Decorative Tiles – How and Why to Choose Them

Decorating or renovating a home is often a challenge, and choosing decorative tiles is no exception. As this is a long-term investment, it is important to allocate sufficient time to choose the types of tiles that will be installed in your home, to ensure they are durable, resistant and will look impeccable over time.

Types of Decorative Tiles

Firstly, it is important to know what types of tiles are available on the market.

When you arrive in stores or on specialized websites, you will find all sorts of references: glossy, matte, plain, patterned, marble-like, rustic, with flowers, with geometric motifs, matte or glossy tiles. If you are not familiar with interior design, it is very possible that you do not know what to think about first when it comes to choosing the tiles. Moreover, the generous offers on the market can seem overwhelming.

Well, it is important to start by knowing that ceramic tiles, generally known as floor and wall tiles, can be divided into various categories. These differ depending on the raw material from which the tiles are produced, but also depending on the firing temperatures that lead to different physical and chemical characteristics.

For many, simple ceramic tiles and porcelain floor tiles seem to be the same thing, and the differences between them are imperceptible, but things are not quite like that. Porcelain tiles are indeed a type of ceramic material, but the process of obtaining porcelain tiles includes a high temperature, up to 1200 degrees Celsius. After drying in special ovens, glazed porcelain tiles are decorated with designs that accurately reproduce the appearance of stone, wood, marble, granite, etc. This produces two important characteristics of porcelain tiles: translucency and low porosity, meaning that the final product absorbs and retains less moisture. At the same time, this process makes the porcelain tile hard and dense, giving it resistance to moisture, freeze-thaw cycles, high traffic surfaces, staining, and chemical agents.

Homeowners can choose either glazed or unglazed porcelain tiles. Here, too, there are a few differences. Choosing a tile without glaze, colored in the mass, can be an optimal solution for high-traffic areas, stairs, walkways, and outdoor terraces. Glazed tiles will offer you more color and design options compared to unglazed porcelain tiles.

Simple ceramic tiles are less dense and less resistant to water than porcelain tiles, but if their destination is correctly chosen (wall tiles are used only for interior walls, and non-porcelain floor tiles are used only for interior use), they represent an optimal, functional, and aesthetic solution for the interior spaces of the home. Also, if properly maintained, ceramic tiles can have a long life.

Regarding the degree of wear, it is important to take into account the PEI (Porcelain Enamel Institute) classification, which measures the resistance of ceramic tiles using a special device with abrasive rollers.

Ceramic tiles are chosen based on the level of wear they will be subjected to, depending on the space they will be installed in:

• PEI II – for floors with low traffic (living rooms, bedrooms)

• PEI III – for living areas with medium traffic (kitchens, hallways, covered terraces)

• PEI IV – for interior or exterior floors in residential and commercial spaces with normal traffic, such as entryways, commercial kitchens, terraces, offices, exhibition halls, or even hotel rooms

• PEI V – for floors with intense and sustained traffic in commercial or industrial areas. Glazed surfaces are the most resistant to traffic and can be used to tile floors in shops, airports, waiting rooms, public walkways, courtyards, hotel lobbies, and industrial halls.

While most people choose tiles based on color, texture, pattern, and shine, it’s important to understand that there are two categories of ceramic floor tiles:

• Ceramic tiles with very low water absorption, known as porcelain floor tiles, which can be glazed or unglazed. Porcelain floor tiles are highly resistant to freeze-thaw cycles and are primarily used for exterior spaces. Tiling porcelain floor tiles requires flexible adhesives and grouts designed for outdoor use.

• Ceramic tiles with higher water absorption (up to 10%) are used only indoors (hallways, living rooms, bathrooms, kitchens depending on the percentage of water absorption). These ceramic tiles are only glazed. Tiling these floor tiles is done with ordinary adhesives and grouts for indoor use.

The term “rectified tile” refers to the finishing process of the edges of the floor tile. This mechanical processing of the tile results in straight edges forming a perfect 90-degree angle. Both wall and floor tiles can be rectified. The resulting exact dimensions allow for continuous, flat spaces with minimal joints (1-2 mm). The rectification process adds an additional cost reflected in the product price.

Non-rectified floor tiles have the same physical and chemical properties as rectified tiles, except that they have a small burr on their edges resulting naturally from the pressing process.

The difference between wall and floor tiles

Wall tiles are recommended for wall tiles only. They have higher porosity and are not recommended for finishing floors. Decorative tiles add vibrancy, color, and a touch of elegance to interior design. Floor tiles are designed for floors but can also be used on walls. They can be used indoors or outdoors, depending on their density and resistance to water.

Therefore, when choosing the floor tiles, consider the type of space they will be used in. The resistance classifications for abrasion (PEI values) and slip resistance of ceramic tiles have been made. The slip resistance values are determined by several methods. The inclined plane method (values noted with R) classifies glazed or unglazed floor tiles as follows:

• R9 – low slip resistance – recommended for use in homes (bathrooms but not in shower areas, bedrooms, etc.)

• R10 – medium slip resistance – recommended for use in residential spaces, such as kitchens, living rooms, hallways, and bathrooms.

• R11 and R12 are glazed and unglazed floor tiles with good slip resistance, suitable for commercial spaces, airports, hotels, pedestrian walkways, canteens, restaurants, etc.

• R13 are glazed and unglazed floor tiles with the highest slip resistance, recommended for use around swimming pools, pedestrian walkways, industrial spaces, public bathrooms, locker rooms, and parking lots.

Advantages of decorative tiles

Decorative wall and floor tiles have a number of important advantages. These tiles have the advantage of coming in a large number of patterns and colors, so no matter your project or ideas, you can find the right ones.

Decorative wall and floor tiles also have the advantage of enhancing the appearance of your home and adding a touch of originality, depending on how you choose to use them.

There is also the possibility to use decorative wall and floor tiles only on certain portions of the rooms. So, for example, if you have a bathroom where both tiles are white, you can use decorative tiles to break the monotony and transform the bathroom into a space decorated in an original way.

3D tiles

Among the most interesting decorative tiles are 3D ones. 3D porcelain tiles are widely appreciated for wall decoration. They are available in numerous sizes, textures, and colors, offering endless combinations to bring a touch of fantasy to every space in the house.

Its main advantage? Aesthetics! The relief and three-dimensional volumes create original light effects that are adapted to contemporary styles.

Such a decorative style can easily be adopted to dress up certain walls in your home, from the kitchen to the bedroom, through the hallway, bathroom or living room.

You can find types of wall and floor tiles adapted to your needs in the CESAROM collections, available HERE.