Porcelain tiles are produced from the purest raw materials and are fired to 1280°C where as most traditional tiles are fired to 1080°C. The higher kiln temperature changes the nature of the clay and causes the material to become fully vitrified. This process renders the tile impervious to water and increases strength and density. Many of our porcelain ranges are designed to resemble stone. Slight variations in colour and marking are a feature of these ranges and are to be expected.
All areas to be tiled must be clean, dry, and free from dust and any residues that may cause poor adhesion. Inspect the tiles prior to fixing and shuffle the batch to ensure that any colour and shade variations are well mixed. Some edges may have small chips or flaws, these tiles are best kept for cuts. Care must be taken when handling porcelain tiles as any broken edges will be razor sharp and will easily cut hands.
All porcelain tiles should be fixed with a solid bed of adhesive. This is essential to maintain the strength and durability of the tiles. Dot and dab fixing is unacceptable and will leave the installed tiles vulnerable to cracking. To achieve a solid bed of adhesive it is important to cover the back of the tile in a fine layer of adhesive before applying into a trowelled adhesive bed of 6 – 10mm depending on the thickness of the tile. Ensure that all combed lines are parallel. If the combed lines are not parallel there is a good chance of trapping air underneath the tile during fixing. Any air pockets within the adhesive can result in a weak spot that may allow the fixed tiles to crack. Tap the tiles into place with a rubber mallet, using spacers where required.
Cutting and Drilling:
For best results use an electric ‘wet wheel’. Porcelain is a commercial quality material, which means it is extremely hard and wear resistant. A conventional manual cutter can be used to break the tiles and in most cases the score and snap method does work. However, many of our porcelain tiles are around 10 – 12mm thick which will increase the chances of an uneven cut. If you have uneven pieces of tile that have not broken off cleanly you can trim the edge with nippers. Cutting with an angle grinder is not recommended, shards of porcelain can split off the tile which are very hard and razor sharp.
Unfixed tiles should be placed onto cardboard upon a flat rigid surface. Drill bits should be Tungsten Carbide or Diamond Tipped. Mark the tile where the hole is required. Overlay with masking or electrical tape. Mark the tape to match your existing drilling point. Repeat 4 – 5 times until a sufficient guide point has been made to prevent the drill bit from slipping until it has bitten into the surface of the tile. Using a variable speed drill on a low speed rotary setting only (NOT hammer action), start to drill allowing the drill to do the work. Do not exert excessive pressure as this will only serve in burning out the drill bit.
If the required hole through porcelain needs to have a neat edge or there is a complex shape to be cut, it may be necessary to use a water jet cutting service. This method of cutting uses a precise jet of water at extremely high pressure to erode an accurate line through the tile. It is recommended to use this method where any pipes or fittings through the tiled surface do not have blanking plates to mask the edges of any holes.
Porcelain has an extremely low porosity that enables it to resist staining without assistance from sealing products. Most porcelain products can be left untreated and will not discolour or pick up stains provided they receive regular cleaning. Some unglazed porcelain tiles are designed to resemble stone and are produced with a deeply pitted or textured surface. This type of surface can trap grout residues and over time general dirt. It is advised to treat heavily textured porcelain with FZ Protective Impregnator. This is a one time only treatment that will act as a releasing agent for general dirt and building deposits. Before using FZ Protective Impregnator, the whole area of treatment should be free from adhesive and dirt deposits. Always seal tiles before grouting.
There are a variety of coloured grouts to choose from that are all suitable for use with porcelain. As many of the porcelain ranges are available with a rectified edge, a very small grout joint will be possible if preferred. In these cases a fine flexible grout can be used on both the floor and the wall surfaces. Should a more rustic or bevelled tile have been chosen a wider joint can be filled using a more coarse grout that will allow a joint of up to 12mm. In all cases unglazed porcelain is extremely hard wearing and will not be harmed by any abrasion during grouting.
Once the adhesive has set, an appropriate grout may be applied. Apply grout into the joints between the tiles using a rubber float, taking off any large excess with the float edge. Once the remaining grout residue has begun to dry on the tile surfaces, wipe of with a damp sponge, rinsing it frequently with clean water.