Choosing the right porcelain tile for your project depends on several factors, including the site, amount of use and the color or design. Colorbody porcelain, also known as full-bodied or through-bodied porcelain, is suitable for floors and walls. Glazed porcelain, available in countless colors, is slippery and not recommended for flooring, but is a good choice for walls and counter tops.
All types of porcelain tiles are made from clays with certain characteristics, including a water absorption rate of less than 0.5 percent. Kiln-fired, porcelain tiles are not only impervious to moisture but smooth and dense. Other tiles, including ceramic tiles, have a higher water absorption rate. For installation purposes, porcelain tiles are more difficult to cut and harder to bond than non-porcelain tiles. Porcelain tile is now available in designs that imitate other materials, such as slate, marble and even leather.
Colorbody Porcelain Tile
Colorbody porcelain tile contains color throughout, from the top to the bottom of each tile. If chipped, the damage might not be noticeable due to the thorough coloring. The strongest type of porcelain tile, it is suitable for interior and exterior flooring for commercial or residential use and heavily trafficked areas. Because of its low water absorption rate, it is frost and slip resistant, an important factor for liability purposes in buildings accessible to the public.
Glazed porcelain tiles, also known as vitreous tiles, include a glass coating applied to the surface during the heating process. Besides allowing for a huge color selection, the glazing makes the tile easier to clean and protects it from stains. Although easier to clean than colorbody porcelain tile, glazed tiles might not be as easy to maintain. Because the glazing is only on the surface, any chips or cracks are more obvious than on colorbody tile.
Sealers are not necessary for glazed porcelain tiles. A penetrating sealer, absorbed into the tile to create a stain-resistant surface, might be recommended for colorbody tiles and grout joints. According to the Tile Council of North America, both U.S. and European porcelain tile manufacturers use an identical testing method for wear resistance on glazed tiles, with a scale of 0 to 5. Any rating of 4 or above is considered suitable for any application other than extremely dirty or hard-use environments.
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