Tips for Tile Product Selection

Our biggest tip is - Order your tiles first and ensure that you will have them on time prior to organizing for the tiler to come and lay them.  We DO NOT keep everything displayed at our Brisbane tile showroom in stock at our own warehouse.  Most items that are in stock at our suppliers in Brisbane will only take 3-4 days to get, anything that has to come from interstate may take up to 10 days to get. A product you like may be in manufacture and temporarily unavailable so select early and secure product, this then gives you the freedom to select products based on availability and timeframes, rather than having to select a less desirable product due to rushed timeframes.  

Your area

Take note of measurements of the area, placement of permanent fixtures in the area and the amount and direction of any light (natural and artificial). These basic outlines will help our design staff ensure that your product selection enhances the good points of your space, whilst helping to disguise less desirable aspects.  We can ensure that you get the best value out of decorator tiles by ensuring that they are in the best areas for your room design.  We also stock ranges of trims, soap dishes, recessed shampoo niches and footrests and many other accessories that will add that 'little extra something' to your job.

Advantages and Disadvantages of different products for different areas 

With a dazzling array of different products available these days, it helps to know some basic information in order to narrow your choices down to appropriate tiles and stone products.

Porcelain (unglazed)



  • Harder, more robust tiles. Much more scratch-resistant.
  • Smaller grout joints.
  • Polished types are far less slippery when wet. Matt finishes are generally slip-rated (anti-slip).
  • Colour Consistency
  • Most surface types are generally easy to clean.
  • Great for both walls and floors in all areas, including exterior
  • May need to be sealed prior to use.
  • Nearly always has rectified edges which are much less forgiving of substrates that are not level. A level substrate is important with these tiles to ensure an excellent finished look. If your floor is not level, it would be best to investigate some floor preparation prior to deciding on these tiles.
  • Good quality porcelain can be relatively expensive to buy. Beware of more inexpensive types (especially in polished finishes).

Stone (All Types)



  • As it is a natural product, stone is the only product with a wide variety of pattern/colour in each piece. For a natural look, nothing beats it. Looks great next to timbers and other natural products.
  • Most types have surfaces that offer some slip-resistance.
  • Never goes out of style - marbles, travertines, sandstones and granites have been consistently used as a finishing product since the Romans and Egyptians!
  • Great for both walls and floors if the appropriate type is used.
  • Interior and exterior use.
  • Each type of stone has different properties and care must be taken to ensure that the type you have is appropriate for the situation.
  • Inconsistent colour, pattern and sizing. Even stone taken from the same quarry at the same time will look different in each piece.
  • Most stone will need sealing.
  • Due to high porosity, some are prone to grow moulds in permanently damp areas.
  • Stone with rougher surface textures can be difficult to clean. Some types will need to be laid with larger grout joints (due to inconsistent sizing), sometimes up to 10mm, and this can be difficult to clean also.

Glazed Ceramics (Including glazed porcelain)



  • Consistent size, colour and pattern (if all purchased in the same shade/batch).
  • Ceramics with pressed edges are much more forgiving of substrates that are not completely flat or level.
  • Glazed surface prevents staining. Never need sealing.
  • Pressed edges are generally easier for the DIY person to lay.
  • Often less expensive to buy.
  • Larger range of colours, patterns, surfaces and sizes.
  • Most are easy to clean.
  • Use for wall and floor, internal and external (ensure that you have the appropriate type for your application).
  • Disadvantages - All glazed ceramics (excluding exterior finishes) are slippery when wet. The higher the gloss, the more slippery they will be.
  • When chipped or cracked, these marks can be very evident.
  • Glazes will scratch/mark more easily.
  • Matching tiles in different sizes may show distinct colour variation.
  • Sizing is not as precise in the pressed edge styles (may be 1-2mm variation in size) e.g. a 200mm tile may only actually measure 198mm.

Terracotta (extruded unglazed)



  • Gives a rustic-style look due to variation in size. Great for old Tuscan-villa style looks.
  • Naturally anti-slip.
  • Can be used on wall & floor.
  • Porous, needs to be sealed.
  • Size & shape variation.
  • Colour variation.
  • Can be difficult to clean, especially if stained.





  • Easy to clean
  • Larger variety of colours available.
  • Large range of surfaces available.
  • Fragile - most glass is for use in walls only. Can be difficult to cut and lay. Some larger format glass tiles are not recommended for cutting at all.
  • Can be costly in larger areas.


Tile products for specialised applications


Appropriate Products


  • Many types of glazed floor tiles,
  • Glass and glass mosaic,
  • Glazed ceramic mosaics


  • Ensure that any meshed products i.e. glass and ceramic mosaics are pool-rated. If they are not, there may not be enough adhesive contact with the back of the tiles and they may fall off when constantly submerged.
  • Do not use high gloss surfaces on steps/swimouts as they will be very slippery and swimmers may injure themselves in a fall.
  • When using glazed tiles, it is unwise to use tiles with metallic surfaces. Most of these will oxidize (rust) when submerged.
  • Most stone is inappropriate for use in submerged pool use as they are porous and will stain and react with pool chemicals.

Exterior E.g. Patios, Pool Surrounds etc.

Appropriate Products


  • For safety reasons it is advisable to use anti-slip tiles and surfaces in most exterior floor applications.
  • Around pools and in areas which are subject to frequent large amounts of water, choose an anti-slip tile with a higher slip rating.
  • Appropriate products include porcelain (matt or rock finishes only), glazed ceramics with a special anti-slip surface, unglazed ceramic mosaics, most types of stone (use penetrating sealers so that the surface remains slip-resistant) and terracotta.
  • Complete Tiles and Stone DO NOT recommend the use of any interior finish floor tiles for exterior applications. Even under patio roofs will get wet occasionally, and may become a dangerous slip hazard.
  • Complete Tiles and Stone DO NOT recommend the use of any paint/spray on anti-slip treatments. Some of these treatments damage the glaze on tiles. This may change the colour of the tiles and void any manufacturer's warranty on the product.

Exterior Claddings - Appropriate Products

Appropriate Products


  • Many types of glazed and unglazed tiles are appropriate for use as exterior claddings.
  • Stone may also be used in many different formats - tiles, random slabs, stackstone, mosaics etc. We recommend that you seal most stone in exterior situations to ensure that the stone does not absorb any contaminants.
  • Concrete wall cladding blocks - come in a variety of formats.
  • Seek advice on appropriate tiles for exterior cladding
  • Seek advice from builder re: stone cladding. Some of these products will require reinforcement of standard walls to bear the weight of the product.
  • Complete Tiles and Stone recommends that you have these products installed by a licensed contractor. They often require special fixing materials, and some stones are extremely heavy.
  • Be aware of the different properties of different types of stone e.g. darker stackstones may weep rust stains over time when exposed to weather


Finding an Installer

A good tiler and installer is critical in a great finished product.  Some tips for finding a reputable installer are: 

  • Get written quotes. Ensure when you get quotes that you understand exactly what is, and isn't included in the quote. A good installer will normally give you a complete price for the job, including any necessary preparation. If you are unclear, ask questions.
  • Ensure the installer that is quoting knows exactly what product you plan to use. Different products (e.g. porcelain, rectified products and stone) will cost more to lay than standard-sized glazed ceramics. If you wish to have matching, or non-standard grout, please ensure that the installer knows prior to quoting.
  • The cheapest quote is not always the best. Check inclusions and exclusions.
  • Ask for references. Installers may also have photos of previously completed work.
  • Most importantly - Check that the installer has a current QBCC licence. If the contractor is not licensed, you will NOT be eligible for QBCC representation in the event that problems occur with the installation. Licensed contractors are required to give a 6 year guarantee on all work. To check if licences are current go to and look up the License Search page.

Make sure that you receive a paid-in-full invoice on completion of the job.



What is a porcelain tile?

Porcelain tiles are merely a form of ceramic tile. Whilst the preperation of both types of tiles is similar, it is the pressing and firing process which results in the porcelain tiles having the superior characteristics of being much stronger and less porous with a water absorption rate of 0.5% or less.

What are the main types of porcelain tile?
a. Polished, honed or semi polished: as the name suggests, an elaborate technique is used to finish the tile after the firing process. Generally, this process means that the tile must be sealed, unless otherwise stated by the manufacturer. A polished surface is not actually a glaze, so do not be fooled into thinking that polished porcelain is glazed.
b. Glazed porcelain: various techniques are employed by different manufacturers to glaze a tile. Once a porcelain tile has been glazed no further treatment is required in the sense that these tiles are considered non-porous.
c. Matt, or natural porcelain: generally speaking, this type of product comes out of the kiln in this form and undergoes no further processing. Normally, sealing is not required.
d. Rock finish or structured porcelain: This type of porcelain is extremely textured and quite often used for external purposes. Normally sealing is not required.

Sealing Porcelain Tiles:
a. First and foremost, you should ask your tile merchant whether the product you have purchased requires sealing. You then need to determine what kind of sealer is best suited to your porcelain tile. Generally, the sealing of porcelain tiles is seen as an aid to the prevention of staining. As a rule, due to low levels of porosity found in porcelain tiles, it is generally accepted that a penetrating sealer be used for this purpose. Normally it is polished porcelain that requires sealing, as the process of polishing can cause minute surface micro pores.
b. Pre sealing, prior to grouting, should generally be carried out where dark coloured grout is to be used on porous tiles. This will ensure that the grout colour does not bleed into the tile. In some instances, you may wish to pre-seal dark porcelain tiles where light grout is to be used.

Cleaning Wax Residue From Your Tiles:
In the production process, wax is often added to the surface of the tile to protect it, to keep it clean and to keep it safe from scratching when in transit. There are various effective products on the market to clean this residue from the surface of your tiles and you should ask your merchant which product is best suited to your porcelain.

Laying Your Porcelain Tiles:
In all cases, the appropriate type of adhesive must be used. The substrate must also be adequate for the material to be used, that is, the flatness of the surface is paramount. If not, tile lipping may occur. In the case of floors, uneven surfaces may be leveled out with the use of a floor leveler. Your tile fixer will be able to guide you through any concerns you might have, so don't be afraid to ask questions.

Cleaning and Maintenance:
a. Once again, it is best to ask your supplier what kinds of products should be used to clean and maintain your porcelain. Significantly, different types of stains may require different cleaning products and/or cleaning procedures. If you are unsure of what type of cleaner is most suited to your porcelain tiles, it is recommended that a spot test be carried out with a general purpose cleaner in the first instance. Your tile merchant should be able to assist with the selection of the most suitable type of cleaner.
b. With regard to maintenance and sealing, a good quality sealer should last 5 to 10 years. This can be ascertained from the manufacturer of the sealant used.

During manufacturing, this is a process whereby porcelain tiles are cut, generally with a watered diamond blade, to ensure that all tiles are consistent in size.

Cost of Laying
In many cases, the end result of laid porcelain requires a very straight and level surface or substrate . Some tilers will therefore charge a higher rate for laying and leveling of porcelain, if the substrate is uneven due to the extra work and material required.

It is recommended that a qualified tile layer be used for any tile laying job.