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16/10/2023

A definitive guide to porcelain tiles

Versatile, durable and affordable, porcelain floor and wall tiles deliver on both form and function. Discover the breadth and variety of this highly practical material, which has the power to completely transform your home and garden.

Regular readers might note that this is not the first time we’ve waxed lyrical about porcelain tiles – we’ve long championed the qualities of this innovative and practical material. And, thanks to developments in technology, we’re able to continually expand our range. It’s extensive for good reason: there are simply so many beautiful designs out there to choose from, as well as countless application possibilities.

Due to their durable, non-porous, stain-resistant nature, porcelain tiles can be used in any room in the house. Whether you’re looking for hardwearing kitchen tiles, a non-slip floor for your bathroom, or weatherproof outdoor tiles that echo the texture and tones of natural stone, there’s sure to be a porcelain floor or wall tile to fit your brief.

 

All our porcelain ranges come with a slip-resistance rating to help you decide if they’re right for your space. Some are also available in two different thicknesses, allowing you to lay a continuous floor that stretches between indoors and out. Outdoor porcelain tiles are an ideal choice for gardens and patios: they don’t absorb moisture, so they won’t crack when temperatures plummet, and they’re also incredibly low maintenance. This means there’s no sealing or treatment required before installation.

 

Our expansive range encompasses a huge choice of designs for home and garden, including coloured tiles, patterned designs and options that mimic all the characterful hallmarks of a handmade tile. Choose from cement-look porcelain tiles, marble-effect ranges and even timber-style tiles that capture the enduring beauty of a hardwood floor. If you’ve explored our collection and are struggling to decide which designs to select for your space, read on to discover some of our personal favourites.

1. Porcelain Parquet Flooring

Our Jakob range comprises a wealth of different options, including wood-effect planks and intricate parquet designs complete with luxurious marble inlays. We love the fact that you can achieve the old-world elegance of a crafted parquet floor at a fraction of the cost. In addition, the hardy, non-porous nature of the porcelain also means you can lay these tiles in spaces like bathrooms and kitchens. They’ll look as good in years to come as they do on the day they were first installed.

2. A Fusion of Terrazzo and Natural Stone

The versatility of porcelain wall and floor tiles means you can take inspiration from anywhere to create your design. This is expertly demonstrated by our Vita range, which fuses the appeal of natural stone with the timeless elegance of terrazzo. Available in six neutral shades, these large-format tiles feel like stone underfoot and feature a boldly mottled pattern that will enliven any interior scheme. Choose a shade such as Ochre to bring instant warmth to your space, or a paler tile like Sand or Ivory (pictured) to lighten and brighten.

3. An Affordable Alternative to Marble

If you love the idea of marble tiles but your budget doesn’t, then don’t despair. Our marble-effect porcelain tiles do an amazing job of emulating the appearance and texture of the real thing. And, they have the added bonus of being maintenance free. Look to understated designs such as our Paloma Ivory (pictured) for an undeniably classic marble-look tile, or consider stronger shades, like Paradise Green or Violetta Nouveau, to make a statement. Stick to one colourway or combine two different designs to create a striking checkerboard pattern.

4. Porcelain Bejmat Tiles

It’s safe to say that Bejmat and Zellige tiles, while enjoying a notable comeback of late, will never go out of style. Some of our favourite interiors from years gone by have harnessed the texture and pleasing irregularity of these handmade designs. So much so that we’ve introduced indoor and outdoor porcelain tile ranges that capture the essence of characterful Moroccan tiles. Our Hoxton collection comprises a wide selection of colours, from inky blue to burnt orange, and features a subtle glaze that enhances the deliberately imperfect surface texture of these convincing alternatives.

 

5. Terrazzo-Look Tiles

Terrazzo tiles have been around for centuries, with newer porcelain designs providing an accessible alternative to their traditional counterparts. Again, technology has allowed us to create a range with lots of riffs on classic styles, such as bright colours or large-format patterns. Choose from subtle speckling to oversized shards and everything in between. For a really striking scheme, pair two different designs in complementary shades. For example, our Shard Green and Pebble Green Porcelain Tiles.

6. Cement-Effect Designs

Sleek yet rugged, warm yet minimalist… it’s no wonder our Berlin collection has proved so consistently popular. So much so that we’ve recently enlarged the range to include more shade and size variations for inside and outdoor porcelain tiles, too. Available in an impressive selection of formats, these textural cement-look tiles are perfect for industrial spaces, yet will also make any interior feel immediately contemporary. We love to see them applied as a checkerboard floor for a fresh take on this trend.

7. Porcelain Pattern Power

If you’re on the hunt for patterned porcelain tiles, then the search is over. There are so many different styles and designs to choose from in the Mandarin Stone collection. Discover ornate motifs inspired by those found in the Mediterranean, North Africa and the Middle East, as well as clean-lined geometric designs and classic Art Deco-style tiles.

8. Tiles for Indoors and Out

As mentioned above, one of the many brilliant qualities of our porcelain outdoor tile collection is that certain ranges are available in two different thicknesses. For instance, the Kast design shown below. This means that it’s never been easier to create that sought-after, seamless flow between a kitchen, dining or living space and the garden beyond. All of our porcelain tiles are non-porous, which makes them an ideal choice for use outside. Even better, FILA Stop Dirt treatment makes them incredibly easy to clean.


Ask an Expert

 

Q-What are porcelain tiles?

A-Porcelain is a type of ceramic made from very fine clay that is fired at extremely high temperatures to remove moisture. Porcelain tiles have almost no absorption which makes them incredibly dense and hard-wearing. They can either be full-bodied and have the colour or pattern formed by the body of the tile, or glazed which means the design is applied only to the surface of the tile.

 

Q -Do I need to seal porcelain tiles? 

A-Internal Porcelain and Decorative & Glazed tiles themselves do not require sealing. However, if using a cementitious/porous grout, this grout should be protected using our Fila Fugaproof Grout Sealant. This will ensure it becomes as impervious to staining as the tile. External or outdoor porcelain tiles are invariably more textured for slip resistance, and a surface sealant is optional to improve the material’s resistance to dirt and to ensure speedy cleaning. Porcelain tiles should also be thoroughly cleaned as part of the installation process. Any stubborn marks may require the use of a stronger detergent. Mandarin Stone can advise and supply all appropriate protective and cleaning products.

 

Q-How do I clean porcelain tiles?

A-Porcelain tiles require little maintenance other than a usual regime of sweeping, mopping, vacuuming and wiping. A PH neutral routine cleaner should be favoured, such as Fila Cleaner Pro. Where grout sealants have been used, abrasive, acidic or alkali household detergents should be avoided as these would remove the protection. Any stubborn marks may require the use of a stronger detergent. Mandarin Stone can advise and supply all appropriate protective and cleaning products.

 

Q-What’s the difference between porcelain and ceramic tiles?

A-Ceramic tiles are fired at lower temperatures than porcelain and have greater water absorption because of this. Ceramic tiles are usually glazed with either high-gloss, colourful or patterned surfaces and usually for wall use only, although some ceramics can be used for flooring. Porcelain tiles are more often full-bodied and always suitable for floor use. Ceramic tiles should not be used externally as they would “pop” or crack in cold weather, whereas porcelain is frost resistant.

 

Q-Do porcelain tiles chip/scratch?

A-Porcelain is dense, hard-wearing and low maintenance. Its high density means that it does not chip or scratch easily, and damage will only occur if a very heavy object is dropped onto the material or dragged across it. Correct installation will further increase its durability ensuring resistance to decades of high traffic and wear and tear.

 

Q-What does rectified and non-rectified mean?

A-Rectified tiles are cut to size after the firing process. These are ‘dimensionally stable’ and will exhibit little variation in size of tiles from one production run. Tiles from different production runs will tend to exhibit greater variation and so enough tiles to complete the installation should be ordered in the first instance. Different sizes within ranges will vary significantly, however, so should not be mixed.

Unlike Rectified products, Non-rectified Porcelain or Ceramic tiles are not cut to size after the firing process. When firing, the wet clay is subject to expected shrinkage and warpage. The tiles are graded after firing but do not undergo any additional cutting. Because of this, greater variation in size between tiles should be expected than with a rectified tile. Non-rectified tiles are usually smaller, patterned or glazed, which would mean cutting after firing would affect the overall look of the material.

 

Q-Can porcelain tiles be used on floors and walls?

A-Porcelain tiles have an extremely dense body enabling them to be used on both floors and walls. Many choose the same tiles for their bathroom walls and floors, creating a seamless, modern and luxurious look. We would always recommend the same size tile be used on the wall and floor to ensure minimal sizing and batch variation.

 

If you have a question that’s not been answered here, why not visit one of our 15 UK showrooms? You can also request a Lookbook to discover our expansive range of porcelain floor and wall tiles. For more information, get in touch with our experts who are always on-hand to help.

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Wilmslow Weybridge Tunbridge Wells Primrose Hill Petersfield Monmouth Outlet Warehouse Monmouth Monmouth Head Office Marlow Harrogate Fulham Road Exeter Cheltenham Cardiff Cambridge Bristol Bath