Tile & DIY Info

Know what you’re doing.

Quality starts with knowing your tiles.

Getting your tile choice and DIY work right is all about knowing the options. So here’s a guide to help understand everything about tiles—from identifying the right shade variations or slip ratings, to installation guides and more.

Why Choose Tiles

The Qualities and Benefits of Tiles (Ceramic & Porcelain)

SAFE

Tiles are safe materials that come from the earth, they don’t contain any plastic, and are completely recyclable. They don’t release VOC’s (Volatile Organic Compounds) or Radon and do not contain formaldehyde or asbestos.

HYGIENIC

Tiles are one of the most hygienic materials. They are odourless and are easily cleaned with common household products. A perfect solution for people who suffer allergies and asthma.

VERSATILE

Tiles are available in an infinite variety of sizes and surface finishes. They are suitable for any environment, ideal for floors and walls, worktops and tables.

LONG-LASTING

Tiles are durable, UV-resistant and unalterable materials that can be easily cleaned, and do not degrade over time.

DOES NOT BURN

In the event of a fire, tiles do not give off substances that are harmful to people or to the environment, because they simply do not burn.

RESISTANT

Tiles are strong materials that do not change shape. They are frost resistant, and they stand up to the most aggressive chemical detergents.

PET FRIENDLY

Tiles are a gentle surface for pets and scratch resistant to their claws. Tiles are also very easy to clean any little accidents pets may leave behind.

LOW MAINTENANCE

Tiles require very little upkeep and are easy to clean, saving time on household chores.

WATERPROOF

Tiles are durable and their glaze makes them the ideal waterproof flooring. Tiles are the perfect solution, not only for wet areas (such as bathrooms and kitchens), but for other areas that may induce accidental spill, from children, pets and parties (lounge, dining and bedrooms).

UNDERFLOOR HEATING COMPATIBLE

Underfloor heating is an amazing solution to those cold winters, to keep our toes warm. Under tile heating is more effective than most other flooring solutions, because it has good thermal conductivity. Tiles heat up quicker, give off more heat and is more efficient to run.

A Guide to Tiles

Types of Tiles:

  • Ceramic Tiles
  • Porcelain Tiles
  • Stone Tiles
  • Glass Tiles

What is a Porcelain Tile?

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

What are the Types of Porcelain Tiles?

Glazed

Glazed Tiles have a surface that is covered by a coloured layer of glaze. This gives tiles important design characteristics such as colour, texture, decoration, shades of colour etc. And technical characteristics such as hardness, impermeability to water etc. Once a porcelain tile has been glazed, no further treatment is required, in the sense that these tiles are considered non porous. All these characteristics, both technical and aesthetic, depend on the type of glaze and may vary greatly.

Unglazed & Polished Porcelain Tiles

Unglazed tiles, are perfectly uniform both in surface and in thickness, and normally have no decoration or patterns. Unglazed tiles comes in many finishes including Polished porcelain tiles. It is therefore recom­mended that (unless you are advised otherwise) these tiles should be sealed.

What Are the Finishes of Porcelain Tiles?

Tiles that are glazed or unglazed have the following finishes: 
    • Polished / Gloss: as the name suggests, an elaborate technique is used to finish the tile after the firing process. High quality porcelain or glazed porcelain does not require any further treatment after polishing. Some lower density polished porcelain tiles must be sealed, depending on the manufacturer. A polished surface is not a glaze, so do not be fooled into thinking that polished porcelain is glazed.
    • Semi Polished (Lappato): the lappato finish will differ in look and feel depending on the manufacturer 
    • Matt & Honed porcelain: a flat and smooth finish

    • Grip, Rock, & Structured porcelain: this type of porcelain is textured and often used for external purposes

Does My Porcelain Tile Require Sealing? (Non-glazed tiles only)

    • First and foremost you should ask your tile merchant whether the product you have purchased requires sealing. Then you need to determine what kind of sealer is best suited to your porcelain tile. Generally, the sealing of porcelain tiles is seen as an aide to the prevention of staining. As a rule, due to the low levels of porosity found in porcelain tiles, it is generally accepted that a penetrating sealer be used. Normally it is polished porcelain that requires sealing due to the polishing process causing minute micro pores.

    • Some manufacturers pre-seal their products in readiness to the laying process, if your porcelain is not pre-sealed then 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 colour grout 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.

Types of Tile Edges

Rectified

Near-perfect straight edges and exact dimensions. These tiles provide a very clean, symmetrical look, and allow for extremely fine grout lines of 3mm or less. Laying rectified tiles is a slower process than laying traditional “pressed” edge tiles and may also cost more even though they are straight edge. If you are going to lay rectified tiles, we recommend you also use a levelling system to insure a level finishes free of lippage.

Pressed

Pressed edged tiles or cushion edged tiles have a “rolled” edge which means the grout joint will be larger than a rectified tiles as the tiles cannot be laid as closely together. The cost to install these is generally less than rectified tiles.

Summary

Rectified tiles may take longer and be slightly more expensive to lay, however they aesthetic appeal of the smaller grout joints in conjunction with the use of a proper levelling system to ensure a perfect job, will far outweigh any cost. It will also allow you to better line up grout joints to create a seamless floor tile or wall tile design.

Standard Tolerances

Most dust pressed tiles have a tolerance of + or – 0.5% of its length and width.  Many manufacturers, however, grade their tiles by size (calibre) to much tighter tolerances than allowed.  It is not unusual for a 330 x 330mm floor tile to only vary 1mm in a batch when the standards allow a tolerance up to 3mm.


Tile Ratings

Tile Shade Variation
There are two main types of shade variation: Batch Variation (variations between production runs) and Unique Variation (intentional variations manufactured into the tile).

Batch Variation

Tile shade variation is part of the porcelain and ceramic tile manufacturing process. It is not a defect. Almost every porcelain and ceramic tile has some degree of variation, even in the same production run (batch). The shades of the tiles may be similar to those from previous batches, but they’re unlikely to be the same. It’s therefore best to buy all material to be installed at the same time.

Ideally tiles from different batches shouldn’t be laid together. If for some reason they must be, then it’s wise to carefully compare tiles from each batch before installation.

Please note: In-store display tiles are an indication of the tile. Colour and design my vary between sample and actual tiles supplied.

Unique Variation

Tile printing technology is always advancing, meaning there are now greater ranges in patterns and shades incorporated into tile design. Tiles imitate natural materials like stone, timber or marble—all of which vary substantially in appearance, and often have a unique look.

Tile shade variation ratings indicate the degree to which a tile’s colour, tone and texture vary among individual tiles. Tile shade variations are categorised from V0 – V4, and are usually detailed in the product’s technical specifications. See Tile Variation Categories below for more details. When choosing your tiles, we recommend checking the shade variation rating, if available. We also recommend you dry lay V3 and V4 tiles prior to installation—to make sure you’re happy with the range of variation, and the overall look.

Tile Variation Categories:

Tile Shade Variation - V0
V0 = Very Uniform Appearance

Pieces of the same shade value are very uniform and smooth in texture, with little or no variation.

Tile Shade Variation - V1
V1 = Uniform Appearance

Differences among pieces from the same production run (batch) are minimal.

Tile Shade Variation - V2
V2 = Slight Variation

Clearly distinguishable differences in texture and/or pattern within similar colours.

Tile Shade Variation - V3
V3 = Moderate Variation

While the colours and/or texture present on a single piece of tile will be indicative of the colours and/or texture to be expected on the other tiles, the amount of colours and/or texture on each piece may vary significantly. It is recommended that the range be viewed before selection.

Tile Shade Variation - V4
V4 = Substantial Variation

Random colour and/or texture differences from tile to tile, so that one tile may have totally different colours and/or texture from that on other tiles. Thus, the final installation will be unique. It is recommended that the range be viewed before selection.

Tile Slip Ratings
Nothing beats tiles for flooring, their hardness, smoothness, and water resistance are powerful features. But not all tiles are created equally smooth, so choosing the wrong tiles can mean a slippery wet area.

Slip ratings help us all make safe choices for tiles that suit our areas, from pools to kitchens, bathrooms to laundries and more.

The slip ratings below, all in accordance with Australian standards, help select the safest tiles for public buildings and contexts, when public safety is a priority.

Pendulum Test (P0 – P5)

The Pendulum Test measures resistance to friction between two surfaces—in this case a wet tile and a foot-shaped object fitted with a rubber slider. It takes its name from being mounted on a pendulum arm, which imitates a standard shoe sole striking a wet tile.

Pendulum ClassificationSkid Resistance Value (SRV)Slip Risk
P0Below 12Very High
P112-24Very High
P225-34High
P334-44Moderate
P445-54Low
P5Over 54Very Low

Oil-Wet Ramp Test (R9 – R13)

This test sees tiles laid on a ramp with lubricating oil applied to them. Testers walk on the sloped tiles to pinpoint the exact angle at which the tiles become unsafe—and this angle determines the degree of slip resistance.

Slip ResistanceCorrected Mean Acceptance Angle (degrees)Slip Risk
R96-10Very High
R1010-19High
R1119-27Moderate
R1227-35Low
R13Over 35Very Low

Slip Resistance Requirements For Residential Flooring

The Australian Building Code and Australian Standards mandate slip rated flooring in residential buildings only apply to the following areas:

  • Stair nosings
  • Stair landings
  • Ramps (rarely used in residential homes)

A residential building that does not have tiles in any of the above areas has no requirement for slip resistant flooring.

Slip Resistance Requirements For Commercial Flooring

LocationRamp
External colonnade, walkway and pedestrian crossingsR10
External rampsR11
Entry foyers hotel, office, public buildings - wetR10
Entry foyers hotel, office, public buildings - dryR9
Shopping centre - excluding food courtR9
Shopping centre - food courtR10
Internal ramps, slopes (greater than 2 degrees) - dryR10
Lift lobbies above external entry levelR9
Other seperate shops inside shopping centresR9
Other shops with external entrances - entry areaR10
Fast food outlets, buffet food servery areasR10
Hospitals and aged care facilities - dry areasR9
Hospitals and aged care facilities - ensuitesA or R10
Supermarket aisles - except fresh food areasR9
Shop and supermarket fresh fruit and vegetable areasR10
Communal changing roomsA
Swimming pool surrounds and communal shower roomsB
Swimming pool ramps and stairs leading into waterC
Toilet facilities in offices, hotels, shopping centresR10
Undercover concourse areas of sports stadiumsR10
Accessible internal stair nosings (dry) - handrails presentR10
Accessible internal stair nosings (wet) - handrails presentB or R11
External star nosingsR11
NOTE: Appropriate measures need to be taken to exclude casual water from dry areas.

Tiling

Selecting your tiler

The creation of a beautiful well completed new or renovated bathroom, kitchen or any other area with wall or floor tile installations is a very satisfying experience. To ensure that there are no expensive errors, regrets or on-going maintenance problems, and that you actually have achieved what you intended, usually requires the skill and experience of a professional tile layer.

As tile layer registration, accreditation or endorsement is not compulsory in all states in Australia, it is sometimes a concern as to who you actually choose to install your tiles.

The following steps should be of assistance.

Ask for a Written Quotation

It is very important for you to know the cost involved. A written quotation demonstrates that both parties understand what work needs to be done to achieve an excellent job. The more detail in the quote, the better, as it assists avoid disputes at a later date.

You should agree on the price prior to any work starting. Ask the tiler for their references, whether they are qualified and their trade experience.

Compare Prices

Obtain 2 or 3 quotations. This will give you a realistic idea of how much the installation should cost. Remember that price is not the only criteria and that you may only get what you pay for.

Check References

A reputable tradesperson will always allow you to make contact with 2 or 3 of their recent customers so that you can make enquiries about the quality of their work and their conduct on the job.

Ask Yourself These Questions

    • Was the tile layer easily contactable?
    • Did they arrive on time?
    • Do they appear content to do the job?
    • Do they appear to have time to do the job?
    • Was the quotation delivered on time, fairly priced and did it cover all work required?
    • Has the tile layer returned my calls?
    • Am I comfortable with this person to handle my work?

Look at the Complete Picture

Price is not everything. Lowest prices could mean poor workmanship, but the most expensive prices do not necessarily guarantee the best workmanship. Remember that workmanship includes presentation, minimum amount of inconvenience, cleanliness and overall professionalism.

If the quotation is fair, the references are good, the timing is suitable and you feel comfortable that the tile layer understands what you are trying to achieve, then choosing the right tile layer for your tile installation should be well achievable.

Choosing Your Tiles

BEFORE YOU LAY YOUR TILES CHECK THEM!

We Want You To Be Absolutely Delighted With Your Tiles. However we need you to ensure that this delivery is exactly what you want. Together, we can ensure that your tiling project is the best. Ensure you discuss the design of your project and your expectations with the tiler and that you include any special arrangements in the contract, for example, the extent of clean up required.

Please check the tiles that we have delivered. If there is any concern regarding the quality, shade or defect of the tiles supplied by us, please inform us immediately.

However ceramic tiles are a natural product and some variations can be expected in shade and size. Australian standards define the acceptable variation and imperfection allowable in any batch. 

We will not accept any claims for replacement, repair or reimbursement once tiles have been laid if that claim is for defects, size, shade variation, incorrect delivery or shortage, or any thing that should reasonably have been obvious before laying commenced. 

It is the responsibility of the tiler, builder or homeowner to check tiles before laying them. If there is any concern regarding the quality, size, colour, shade or variation of the batch on site, the tiles must NOT be laid. 

If a defect is discovered while tiles are being laid…work MUST STOP IMMEDIATELY AND YOUR SUPPLIER MUST BE CONTACTED. 

Mosaic Tiles

Due to the technical limitations in the manufacturing process, mosaic tiles are subject to greater shade variations than other ceramic tiles. Ensure that you are happy with the colour and shade variation before installing the tiles. 

Prior to laying any tiles the tiler, builder or home owner must check the following:

1. Tiles Received

That the description corresponds to clients colour selection and the client has inspected and approved the product.

2. Shade & Size

That the Shade Code (Tonality No.) and Calibre Code (Size) is the same on ALL cartons.  Arrange for your tiles to be delivered well ahead of time. Check the tone or shade markings of all the tile cartons to ensure that you have been supplied with tiles from the same batch. Open two or three cartons and inspect the tiles for correct colour and acceptable shade. Failure to do so may result in disappointment as fixing of the product constitutes acceptance of the product.

3. Quantities

Ensure that there are sufficient tiles to complete your job, as there are no guarantees that extra tiles of the same batch (colour and shade) can be supplied at a later date. If possible, order more of the same batch (tone) before work commences. It is suggested that a small quantity of extra tiles be kept on site after the job is finished. It can be very difficult to match tiles if repairs are necessary at a later date.

4. Defects

That you inspect the tiles for any defects and DO NOT LAY tiles that have visual defects.

NO CLAIMS WILL BE ACCEPTED BY THE TILE SUPPLIER AFTER TILES HAVE BEEN LAYED.

Installing Your Tiles

Laying Your 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 levelled out with the use of a floor leveller or floor screed. Your tile fixer should be able to guide you through any questions you may have, so don’t be afraid to ask.

During Laying:

As tiling commences, make sure that the light in the room being tiled is as close as possible to the perma­nent lighting. Ensure the tiler mixes tiles from three or four different boxes so as to ensure proper blending of any colour variation that may exist.

As the work progresses, take time to have periodic checks:

    • Ensure that the blend and effect is maintained and no defective tiles are laid.
    • It is highly recommended that hidden areas (under the stove, fridges, in pantries and cupboards) or detached areas (toilets and laundry floors) are tiled last so that if extra tiles are needed, batching will not be crucial.
    • Always clean adhesive, grout and wax from the surface of tiles. 

It is essential that, if you have any doubts or concerns about the job as it progresses, you stop the tiling and immediately contact your tile supplier before tiling any further.

After Laying:

Cleaning is the next step of the installation process. Ensure that the tiler removes all;

    • Wax on Porcelain – In some instances, the manufacturer will coat their tiles with a protective wax layer. You should consult your tile merchant about the timing and removal technique for the protective layer.
    • Physical protection layers – As the name suggests, this is the presence of a film on the tiles typically to protect it in transit. We would recommend this layer be removed from the tile prior to grouting in most cases, depending on the type of layer present.
    • Grout Haze / Residue – . The tiling contractor should not leave any adhesive or grout residue on the tile surface. Normally, there is a requirement for some post installation clean­ing. Damage can occur to tiles if incorrect chemicals or cleaning methods are used.
    • Ensure that any polished or honed porcelain tiles are thoroughly cleaned and then sealed. Before sealing the tiles it is essen­tial that all cementitious and wax residues be removed from the tiles. Failure to do so will result in these contaminants being trapped below the surface of the sealer.

PLEASE NOTE: In the production of tiles, certain technical limitations will occur, which may manifest themselves in the form of minor marks and blemishes. The latter are generally considered a characteristic of the tile and not a defect. Under normal lighting condi­tions these characteristic marks may not be noticeable. However, they may become obvious when highlighted by some forms of oblique lighting, for example, halogen and high illuminate white lights. All tiled surfaces should be viewed from a distance of 1.5m under non-critical light. Further, make sure your expectations have been met by inspecting the finished job whilst the tiler is still on site.

Tiling Facts

Wall Tiling

To calculate your area in square meters, multiply the length by the height of each wall to be tiled. When ordering the tiles add an extra 10% for waste & cuts. You will require an even, flat surface to tile on. Prepar­ing the walls is a vital part of the tiling process – failure to do so will result in an unsatisfactory finish. Waterproof wet areas according to the manufacturer’s specifications prior to tiling.

Floor Tiling

To calculate your area in square meters, multiply the length by the width of the room. When ordering tiles, add an extra 10% for waste & cuts (15% if laying diagonally)

New concrete is recommended to be l month old for every 25mm thickness and completely dried before tiling. It should also be a wood float finish, flat and free from dirt, dust and oils. Wooden floors must be rigid, stable and capable of the extra load without flexing. Generally an underlay will be required to tile on wooden floors.

Floor Adhesives

Generally, it is recommended to use normal or fast setting adhesives. However, always consult your tile merchant for detailed advice and always follow the manufacturer’s instructions. Mix the adhesive as per manufacturer’s instructions and spread with a notch trowel. Place each tile into the adhesive firmly with a backward and forward movement to ensure a solid bed and to prevent any voids under the tile. Be careful to remove any surplus adhesive from the surface of the tile and joints with a damp sponge/cloth.

Work in small areas of about l square metre at a time so that the tiles are fixed before the adhesive forms a skin. Occasionally use a spirit level or straight edge to check that the tiles are flat. If needed, remove and adjust the amount of adhesive, being careful not to leave it too long or the adhesive will set.

Note: Lippage is inherent in all installations and may be unavoidable due to tile tolerances.

To prevent the chance of disturbing the bonding process, do not walk on or grout floor tiles for at least 24 hour, unless a rapid set adhesive has been used. Force the grout into the joints using a grouter, removing all surplus grout from the surface with a sponge and water.

Cleaning and Maintenance of Tiles

Daily Cleaning Guidelines:

    • Sweep or vacuum loose dirt off the floor.
    • Use a proprietary cleaner, following the manufacturers instructions
    • Remove the cleaning solution with a clean mop or vacuum.
    • Rinse with clean water.
    • Remove water from the floor by drying and buffing with a dry towel or mop.

General Maintenance

    • Glazed Ceramic and Porcelain Tiles – Maintaining these surfaces can be achieved by sweeping or vacuuming and then washing the area using a specialised tile cleaning agent available from your tile merchant. Rinse surface thoroughly afterwards, using clean water. Residual streaks, detergent marks and films can be a result from excessive use of cleaning agents.
    • Unglazed Tiles – All unglazed products do have a level of surface porosity which usually means more attention is required to retain cleanliness. Spills or accidents that result in contaminates on the surface may stain. Often, unglazed tiles are sealed for ease of maintenance or future cleaning.
    • Glass and Metallic – When cleaning these tiles be careful not to use abrasive applicators such as scouring sponges.
    • In some instances, on advice from your tile merchant only, acidic cleaners may be needed for optimal results. These products must be recommended by your merchant as suitable for your particular tile application.
    • Do not use acid, unless recommended by your merchant, to clean fully glazed tiles as this may affect or damage the surface.

Generally, the longer a stain has been left on a tile, the more difficult it will be to remove. Where possible, consult your merchant about the type of stain you are trying to remove, as there are specialist products for cleaning.

Grout

Many grouts on the market have mould inhibitors which can help reduce mould growth. Mould can still occur if the condi­tions are severe or if a grout without mould inhibitor has been used. Mould can be removed using specialised grout cleaners.

Efflorescence

Efflorescence is a white discolouration caused by minerals in the cement that are soluble in water, being dissolved and transported to the surface as the water evaporates. It is most noticeable on dark materials but can occur on any cement based system. 

This is not normally a problem as only insignificant amounts of white discolouration make it to the surface of the grout during normal curing. However, because it is water soluble, under certain conditions the migration of the discolouration to the surface can be increased. Therefore if the system takes longer to cure or if there is more water present during curing, there is more time available for it to be carried to the surface. 

Sometimes minor efflorescence can be removed by using normal cleaning methods, whilst more difficult stains can be treated with specific products for your merchant. Ensure the grout has had sufficient time to cure or you may make it worse by increasing the water on the surface. 


Helpful DIY Videos

Renovating’s a breeze when you have the right information—check out these handy videos with tips and tricks to make any tiling project a success.

Bathroom Waterproofing

Bathroom Grouting

Bathroom Tiling

Credit: Australian Tile Council. This information is to be used as a guide only and should not be taken to constitute professional advice or a formal recommendation and we exclude all representations and warranties in relation to the content above. All consumers should seek professional advice from Stone3 for their specific and individual application.