Take a closer look at porcelain tiles
Porcelain works well on a kitchen floor where demands for performance are high
The beauty of porcelain tiles lies in the many colours, patterns and styles available – all made possible because of high-definition digital ink printing. Colours don’t fade, and distinct pattern details and designs mean they often look like real wood or stone.
SHOW OF STRENGTH
Porcelain tiles are made from a more refined and purified clay than ceramic tiles, and are fired at higher temperatures to produce a denser, harder tile that’s longlasting and less porous. As they absorb very little water, they’re ideal for kitchens and bathrooms. The non-porous surface is also stain resistant and can withstand freezing temperatures, so tiles can be used outside – perfect for achieving a seamless indoor-outdoor flow. As the surface is so durable, it’s less likely to scratch or chip so suits households with children and pets, as well as high-traffic areas, such as hallways.
The top surface of glazed porcelain tiles is coated with a design or colour with a gloss, matt or textured finish that’s impervious to staining and water. When unglazed, the colour and pattern penetrates the entire tile.
This is a good option where there’s heavy footfall, as scuffs or a chip are less noticeable. It can also be left natural, textured for slip-resistance, or polished with abrasive heads for a shiny finish.
Make sure the tiles are appropriate for their use. The Porcelain Enamel Institute (PEI) rating identifies tile suitability in the home, ranging from PEI 0 for wall tiles to PEI 5 for heavy traffic. Walls need to be sound enough to carry the load; if not, a tile-backer board should be fitted. Porcelain can be tiled directly onto screed or timber floors that have been braced with plywood. They’re good heat conductors, but antifracture matting should be put down before tiling is laid over underfloor heating.
Some porcelain tiles come pre-sealed. If not, applying a sealer when the tiles have been laid, before and after grouting, will give best protection. Use the correct sealant for the tile finish and re-seal every five years. Clean with warm water and a pH-neutral cleaner. Acidic spills like juice can break down the sealer so reapply after cleaning.
Turn to p174 for advice on laying floor tiles
Walls and Floors Online company with more than 1,600 porcelain tiles in over 200 different ranges and often discounted. 01536 314730; wallsandfloors.co.uk
Porcelain Superstore Lots of options for porcelain tiles that mimic natural stone or wood.
Stone & Ceramic
Warehouse Offers a good choice of large format porcelain tiles and slabs.
020 8993 5545; sacw.co.uk
Floors of Stone Classic porcelain floor tiles mainly in a matt finish and in subtle neutral tones. 01509 234000; floorsofstone.com
Luna Grey chevron porcelain floor tiles (9.5 x 54cm), £90 a sq metre, Stone & Ceramic Warehouse