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Tiles Guide

Your Tile Questions Answered

We’ve got your floor, wall and feature tile questions and answers sorted for common tiling and style choices to help you select the perfect tiles for your next project.

Table of Contents

How to Choose the Right Tiles

There are an enormous number of tiles designed for just as many different and unique environments; however, there is no one particular tile that is suitable for every situation.

Wall and floor tiles perform two main functions:

  • An aesthetic, decorative function;
  • A technical function in as much as they must be made from materials that can resist different types of environmental stress without breaking or deteriorating.


These two functions are fundamental and essential; there cannot be one without the other. It is therefore essential that you choose a tile that is both aesthetically and technically suitable for the application in which the tile will be used.

Types of Tiles

Slippery Tiles

There is no such thing as a non slip tile. There are many factors that contribute to a slip and fall, for example, the overall building design, contaminates on the tiles, was the person running, walking, limping, were they children or elderly etc.

Ceramic tiles are rated according to their contribution to the risk of a slip or fall. It is therefore recommended that you seek advice from the retailer as to the suitability of a particular tile for its intended use.

The application and use of ceramic tiles is beyond the control of the supplier and it is therefore the end-users responsibility to manage the risk of slips and falls. Some simple actions you can take in managing the risk of slips and falls are the placements of floor mats in entry ways and wet area floors, strategic placement of handrails for the elderly and regular cleaning of pedestrian areas to prevent a build up of everyday contaminants.

Mosaic tiles

Due to the technical limitations in the manufacturing process, mosaic tiles are subject to greater shade variation than other ceramic tiles. Ensure that you are happy with the colour and shade variation before installing the tiles. Suppliers will generally credit the tiles at this point of time; however no claims can be made once the tiles have been installed.

Polished Porcelain Tiles

Polished porcelain tiles are different to other ceramic tiles in that they are unglazed. It is therefore recommended that unless advised otherwise these tiles should be sealed.

Important Note: Before sealing the tiles it is essential that all cementitious and wax residues are removed from the tiles.

Failure to do so will result in these contaminants being trapped below the surface of the tile. It is recommended that the cleaning and sealing be done by the same contractor.

Optical Hazing

Whilst polished porcelain has a glossy surface, the latter does not mean it has the characteristics of a mirror and therefore will not perform as a mirror. As such it is subject to a natural phenomenon known as optical hazing presenting as a smoky haze when the surface of the tile is struck by oblique light sources. For example, early morning sun, halogen and white lights.

The effects of optical hazing can be minimised by careful design planning, such as, the use of curtains and blinds, and the careful placement of furniture.

Ceramic Tiles

Ceramic tiles date back to biblical times and have proven to be one of the most practical building materials ever made. The purchase of ceramic tiles for your home is a major investment and will enhance and protect your home whilst adding capital value.

Having made the decision to use ceramic tiles in your home it is important to be well informed about the product your are using so that your tiling experience is a positive one and the completed job meets your expectations and sustains longevity. It is also important to recognise that despite all professional assistance available, you are the master of your project and you should take responsibility for the progress of the project. The following information and guidelines are offered to help make this experience a favourable one.

Ceramic tiles are made of clay that is baked (known as firing) in a kiln. The wet clay, usually quarried, is extruded into shape before firing. Ceramic tiles are always glazed as they are fired at a lower temperature than porcelain. They can be either monocottura (single fired), where the glaze is applied before the initial firing; or bicottura (double firing), where the tile biscuit is fired, and possibly decorated, before the glaze is applied for a second firing.

Finger or Pencil Tiles

Finger and pencil tiles are decorative tiles similar to mosaics, the main difference being that pencil and finger tiles are long and thin as their names suggest. These can be used in the same way as mosaic tiles, or individually to create a thin strip.

Glass Tiles

Glass is a popular material for decorative tiles. Many small mosaics are made from glass for its reflective properties, but larger format glass tiles are often used for splashbacks and feature walls.

Glazed Finishes

Many tiles, such as ceramic and some porcelain tiles, have a glazed surface. The glaze is a layer of glass that protects the tile biscuit and makes it more slip resistant. The glaze is added to the tile biscuit by firing in a kiln at temperatures greater than 1000 degrees Celcius. Glaze is available in glossy, matt, and textured finishes.


Listello (or border) tiles are long, narrow decorative tiles mostly used to create a border around a room.

Metal Tiles

Metal tiles can either be made entirely of metal, or be made of a different material (such as a ceramic tile) that has a metal plating. Being a less common choice, metal tiles are bound to stand out and have visual impact: but beware that they may wear over time.

Mosaic Tiles

Mosaic tiles are one of the most popular choices for decorative tiles or a feature. Small tiles, often square, are laid together to create a larger effect. This is usually either a picture or a block colour for a high visual impact.

Polished Finishes

The surface of unglazed tiles (like that of porcelain tiles) can be polished and honed. While it is common, and quite popular, to polish tiles to a high shine (such as polished porcelain); tiles can also have a semi-polished finish.

Honed tiles are semi-polished, meaning that they are less shiny than fully polished tiles, but are also less slippery and less likely to show dirt. Honed tiles are a popular choice for commercial and high traffic installations. Lappato is also a light polish finish.

Porcelain Tiles

Porcelain tiles are also known as ‘vitrified’ tiles, and are a high quality tile that is extremely strong and virtually nonporous. This makes them almost impervious to liquid.

Being strong and nonporous, porcelain is usually unglazed and can have a polished, natural, or textured finish; but is also available with a glaze which can have a gloss, matt, or textured finish. Polished porcelain is one the most popular choices for floors, and often walls. We recommend anyone thinking of polished porcelain read through our Everything You Need to Know About Porcelain brochure.

Rectified Tiles

Rectified literally means corrected and refined, and rectified tiles are those that have been cut after firing (baking) to ensure their size and shape is perfect.

Tiles that have been rectified can be laid closer together with smaller grout joints, giving them a sleeker and more modern look. Rectifying tiles also removes any rounded or ‘cushion’ edges that may be on the tiles, further enhancing their contemporary look.

Scored Tiles

Normally, tiles are scored in preparation for cutting, but it can also be done in a way that doesn’t weaken the tile to create a special look. Scores, or straight grooves, in a tiles surface can create breaks and joins in the tile that are smaller and much cleaner looking than grout joints.

Sealed Tiles

Tiles that are more porous, including those made from natural stones, often need to be coated with a protective sealer to prevent liquid from being absorbed into the tile biscuit. Some tiles requiring sealing will be presealed, but some will not. Always check with your tile retailer when buying unglazed tiles or natural materials.

Stones and Natural Materials

Natural materials like stone, slate, marble, sandstone, granite, and travertine are still popular choices for tiles; but some care needs to be taken selecting them. With the exception of granite, these are all porous and can easily be stained. Stone tiles can be sealed, but you may not get the same level of protection as glaze on a ceramic tile.

Structured Tiles

A tile is ‘structured’ if it has any kind of three-dimensional effect or structure on its surface. This could include waves, dimples or pimples, or any other 3-D shapes.

Terracotta Tiles

Terracotta, or cotto, is a type of ceramic tile popular in outdoor areas or where a rustic effect is wanted. When using terracotta for a wet area (especially a salt water pool), be sure to select a high quality low-porosity tile.

Textured Tiles

To have enough grip, and to be slip resistant enough for outdoor and wet areas (like around pools), some tiles need to have a ‘rougher’ textured surface.

Tile Trims

Tile trims are used where a row of tiles finishes or where a tiled area meets another surface. The main kinds of trim tiles we sell are bullnose, capping (which features a small ledge or rail), and cove (usually used where walls and floors meet).

Tiles for Stairs

There are also special tiles for use on stairs and around pools. These allow you to continue you tiled look throughout your home or space while adding an extra bit of slip resistance where it is needed most, such as on stairs.

Tumbled Tiles

It sounds like this term would be misleading, but it actually isn’t. Tumbled tiles are literally ‘tumbled’ in a large drum (a bit like a clothes dryer) to wear down the face and edges of the tile, chip its corners and edges a little, and give it a rough aged look. Tumbled tiles retain all their strength, and are still just as strong and durable as any other tile.

Tile Ratings

When selecting ceramic tiles, you need to consider the job they are intended for to ensure they are suitable. Most tiles are rated – 1, 2, 3, 4, or 5 for the following uses:

Class 1

Floor coverings in areas that are walked on essentially with soft soled footwear or bare feet without scratching dirt (eg., domestic bathrooms and bedrooms without direct access from the outside).

Class 2

Floor coverings in areas that are walked on with soft soled or normal footwear with, at the most, occasional small amount of scratching dirt (eg., rooms in the living areas of homes, but the exception of kitchens, entrance ways and other rooms which may have a lot of traffic).

Class 3

Floor coverings in areas that are walked on quite often with normal footwear and small amounts of scratching dirt (eg., halls, kitchens, corridors, balconies, lobbies and terraces).

Class 4

Floor coverings in areas that are subjected to considerable traffic with some scratching dirt so that the conditions are the most severe for which glazed floor tiles are suitable (eg., entrances, work rooms, restaurants and exhibition and sales rooms as well as other rooms in public and private buildings not mentioned in Classes 1, 2, 3).

Class 5

The maximum resistance achieved for glazed tiles against footwear traffic and resistant to staining agents. Specifically designed for heavy traffic commercial applications and locations.


All tiles must be laid in accordance with the Australian Building Code and the appropriate Australian Standards.

A tile is only one component of a much larger building system that requires careful planning before the tiles are fixed.

It is strongly recommended that you employ the skills of a licensed tiler to install your tiles. Ensure that you and the installer have a written contract detailing the scope of work. Failure to ensure the latter has legal implications and may void any warranties.

Prior to Installation

  • Ensure that you discuss the design of your job and your expectations with the installer. Include any special arrangements in the contract; for example, the extent of cleaning required.
  • Ensure that there are sufficient tiles to complete your job, as there are no guarantees that extra tiles of the same colour and shade can be supplied at a later date.
  • It is suggested that a small quantity of extra tiles be kept on site once the job is finished. It can be very difficult to match tiles if repairs are necessary at a later date.
  • Shade variations are inherent in all kiln fired clay tile products.
  • It is possible that the tiles you receive will be slightly different from the sample or display shown to you in the showroom; this is normal.
  • Arrange for your tiles to be delivered well ahead of time.

Installing Your Tiles

  • Check the tone or shade markings on all tile cartons to ensure that you have been supplied with tiles from the same batch. Open two or three cartons and inspect the tiles for correct colour and acceptable shade. Failure to ensure the latter may result in disappointment as fixing of the product constitutes acceptance of the product.
  • During laying as tiling commences make sure that the light in the room being tiled is a close as practically possible to the permanent lighting.
  • Ensure the tiler mixes tiles from three or four different boxes so as to ensure proper blending of any colour variation that may exist.
  • As the work progresses take the time to ensure that the blend and effect is maintained.
  • Periodically check that no defective tiles are laid.
  • It is highly recommended that hidden areas (under stoves, fridges, in pantries and cupboards) or detached areas (toilets and laundry floors) are tiled last so that if extra tiles are needed, batching will not be crucial.
  • It is essential that, if you have any doubts or concerns as the job progresses, you stop the tiling and immediately contact your tile supplier before proceeding any further.

Notes for Laying

  • Always check tiles for shade variation (tonality) before commencing to lay them.
  • After checking the shade (tonality) on site, it is highly recommended to mix boxes as laying the tiles proceeds.
  • It is the responsibility of the tiler not to lay tiles that are of suspect colour or shade.
  • Never commence tiling an area until it has been confirmed that a sufficient quantity is on site to complete that area.
  • Always leave some spare tiles on site. If there is a minor repair to be done, those spares will match to existing tiles.


Our reputation is built on and relied upon quality & honesty & trust, therefore we will only sell you the right product for the right job.

Tile Care, Cleaning and Maintenance

After laying your tiles, cleaning is the next step of the installation process. Ensure that the tiler removes all waxes, grout and grout residues.

In the production of ceramic tiles certain technical limitations will occur; these may manifest themselves in the form of minor marks and blemishes. The latter are generally considered to be a characteristic of the tile and not considered a defect. Under normal lighting conditions these characteristic marks may vary. It is recommended that ceramic tiles should not be installed until all heavy construction has been completed.

It is vital to protect the tile to avoid construction related problems. During construction, dust debris will collect on the floor creating hazardous and slippery conditions. The dirt and debris may soil the grout as well as the tiles. It is recommended that the tiles be covered to protect them from other trades.

Cementitious residues are always present on the tile surface although it may be invisible to the naked eye. The residue will absorb dirt thus giving an impression that the tiles are hard to clean. The latter must be removed using a proprietary grout remover.

Do not use abrasive cleaners and chemicals which could permanently scratch and damage the surface. Daily cleaning with a mild detergent is recommended. If more rigorous cleaning is required we recommend the use of a proprietary tile cleaner from a specialty tile supplier.

Daily Cleaning

  • Sweep or vacuum the floor of loose dirt.
  • Using a proprietary tile cleaner follow the manufacturer’s instruction.
  • Remove the cleaning solution from the floor by using a clean mop or vacuum.
  • Rinse with clean water.
  • Remove water from the floor.
  • Buff with a dry towel or mop not be noticeable. However, they may become obvious when highlighted by some forms of oblique lighting e.g. halogen and high illuminate white lights. All tiled surfaces should be viewed from a distance of 1.5m under non critical light.
  • Make sure your expectations have been met by inspecting the finished job whilst the tiler is still on site.