General Guide to Ceramic Tiles and Tile Installation

REGULATIONS

  • All tiles must be laid in accordance with the Australian Building Code and the appropriate Australian Standards. The Australian Standards cover the selection and Installation of Ceramic Tiles in two parts:AS3958.1    Guide to the Installation of Ceramic Tiles
    AS3958.2    Guide to the Selection of Ceramic Tiles
  • A tiled surface is part of a “Building System” that requires careful planning before the tiles are fixed. We strongly recommended that you employ the skills of a licensed tiler to install your tiles.
  • Carrying out work without a contract and/or employing unlicensed tradesman, can have serious legal ramifications if something should go wrong on your project.

STANDARD MANUFACTURING TOLERANCES

  • Dust pressed tiles are manufactured to a tolerance of + or – 0.5% of their length and width. Some manufacturers, however, grade their tiles by size (calibre) to a much tighter tolerance. For example it is not unusual for a 330 x 330mm floor tile to vary by only 1mm within a batch, when the standards allows for a tolerance of up to 3.3mm for that size tile.
  • To enable better installation, many manufacturers print a Calibre Code on the side of the cartons to allow for batches of not only the same Shade (Colour) but also the same Calibre, (Size) to be delivered to each job.
  • It should be noted that as tighter than required tolerances have become more common, the tiler and the customer have come to accept these tighter tolerances as being the ‘standard’ which can lead to the incorrect perception that tiles with a wider tolerance, but which remain within the standard, are of inferior quality.

SUITABILITY OF A TILE

  • It is responsibility of the architect, builder, tiler, or the owner to ensure that the tiles selected are suitable for their intended application.

 

PRIOR TO LAYING

  • Shade variations are inherent in all kiln fired clay products. It is possible that the tiles you receive will be slightly different from the display/sample, this is normal. Ensure that you have your tiles delivered well ahead of time. Check the tone or shade markings on all tile cartons/wrappings to ensure that you have been supplied from one batch. Open two or three cartons and inspect the tiles for correct colour and acceptable shade. The supplier is unable to accept responsibility for shade variation once the tiles have been installed as fixing of the product constitutes acceptance of the product.
  • Please ensure that there are sufficient tiles to complete your job, as there is no guarantee that extra tiles of the same colour or shade can be supplied at a later date
  • Ensure that you discuss the design of your job and your expectations with the installer
  • It is strongly recommended that a small quantity of extra tiles be kept on site once the project is finished, as it can be very difficult or even impossible to match tiles, if repairs become necessary at a later date.

DURING LAYING

  • When tiling commences make sure that the tiler mixes tiles from three or four different boxes so as to ensure proper blending of any colour variation that may exist.
  • Ensure that the blend and effect is maintained, no defective tiles are laid and the quality of workmanship meets your expectations.
  • We strongly recommend that hidden areas under joinery or detached areas like bathrooms are tiled last so that if extra tiles are needed, batching will not be crucial.
  • It is crucial that, if you have any doubts or concerns as the job progresses, that you stop the tiling and immediately contact your tile supplier before proceeding any further.

AFTER LAYING

In accordance with the Australian Standards cleaning is a part of the installation process.

  • Ensure that the tiler removes all waxes, adhesives, grout and grout residues.
  • Make sure your expectations have been met by inspecting the finished job whilst the tiler is still on site.

SLIP RESISTANCE & RATINGS

There is no such thing as non-slip tile! There are many factors that contribute to a slip and fall, for example: the overall building design, contaminants on the tile surface and the likely cleaning regime, the person’s gate… running or walking, age…were they children or elderly, is the area used for the preparation or consumption of food and beverages, what level of foot traffic is the area expected to be exposed to 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 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 therefore it is the end-user’s 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 placement of rubber backed floor mats in entry ways and on wet area floors; Strategic placement of handrails for the elderly and regular cleaning of pedestrian areas to prevent a build up of everyday contaminants including dust. The application of permanent slip resistant treatments may also assist in the prevention of slips and falls.

CLEANABILITY

Tiles displaying a high level of slip resistance will be more difficult to clean! – Test a sample of tile for ease of cleaning under the conditions that they will be subjected to during use. If unsatisfactory, change the tile selection before installation, as no claims can be accepted after the tiles have been fixed.

LIGHTING SYSTEMS

In the production of ceramic tiles certain technical limitation will occur, these may manifest themselves in the form of marks and blemishes. The latter are generally considered to be a characteristics of the design of the tile. Under normal lighting conditions these characteristic marks may not be noticeable. However, they may become obvious when highlighted by some forms of oblique lighting e.g. halogen and other high illuminate white lights. These marks are not considered to be defects and no claims can be accepted for alleged faults that become visible as a result of oblique lighting.

PORCELAIN TILES

Porcelain tiles are merely a type of ceramic tile. The fine quality of the clays used in their production allows the pressing and firing process to create a tile with superior strength and lower porosity; generally with a water absorption rate of less than 0.5%.

Porcelain tiles may come glazed or unglazed with different surface finishes; for example, structured, honed or polished. It is recommended that unless advised otherwise, unglazed porcelain tiles should be sealed.

Wax Residues:

Wax is sometimes added to the surface of both glazed ceramic and polished porcelain tiles to help protect the tile surface from scratching during transit and whilst being installed. Often the majority of this protective coating will be removed by abrasive action during the grouting process, however if this proves not to be the case, then there are many effective products that will remove and remaining wax coating. Prior to engaging a tiler, ask if they will remove any remaining wax once the project is completed.

Sealing:

Generally polished porcelain tiles require sealing due to the polishing process creating minute micro pores within the tile’s surface structure. Sealers fill these porous structures and help guard against the penetration of various staining agents. Even so it is recommended that that any spills are wiped up as soon as possible to avoid possible ingress, as sealers are generally intended only to give you reaction time and are not an absolute guarantee that staining will not still occur.

Before sealing the tiles it is essential that all cementitious and wax residues are removed from 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 which presents 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… this is not a fault but rather a characteristic of polished porcelain tiles. 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 lighting sources.

 

MOSAIC TILES

Due to technical limitations in the manufacturing process, mosaic tiles are subject to greater degrees of shade variation than other ceramic tiles. Please advise all tilers and end-users to layout several square metres prior to installation ensure the degree of variation is acceptable. We will not accept claims after the tiles have been fixed.

GLASS TILES

Glass tiles are translucent; we therefore recommend that the adhesive and the grout should be the same colour and adhesives should be applied as a solid mass rather than notched which could be visible behind the tile.  Failure to do so could result in the consumers’ expectations not being met.