Tiles are one of the most important materials used in the home building and renovation projects.
It’s amazing that these days you can find unlimited styles, colors, textures and finishes of tiles.
If you have gone to a tile store and felt absolutely overwhelmed, you are not alone.
The best part is that you have come to the right place.
In this article, I will explain everything you need to know about Glazed vs unglazed tiles.
- Glazed tiles have a shiny, hardened exterior and are resistant to stains and water. They offer a wide range of designs but can be slippery.
- Unglazed tiles have a more natural, earthy look and offer slip resistance and durability. They, however, require more maintenance due to their porosity.
Once you are finished reading, you will be able to decided where and when to use glazed or unglazed tiles.
Let’s get started….
This post is about Glazed vs unglazed tiles: What’s the difference.
List of Contents:
Types of Tiles:
Tiles are divided into different types based on their composition. Here are a few common kinds of tiles:
These tiles are made from natural clay that’s been heated in a firing process.
Ceramic tiles are a popular choice because they are affordable, easy to cut and install, and suitable for DIY projects.
They’re available in a variety of finishes, including gloss and matte finish.
Porcelain tiles are also made from clay but they are fired at extremely high temperatures than ceramic tiles.
This makes them denser and more resistant to moisture.
Porcelain tiles are more durable than ceramic tiles, making them suitable for heavy traffic areas and outdoor use.
Natural Stone Tiles:
These tiles are made from natural materials like slate, granite, marble, limestone, and travertine.
They can always add a unique and luxurious feel to a space but often require more maintenance than ceramic or porcelain tiles.
Different Types of Porcelain Tiles
Full Body Porcelain Tiles:
These tiles have the same color and texture running throughout the entire body of the tile, not just on the surface of the tile. If chipped or worn, the tile will still maintain its appearance.
Glazed Porcelain Tiles:
These tiles have a coating applied to their top surface to give them a specific finish or design.
Glazed porcelain tiles are resistant to stains, scratches, and moisture.
They come in a wide variety of colors and designs.
Unglazed Porcelain Tiles:
These tiles don’t have a glazed surface. They are incredibly durable and slip-resistant, making them a great choice for commercial areas or high-traffic areas.
How are tiles Manufactured ?
Natural clay, feldspar, sand, and other raw materials are used in tile production.
These materials are ground into a fine powder, mixed with water to create a slurry, then molded into the desired shape.
The tiles are then dried to remove moisture before being fired in a kiln at high temperatures to harden and strengthen them.
Common Misconception About Tile Types
All Tiles are the Same: This is not true.
.Each type of tile has its own unique qualities, including differences in durability, moisture resistance, and aesthetic appeal.
Porcelain is a Subset of Ceramic: While porcelain is a type of ceramic, not all ceramics are porcelain.
Porcelain is made using a specific type of clay and is fired at higher temperatures, resulting in a tile that is denser and more durable than other types of ceramic.
Natural Stone Tiles are Maintenance-Free: Natural stone tiles need sealing and more care to prevent stains and damage.
They can be more porous than ceramic or porcelain tiles, making them susceptible to stains.
Tiles are Only for Floors or Bathrooms: Tiles are incredibly versatile and can be used in a variety of applications, including walls, backsplashes, countertops, and even outdoor spaces.
They are not just limited to floors or bathrooms.
Manufacturing Process: Glazed vs Unglazed Tiles
The tile manufacturing process typically involves the following stages:
Raw Materials The process begins with collecting the the raw materials. For ceramic and porcelain tiles, these usually include clay, feldspar, silica, and sand.
Batching: The raw materials are weighed according to the desired formula or recipe.
Mixing and Milling: The raw materials are mixed and then milled to the right particle size, resulting in a very fine powder.
Spray Drying: The mixture is then dried using a spray dryer to create a powder.
Forming or Shaping: The dried powder is then pressed into a mold to create the tile shape.
Drying: The molded tiles are dried to remove any excess moisture before firing.
Glazing (for glazed tiles): If the tiles are to be glazed, an additional layer of liquid glass is applied to the surface.
By doing this additional process, the glaze can add color, texture, and increase the tile’s resistance to stains, scratches, and moisture.
Firing: The tiles are fired in a kiln at very high temperatures. The exact temperature and duration of firing can be different depending on the type of tile.
Sorting and Packaging: The fired tiles are inspected for quality, sorted, and then packaged for shipping.
The Firing Process and Its Effects on the Properties of Tiles
The firing process is when tiles are fired at very high temperature.
During firing, the clay particles fuse together and any remaining water is driven off.
The higher the temperature and the longer the tiles are fired, the denser and more durable the final product will be.
For example, porcelain tiles are fired at temperatures between 2200 and 2500 degrees Fahrenheit, which makes them denser, harder, and less porous than ceramic tiles, which are typically fired at lower temperatures.
How the Glazing Process Works
The glazing process involves applying a liquid glass layer to the top layer of the tile before it is fired.
The glaze is usually tinted with color and can also contain various designs.
Once the tile is fired, the glaze melts and fuses to the surface of the tile, creating a hard, protective layer.
This layer of glaze coating not only adds aesthetic appeal, but also increases the tile’s resistance to stains, scratches, and water.
Role of Mineral Deposits, Water Absorption Rate, and Temperatures in Tile Production
Mineral Deposits: The specific mineral content of the clay and other raw materials can greatly affect the properties of the final tile. For example, the amount of iron in the clay can affect the color of the tile.
Water Absorption Rate: The water absorption rate is determined by the porosity of the tile, which very much depends on the type of clay used and the firing process.
Tiles with a lower water absorption rate are less likely to crack due to freezing and thawing, making them suitable for outdoor use.
Temperatures: The firing temperature plays an important role in determining the hardness and durability of the tile.
Higher temperatures result in a denser tile.
That’s why porcelain floor tiles, which are fired at higher temperatures than ceramic tiles, are more durable and less porous.
Physical Characteristics: Glazed vs Unglazed Tiles
Glazed tiles have a glossy or matte coating on the top that can be made in wide range of colors and patterns.
This surface is glass-like, making it smooth to touch and often shiny in appearance.
Unglazed tiles, on the other hand, do not have this coating.
Their surface is the same as the body of the tile, giving them a more natural, earthy appearance.
The texture of unglazed tiles can range from smooth to rough, depending on the specific tile.
Both glazed and unglazed tiles are durable and resistant to abrasion.
Abrasion resistance is a measure of how well a tile can stand up to wear and tear.
However, the glazed layer on glazed tiles can wear over time with heavy traffic, potentially exposing the body of the tile.
This isn’t a problem with unglazed full-body porcelain tiles, as their color and pattern run through the entire tile.
Differences in Look and Feel
Matte Finish vs Glossy Finish: Glazed tiles can have either a matte or glossy finish.
A matt finish has a flat, non-reflective surface, while a glossy finish has a shiny, reflective surface.
Unglazed tiles generally have a matte appearance due to the absence of the glaze.
Unglazed tiles tend to have a more earthy, natural look because their color comes from the clay, minerals, and other raw materials used to make them.
Glazed tiles can also have an earthy appearance, but their look can be manipulated through the glaze to create a wider range of colors and patterns.
Glazed tiles have a wider color range because the glaze can be tinted to any color.
Unglazed tiles are limited to the natural colors of the clay and other raw materials.
The Role of a Protective Coating or Glaze in Stain Resistance
Glazed porcelain tile’s durability is more than the unglazed tiles.
The glaze forms a protective layer that is resistant to stains, scratches and moisture.
This makes glazed tiles easy to clean and maintain. Interior designers love using glazed tiles in their residential project.
Unglazed tiles, on the other hand, are more prone to staining because they do not have this protective barrier.
However, they can be sealed to improve their resistance to stains.
Despite this, unglazed tiles often hide stains and wear better than glazed tiles due to their color running through the entire body of the tile.
Where to Use Glazed vs Unglazed Tiles
Where to Use Glazed Tiles
You can use glazed tiles in the following areas:
Residential Spaces: These tiles are an excellent choice for residential areas like kitchens, bathrooms, laundry rooms and living rooms as they are available in so many great options in color and pattern.
Since they are moisture & stain resistant, these are a better choice for these areas.
Commercial Spaces: In commercial applications where design and looks are important, such as offices, restaurants, and retail stores, glazed tiles are a very good option..
Wet Areas: The waterproof quality of glazed tiles makes them ideal for wet areas, such as bathrooms, showers, and backsplashes in kitchens.
Where to use Unglazed Tiles
Unglazed tiles, due to their durability and slip-resistance, are perfect for the following areas:
Outdoor Use: Unglazed tiles are excellent for outdoor use because of their durability and higher slip resistance.
They’re suitable for patios, walkways, pool surrounds and other outdoor areas.
High-Traffic Areas: The durability of unglazed tiles makes them ideal for high-traffic areas in both residential and commercial settings, like entryways and hallways.
Heavy Foot Traffic Commercial Areas: In commercial areas with heavy foot traffic, such as malls or airports, unglazed tiles are a good choice due to their durability and ability to hide wear and tear.
Pros and Cons: Glazed vs Unglazed Tiles
Here is a chart for you to compare pros & Cons of glazed vs unglazed tiles.
How to select the Best tile type
When you are choosing the right tile for your project, you should consider the following factors:
Durability Needs: If the tile will be placed in a high-traffic or outdoor area, opt for a more durable tile like unglazed porcelain.
Aesthetic Preferences: Consider the look you want to achieve. Glazed tiles come in unlimited array of colors and designs, while unglazed tiles offer a more natural, earthy look.
Maintenance Requirements: Glazed tiles are typically easier to clean because of their protective coating, but unglazed tiles may hide dirt and wear better.
Safety Needs: If slip resistance is a concern, such as in a bathroom or outdoor area, unglazed tiles are generally a better choice.
Budget: Finally, consider your budget. The cost can vary greatly depending on the type of tile, with options available for every budget.
Where should I use glazed tiles?
Glazed tiles are ideal for areas that need to be easy to clean and resistant to stains and water, like kitchens, bathrooms, and commercial spaces.
Where are unglazed tiles most suitable?
Unglazed tiles are great for outdoor spaces like patios and pool decks due to their slip resistance. They’re also suitable for commercial areas with heavy foot traffic.
Do unglazed tiles require more maintenance?
Yes, unglazed tiles can absorb water and stains, so they require regular sealing to keep them in good condition.
Can I use glazed tiles outdoors?
While it’s possible to use glazed tiles outdoors, it’s important to consider their slipperiness, especially in wet conditions.
Disclaimer : The information in this post is for general informational purposes only. The author and publisher are not responsible for any damage, injury, or loss that may occur from using the information provided .Readers should follow safety guidelines and take necessary precautions as listed by the tile manufacturer & general contractors.
This post was about Glazed vs unglazed tiles: What’s the difference.
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