

What is Tile? Learn the Basics

The numerous varieties of tile and their advantages and disadvantages should be discussed first before moving on to the more difficult problems.

What is Ceramic Tile?

A wide range of subcategories can be found within the ceramic tile category, which is the most prevalent type of tile. Clay minerals and water are dissolved in a solution and pressed into a tile shape before being kiln-fired.

Ceramic tile frequently has two layers: the bisque, or the tile’s base, and the glaze, the tile’s decorative top coat. There are some ceramic tiles that don’t have a glaze on them, thus they are all one color. An unglazed ceramic tile with red or brown color is called a through-tile structure.

The porous nature of ceramic tile makes it unsuitable for outdoor usage, even when sealed with a waterproof finish.

What is the difference between paving, tiling and cladding?

What is Porcelain Tile?

It’s a type of ceramic tile, and porcelain is the most common. Clay minerals and water are used to create the dense mixture that goes into its creation. Feldspar, kaolin, and quartz are common constituents of the clay’s composition, but other materials can also be used. Porcelain is denser than ceramic clays because of the combination of clay and the higher pressure used during manufacture.

Porcelain is more resistant to chipping than ceramic. When glazed, it is also waterproof and can be used outside.

Real porcelain tiles must absorb less than 0.5 percent of water, according to the Porcelain Tile Certification Agency (PTCA). This means that not all manufacturers who claim to be selling porcelain are truly producing certified goods.

The PTCA emblem and database can help you determine whether or not your porcelain tile is truly made of porcelain.

What is the Difference Between Ceramic and Porcelain Tile?

Unlike ceramic and porcelain tiles, they are made of different materials. Porcelain, on the other hand, has more solid clay minerals like quartz and feldspar than pottery. Ceramic tiles are more dense and less permeable because of this.

Porcelain is more durable due to its lack of porosity. As opposed to ordinary ceramic, this material is more resistant to chipping and freeze/thaw cycles found in the outdoors.

A porcelain tile can have a color body or a color body, which implies that both the tile’s body and its top layer match the color of the design on the surface.

You may use porcelain in high-traffic areas thanks to these alternatives because wear and tear is less noticeable. The red or brown color of ceramic tile, on the other hand, can be rather obvious if it chips or wears down over time.

What’s the Difference Between Floor Tile and Wall Tile?

Floor tiles are designed to resist heavy foot activity since they are thick and durable. Wall tile, on the other hand, is lighter and thinner, making it easier to install. Depending on the weight and size of the tile, some floor tiles can be mounted on walls, but you should consult a specialist before making this decision. Tiles like these aren’t meant to be used on the ground, and should never be.

Floors aren’t the only option when it comes to aesthetic options. Because mosaics and backsplash wall tiles are so popular, wall tiles are more likely to be smaller than floor tiles.

Can Floor Tiles be Used on Walls?

There are many floor tiles that can be used on the walls, but you should always check with a contractor and read the manufacturer’s instructions before making a decision. When laying floor tile on a wall, take into account the tile’s size, weight, and position.

Is Tile Waterproof?

There are some glazed tiles that can be used in high-moisture environments like bathrooms, showers, and around pools, but not all glazed tiles are acceptable. To identify tile that can be used in those spots, you’ll need to consult the manufacturer’s instructions.

What are the Pros of Tile?

  • The firing and glazing procedure that gives tile its toughness makes it one of the most long-lasting solutions for use as a floor or wall covering. In addition to being scratch-resistant, porcelain tiles can withstand a lot of wear and tear.
  • Style choices are endless with tile because it can take on any color, shape, or size.
  • Tile is simple to maintain because it doesn’t need any special cleaning agents.. Tile floors and walls can be cleaned with a mop or broom and a sponge.
  • No polishing or refinishing required! You won’t have to put in a lot of effort to keep your tile looking good.
  • It’s possible to achieve the look of natural stone without the high cost or ongoing care requirements of stone with ceramic or porcelain tile.

What are the Cons of Tile?

  • The firing and glazing procedure that gives tile its toughness makes it one of the most long-lasting solutions for use as a floor or wall covering. In addition to being scratch-resistant, porcelain tiles can withstand a lot of wear and tear.
  • If you don’t spend a lot of time laying tile, you probably won’t be able to get it right the first time around. Having a professional do the job is usually a good idea. If you’re really dedicated, you might be able to turn it into a do-it-yourself project.

Tile Construction Questions

Here we get into some of the finer points. Learn about the changes in tile manufacturing and how they affect performance. Aside with PEI ratings and tile bodies, you’ll also learn about key topics such as finishes.

How is Ceramic Tile Made?

Clay and water are combined to produce ceramic tile. Before pressing the clay into a tile shape, a dryer eliminates the clay’s moisture. At this time, it is known as “greenware” or “green tile” because it hasn’t been baked in a kiln yet.

A printer will add color and pattern to the tile once it has cured, and then apply the final glaze layer. Images are protected and non-porous thanks to the glaze, which is applied to the tile. If the ceramic tile is not glazed, it will stay porous.

This step is done in order to harden the glaze and remove any remaining water.

How is Porcelain Tile Made?

After the clay mixture is dried in a drier, it is formed into a tile by applying tremendous pressure and allowing it to dry on a rack. Using a high-tech inkjet printer, the colors and patterns are printed on top of a base layer that has dried. Porcelain can be left unglazed at this step if desired, however glazing is recommended to keep the image protected.

Finally, porcelain is kiln-fired at 2500F, which is 500F hotter than ceramic’s kiln temperature. An impenetrable surface is created by baking the glaze at this temperature.

What is a PEI rating?

The Porcelain Enamel Institute is referred to as PEI for short. Porcelain tile’s glaze hardness is used by this organization to assign a rating. When and where different types of tile should be used are determined by these ratings. It is only possible to use this system to rate porcelain items.

The following are the results:

  • Non-rated materials such as natural stone and other unglazed materials are denoted by the notation NR.
  • Residential and business walls should be covered with Group 1. Not approved for pedestrian use. It can be used for bathroom walls, backsplashes, and even as an accent wall in your home.
  • Light domestic traffic in restrooms and other informal areas can be accommodated in Group 2.
  • All domestic and light business facilities, such as kitchens, offices, and waiting rooms, can benefit from the products in Group 3.
  • Residential, commercial, and light-institutional applications fall into this category. Moderately trafficked establishments such as restaurants, hotels, and hotel lobbies.
  • Schools, airports, and shopping malls fall under this category because of their high volume of foot activity.

What is Tile Body Color?

The Porcelain Enamel Institute is referred to as PEI for short. Porcelain tile’s glaze hardness is used by this organization to assign a rating. When and where different types of tile should be used are determined by these ratings. It is only possible to use this system to rate porcelain items.

  • Porcelain floor tiles that have a body (interior) that matches the glaze are an example of this (outside). There will be no difference in the color of the body behind a chipped surface.
  • Porcelain tiles with a multi-color glaze pattern are known as “color body” porcelain tiles. The predominant hue of the glaze is reflected in the tile’s bisque when it is made of color body porcelain. Although not as effective as using body tiles, this pattern can often conceal the look of chipping.
  • A method called as twofold loading can also be applied to porcelain tiles. Deep chips will only reveal the body color beneath the patterned top layer in this design.
  • It’s common in traditional ceramic tiles to have a reddish-orange body. Although the tile has a beautiful top layer, the tile’s actual interior is a deep reddish brown. If your tile is damaged, this color will be visible.

Tiling Stock Photos, Royalty Free Tiling Images | Depositphotos

What Tile Finishes are Available for Ceramic and Porcelain?

  • Adding a glaze is like putting the final touches on your tile. Your tile is shielded from moisture and stains by this protector. Ceramic tiles are often glazed, however some people like the look of unglazed tiles because they feel more natural. If you’re planning on utilizing a glazed tile in a bathroom or other water-prone area, we recommend selecting a textured tile instead.
  • Unlike genuine stones like marble and granite, porcelain floor tiles may be polished to a high gloss for a truly immaculate surface. If you’re searching for a cleaner-appearing floor that doesn’t require a lot of time and effort to maintain, a polish top coat finish is what you need.
  • Ceramic tiles that have not been glazed are known as unglazed. They have a more rustic appearance than glazed ceramic tiles, but are less water resistant and require more maintenance. Despite the fact that these tiles can still be used in bathrooms and kitchens, they will require more upkeep than their protected glazed counterparts.

How to Install Tile

In order to get a professional-looking outcome while installing tile, you’ll want to brush up on your knowledge with these frequently asked questions about the process.

How Do You Tile a Floor?

A DIY tiling project isn’t impossible, even though some people think it is! Your DIY tile installation will be a success if you use the correct tools and put in the time and effort up front.

Clean and level your subfloor as a starting point. As a result, you’ll be well on your way to completing a worthwhile undertaking. Even if you decide to install the tile yourself, you should always check with a professional to make sure the subfloor can support the weight of the tile.

The mortar should be prepared. To get the appropriate consistency, follow the directions provided by the product’s maker.

Mortar should be spread out. Spread the mortar using a trowel in the middle of the room. With the notched end of your trowel, comb through the mortar.

To begin tiling, follow the lines drawn on the wall as a guide. Start by laying your first tile in accordance with the room’s blueprints.

Place the tile spacers. Use spacers around each edge of the tile to maintain an uniform gap between them. If you are installing a product that requires a specific grout joint, follow the manufacturer’s instructions.

Keep laying tile and adding mortar. When you get to the end of your reference lines, you’ll have covered the entire room.

How Do You Tile a Wall?

Similar to tiling a floor, but with a vertical surface, the procedure of installing wall tile is more difficult. Depending on how they’re laid, tiles may be able to slide. In addition, impediments like walls, windows, and doors necessitate a lot of extra cutting time.

Using a level, check to see if your walls and floor are level. Trim and baseboards can be used to square up the room’s appearance if the walls are truly “un-square” before starting.

Start with the wall, but keep the bottom row of tile unfilled until the floors are finished. For the largest time savings and the least chance of damaging your newly installed floor, this procedure is the best option.

Stacking wall tiles in a pyramid configuration prevents them from slipping. Your tiles will be more stable thanks to this strategy.

A batten board can also be hung for additional support. Using a batten, you can keep the tile in place as you install it, reducing the risk of slips.

Using a mastic adhesive while installing wall tile can also give you a benefit. The extra-sticky and thick tile glue known as mastic. Thinset mortar is more water-resistant, although mastic isn’t necessarily as strong as thinset mortar.

How Do You Cut Tile?

The first step in cutting tile is to measure and indicate your cut line. Your tile’s surface should be marked with a cut line. A tile cutter is the best option for straight cuts. If your tiles are very thick, you may want to consider renting a tile saw and proceeding cautiously when making cuts. If a break occurs, a tile nipper can be used to remove any jagged bits and smooth the edge. Filing can be used to smooth out any rough edges.

How Do You Grout Tile?

Remove any and all tile spacers before beginning the grouting process and follow the manufacturer’s directions for mixing the grout. Use a grout float to apply the grout. Remove any excess grout as you work your way into the spaces between your tiles. Allow it to dry according to the manufacturer’s instructions. Finally, wipe along the grout lines with a moist sponge to clean them.

Tile Cleaning and Maintenance

You can extend the life of your tile by learning how to use and care for it properly.

How to Clean Ceramic and Porcelain Tile

Dust and grime can be removed with a broom and dustpan by sweeping the area. As an alternative, you might use a soft-bristled brush attachment on a vacuum. If your floor is ceramic or porcelain, follow the manufacturer’s directions and use warm water and a cleaning solution designed for that material. For optimal results, use a chamois mop.

When the water starts to look hazy while you’re mopping, it’s time to refill the bucket. A microfiber towel should be used to dry the tile after cleaning to avoid any water spots from drying out.

Finally, clean up the grout lines to remove any remaining dirt. Grout can be cleaned using soapy water and a soft-bristled brush, like a toothbrush, to remove any stains.

Can Ceramic Tile be Used Outdoors?

The porous nature of ceramic tiles means that they should not be utilized outside. In the event of freeze/thaw conditions, any absorbed water expands and compresses, causing damage.

For outdoor use, use a certified porcelain tile with less than 0.5 percent water absorption. To avoid voiding any warranties, check to see if the product can be used outdoors. Even in the face of extreme weather, your tile will look its best.

Is Tile Scratch Resistant?

Porcelain tile is more scratch-resistant than glazed ceramic tile, but they both have some scratch resistance. Porcelain tile is less likely to be scratched since it is constructed of a denser material. The greater the PEI grade, the more scratch resistant the tile is. Higher PEI ratings indicate a tougher, scratch-resistant finish.

Should Ceramic Tile be Sealed?

Unglazed tile or the grout joints in your bathroom can be sealed with a penetrating sealant. A stain-resistant barrier that is imperceptible to the naked eye is provided by a penetrating sealer. However, while working with glazed tile, you should not use a tile sealer because the glaze acts as a seal.

Tile Cost Questions

How Much Does Porcelain Tile Cost?

Compared to natural stone, porcelain tile is less expensive. However, porcelain tile is usually more expensive than ceramic tile. Porcelain is more expensive than ceramic because it is more long-lasting, less prone to chipping, and can even be used outside. Porcelain is difficult to price because of the wide range of sizes, colors, and styles available, but the price is well worth the superior quality.

How Much Does Ceramic Tile Cost?

Ceramic is one of the most affordable options for tile, and is cheaper than both natural stone tile and porcelain. No single answer can be given to the question of how much a given product costs. However, if you want to reduce the budget of tiling a room, you can always install the tile on your own.

How Much Does it Cost to Install Tile?

Compared to genuine stone tile and porcelain, ceramic is one of the most cost-effective solutions for tiles. No one answer exists because the cost varies from product to product, hence there isn’t one. The cost of tiling a room can be reduced, though, by doing the installation yourself.

What is the difference between standard “ceramic” tiles and porcelain tiles?

It might be difficult to understand the language used in the tile industry. “Ceramic Tiles” encompasses most sorts of tiles that are manufactured from clay or a blend of clay and other materials and then kiln-fired. Porcelain tiles and non-porcelain tiles can be divided into two categories. For the most part, these non-porcelain tiles are referred to simply as ceramic tiles.

“Ceramic” or non-porcelain tiles are generally made from red or white clay fired in a kiln. They are almost always finished with a durable glaze which carries the color and pattern. These tiles are used in both wall tile and floor tile applications, are softer and easier to cut than porcelain, and usually carry a PEI 0 to 3 rating. Non-porcelain ceramic tiles are usually suitable for very light to moderate traffic and generally have a relatively high water absorption rating making them less frost resistant and they are more prone to wear and chipping than porcelain tiles.

This type of tile is constructed from red or white clay that has been burned in a kiln. Finishing with a long-lasting glaze ensures that the color and pattern are preserved. A PEI rating of 0 to 3 is typical for these tiles, which are used in both wall tile and floor tile applications. This type of tile is typically used for mild to moderate use and is less frost resistant than porcelain tiles since it has a higher water absorption rating, making it more susceptible to wear and chipping than porcelain.

3 major steps to follow when tiling your house

To assure a worry-free lifetime of usage and prices that are equivalent to or cheaper than non-porcelain ceramic tiles, BuildDirect exclusively sells the highest quality glazed and full body porcelain tiles.

Can ceramic tile be used outdoors?

B. For outdoor use, we propose that the tile be frostproof and unglazed for floor use. C. Make certain that the absorption rate is less than 0.5 percent.

What is the difference between glazed and full-body tiles?

In glazed tiles, a thin layer of liquid glass is applied to the clay before being baked into the surface. In addition to providing an infinite variety of colors and designs, the glaze also protects the tile from staining and deterioration. Aside from not being coated, unglazed tiles are nearly identical to their glazed counterparts. Full-body porcelain tiles are great for commercial applications since their color extends throughout the tile.

Should a sealer be used on ceramic tile?

A sealer serves no function on a glazed tile because it is already stain proof. You can use a penetrating sealer to protect your unglazed tile or grout joints from water penetration. As the sealer penetrates the surface, it creates an invisible, stain-resistant barrier.

Where can your tiles be used and what is a PEI rating?

A. PEI classifications range from zero to five. The rating scale used by the Porcelain Enamel Institute does not represent a standard of quality. On this scale, you can see exactly where each manufacturer’s tile is best suited for use. This tile, known as a PEI 2, is intended for places with minimal usage and little soiling. In most cases, these tiles’ aesthetics take precedence over their functionality. This category of tile frequently includes high-gloss finishes, brilliant colors, and metallic accents. A PEI 5 tile, on the other hand, is built to withstand the heaviest of foot traffic. Initially, technical considerations like as surface abrasion resistance must be met before aesthetic features may be used.

Class 0 – No Passenger Traffic:

Only use on the walls; don’t put it on the floor.

Class 1 – Very light traffic:

There is very little traffic in this class.

Slipper or soft-soled shoes. Second level main bathroom areas, bedrooms.

Soft-soled footwear. bathrooms and bedrooms on the second level

A wide range of household areas, possibly excluding some entryways and kitchens, if heavy or abrasive activity is expected

Traffic Class 4 – Moderate to Moderate

Abrasive or outdoor dirt can easily be tracked through high traffic areas. There is a countertop in the kitchen and there is an entrance to the house.

A Class 5 road is one that has a lot of traffic.

Ceramic tile is recommended for high-traffic areas in commercial and institutional buildings, as well as in residential areas.

Does BuildDirect do tile installations?

In our line of work, we don’t do any tile work. For further information about tile setters, look them up in the phone book in your neighborhood.

How does buying tile from BuildDirect work?

A. BuildDirect is a wholesaler with proprietary Internet technology and toll-free customer service to provide incredibly low prices on top quality building products. Tile orders can be filled in two ways. The first is selling pallet multiples out of warehouses around North America. The second is shipping container orders directly from select manufacturers and delivered to your job site.

I need a smaller amount of tile than your minimum – where do I go from here?

With unique Internet technology and toll-free customer support, BuildDirect is a supplier of high-quality building supplies at exceptionally low costs. Tile orders can be fulfilled in two ways. Pallet multiples are being sold out of North American warehouses in the initial method of distribution. It’s also possible to have shipping container orders shipped directly from manufacturers to your job site.

Can I purchase just one box of tile before I place my full order?

A. Due to shipping expenses, we are unable to sell individual boxes of tile. More than five times as much as a box of tile can cost to ship properly.

To see our tiles in person before you buy, check out our free sample program. We’ll send you up to five free samples right to your doorstep. No credit card required. Also, we offer a 30 Day Money Back Guarantee, which means if you aren’t completely satisfied with your tile prior to installation, you can return it for a full refund within 30 days of delivery.

Am I restricted to getting just one product in a container?

You can get a free sample of any of our tiles by signing up for our free sample program! Send us your address and we’ll send you five free samples directly to your door. There is no requirement to use a credit card. A 30-day money back guarantee means that if you aren’t happy with your tile within 30 days of delivery, you can return it for a full refund.

How much breakage should I expect with an order?

A. It’s not unusual for 2% to 3% of the tile to be fractured in some way (e.g. chipped edges). Up to 10% is regarded appropriate in this case. You can use these broken tiles to make the cuts you’ll need. Please take pictures of any breakage that exceeds 10% on the logistical receiving paperwork. If you have any problems with your order, please contact us within 10 days of receiving it.


You’re virtually a tile expert now that you’ve read through all those FAQs! You’re well-versed in the many kinds, how to set them up, how to maintain them, and so on. As a result, you’ll likely have a better notion about what kind of tile you want to use. What are you going to do with all that information?