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Old 05-15-2008, 08:27 AM   #1
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How to tell tile quality?


I am going to start looking for tile soon and something puzzling came up. How do you know if a Ceramic or porcelain tile is of high quality or not?
For instance I was in Home Depot yesterday and saw a tile that looked nice, then I saw the price, it was practically $7.00 per tile (12 x 12"), others were any where from 2 to $5.00 or so. I asked the sales person and all he said was it was the type of clay they use to make them. This sounded like a blow off to me so I just let it go.

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Old 05-15-2008, 02:56 PM   #2
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How to tell tile quality?


Here is a great help on how to select a ceramic tile of good quality
http://extension.usu.edu/files/publi...heet/HI_10.pdf

It shall answer all your queries like:


  1. WHAT’S ON THE MARKET?
  2. WHAT TILE THICKNESS DO I NEED?
  3. HOW MUCH TILE TO I NEED?
  4. WHAT’S THE CONDITION OF THE UNDERSURFACE?
  5. WHAT’S ON THE WARRANTY?
and here is some good info as well, http://www.floorbiz.com/tile/ceramic-tile-floors.htm



skim through ..hope it helps..good luck!!

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Old 05-15-2008, 03:02 PM   #3
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How to tell tile quality?


Dochorn and others gave a lot of good information about PEI (durability) ratings in this thread.

porcelain versus ceramic tile
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Old 05-15-2008, 08:21 PM   #4
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How to tell tile quality?


Changeling,

I know you read all the other stuff last week, but here goes on some more info...NOT PEI related as we already went through that.

A RED - RED/BROWN CERAMIC clay biscuit is the cheapest out there, it is softer and tends to chip more and cuts poorly too as when the glaze chips at the side your cutting along you see little tiny specks of red/brown clay, it's little, but it bothers me.

A LT BROWN to PUTTY coloured CERAMIC clay biscuit is better and stronger, (kinda the colour of a double double, or slightly lighter)

A PUTTY to WHITE biscuit usually means (and I only say USUALLY not ALWAYS) that it's porcelain. (porcelain can also be green, yellow, purple or whatever the top is all the way through if it's a full bodied porcelain, however these usually are unglazed)

Once you've established the clay base, then concern yourself with the PEI rating as we discussed in the other thread. It's a rating of the GLAZE layer NOT the biscuit so you could have a PEI 4 on a crappy red clay and also a PEI 4 on a better putty clay.

If you go porcelain make sure it's GLAZED! Too hard to keep clean otherwise.

The general things still apply, ie. the shinier it is the more slippery it is, the more smooth it is the more slippery it is. However the opposite texture also has it's own issues, the really textured ones are harder to clean! Some will even shred you mop to bits, so consider that too!

There are many reasons for the price of a tile, a cheaply priced tile is almost always 99.9% of the time, cheap because it's a cheap tile, and not worth wasting your time on. When I say CHEAP, usually that means something under about $1.20 per s/f, if you're in a tile store, not HD (and I only say not HD because places like that usually do not have informative people working in tile that actually know what they're talking about. I actually had to stop a customer from buying something that a salesman said he could put outside, but it was a ceramic and should never go outside in our climate. I've also caught them selling mastic (glue) for floor applications and that's just not ok, not by any standards), act like the price doesn't matter and outright ask the associate if they would put it in their house, and ask for honesty, if they say no then there's a reason. (and it's usually nothing to do with the colour!)

Pricing can vary for many reasons, but generally prices go up base on
1. quality of clay biscuit or being porcelain (porcelain will generally always be more than a comparable looking ceramic)
2. sizes it's available in, the more sizes, the more cuts and machines needed to make the tile.
3. the colours in the tile, the more colours they have to add to the mix to make it look like it does, the more it costs. (ie a slate looking tile generally costs more than a solid coloured tile of same quality)
4. texture, if a tile is textured, it generally costs more. Again, processing costs.
5. lastly, still texture related, # of DIFFERENT prints. By prints I mean designs on the tile. Many tiles only have ONE print when they are less expensive and you make them look different by installing them in different directions(rotating them). When a tile is more expensive you will often find upwards of three or four different prints, we've even had some that in an entire bathroom floor I couldn't see a single duplicate pattern so there must have been over 20 in that batch (but then again that tile was over $12 s/f)

Some prices are crazy HIGH and for no real reason. It's like buying two cars or two pairs of jeans, both equally as appealing and will last just as long yet you'll pay 30-40% more for one BRAND over another and that's just it, a BRAND, somewhere at some point the BRAND of tile was praised for something, and they now demand a higher price for their product. This by no means means it's a superior tile than one that is 2 or 3 bux less.

The THICKNESS of the tile means NOTHING! I've had some seriously hard that are less than 1/4 " thick and some that are almost 1/2" and it's made no difference on their wear and PEI. A tile will only crack if it's installed wrong or your floor shifts, having a thicker tile does not stop this!

I think I've covered the WHY on the pricing, if not, just post me....

Hope this helps...

Last edited by dochorn; 05-16-2008 at 08:16 AM.
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Old 05-16-2008, 08:42 AM   #5
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How to tell tile quality?


Here is another little tip. Look at the pattern - A cheap tile has what looks like an injet printed pattern on the surface and not baked into the glaze. Its hard to describe in words - Sort of like what the pictures in the newspaper look like up close. Made of lots of little dots. Pick up one of those .89c tiles at HomeCheapo and see what I mean. If you have old eyes you may need a magnifying glass, my 40YO eyes can see it at arms length but I cant tell when walking on it.
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Old 05-16-2008, 09:11 AM   #6
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How to tell tile quality?


Quote:
Originally Posted by Brik View Post
Here is another little tip. Look at the pattern - A cheap tile has what looks like an injet printed pattern on the surface and not baked into the glaze. Its hard to describe in words - Sort of like what the pictures in the newspaper look like up close. Made of lots of little dots. Pick up one of those .89c tiles at HomeCheapo and see what I mean. If you have old eyes you may need a magnifying glass, my 40YO eyes can see it at arms length but I cant tell when walking on it.

They're the ones that make you dizzy when you look at them!! We've seen a few cross our path that were printed that way that were supposed to be GOOD QUALITY tile and were in around 4 bux and it looked like they had an earthquake when they did the print, it just didn't line up at all, all the colour layers were a mess! So be weary, you can still find an expensive tile that looks like that too, allbeit more common on the cheapies for sure.
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Old 05-16-2008, 12:43 PM   #7
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How to tell tile quality?


dochorn and Brik, thank you very much. This gives me a leg up on identifying what is good or junk. I especially like your break down of the biscuit colors, this is the first time I have ever heard anyone describe this relative to tile quality.
I'm not going to be in a hurry right now to purchase, I want to go to some of the big tile showrooms like "Daltile" for instance. They are opening a store in my area but it is still under construction, however the owner was there and nice enough to give me a store catalog of tile with all specifications, it is loaded with great information, he then sat down with me and explained practically every aspect of the tile they carried making it very clear that he/they did not carry or handle any off brand or trash type tile. He even told me if I found a tile he did not carry to come by and he would evaluate it for me.

However first thing/priority is the windows, second is the tile for the kitchen, 3rd is new decking. I'm putting most of my efforts into the windows first because they start giving an immediate pay back.
Thanks again for the valuable information, Changeling.
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Old 05-16-2008, 01:37 PM   #8
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How to tell tile quality?


Wow. Lots of good info. I also think dochorn set a record for the longest mid-sentence parentheses statement.

My tile has the ink-jet type markings on it. I didn't notice it until I really picked up one piece and analyzed it from about < six inches from my eyes. In the store I thought it looked awesome. I did think it was rather semi-expensive, nice quality tile. I'm going to hope and assume that my Stonepeak tile falls into the:

"you can still find an expensive tile that looks like that [inkjet printed pattern]"

category.

Last edited by AdamB5000; 05-16-2008 at 02:37 PM.
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Old 05-16-2008, 02:16 PM   #9
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How to tell tile quality?


Just to add to my comment about the printed on pixelated patten I describe. I have never seen it rub off or become an issue. I'm sure the technique allows for a wider pallet of color options. I have seen the pattern leave the factory bad when 'registration' (a printing term) is off but that is a defect and the tiles should be returned if you get some with that issue.

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