Common Questions about Tiles & Flooring

Porcelain tiles are merely a form of ceramic tiles. Whilst the preparation of ceramic and porcelain tiles are similar, it is the pressing and firing process which results in the porcelain tile having the superior characteristics of being much stronger and less porous, generally with a water absorption rate of 0.5% or less.
a. Polished or semi polished: as the name suggests, an elaborate technique is used to finish the tile after the firing process. High quality porcelain does not require any further treatment after polishing. Some lower density polished porcelain tiles must be sealed, depending on the manufacturer. A polished surface is not a glaze, so do not be fooled into thinking that polished porcelain is glazed.

b. Glazed porcelain: various techniques are employed by different manufacturers to glaze a tile. Once a porcelain tile has been glazed, no further treatment is required, in the sense that these tiles are considered non porous.

c. Matt, honed or natural porcelain: generally speaking, this type of product comes out of the kiln in this form and undergoes no further processing. A quality product requires no further treatment, ie. normally sealing is not required.

d. Rock finish or structured porcelain: this type of porcelain is extremely textured and often used for external purposes. Normally sealing is not required.
a. First and foremost you should ask your tile merchant whether the product you have purchased requires sealing. Then you need to determine what kind of sealer is best suited to your porcelain tile. Generally, the sealing of porcelain tiles is seen as an aide to the prevention of staining. As a rule, due to the low levels of porosity found in porcelain tiles, it is generally accepted that a penetrating sealer be used. Normally it is polished porcelain that requires sealing due to the polishing process causing minute micro pores.

b. Some manufacturers pre-seal their products in readiness to the laying process, if your porcelain is not pre-sealed then pre-sealing prior to grouting, should generally be carried out where dark coloured grout is to be used on porous tiles. This will ensure that the colour grout does not bleed into the tile. In some instances, you may wish to pre-seal dark porcelain tiles where light grout is to be used.
Sometimes, in the production process, wax is added to the surface of the tile to protect it, to keep it clean and to keep it safe from scratching when in transit. There are various effective products on the market to clean this residue from the surface of the tiles and you should ask your tile merchant which product is best suited to your porcelain. Prior to tiling, you should ask your tiler if they will remove the wax once the job is complete.
In all cases the appropriate type of adhesive must be used. The substrate must also be adequate for the material to be used, that is, the flatness of the surface is paramount. If not tile lipping may occur. In the case of floors, uneven surfaces may be levelled out with the use of a floor leveller or floor screed. Your tile fixer should be able to guide you through any questions you may have, so don't be afraid to ask.
a. Once again, it is best to ask your supplier what kind of products should be used to clean and maintain your porcelain. Significantly, different types of stains may require different types of treatments. If you are unsure of what type of cleaners is most suited to your porce- lain, it is recommended that a spot test be carried out with a general purpose cleaner in the first instance. Your merchant will be able to assist you with the selection of the most suited type of cleaner.

b. With regards to maintaining a sealed porcelain tile, a good quality sealer should last 5 to 10 years. This can be ascertained from the manufacturer of the sealant used.
This is a process whereby tiles are cut during manufac- turing, generally with a watered diamond blade, to ensure all tiles are consistent in size.
In many cases, the end result of laid porcelain requires a very straight level surface. Therfore in some cases tilers will charge a higher rate for laying and levelling porcelain tiles. It is recommended that a qualified licensed tiler be used in all cases.
A. Wax an Porcelain - In some instances, the manufacturer will coat their tiles with a protective wax layer. You should consult your tile merchant about the timing and removal technique for the protective layer.

B. Physical protection layers - As the name suggests, this is the presence of a film on the tiles typically to protect it in transit. We would recommend this layer be removed from the tile prior to grouting in most cases, depending on the type of layer present.

C. Slip Resistant Tiles - Generally, the fact the tile is considered to be slip resistant means it has a more textured surface, which may prove more difficult to clean. Dependant of the surface type, the use of scrubbing equipment and cleaning products may be necessary. If required, clean with mild detergent and rinse thoroughly with clean water.

D. Initial Cleaning - This operation may require a concerted effort as there may be some grout haze present. The tiling contractor should not leave any adhesive or grout residue on the tile surface. Normally, there is a requirement for some post installation clean- ing. Damage can occur to tiles if incorrect chemicals or cleaning methods are used.
A. Glazed Ceramic and Porcelain Tiles- Maintaining these surfaces can be achieved by sweeping or vacuuming and then washing the* area using a specialised tile cleaning agent available from your tile merchant. Rinse surface thoroughly afterwards, using clean water. Residual streaks, detergent marks and films can be a result from excessive use of cleaning agents. In some instances, on advice from your tile merchant only, acidic cleaners may be needed for optimal results. These products must be recommended by your merchant as suitable for your particular tile application.

Do not use acid, unless recommended by your merchant, to clean fully glazed tiles as this may affect or damage the surface.

B. Polished Porcelain - Generally, the cleaning and mainte- nance of polished porcelain is not too dissimilar to that of ceramic tiles. Different brands of polished porcelains may however, recommend varying methods of cleaning and mainte- nance. It is suggested that you ask your tile merchant what is the most suitable product and method for your particular tile.

Do not use acid, unless recommended by your merchant, to clean fully glazed tiles as this may affect or damage the surface.

C. Glass and Metallic - When cleaning these tiles be careful not to use abrasive applicators such as scouring sponges.

D. Unglazed Tiles - All unglazed products do have a level of surface porosity which usually means more attention is required to retain cleanliness. Spills or accidents that result in contaminates on the surface may stain. Often, unglazed tiles are sealed for ease of maintenance or future cleaning.
Many grouts on the market have mould inhibitors which can help reduce mould growth. Mould can still occur if the condi- tions are severe or if a grout without mould inhibitor has been used. Mould can be removed using specialised grout cleaners. Gels are particularly effective, as they can be left on the grout in badly effected areas, before washing it off. Heavy duty cleaners can help remove soap scum and other dirt build-up in extreme circumstances. Mould or discolouration is basically the result of build up of soap, shampoos and other residues left to dry. If this occurs, a heavy duty cleaner may be necessary.

Freshly installed tiles may be covered overall or in patches with grout haze. There are a number of commercial products available from your merchant for this problem.
Efflorescence is a white discolouration caused by minerals in the cement that are soluble in water, being dissolved and transported to the surface as the water evaporates. It is most noticeable on dark materials but can occur on any cement based system. This is not normally a problem as only insignificant amounts of white discolouration make it to the surface of the grout during normal curing. However, because it is water soluble, under certain conditions the migration of the discolouration to the surface can be increased. Therefore if the system takes longer to cure or if there is more water present during curing, there is more time available for it to be carried to the surface. Sometimes minor efflorescence can be removed by using normal cleaning methods, whilst more difficult stains can be treated with specific products for your merchant. Ensure the grout has had sufficient time to cure or you may make it worse by increasing the water on the surface.