Frequently Asked Questions


Here at we try to spend a lot of time talking with our customers to learn what their needs and concerns are. Of course, many of our customers have questions about tiles and how it relates to their project. While it is difficult to have the same sort of discussion with our online customers, we felt that a FAQ (Frequently Asked Questions) page on our website could help to answer the most common and popular questions.


If you have any questions which are not covered on this page, please phone us, fill out an online form or e-mail us, we would be happy to answer all your questions


What is the difference between Porcelain and Ceramic tiles? In very simplified terms, the Porcelain tiles are a stronger, less absorbent and more durable product than the Ceramic tiles. As such, for heavy traffic areas (such as the kitchen or front entrance) Porcelain tiles are recommended, since what might scratch or chip a Ceramic tile, will not necessarily damage a Porcelain tile.


Why can't I use regular floor mix with my Porcelain tiles? Because Porcelain tiles are less absorbent (amongst other things) a special type of thin set, one that has more adhesive strength, is required. These are commonly known as "Multi-Purpose" cements, but you may also find that they are called "Polymer modified" thin sets. The multi-purpose cements will vary in price according to the amount of glue or adhesive present in that particular mixture.


Can I cut Porcelain tile with a regular tile cutter? For most people, the answer would be "No". While it is possible for an experienced tile-setter to cut a porcelain tile with a high-end manual tile cutter, for most people, it is strongly recommended that a heavy-duty water saw is used. The Porcelain tile is dense enough and strong enough that a regular tile cutter will not cut the tile accurately.


Why do I need to use Porcelain tile outside, Can't I use Ceramic? The Porcelain tiles have a very low absorption rate, usually below 0.5%. This means that in the winter, the Porcelain tile will not absorb enough water that when the temperature goes below freezing, the ice which is formed will not expand inside the tile and crack it. Unfortunately for Ceramic tiles, the same guarantee cannot be offered, and during the course of a couple winters, the tiles would crack.


How much waste will I need to add to my measurements? The amount of waste will differ depending upon the size and configuration of the area in question. While we recommend strongly that the person who is installing should provide this figure, if you are installing the tile yourself this may create a slight problem if you are uncertain. Waste in a tiled area will most commonly fall between 5%-15% depending on a variety of factors. For the "do-it-yourselfer", we would recommend 10% when laying the tile straight and 15% if placing the tile on a 45 degree angle.


Can I use wall tiles on the floor? Most "wall" tiles are fired in the kiln at a lower temperature than "floor" tiles. This is done to create a nicer, more aesthetically pleasing finish while compromising on the strength of the tile. Essentially, this means that there is a much higher risk of damaging the tile on your floor if it is a "wall" tile, even under relatively "low" traffic.


If the tiles are going on top of plywood, what type of cement do I need to use? It is strongly recommended that a higher grade of "multi-purpose" cement is used if no wire mesh or scratch has been placed on top of the plywood. The higher the grade of "multi-purpose" which is used, the more adhesive strength that cement will have. It is also important to note that if tile is being installed in this fashion, the sub-floor must be well screwed (not nailed!) down. If there is movement in this sub-floor, cracked tiles will appear above.


What is the difference between sanded and un-sanded grout? In general, the primary difference between sanded and un-sanded grouts would be the area of application. Typically, un-sanded grouts are used in narrow joints less than 1/8" in thickness (such as the joints on most wall tiles or on polished stones such as granite nor marble) while sanded grouts would typically be used on joints 1/8" or thicker (such as most floor joints). While sometimes these grouts are referred to as floor (sanded) and wall (un-sanded), this is simply a result of their common usage, not a mandatory rule of application.


Do I need to seal natural stone even if it is already polished? Yes, all natural stone is porous and as such should be sealed. Some denser stones (such as Granite) do not stain easily and are commonly left untreated. However, they are still porous and may be stained under the correct circumstances.


Once fixed, how do I maintain tiles? With proper care and attention, correctly install good quality tiles should give many years trouble free service. Under normal circumstances they need little maintenance and are easily kept clean by wiping or mopping with warm water to which a neutral or nearly neutral detergent has been added. The cleaning solution should be allowed to stay on the surface for 5 to 10 minutes after which it should be removed by rinsing thoroughly with clean water. The most important point to remember is the rinsing process, which removes the dirt. Inadequate rinsing can lead to a build up of deposits, which will gather dirt, making your tiles dull and floor tiles slippery.


Grit is the biggest enemy of any flooring material and a mat next to external doors is strongly recommended. Some terracotta, natural stone and slate tiles may need re-sealing. Ask your tile supplier about this when buying tiles.


Can I tile over existing tiles? Yes, providing that the existing tiling is firmly bonded to the existing background. You will have to clean the existing tiling thoroughly and degrease them before fixing the new tiles. Make sure you tell the tiler so that correct adhesive is purchased.