Free Encyclopedia of Building & Environmental Inspection, Testing, Diagnosis, Repair
Ask a Question or Search InspectAPedia
InspectAPedia ® Home
ACOUSTICAL SEALANT CHOICES
AGE of a BUILDING - how to determine
AIR POLLUTANTS, COMMON INDOOR
AIR LEAK SEALING PROCEDURE
AIR TEST FOR MOLD: ACCURACY
AIR TEST SAMPLING CASSETTE STUDY
ALLERGEN TESTS for buildings
ALLERGENS in BUILDINGS, RECOGNIZING
ALLERGY & MOLD IAQ PRODUCTS
ALLERGY TESTS for PEOPLE
ALLERGY TEST ACCURACY
ANIMAL ALLERGENS / PET DANDER
ANTI SCALD VALVES
APPLIANCE EFFICIENCY RATINGS
ARCHITECTURE & BUILDING COMPONENT ID
ASBESTOS IDENTIFICATION IN buildings
ATTIC LEAKS, CONDENSATION & MOLD
BASEMENT CEILING VAPOR BARRIER
BASEMENT HEAT LOSS
BATH & KITCHEN DESIGN GUIDE
BEST CONSTRUCTION PRACTICES GUIDE
Best Interior Finish Practices
BLOWER DOORS & AIR INFILTRATION
BOOKSTORE - INTERIORS
BRICK LINED WALLS
BRICK VENEER WALL AIR LEAKS
BRICK VENEER WALL Loose, Bulged
BRICK WALL DRAINAGE WEEP HOLES
BUCKLED FOUNDATIONS due to INSULATION?
BUILDING DAMAGE ASSESSMENT & REPAIR
BUILDING SAFETY HAZARDS GUIDE
BUILDING NOISE DIAGNOSIS & CURE
CABINETS & COUNTERTOPS
CARPETING & INDOOR AIR QUALITY
CARPETING, SELECTION & INSTALLATION
CASEWORK, CABINETS, SHELVING INSTALLATION
CATHEDRAL CEILING INSULATION
CATHEDRAL CEILING VENTILATION
CEILING FINISHES INTERIOR
CEILINGS, DROP or SUSPENDED PANEL
CEILINGS, PLASTER TYPES
CERAMIC TILE FLOOR, WALL
CERAMIC TILE, ASBESTOS in?
CHIMNEY INSPECTION DIAGNOSIS & REPAIR
CHINESE DRYWALL HAZARDS
CLOGGED DRAIN DIAGNOSIS & REPAIR
COMBUSTION AIR for TIGHT buildings
CONDENSATION or SWEATING PIPES, TANKS
COOLING LOAD Reduction by ROOF VENTS
DEW POINT CALCULATION for WALLS
DRYWALL HAZARDS, CHINESE
DRYWALL INSTALLATION Best Practices
DRYWALL MOLD RESISTANT
EARTHQUAKE DAMAGED FOUNDATIONS
EFFLORESCENCE, Salts & White / Brown Deposits
ELDERLY & VETERANS HOME SAFETY
ELECTRICAL INSPECTION, DIAGNOSIS, REPAIR
ENGINEERED WOOD Flooring
ENGINEERED WOOD Products
EXTERIOR WALL SIDING TRIM & FINISHES
FLAT ROOF MOISTURE & CONDENSATION
FLOOD DAMAGE ASSESSMENT, SAFETY & CLEANUP
FLOOR TYPES & DEFECTS
FOOTING & FOUNDATION DRAINS
FOUNDATION CRACKS & DAMAGE GUIDE
FRAMING DETAILS for BETTER INSULATION
FREEZE-PROOF A BUILDING
FROST HEAVES, FOUNDATION, SLAB
FUNGICIDAL SPRAY & SEALANT USE GUIDE
GAS EXPOSURE LIMITS & STANDARDS
HEAT LOSS in BUILDINGS
HEATING COST SAVINGS METHODS
HOT ROOF DESIGNS: Un-Vented Roof Solutions
HOT WATER HEATERS
HOUSEWRAP AIR & VAPOR BARRIERS
HOUSE DOCTOR, how-to be
HUMIDITY LEVEL TARGET
ICE DAM PREVENTION
INDOOR AIR QUALITY & HOUSE TIGHTNESS
INDOOR AIR QUALITY IMPROVEMENT GUIDE
INSULATION INSPECTION & IMPROVEMENT
KIT HOMES, Aladdin, Sears, Wards, Others
KITCHEN & BATH DESIGN GUIDE
LIGHTING, EXTERIOR GUIDE
LIGHTING, INTERIOR GUIDE
LIGHTNING PROTECTION SYSTEMS
LOW VOLTAGE BUILDING WIRING
LOW VOLTAGE TRANSFORMER TEST
LOG HOME GUIDE
METAL LATH, PLASTER & STUCCO
MIXING / ANTI-SCALD VALVES
MOBILE HOME INSPECTIONS
MOISTURE CONTROL in BUILDINGS
MOLD INFORMATION CENTER
NOISE / SOUND DIAGNOSIS & CURE
NOISE CONTROL for FLOORS
NOISE CONTROL for PLUMBING
NOISE, PLUMBING DRAIN DIAGNOSIS
NOISE, PLUMBING DRAIN REPAIR
NOISE, WATER HEATER
NOISES, WATER PUMP
ODORS GASES SMELLS, DIAGNOSIS & CURE
ODORS IN WATER
ODORS, SEPTIC or SEWER
ODORS, SULPHUR SMELL SOURCES
ODORS, URINE REMOVAL
OIL FIRED WATER HEATERS
OUTHOUSES & LATRINES
PAINT FALURE, DIAGNOSIS, CURE, PREVENTION
PIPING IN buildings, Clogs Leaks Types
PLASTER & BEAVERBOARD & DRYWALL
PLASTER BULGES & PILLOWS
PLASTER LATH, METAL
PLASTER TYPE IDENTIFICATION
PLASTER VENEER Best Practices
PLUMBING FIXTURES, KITCHEN, BATH
Plumbing Materials & Fixtures, Age, Types
PLASTIC HEATER VENT
PLASTIC PIPING ABS CPVC PB PEX PVC
PUMPS, WATER REPAIR
RELIEF VALVE LEAKS
RELIEF VALVES - TP Valves on Boilers
RELIEF VALVES - STEAM TP VALVES
RELIEF VALVES - Water Heaters
RELIEF VALVES - Water Tanks
ROOF VENTILATION SPECIFICATIONS
SAFETY HAZARDS & INSPECTIONS
SAFETY: Elderly & Veterans Home Safety
SEARS KIT HOUSES
SEPTIC SYSTEM INSPECT DIAGNOSE REPAIR
SEPTIC METHANE GAS
SEPTIC SYSTEM ODORS
SEPTIC & CESSPOOL SAFETY
SEWAGE BACKUP, WHAT TO DO
SEWAGE BACKUP PREVENTION
SEWAGE CONTAMINATION in buildings
SEWAGE EJECTOR / GRINDER PUMPS
SEWER GAS ODORS
SEWER LINE REPLACEMENT
SULPHUR & SEWER GAS SMELL SOURCES
SLAB CRACK EVALUATION
SOUND CONTROL in buildings
STAIN DIAGNOSIS on BUILDING EXTERIORS
STAIN DIAGNOSIS on BUILDING INTERIORS
STAINS & FINISHES, INTERIOR
STAIRS, RAILINGS, LANDINGS, RAMPS
STUCCO WALL METHODS & INSTALLATION
SUMP PUMPS GUIDE
SWEATING (CONDENSATION) on PIPES, TANKS
THERMAL MASS in buildings
THERMAL TRACKING Indicates Heat Loss
TOILETS, INSPECT, INSTALL, REPAIR
TOILET FLUSHOMETER VALVES
TOILET INSTALLATION PROCEDURE
TOILET OVERFLOW EMERGENCY
TOILET PLUGS, SEWER BACKUP
TOILET REPAIR GUIDE
TOILET TISSUE CHOICES
TOILET TISSUE TEST
Toilet Types, Flush Methods
TOILETS, DON'T FLUSH LIST
TRAPS on PLUMBING FIXTURES
TRIM, EXTERIOR CHOICES, INSTALLATION
TRIM, INTERIOR INSTALLATION
VAPOR BARRIERS & CONDENSATION in BUILDINGS
VENTILATION in BUILDINGS
VINYL CHLORIDE HEALTH INFO
VINYL Siding or PLASTIC Window ODORS
Volatile Organic Compounds VOCs
WALL SIDING TRIM & FINISHES
WALL FINISHES INTERIOR
WALL CONSTRUCTION BARRIER vs CAVITY
WATER BARRIERS, EXTERIOR BUILDING
WATER ENTRY in buildings
WATER ODORS, CAUSE CURE
WATER PRESSURE & FLOW MEASUREMENT
WATER PRESSURE GAUGE ACCURACY
WATER PRESSURE LOSS DIAGNOSIS & REPAIR
WATER PRESSURE PROBLEM DIAGNOSIS TABLE
WATER PRESSURE REPAIRS & COSTS
WATER PUMPS, TANKS, TESTS, WELLS, REPAIRS
WATER PUMP TYPES & LIFE EXPECTANCY
WATER PUMP REPAIR GUIDE
WATER QUALITY TESTS, CONTAMINANTS, TREATMENT
WATER QUANTITY IMPROVEMENT
WATER QUANTITY USAGE GUIDE
WATER SOFTENERS & CONDITIONERS
WATER SUPPLY & DRAIN PIPING
WATER TANK TYPES: WATER, OIL, EXPANSION, ALL
WATER TANK AIR, HOW TO ADD
WATER TANK REPAIRS
WATER TESTS, CONTAMINANTS, TREATMENT
WATER TREATMENT EQUIPMENT CHOICES
WELLS CISTERNS & SPRINGS
WINTERIZE A BUILDING
WOOD, COAL STOVES & FIREPLACES
WOOD STOVE SAFETY
Non-ceramic floor tile properties: this article discusses and compares the properties of ceramic floor tile, granite tile, marble tile, natural stone and agglomerate floor tiles. We address the installation details for each of these tile types
Green links show where you are. © Copyright 2013 InspectAPedia.com, All Rights Reserved. Author Daniel Friedman.
Guide to Ceramic Tile Types: Glazed, Porcelain, Mosaic, Paver, Quarry, Natural Stone, Granite, Agglomerate Floor Tile Properties
This article series discusses current best design practices for kitchens and bathrooms, including layout, clearances, work space, and accessible kitchen and bathroom layout, clearances, turning space, grab bars, controls, etc. We include advice on choosing and installing kitchen countertops, cabinets, and kitchen or bathroom flooring, sinks, and other plumbing fixtures and fixture controls such as faucets. A list of kitchen and bath product manufactures and sources is included.
This article includes excerpts or adaptations from Best Practices Guide to Residential Construction, by Steven Bliss, courtesy of Wiley & Sons. Also see flooring basics at Floor Designs: Kitchen & Bathroom and see Floor Tile, Ceramic for K & B.
Our page top photo illustrates an antique hexagonal mosaic type ceramic tile floor installed in the Lotus Club in New York City. Our photo at left illustrates deliberate tile selection patterning in a floor installed by the editor - DF.
A wide variety of man-made synthetic and natural tiles are available (Table 6-6). Most fall into one of the categories described below:
The most common type of tile, glazed ceramic tile, is usually marketed as either a wall or floor tile, depending on the hardness and water-absorption of the underlying clay body of the tile or bisque.
Wall tiles are typically 1/4 inch thick and range in size from 4x4 to 12x12 inches.
Floor tiles are generally thicker and are available in sizes up to 13x13 inches and larger. Some floor tiles may also have a slip-resistant surface, which is advisable in a bathroom. A tile sold for use on floors will not necessarily have a hard scratch-resistant glaze, however.
Where tile scratching is a concern, such as in kitchens and entryways, look for a PEI rating of 3 or higher, or test the scratch resistance of the tile yourself with a cooking utensil or other abrasives the tile might face in service.
The glazed ceramic floor tiles shown at left are a "pillow tile" design in which the edges of each tile slope downwards - a horrible floor to try to mop clean. Installed by the editor. This tile shape is pretty-much discontinued. We're not sorry about that.
Porcelain tile is fired at high temperatures, creating a dense and strong material that is impervious to water absorption. The tile has a smooth texture and sharply formed face. Small imperfections in size due to the high firing temperatures give it a less formal look than standard tiles.
Porcelain tile is available unglazed or glazed with a matte or high-gloss finish, and comes in a wide variety of sizes, colors, and shapes. Small 1x1–inch porcelain tiles are commonly used on shower and bathroom floors. These are usually mounted in sheets to simplify installation. Because porcelain is impervious to water absorption and because the mounting sheet can interfere with the bond, it should be installed with a polymer-modified thinset mortar made for use with porcelain.
Mosaic refers not to biblical flooring but rather to any hard, dense tile, such as porcelain, vitreous clay, or glass, that is typically one inch square. Porcelain mosaics are usually unglazed and are colored by adding pigment directly to the clay.
Because it is tough and durable, mosaic tile can work well on just about any application, including floors, shower stalls, and counters. Generally mosaics are mounted in sheets and should be installed with latex-modified thinset mortar (Figure 6-30) and our store photo (above left). The simple checkerboard mosaic tile floor (above right) was installed by the editor.
At left are Mexican clay floor tiles being installed by the crew of David Ramirez in San Miguel de Allende. These tiles are soft and easily broken if not properly bedded in concrete or an equivalent tile setting compound. Here we used concrete.
Handmade pavers, on the other hand, tend to be relatively soft, unglazed, nonvitreous tiles, so they are not suitable for wet interior applications or outdoors in areas subject to freeze/thaw cycles. Handmade pavers are generally made in Mexico from yellow or brown terra cotta and come in various shapes and sizes.
Because they are handmade, they have uneven faces and vary in color and texture from tile to tile, giving a floor a rustic appearance (Figure 6-31).
Handmade paver tiles may come prefinished or require sealing by the installer with either a surface coating or penetrating sealer to provide a wear surface. Penetrating sealers have the advantage of easy refinishing of worn spots, whereas surface coatings need to be stripped before being reapplied.
Machine-made pavers are 1/2 to 3/4 inch thick and are available glazed or unglazed. They are usually made from semivitreous or vitreous clay or impervious porcelain, making them suitable for outdoor use. The glazes used on machine-made paver tiles tend to be very hard and well suited to floors and countertops.
Apply any sealers before grouting. All pavers should be set with a thinset adhesive. Because of their irregular shapes, the individual tiles may need to be “back-buttered” to provide full support and contact with the substrate material.
Originally made from quarried stone, quarry tiles are typically unglazed, semivitreous or vitreous tiles made from extruded slabs of clay or shale. They are 3/8 to 3/4 inch thick and come in a variety of square and rectangular shapes. They range in color from gray to browns and reds, depending on the type of clay and firing temperature.
These dense, thick tiles have through-color, making them very durable and suitable for heavy traffic as well as wet or exterior applications. The tiles will stain, however, so they should be sealed with surface sealers where that is a concern (the material is too dense for penetrating oil sealers). Since most surface sealers are not suitable for food contact, quarry tile is not a good choice for counters where staining is a concern. Installation should be with thinset adhesive.
Stone and agglomerate stone tiles are popular choices in kitchens and baths due to their durability and natural beauty. Stone tiles typically measure from 3/8 to over 1 inch thick, making some 12-inch square tiles weigh over 10 pounds. The most common stones are marble and granite, since they both can take a high polish.
Of the two, granite is much more durable and stain-resistant, and is unharmed by mild acids that will etch marble and limestone. Granite is stained by oil and grease, however. All natural stones are subject to staining if they are not sealed when installed and resealed whenever water does not bead up on the surface.
Most customers prefer a highly polished finish on natural stone in the kitchen or bath. A polished finish offers some protection against stains but can also make floors slippery and requires maintenance to preserve the sheen.
On kitchen floors, polished stone will eventually lose its sheen in high-traffic areas, unless protective coatings and sealers are applied regularly. Softer and more porous stones, such as limestone and sandstones, are prone to excess wear and staining and are rarely used in kitchens and baths.
On any stone floor, sand, dirt, and grit do the most damage due to their abrasiveness. Commonsense approaches, such as entry mats to clean shoes and frequent dusting with a dry mop, will go a long way toward preserving the stone surface.
Installation of stone tile is essentially the same as with ceramic tile except for the following:
Both marble and limestone are carbonates, made from ancient shells, sand, and mud, although marbles have been additionally heated and squeezed until crystallized.
Marbles tend to be denser and less porous than limestones and can take a high polish, but both materials are relatively soft and will etch with mild acids (lemon juice, vinegar), making them unsuitable for kitchen counters unless a rustic appearance is acceptable. Darker stones will etch more noticeably. Limestones and softer marbles are not suitable for floors either.
Marble comes in a wide variety of colors and levels of quality, ranging from Grade A with few to no flaws or voids to Grade D, which has a large proportion of flaws, voids, veins, and lines of separation that need to be repaired with fillers and adhesives during fabrication of the tiles. A fiberglass mesh may also be laminated to the back to provide stability. Some of the most highly prized colored marbles are the least stable.
Tiles are available either polished or honed. Polished marble is suitable for walls or bathroom floors, but the polish will generally not hold up well on kitchen floors or countertops due to wear and tear and mild acid spills.
Although worn marble can be cleaned and re polished, a nonglossy honed finish is a better choice for kitchen floors and counters. The honed finish must be sealed to prevent permanent staining of the porous marble.
Dark green marble, called serpentine, is actually a much harder silicate. It will not etch but has a tendency to warp when wet, so it should not be installed in wet areas or exposed to standing water when cleaned. When installing serpentine, epoxy-based mortars and adhesives are preferable to water- or latex-based products. Pre sealers, applied before grouting, help prevent stains and simplify cleanup, particularly with non polished finishes.
Granite is a hard, granular igneous rock that contains mostly quartz and feldspars and ranges in color from pink and red to light or dark gray or a mix of these. It is generally uniform in color and has high compressive strength and abrasion resistance. It has very low absorption, but some types, especially the popular swirl types (technically called gneiss), are subject to staining if not sealed. Common finishes include polished, honed, or thermal.
Polished granite tiles are suitable for kitchen and bath walls, floors, or countertops. While granite holds its polish longer than marble and is not bothered by mild acids, such as orange juice or vinegar, over time the traffic on a kitchen floor will dull the finish. Use of doormats and frequent sweeping to remove abrasives from the floor will help prolong the finish. Re polishing the granite tends to be expensive due to the hardness of the material.
Waxing and special coatings may help protect the polished finish, but frequent stripping and reapplication can, by itself, cause excessive wear.
Another option for floors are honed or thermal finished granite tiles, which are more commonly used outdoors. These are less slippery when wet than polished granite. However, a sealer is required with this type of finish to prevent staining during grouting and to protect from oil or grease stains. These finishes are easy to apply and do not need stripping for touch-up reapplication.
Agglomerate tiles consist of graded chips of marble or granite mixed with a resin binder and stone dust. Typical thicknesses vary from about 1/4 inch to 7/8 inch. Agglomerates usually cost less than natural stone, but have many of the same virtues and limitations as their natural counterparts.
For example, granite agglomerates are harder than marble agglomerates, and the polish on granite can withstand greater abrasion and last longer. Also, granite agglomerates will resist mild household acids, such as citrus juice and vinegar, while these will tend to etch marble agglomerates.
A wide variety of proprietary sealers are available to protect natural stone against staining from grout, dirt, foods, and household products. In addition, some sealers help conceal minor scratches and increase slip resistance.
Some products require regular reapplication and
may cause a surface buildup unless stripped. Penetrating
oil-type sealers may change the color of some types of
stone and can even trap dirt in the finish. For best results,
follow recommendations of the stone supplier and use
products with an established track record.
Bonsal American www.bonsal.com Setting compounds, grouts, preformed shower pans, curbs, and niches. Also, distributor of backerboards, isolation membranes, and other tile-setting products
Color Caulk, div. of Roanoke Companies Group www.colorcaulk.com Color-matched caulking
Custom Building Products www.custombuildingproducts.com Elastomeric and liquid-applied membranes, self-leveling underlayments, setting compounds, and grouts
Laticrete International www.laticrete.com Trowel-on membranes, self-leveling underlayments, setting compounds, grouts, and sealants
Noble Company www.noblecompany.com CPE sheet membranes, trowel-on membranes, clamping ring drains, and preformed slopes, niches, and curbs
Mapei www.mapei.com Trowel-on and sheet membranes, self-leveling underlayments, setting compounds, grouts, and color-matched sanded caulks
Custom Building Products www.custombuildingproducts.com Wonderboard cement backerboard, Easyboard cement and polystyrene lightweight backerboard, and Rhinoboard fiber-cement backerboard
Georgia-Pacific Gypsum www.gp.com/build Denshield gypboard backer with glass-matt facing
James Hardie Building Products www.jameshardie.com Fiber-cement backerboard
National Gypsum www.nationalgypsum.com Permabase lightweight cement and polystyrene backerboard
Schluter Systems www.schluter.com Kerdi tile membrane goes directly over drywall or other substrates
T. Clear Corp./Fin Pan Inc. www.finpan.com Util-A-Crete lightweight concrete backerboard
U.S. Gypsum www.usg.com Durock cement backerboard
W. R. Bonsal www.bonsal.com Extruded polystyrene backerboard with fiberglassreinforced cement facing
Association of Home Appliance Manufacturers(AHAM) www.aham.org
National Kitchen and Bath Association (NKBA) www.nkba.org
Ceramic Tile Institute of America www.ctioa.org
Home Ventilation Institute (HVI) www.hvi.org
Marble Institute of America www.marble-institute.com Porcelain Enamel Institute (PEI) www.porcelainenamel.com
Tile Council of America (TCA) www.tileusa.com
-- Adapted with permission from Best Practices Guide to Residential Construction.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
Use the search box below to ask a question or to search the InspectApedia.com website.
Ask a Question or Enter Search Terms in the InspectApedia search box just below.
Technical Reviewers & References
Related Topics, found near the top of this page suggest articles closely related to this one.