Home' K and B : Kitchens and Bathroom 2009 Contents 44 WA's Best Kitchens & Bathrooms 2009
Tiles come in standardised grades from one to five, which
essentially denote the applications they are fit for based
on foot tra c. Obviously, the higher grades can be used
in the areas noted in the lower grades as well as their own
(for example, anything can be used on the wall).
Grade 1: Can only be used on walls or where they won't
be walked on.
Grade 2: Light tra c only. Grade two is fine for
Grade 3: A common residential grade, fine for light to
moderate tra c, including places such as the laundry,
kitchen and countertops.
Grade 4: Withstands heavy tra c, including moderate
commercial use (you could put these comfortably in
a doctor's o ce, for example).
Grade 5: Toughest tiles out. Can be used in any heavy
duty commercial application -- or residential, such as the
Vitrification refers to the process undertaken to produce
the tile. Unlike ceramic-based tiles, vitrified ones are hard
baked; so the colour seen on the surface is permeates
through the entire tile.
Originally created for commercial and heavy-duty
purposes, the vitrification process results in a less porous
product with many benefits.
The low porosity makes for a very stain resistant tile
(the density basically means nothing can get in, and if
you were to spill a glass of wine, for example, it would
sit on the top rather than be absorbed).
It's a stronger product in general; more di cult to chip
or crack, and if you manage to take a chip out, it's the
same colour underneath. It ages incredibly well; in high
tra c areas it takes longer to wear down the surface of
the tile, and when you do, the colour remains the same.
Vitrified tiles have risen in popularity and most
manufacturers of residential products in numerous colours,
formats and styles have long adopted the process.
Typically, quality vitrified tiles have a rectified edge
-- that is, a perfectly squared edge that enables the tiles
to be laid very close together, minimising grout (and
subsequent cleaning) -- and a very flat surface, which
creates a smooth, seamless finish.
These can be used anywhere, and come in a variety
of finishes including anti-slip, matte, semi-polished and
high polished. Because of their toughness, they can
attract higher labour costs. They are harder to cut, and
existing floors often need to be screeded; a prep coating
to ensure the base is perfectly level for laying.
Do not fall into the trap of assuming a polished vitrified
tile is more stain resistant -- it's actually the opposite,
as the polishing process opens the pores of the tiles.
(However, it is still incredibly resilient in any finish).
No longer restricted to mosaics, glass tiles are available
in formats from the tiny to the enormous (try 300 x
600mm on for size), and their popularity is not slowing.
Often used as bathroom features or on splashbacks
thanks to their easily washable surface and economical
way of introducing a splash of colour and style to any
application, the design possibilities seem to be endless
ranging from colour gradations, to patterns and artisan
designed images, to ones coated with real gold.
Traditionally glass mosaics are available on sheets so
they're easily laid; we would not expect your tiler to lay
them individually. In Australia, the mosaics mostly come
on webbed back sheets that can be cut to fit with ease.
Glass tiles tend to be either a clear, thick glass with
a painted back colour, or a fine glass with the colour
Making your tile selection can be a bit overwhelming; not only are there
the all-important aesthetics to be considered, but there are technical
aspects that can be confusing. As product knowledge is what can
separate a low-maintenance bathroom from a nightmare, or a dream
kitchen from a future renovation, we've collated some key info to aid the
decision process and ensure that you're on top of your tile tech.
WORDS Rachael Ciccarelli
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