Porcelain Tile & Ceramic Tile FAQ
We are pleased to provide answers to some of the most Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ) on a wide variety of our products. For more information on our porcelain and ceramic tile please browse our selection of outstanding quality products, visit our Ceramic Tile College, or browse the answers to our frequently asked questions.
Q. What is the difference between standard “ceramic” tiles and porcelain tiles?
A. Tile terminology can be confusing. Most types of tiles that are made from clay or a mixture of clay and other materials, then kiln-fired, are considered to be a part of the larger classification called “Ceramic Tiles”. These tiles can be split into two groups, porcelain tiles and non-porcelain tiles. These non-porcelain tiles are frequently referred to as ceramic tiles by themselves, separate from porcelain tiles.
“Ceramic” or non-porcelain tiles are generally made from red or white clay fired in a kiln. They are almost always finished with a durable glaze which carries the color and pattern. These tiles are used in both wall tile and floor tile applications, are softer and easier to cut than porcelain, and usually carry a PEI 0 to 3 rating. Non-porcelain ceramic tiles are usually suitable for very light to moderate traffic and generally have a relatively high water absorption rating making them less frost resistant and they are more prone to wear and chipping than porcelain tiles.
Porcelain tile is a tile that is generally made by the dust pressed method from porcelain clays which result in a tile that is dense, impervious, fine grained and smooth, with a sharply formed face. Porcelain tiles usually have a much lower water absorption rate (less than 0.5%) than non-porcelain tiles making them frost resistant or frost-proof. Glazed porcelain tiles are much harder and more wear and damage resistant than non-porcelain ceramic tiles, making them suitable for any application from light traffic to the heaviest residential and light commercial traffic. Full body porcelain tiles carry the color and pattern through the entire thickness of the tile making them virtually impervious to wear and are suitable for any application from residential to the highest traffic commercial or industrial applications. Porcelain tiles are available in matte, unglazed or a high polished finish.
Apart from our saltillo (clay) tile BuildDirect chooses to offer our customers only the highest quality glazed and full body porcelain tiles to ensure years of worry free use, at prices comparable to or less than non-porcelain ceramic tiles.
Q. Can ceramic tile be used outdoors?
A. To be used outdoors, we recommend the tile must be frostproof and unglazed for floor use. Make sure the absorption rate is 0.5% or less.
Q. What is the difference between glazed and full-body tiles?
A. Glazed tiles are coated with a liquid glass, which is then baked into the surface of the clay. The glaze provides an unlimited array of colors and designs as well as protects the tile from staining. The unglazed tiles are pretty much the same as the glazed tile, except that their surface is not coated. Full-body porcelain tiles do not show wear because their color extends throughout the tile, making them ideal for commercial applications.
Q. Should a sealer be used on ceramic tile?
A. A glazed tile is already stain proof, so there is no purpose to putting on a sealer. You may put a penetrating sealer on your unglazed tile or your grout joints. The penetrating sealer is an invisible, stain resistant shield that is absorbed into the surface.
Q. Where can your tiles be used and what is a PEI rating?
A. PEI classes range from 0 to 5. The Porcelain Enamel Institute rating scale is not a measurement of quality. It is a scale that clearly indicates the areas of use each manufacturer recommends and has designed their tile to fit. A PEI 2 tile has been designed for areas where very low traffic and soiling is anticipated. In most cases the aesthetic detailing of these tiles is of prime consideration. You will often find high gloss levels, vibrant colorations and metallic elements in this group of tile. Conversely, a PEI 5 tile has been designed for abusive extra heavy foot traffic. The technical aspects such as surface abrasion resistance will be considered and must be achieved first before aesthetic effects are incorporated.
Class 0 - No Foot Traffic:
Wall tile only and should not be used on floors.
Class 1 - Very light traffic:
Very low foot traffic, bare or stocking feet only. (Master bath, spa bathroom).
Class 2 - Light Traffic:
Slipper or soft-soled shoes. Second level main bathroom areas, bedrooms.
Class 3 - Light to Moderate Traffic:
Any residential area with the possible exception of some entries and kitchens if extremely heavy or abrasive traffic is anticipated.
Class 4 - Moderate to Heavy Traffic:
High foot traffic, areas where abrasive or outside dirt could be tracked. Residential entry, kitchen, balcony, and countertop.
Class 5 - Heavy Traffic:
Ceramic tile suggested for residential, commercial and institutional floor subjected to heavy traffic.
Q. Does BuildDirect do tile installations?
A. We do not do tile installations. Please consult your local Yellow Pages for information on tile setters.
Q. How does buying tile from BuildDirect work?
A. BuildDirect is a wholesaler with proprietary Internet technology and toll-free customer service to provide incredibly low prices on top quality building products. We fill tile orders in two ways. The first is selling pallet multiples out of warehouses around North America. The second is shipping container orders directly from select manufacturers and delivered to your job site.
Q. I need a smaller amount of tile than your minimum – where do I go from here?
A. Please consult your local Yellow Pages for information on retailers that sell in smaller quantities. Look under "Tile Retailers" or "Ceramic Retailers."
Q. Can I purchase just one box of tile before I place my full order?
A. We’re unable to sell individual boxes of tile due to shipping costs. The cost to safely ship one box of tile can be more than five times the amount of the actual tile.
To see our tiles in person before you buy, check out our free sample program. We’ll send you up to five free samples right to your doorstep. No credit card required. Also, we offer a 30 Day Money Back Guarantee, which means if you aren’t completely satisfied with your tile prior to installation, you can return it for a full refund within 30 days of delivery.
Q. Am I restricted to getting just one product in a container?
A. Container orders can comprise any combination of the colors, sizes, finishes and shapes that a factory produces. There is a minimum of one pallet per type. Tile is heavy and will require proper equipment or labour to accept goods on delivery. Please check weight of goods before they are delivered so you are properly prepared.
Q. How much breakage should I expect with an order?
A. It is not unusual to have 2% - 3% of the tile broken to some degree (e.g. chipped edges). Any amount up to 10% is still considered acceptable. These damaged tiles can be used for the cuts you will need to make. If breakage is above 10%, we would ask you to have it noted on the logistics receiving document and take pictures. Please make a claim with us within 10 days of receiving the order.