Ceramic tiles for the bathroom and beyond

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In this Article: The History of Ceramic Cladding why the best tiles are made in Spain and Italy; selection of ceramic tiles according to their external characteristics; the meaning of the marking of tiles certified according to UNI EN.

Ceramic tiles for the bathroom and beyond

Among any finishing materials, this product has been unmatched for several thousand years – its visual appeal along with high strength and environmental data put it in first place among others. Indeed, who of us is not familiar with the ceramic tiles traditionally used in the decoration of bathrooms, kitchens and toilets? The market offers us a wide range of tiles – any color, pattern, size and texture, a large selection of manufacturers, both foreign and domestic. Finally, ceramic tiles can be purchased at your nearest hardware store, home improvement market, specialist showroom, or by visiting an online tile store on the World Wide Web. There is no problem finding a tile, but here’s how to select it?

History of ceramic tiles

The first samples of ceramic tiles were created in Mesopotamia about 5000 years ago, however, these tiles were more like glazed clay bricks, the glaze layer on which was about 10 mm, ensuring high strength of the product. Each tile was decorated with simple and complex patterns, many of which have survived to this day, although their meaning has been largely lost. Ancient builders used ceramic bricks-tiles in the external and internal decoration of temples and palaces, in the construction of intricate bas-reliefs.

After 3000 years, the states of Mesopotamia lost their greatness and gradually disappeared, and the production of ceramic tiles moved to the territory of Ancient Persia, whose rulers were previously forced to import glazed bricks from Mesopotamia. It was the Persian masters in about the 5th century BC. e. created ceramic tiles similar to modern counterparts – 10 mm thick, 150 x 150 mm sizes.

Ceramic tiles for the bathroom and beyond

In Medieval Europe, ceramic tiles and their production technologies were brought by the Moors, who captured Spain in the 8th century. Various territories of Spain were under the rule of the Arab dynasties until the end of the 15th century, after the complete liberation of the country, the development of new types of ceramic tiles began, which was facilitated by the demand for it among the monarchs of Europe and the princes of the Catholic Church.

Today, as well as centuries ago, the highest quality ceramic tiles are produced at factories in Spain and Italy. In the case of the first country, this is explained by the long domination of the Moors, in the case of the second, by the popularity of ceramic mosaics among the popes and cardinals, who took care of teaching Italian masters the art of creating ceramic tiles..

How to choose ceramic tiles

Depending on the production technology and raw materials, ceramic tiles are divided into several main types – see their description here.

The first selection criterion is aesthetic appeal, including the tile format, color and pattern on the front side. The number and density of joints between the tile plates after they are laid on the surfaces to be finished depend on the size of the tiles – the smaller the tile format, the more joints, and with a larger tile format, there will be fewer inter-tile joints, respectively, they will not be very conspicuous. Global manufacturers produce not only square or rectangular tiles, but also polygonal (the most popular are hexagons and octagons), as well as more complex formats, for example, Moorish and Provencal. However, the simple geometric shape of the tile is not limited to typical solutions for its application. By changing the location of the gap seams by shifting each tile in relation to the adjacent one or by orienting the seams to the axes of the surfaces that are facing (parallel, diagonal seams and their combinations), you can make a significant variety in the facing with the same format of ceramic tiles.

Ceramic tiles for the bathroom and beyond

In addition to the tiles themselves, manufacturers produce a variety of decorative elements that enliven the monotony of the tile coating..

The color palette of glazed ceramic tiles is much wider than that of unglazed ones – such tiles can be painted in any color shade, there are no technical limitations to this. In addition, glazed tiles of the same color can have three types of surface – glossy, matte or abrasive (non-slip), inside the glaze layer there can be various inserts that increase its decorative properties. The color of the unglazed tile depends on the color of the utel – its base. However, these restrictions, on the contrary, only increase the aesthetic characteristics of this type of tile, giving it a special uniqueness and recognition (for example, the “cotto” color, characteristic only for the same name unglazed tile).

For facing small rooms, and ceramic coatings are usually used in their decoration, tiles of light colors are suitable. Tiles of dark colors can be used as a contrast, but their area should not exceed 15-20% of the total area of ​​the tiled cladding, otherwise the room will have a rather gloomy atmosphere.

The glazed surface of the tile is rather weakly resistant to mechanical stress, prone to damage such as cracks and chips, so glazed tiles are mainly used for cladding vertical surfaces or as a floor covering in rooms with low floor load, for example, as tiles for a bathroom or a bathroom … Glaze on mosaic ceramic tiles, the plates of which have sizes from 20 to 50 mm and are connected in blocks with sides from 300 to 500 mm, due to the small size of the tiles, has a higher resistance to mechanical influences.

On the surface of glazed tiles, you can apply a pattern of almost any complexity by silk-screen printing – it can be either an ornament or a photographic image. Also, patterns are applied in the process of special technological methods of applying the glazed layer, as well as over the annealed glaze, followed by firing it for the third time. Usually, a batch of ceramic tiles is covered with an identical pattern on each, as well as a large-scale ornament, fragments of which are applied to several groups of tiles like puzzles, forming an image of a large area in the form of a fresco or painting when facing..

Ceramic tiles for the bathroom and beyond

As a rule, the pattern is not applied to unglazed tiles – the only exception is porcelain stoneware, its modern type.

When choosing a pattern on a ceramic tile, pay attention to its orientation – a vertically oriented ornament or image is suitable for rooms with low ceilings, visually enlarging them, the ornament of horizontal orientation, accordingly, will look good in high-ceilinged rooms.

The choice of ceramic tiles according to their external characteristics will be correct not to build on the attractiveness of one plate displayed at the exhibition stand in the sales outlet, but on the ratio of a number of initial data – the illumination of the room where it is supposed to be tiled, the degree of its load with plumbing fixtures, furniture and household appliances appliances, design of the apartment (house) located near the premises.

The meaning of the manufacturer’s labeling on the packaging of ceramic tiles

According to UNI EN standards, tiles of European production certified according to this standard must have the following markings: tile type; pictograms characterizing surfaces for cladding; several numerical-letter combinations behind the performance characteristics of the tiles.

Ceramic tiles for the bathroom and beyond

According to the grade, ceramic tiles are divided from 1 to 3 and commercial:

  • red marking means that there is a 1st grade tile inside the package, the defectiveness is not higher than 5%. Those. for every 100 tiles, there can be only 5 with defects – taking into account that ceramic tile cladding is not performed without cutting off some of them, the presence of such a small number of defective products in a batch is not critical;
  • The blue color of the marking informs that the package contains tiles of the 2nd grade with a defectiveness of up to 25% in the batch. Defects here will not be in the size of the tile, but in its appearance (drawing, color, glaze);
  • green marking – 3rd grade, tile defectiveness is more than 25%. The lowest quality tiles in all respects are used for cladding technical rooms where high aesthetics are not required;
  • the commercial variety has no color coding, and the batch defect rate exceeds 25%. Ceramic tiles related to it have a simple color, their main advantage is their high resistance to mechanical wear.

It should be noted that the color coding values ​​are correct only if the manufacturer of this ceramic tile has been certified according to UNI EN, which must be indicated by the corresponding inscription on the packaging. If he did not pass it, then the marking can be anything and does not mean anything – make sure that information about the presence of this certificate is present on the package, otherwise do not pay attention to the color of the marking.

The pictograms are intended to facilitate the search for tiles with the required characteristics, the images on them are simple and always accompanied by the appropriate signature. For example, the image of a palm on a dark background means that this type of tile is intended for wall cladding, and the image of the sole of a boot – the tile is designed for floor cladding. The image of several identical pictograms indicates that the quality of this product according to this criterion is especially high.

Combinations of letters and numbers indicate the resistance of the tiles to low temperatures, physical wear and tear and chemicals. These combinations consist of Latin letters and Roman numbers, and in the same gradation there can be two numerical-letter designations – the Latin letter denotes the degree of porosity of the tile (“A” is the least porous), and the Roman numeral indicates the water absorption group (“I “- minimum water absorption).

Frost resistance is indicated by a snowflake pictogram and the following combinations of numbers and letters:

  • A I and B I – high resistance to low temperatures, tiles are suitable for outdoor cladding;
  • A II and B II – average frost resistance;
  • tiles marked A III and B III are only suitable for interior tiling.

Ceramic tiles for the bathroom and beyond

The resistance of horizontal cladding to physical wear is divided into five groups:

  • PEI I – the least wear resistance, such tiles are suitable, perhaps, for bathrooms;
  • PEI II – products with this marking can be used in rooms where households do not wear outdoor shoes, i.e. for cladding a bathroom or a bathroom;
  • PEI III – for rooms with medium use. Tiles for the kitchen and hallway have this marking;
  • PEI IV – for surfaces with high stress (stair treads, floors in offices);
  • PEI V – ceramic tiles are designed for high-traffic floors (train stations, supermarkets, industrial plants, etc.).

The resistance of this type of ceramic tile to chemical attack is indicated by one or two Latin letters: AA – chemicals cannot harm; A – resistance to chemicals is lower; AB – lower resistance than group “AA”. The letters from A to D are included in the gradation in terms of chemical resistance, respectively, the “DD” marking indicates the inability of the tile to withstand chemical influences, i.e. such a tile as a floor covering not only in the kitchen, but also in the bathroom is not suitable in any way.

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