BLOG - Tile finishes & Surfaces
Before deciding on the tile finish you like, require or are bound to use as required by Australian Standards we need to look at available finishes on floor tiles, and what they mean. Some finishes are required for specific areas (eg.to provide an anti-slip finish) whereas other finishes are for ease of cleaning, or to improve the aesthetic of the tile. In some circumstances the desired finish is not appropriate, and knowing your options will help to alleviate incorrect decisions.
Floor tile finishes can be categorised into the following broad categories:
- High Gloss - Smooth, high gloss, glazed tiles are easy to clean and reflect a lot of light. This reflection also means that dust, dirt, fluff etc. is also easily visible on the surface. These tiles are only for indoor use. It is not advisable to use gloss glazed tiles in wet areas, due to the slippery nature of the glaze when wet. Gloss glazed tiles scratch over time and a wear trail will form in high use areas such as hallways or doorways. A "shoes-off" policy will assist longevity of your tile surface, at the least ensure mats are at front and back doors to catch and trap dirt from shoes.
- Polished - Smooth, polished unglazed tiles are easy to clean and reflect a lot of light. This reflection also means that dust, dirt, fluff etc. is also easily visible on the surface. These tiles are only for indoor use. Optical hazing is a characteristic of polished unglazed tiles. These tiles are NOT supposed to have mirror finishes.
- Lappato - Lappato tiles, or semi polished tiles are heavily-textured indoor tiles that have been glazed and then polished just on the surface of the texture to create a patchwork of polished (or gloss) and unpolished (or matt) surface area. This is often considered the best of both worlds with some light reflection from the polished areas, providing a lighter feel to the area, while also breaking up a full gloss finish that would show the dirt. They are also not slippery, like a gloss glazed tile, and are therefore suitable for indoor wet areas (like bathroom floors). The lappato finishes are many and varied; some are quite rough (yet are generally not slip tested, therefore not suitable for areas requiring slip rated tiles such as around pools, or commercial areas) and others are very smooth to touch, but just dimpled enough to allow the polished/unpolished look. Some have a 50/50% polished/unpolished surface and some have more polished area, this is determined by the manufacturer and the processes they use as well as the look they wish to achieve.
- Low Sheen (Satin) - Low sheen tiles are an indoor tile and have a slightly glossier glaze than a matt tile, are still very easy to clean but do not have the downside associated with gloss tiles of showing dirt on the surface. Low sheen tiles still reflect light, providing assistance particularly in darker areas. The glaze is generally more robust than a high gloss and not as prone to scratch. They are appropriate to use in wet areas.
- Honed - Honed tiles are unglazed tiles that are polished only until the finish is an extremely smooth surface, yet stopping just before the actual polishing gloss finish. Honed tiles are easy to clean but do not reflect light particularly. Often the abrasion marks can be seen in the surface of the tile, this is considered a normal characteristic and not a flaw.
- Matt - Matt tiles are the most common form of floor tile. Their surface is less prone to the visual effects of scratching; they hide dirt well and are a great compromise between slip resistance and the ability to easily clean the tile surface. Some matt tiles will have surface texture that is not associated with anti-slip properties; this is to provide enhanced visual and sensual aesthetic. This may be in the form of raised lumps to provide timber-like look, or other textures to replicate surfaces of stone, or just to provide contours enhancing the visual appeal.
- -Anti-slip R10 - Anti-slip R10 rated tiles have a rougher surface than a standard matt tile (they are still matt in finish) and are used where slip is considered an issue. This is governed by Australian Standards in commercial areas. The other areas that they are often used are sometimes just good sense (e.g. In a bathroom/shower where older family members may be more prone to slips and falls). It is important to note that the more surface texture, the more grip (generally) and therefore the harder the tile surface will be to clean, this is a known factor in commercial areas and they factor this in and utilise industrial technology to assist. In the domestic environment it may mean manual scrubbing of the floor to ensure cleanliness.
- -Anti slip R11 - Anti-slip R11 rated floor tiles are the minimum mandated around domestic pools as well as various commercial flooring applications. This is also considered good practice for any outdoor tiled areas around your home to improve safety. This level of surface texture will be quite difficult to clean; often the easiest way at home is with a water pressure cleaning machine. In this category there are often many textures available and this will enhance the selection process.
- Anti-slip R12 - Anti-slip R12 and above rated tiles are for hazardous areas, often specified by architects in conjunction with Australian Standards. These tiles are also often used as features due to their coarse surface providing a large contrast (this could be in a floor or wall)
Mixing of the same coloured tile in different finishes is a very effective decorative tool, a lot of unglazed porcelain tile comes in various finishes and mixing two or three finishes in various combinations or spot inserts can provide a great feature without introducing other colours.
Where a patterned tile is manufactured in several different finishes, a gloss tile will show the most pattern of all the finishes, therefore when using the same tile in different finishes in a building (eg. gloss main floor and anti-slip alfresco tile) the tile will be similar in colour in the different finishes but will not look exactly the same due to difference in light reflection.
Each product has its unique characteristics and we have been very general in our approach, it is therefore recommended that you speak to the experts on tile flooring at Complete Tiles & Stone to further confirm the appropriate product and finished look for you.
And most of all...enjoy the whole experience!
Read the next blog article : DIY or Tradie?