The Ultimate Guide to Different Types of Mosaic Tile
On the surfaces level, our understanding of tiles can be pretty straightforward. Glass is glass, metal is metal, stone is stone, and ceramic & porcelain is ceramic & porcelain… sort of. That didn't end so smoothly now did it? Honestly if you take a really close look at all the different material types, it’s not so simple for any of them. There’s different types of glass, different types of metal, even different types of stone. Ceramic and porcelain, while extremely similar, also have their own special characteristics that set them apart from one another. It really isn’t as simple as some labels or categories might make them out to be. We’ll cover a few of these to help better inform you on your future projects to come.
We’ll leave stone tiles to a post of its own as there are countless types of stone tiles used in today’s industry which requires a deeper dive, so stay tuned.
The most common of all mosaic tiles. Glass tiles have remained fairly straightforward throughout recent times. Its diverse set of applications has allowed it to find its way in to just about every possible nook and cranny of the commercial and residential client base of the tile industry.
A little known fact that tends to only be known by those really involved in the process is that there are three main types of glass tiles: cast, fused, and coated glass tiles. These make up the majority if not all of residential and commercial tiles on the market today.
Coated Glass tiles are commonly used for colored tile applications. They are made from sheet glass that has been treated at lower temperatures and have had a layer of color coated onto the back of the glass, allowing it to show through the transparent body of the tile.
Cast Glass tiles are formed in a liquid state and extremely high temperatures. Due to this, the final product characteristically has a slightly textured or wavy finish as well as small bubbles or inherent folds/creases that occur during the production process during which color can be added. The end result can be comparable to the marbles we as children used to collect or play with; beautiful solid pieces of glass objects with unique swirls of colors of artifacts inside.
Fused Glass tile is also typically made from sheet glass that has been treated with varying levels of heat. Throughout the production process multiple layers of glaze and similar materials are added which in effect produces a variety of different colors and patterns. These tiles come in a few finishes, such as textured or smooth and both uniform and non uniform alike. You can think of this slightly as a combination of coated and cast glass in terms of the appearance of the final product.
Metal tiles, while available in a good variety, tend to be simpler to understand. Why? Well because they are metal of course. All metal should be applied with caution to avoid over exposure to areas with more than the average amount of water or moisture. This prevents any unwanted oxidization or accelerated patina that could develop.
Most metal tiles use aluminum in their construction. Metal tiles made of aluminum are often versatile, easy to work with, and are also a readily available material. That’s not to say that other materials can’t be used but the cost of other metal materials might be too prohibitive for the average market consumer. Can you imagine tiling a wall with platinum or gold tile?
While most metal tiles might be made of aluminum, you might ask what else there could be to know about metal tiles at all. The answer is finish. Metal tiles require a bit of extra care and maintenance when compared to something as straightforward as let’s say, glass. Some have a brushed finish, others have a nice smooth polished finish. It’s common to see both of these finishes used together. However, brushed finishes are more susceptible to holding onto any dirt, grime, or even grout leftover from the installation process. Extra care must be taken to properly clean and maintain these tiles. Stronger and likely more abrasive cleaners that work well for brushed finishes might inadvertently ruin the smooth sheen on a metal tile with a polished finish.
Ceramic & Porcelain Tile
Ceramic tile can be a curious element to work with. Thankfully it does remain a relatively simple one. There are three types of ceramic tile, one of which believe it or not, is porcelain. The other two are glazed and unglazed tile.
Glazed Ceramic Tile are coated with glass forming minerals which create an additional layer above the ceramic body during this process in which is it heated in a furnace at extremely high temperatures to create this finish. Glazed tiles typically have one of three finishes: matte, semi-gloss, or high gloss. Compared to unglazed tile, they are overall more resistant to stains and moisture, some even impervious to water entirely. (Confirm with the ratings provided by the manufacturer before using this in any applications where imperviousness to water is essential.)
Unglazed Ceramic Tile is ceramic in its base form. It is very durable and dense with various surface finishes and textures. While they do have an exceptional level of slip resistance they lack any protection from staining or absorption of moisture. It is commonly recommended to seal unglazed ceramic tile when possible to prolong its durability and protect its appearance as well as its finish.
Porcelain Tile is often presented separately from ceramic altogether. But it’s very safe to consider porcelain a type of ceramic. They are made via the same process, however porcelain is made from more refined and purified materials and it is also fired in a kiln but at higher temperatures than ceramic for a longer period of time. This is what allows the final result to be much harder and even more dense than your average ceramic tile. The final result is a tile that is non-porous, scratch resistant, and able to withstand extreme temperatures. The trade off tends to be that it is also much heavier than your standard ceramic tile. This is why it is most common to see porcelain tiles used on floors rather than walls.
Mosaic Tile Outlet – Your definitive source
Whatever your style or choice may be, you can count on Mosaic Tile Outlet’s massive variety of mosaic to fit any style you have in mind. Simple, neutral, traditional or modern, we’ve got you covered.