Ceramic Tile Formats
In addition to differences in materials and methods of manufacturing, tile (especially ceramic and other hard-bodied varieties) comes in many formats. Format can affect where you choose to use tile and how you install it. Tile formats fall into two broad categories: loose tiles and sheet-mounted tiles.
Loose tile requires each piece to be individually set and consistently spaced. The term loose tile has broad applications. Every type of tile comes in loose formats, but some have limited application. You can set most loose tiles in either organic mastic or thinset mortar -- some, however, require thinset mortar.
Sheet-mounted tiles come prespaced and mounted on various kinds of backings. These time-saving tiles are usually vitreous and smaller than 4 inches
Face-mounted tiles are held together with a removable sheet of paper that remains in place until you set the sheet of tiles and the mortar cures. Moistening the paper allows for easy removal.
Back-mounted tiles are joined with paper or a plastic mesh that stays in place when you set the tile.
Dot-mounted tiles are fastened to each other with plastic or rubber dots on the sides of the tiles. The dots remain in place when the tile is installed.
Any tile less than 2-inches wide falls into the mosaic category. Once set by hand and now almost always sheet-mounted, mosaics are made of porcelain, clay, or glass. Individual tiles are manufactured in 1/4- to 2-inch squares, rectangles, or hexagons that range from 3/32 to 1/4 inch thick. Glass tile mosaics are usually limited to 1-inch squares. Mosaics are sold in a variety of colors and patterns. Most are unglazed, but glazed varieties are available.
Pavers are loose clay, shale, or porcelain tiles at least 1/2 inch thick and designed primarily for floors. Certain types also make suitable wall or countertop surfaces.
Handmade pavers, both glazed and unglazed, are nonvitreous. Some are as much as 2 inches thick; most come in 4- to 24-inch squares. You can set handmade pavers on walls, but their porosity prohibits use in shower enclosures and on countertops. Both machine-made and handmade pavers are set in thinset mortar. Rough-textured tile requires additional mortar on the back (a process called back-buttering) so it will adhere more securely. All unglazed tiles should be sealed.
Brick-veneer tile is manufactured several different ways. Some are real brick cut in thin cross sections. Other coarsely textured varieties are made from clays similar to those used in tile production, but they are fired at lower temperatures. And some brick-veneer is actually a cement-bodied tile.
You can set brick veneer in both outdoor and indoor locations with wet or dry conditions. Brick veneer in shower walls and tub surrounds, however, will prove almost impossible to clean, and the low durability of imitation brick generally limits its use to wall installations. Brick veneer is set in either organic mastic or thinset mortar; the latter is required for outdoor use.
Glazed wall tile
Glazed wall tiles -- usually nonvitreous with a soft glaze -- are made specifically for walls. Although, you can use many floor tiles successfully on walls, too. Wall tiles are usually 1/4 inch thick and fired in 4-1/4- and 6-inch squares; larger sizes also are available. When installed with a waterproofing membrane, they are suitable for wet locations such as shower and tub surrounds. They are set in either organic mastic or thinset mortar.
- Tile Design Principles & Ideas: Color, Patterns & Texture
- Planning Your Tile Installation
- Preparing Surfaces for Tiling
- Mastering Tile Installation Techniques
- Tiling Floors, Walls & Countertops
- Tiling Special Spaces
- Tiling Decorative Accents
- Tiling Bathrooms: How to Tile Bathroom Features
- Tiling Outdoor Projects
- Installing Resilient & Parquet Tile
- Installing Laminate, Cork & Carpet Tiles
- Tile Repair & Maintenance