[Q&A]: What are Tiles? What are different types & kinds of Tiles?

Neha Kulkarni, an architect by profession and a non-resident Indian (NRI) presently putting up in California, Unites States of America, asked us on our BricksnMortar Edesk entity on Facebook...

Neha asked:

  1. What are Tiles?
  2. What are the different types & kinds of Tiles?
  3. What are 'Homogenous Vitrified Tiles'?
  4. What makes them different from other normal tiles, viz., Vitrified tiles/ Ceramic tiles/ Glazed tiles/ Composite tiles/ Stone tiles?

BricksnMortar Edesk (Team Bricks-n-Mortar) answers:
Dear Ms. Neha,
Considering the number of your queries you have asked, allow us to break the posts and answer your queries in at least 2-parts. Hereby, publishing PART 1 of 2 of the post...

WHAT ARE 'TILES'?

To begin with, let us first briefly tell you and our readers for the sake of sharing basic know-how as what essentially is meant by the building product called - 'TILES'.

In simplest of words-- "A tile is a natural or manufactured piece of hard-wearing material that could generally be used for covering, protection and/or decorating finished or unfinished surfaces like roofs, floors, walls, ceilings, facades, slabs, etc. etc."

The word 'TILE' is believed to be derived from the French word 'TUILE', which in turn is believed to have been derived from the Latin word 'TEGULA' which means a roof covering piece composed of fired clay.

DIFFERENT KINDS & TYPES OF TILES

DIFFERENT TYPES OF TILES COMMONLY USED THROUGHOUT THE WORLD

The most common kind & types of tiles that are used worldwide, and which are either available naturally or are manufactured in factories are described in brief herein below:

  • Earthenware tiles --
    These are the tiles that comprise of fired /baked tiles made from mud, clay & earth (soil). These tiles are quite porous in nature and are often used indoors. Ancient (earlier) types of such tiles were also called Terracotta tiles.

  • Stoneware tiles --
    These are the tiles which are essentially cut-to-shape products made by cutting & shaping from 
    processed rocks, boulders, stones, etc.  Sandstones, slates, granites, marbles, etc. are a few examples. Porosity of such tiles depend largely upon the source rock.

  • Porcelain tiles --
    These are the tiles that are made by artificially processing of special porcelain mud/ clay along with minerals like quartz, feldspar and other fluxes under very high pressure and heat. These tiles are very less porous as well as sturdy due to which these are used in external surfaces also.

  • Glass tiles --
    As the name suggests, these are the tiles made from molten silica glassy content or by cutting larger glass slabs. Usually, these are used as decorative coverings also allowing the natural or artificial light to pass through for either natural lighting or enhanced visual appeal. Of course, these are fragile in nature and must be handled with care. 

  • Metal tiles --
    Again as the name suggests, these are the tiles made from metals, alloys and/or composite materials like colored aluminum tiles, galvanized iron sheet tiles, stainless steel tiles, etc. These tiles are either snap-fit type or are riveted or tack welded to the parent frame. These are mostly used as decorative-cum-functional false ceilings and wall claddings.

  • Wooden tiles --
    These are made out of original (raw) wood, manufactured ply boards, artificial wood, etc. and are used for all kind of ceilings, floors, claddings, etc.

  • Cement / Concrete tiles --
    These are the tiles that are made from cement mortar and/or cement concrete along with certain admixtures, coloring agents and patterns. Most commonly used cement tiles are the checkered & pattern tiles that are used to furnish the walkways, driveways, parking, open public areas and the likes. These tiles are used for heavy public traffic areas due to their higher ruggedness.

  • Insulating / Anti-static tiles --
    These tiles are made with composite soundproofing compounds like asbestos, gypsum, mineral wool boards, PVC, rubber, etc. and are usually used to insulate closed spaces from intruding sounds & heat. Such tiles are used as false ceilings, partition panels, in-fills, and even under floors.

  • Ceramic tiles, Glazed tiles, Vitrified tiles, Homogenous vitrified tiles --
    Ceramic, Glazed, Vitrified, Homogenous vitrified tiles are nothing but modified, modern, composite and bettered forms of Earthenware, Stoneware and Porcelain tiles, all put together.
    The inner core of these tiles are made from baked & burnt earthen material that are processed under high heat, pressure and special techniques so as to flux them with minerals, alloys and suitable composite materials that provide a hard wear-proof coating surface on one side, having glossy or matt finish.
Hope Ms. Neha and other readers of this blog and post shall now become more familiar with this ordinary sounding, but yet so very important building product, called TILES.


In the next part of this post (that being the PART 2 of 2 we would answer Ms. Neha's remaining queries. Stay tuned till then...
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