A tile floor is traditional in many rooms, especially kitchens and bathrooms. Ceramic flooring can be very elegant or happily casual. It is durable, moisture-resistant, and easy to maintain.
All ceramic flooring is made from clay, including ceramic tiles, porcelain tiles, and quarry tiles. After they are shaped, tiles are fired in a kiln. When a glaze is added to the tiles, a second firing is needed. Ceramic flooring tiles are usually square, and come in a variety of sizes.
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Unglazed ceramic flooring tiles are called quarry tiles. They are often brown or reddish brown, the natural color of the clay, but dyes can be added before the tile is shaped to create other colors. Unglazed tiles are porous, so they should be sealed after installation.
Glaze is a thin glass coating that is applied to the surface of the tile. Colors can be as vivid or as delicate as required, or a series of glazes can be used to give special effects. Glazed ceramic flooring is slippery, so the surface of floor tiles is usually roughened slightly.
Porcelain tiles are made from very fine quality, unadulterated clay and fired at high temperatures. They are dense, hard, and quite moisture resistant. Porcelain is usually more expensive than other ceramic flooring.
Mosaic floors are often made from small ceramic tiles. The squares are set in place to form a picture or a pattern. Mosaic floors can be very complicated, and these designs should be installed by a professional. However, simpler patterns attached to a backing material that holds the tiles in place during installation are also available.
Ceramic flooring tiles are set in place with mortar. After the mortar has cured, the spaces between the tiles are filled with grout. Grout is traditionally white, but it is available in several colors. Carefully chosen colored grout can enhance the pattern of the entire floor. Grout is usually sealed to prevent moisture absorption and staining.
It's easy to maintain ceramic flooring. Sweep the floor regularly, so that dirt doesn't scratch the tiles. It's all right to vacuum, as long as the beater bar is removed from the vacuum cleaner.
Damp mop frequently, using a product recommended by the manufacturer. Heavy soiling can be removed by wet mopping, followed by rinsing. Dry with a towel. Avoid scratching ceramic flooring. Be careful when moving furniture, and avoid abrasive cleaners like scouring powder and steel wool.