Specification & Selection - The Foundation i.01
Updated: Mar 3, 2020
We're starting a series of product selection tips on the blog that we think will be beneficial for end-users and professionals alike. There's a lot to know about tile before you select but it doesn't have to be daunting or intimidating when it comes time to select for your project. We'd like to share some tips and tricks we've picked up over the years.
Goal 1 - To remove as many options from the candidate pool as possible. Make your task simpler by asking questions that will remove the most comparables from the pool of options. The more options you have, the easier it is to get bogged down with indecision.
As with building anything worthwhile, whether it's a home or understanding - it's best to start with a strong foundation. The way most people structure their material selection lists is by room - so we've found that's the best way to structure our client's understanding. Whether you're selecting for a backsplash or a hotel lobby, these simple categories give you the basis to start winnowing down your potential options.
So here we go.
Basics - Body:
The key attribute that drives tile's applicability in a given area is the porosity (also reported as water absorption) of the biscuit or body. The four main categories of tile are structured by water absorption or available-porosity as follows:
Above 10% - Interior Wall Only. Often further classified as red-body or white-body - we'll deal with that hotly debated and usually misunderstood issue in another post. For now let's just say that the color of the body is not an indicator of quality.
From 9.9% - 3% - Interior Dry Area Floors. Residential Only.
From 3% - 0.6% - Interior/Exterior, occasionally wet floors. Often called Gres or Stoneware. This category will be tested for freeze-thaw and thermal shock if it's intended for exterior use.
From 0.5% - 0% - Submerged, demanding environments or vehicular traffic. Often referred to as Porcelain.
While there are technical names which can be found in ANSI standards detailed within TTMAC 09 30 00 Handbook (which is a valuable reference to have in every professional's library) We find that explaining the different classifications makes the retention and therefore usefulness of the information much greater. Unless you find 'semi-vitreous' to be a more relatable and catchy moniker than 'Interior Dry Floor''?
We'll try to hit some questions we get over and over throughout this series. The difference between ceramic and porcelain is one that comes up all the time. As we can gather from the list above, porcelains are a type of ceramic tile. Just like Bourbon is a specific type of Whiskey, or for the foodies out there, tagliatelle is a specific type of pasta. In all cases there is a compositional requirement (corn mash for bourbon, and egg content for tagliatelle) that defines each item as a sub-category of the master classification. Just so for porcelain - it is a sub-category of ceramics with the compositional requirement being its available porosity of 0.5% or less.
Once we've selected the right body, we need to look at the surface. That will be our next topic as there is a lot to cover there. Stay tuned and let us know if you find topics like this helpful.
~ the Centanni Team