Ceramic tile floors

Ceramic Tile Floors

This section of the website is dedicated to examining the characteristics, problems and suggestions of the world of ceramic floor tiles.

It is a sector as wide-ranging as it is fascinating: from being a "poor" product, floor tiles have now become a design object thanks to their enormous size, to digital decoration, and also to the work of many designers and planners who have dedicated themselves to enhancing this material of ancient origins.

Here are the topics we will cover:

 

Tiles: a buying guide

This page would like to be a small guide born from our experience of more than 50 years in the use of ceramic tiles in thousands of houses in Vicenza, Padua and Verona, areas where we work.

 

EXPENSIVE TILES AND CHEAP TILES MADE IN ITALY

Originally created as a building material, to make cheap floor and wall tiles as an alternative to marble and wood, some tiles have now become true high-quality (and high-cost) design objects that help you enhance the surfaces of your home, transforming it. But there are also inexpensive tiles that can satisfy even those looking for low-priced floor and bathroom tiles for a rented flat or a second home.

You can also find low-cost tiles made in Italy and of decent quality, without necessarily falling for imported or shoddy materials. It is sufficient to look for a high quality product that is out of stock, out of production or with small (often invisible) defects to get a good deal and still have quality tiles. You can find many examples in our outlet.

Italy is one of the main producing countries and exports quality tiles for more than 80% of its production. So why not buy an Italian tile?

 
DESIGNING AND CHOOSING TILES

There are many different styles, surfaces and sizes and it is not easy to choose the right tile for your floor or bathroom. Many people rely on their own personal taste, others get help from a good architect (we have selected a list of very good architects in Vicenza and architects in Verona who can help you). Others rely on specialist tile shops like ours. 
There are many tile shops in our area, some of which are very good. If you click here you can find shops where you can buy tiles in Vicenza and Verona.

 

INFORMED CUSTOMER = SATISFIED CUSTOMER

Since it is your house and since it is an important and rather definitive choice (removing and re-laying a tiled floor is not easy) it is good that you are informed, that you know what criteria a tile must respect and what problems to avoid. In short, don't delegate this choice completely, but get informed and get involved!

From our side we know that you are dealing with this probably for the first time in your life, so we have taken the responsibility to help you make this choice correctly. We will take you through all the possibilities available today and work out, together, which tile will be the right one for you.

It will take some effort on your part to inform yourself, but as we often say on this website, only an informed customer is a satisfied customer.

 

Tiles: floor in Trissino (Vicenza)

What is a ceramic tile? The definition

Ceramic tiles can be defined as: "slabs of various sizes of ceramic material, used to cover floors and walls."

TILES ARE SLABS...

Let's start with the word "slabs".  
By this term we mean a material with a flat surface, with two dimensions, those of the sides, clearly prevailing over the third, i.e. thickness.
Tiles can come in a variety of sizes: from the few centimetres of mosaic tiles to the 120x120 size (the most commonly used in flooring at the moment) and up to the over three metres of large stoneware slabs.


...ARE SLABS OF CERAMIC MATERIAL...

The definition then speaks of "ceramic material".
This refers to the nature of the material that makes up the tiles: a mixture of earth and minerals that is fired in a kiln. Tiles are made by grinding and mixing clay, sand and other natural substances. The mixture is then shaped using moulds, thus obtaining raw clay products. The last stage is, as mentioned, firing. This process is common for many ceramic materials such as tableware, sanitary ware or bricks. As we shall see, ceramics have a long and fascinating history, and the tile is part of it. 

...SLABS OF CERAMIC MATERIAL FOR FLOORS AND WALLS

Finally, the prerogative of tiles is that they can be glued onto horizontal and vertical surfaces, thus being "used to cover floors and walls". Floor tiles will have to meet technical requirements, such as mechanical strength or abrasion resistance.  Wall tiles, on the other hand, will have to meet aesthetic requirements more than anything else.


But this definition of tiles is now outdated and a bit narrow: for some years now, tiles have also been used to make vanity tops, washbasins, shower trays, to cover the facades of houses or to make reception counters or beautiful stoneware dining tables. Tiles are also used to make beautiful, hardwearing stoneware kitchen tops, to cover living room fireplaces with tiles and to create raised floors for offices.

But that's not all, because there are projects to make photovoltaic tiles and others to incorporate LED lights into the slabs. In short, the tile as we know it is evolving. However, before talking about the future, it is worth analysing the history of ceramics and understanding where all this originated.  

 

Polished stoneware tiles for a renovation project

A house with a strong character can also be seen in the choice of materials. The flooring chosen for this project was metal-effect stoneware, made slightly shiny and laid in marvellous large 120x240 slabs.

Be inspired by this realization:

Vicenza: renovation of a house with a strong character

The history of ceramic tiles 

Ceramic tiles began to be used several thousand years ago. They are close relatives of earthenware plates, bowls and amphorae. But with a more spiritual function. In fact, the first use of tiles was as slabs on which to immortalise religious, historical, mathematical or legal texts in eternity.

Their use as decorative wall tiles is more recent, although it dates back a few millennia to Egyptian times. 

In the last 100 years, thanks to continuous technological innovations, giant strides have been made and the small tiles have become wonderful, large slabs, with resistance and aesthetic characteristics that have made them protagonists in various areas of interior decoration.

Modern ceramic flooring, whether for residential, offices, shops or laboratories, owes its characteristics to a long history of innovation, research and intuition. 

But how did we get from the first, rudimentary ceramics to modern porcelain stoneware? What were the innovations that enabled the ceramics sector to arrive at the production of today's floor tiles?
We have gathered all the information in this article: 

history of ceramic tile

pavimenti piastrelle ceramica

Vicenza: large format ceramic floors

Italian Ceramic Tiles

I've already mentioned it so you won't be surprised: Italy is recognised as the world leader in the production of ceramic tiles and tile manufacturing equipment thanks to the ceramic district of Sassuolo, near Modena.

 
ONCE A LEADER IN QUANTITY, NOW A LEADER IN QUALITY

Until the 1980s/1990s, the leadership of the Italian tile district was both quantitative and qualitative: we were the top producer in the world. Today we have been overtaken, in terms of quantity produced, by the South-East Asian giant, China, and other developing countries. But we remain a reference point to be imitated in terms of quality, design, attention to detail and, above all, innovation. 

 
ITALIAN TILES, LEADERS IN THE WORLD

The Italian ceramic tile industry continues to promote product and process innovation. Porcelain stoneware was born in Italy, as were large thin slabs, digital decoration, rustic surfaces and many other innovations.
Italian tiles are acknowledged to be the best and are present in all world markets. Despite this, many cheap tiles produced abroad, in developing countries, are sold in Italy and buyers probably buy them because the lack of knowledge of the product leaves too much room for the price factor. 

 

CHEAP TILES and QUALITY TILES

Some Italian companies have lowered their quality level to "keep up" with the low prices imposed by foreign manufacturers, choosing to produce "brico tiles" with graphics that are repeated every two or three tiles (few moulds = lower cost) or low firing temperatures (less gas = lower cost) that do not guarantee adequate resistance to scratching or falling objects. Fortunately, many Italian companies, those that we have selected and called "the best tile manufacturers", have chosen to maintain a high quality. The products are in great demand abroad where more than 80% of the high quality domestic production is shipped.
 

THE WORLD TILE SHOW

The ever-widening range and continuously improved technical characteristics of Italian products allow tiles to be used in new areas and also meet the demands of several world archistars who have chosen made in Italy to cover the interior and exterior surfaces of their projects. The main trade fair of the sector where all the novelties are presented, Cersaie, takes place in Bologna, Italy, at the end of September and is attended by buyers and designers from all over the world: from the Americas to Asia. This trade fair sets the tone in terms of trends for the tiles of the future, crowns the best designers and Italy has always been the star. 


But how did Italy manage to earn this role? And why are almost all the producers concentrated in Emilia Romagna and, more specifically, around Sassuolo? What are the reasons that led to the birth and development of the Sassuolo ceramic tile district? 
We explain it in this in-depth article: 

why has tile production been concentrated in Sassuolo?

 

Vicenza: stoneware tiles for a modern house in Montecchio Maggiore

In this project in Montecchio Maggiore, we worked on the high contrasts of light-coloured wall tiles and dark floors. We opted for modern flooring, with large tiles in iron-effect porcelain stoneware, which also cover the internal stairs and the bathroom in the night area.

Let yourself be inspired by this creation:

floors for a modern house in Montecchio Maggiore

How many tiles in the world?

We have said that Italy is the world leader in the field of ceramic tiles, although it no longer holds the "quantitative" record of being the world's largest producer. In the article you can read by clicking on the button below you can get an idea of how tile production has evolved, how many are produced and from which countries in this article: Statistics on tiles in the world

Having satisfied our national pride and established that Italian tiles are the most popular in the world (even though Italians themselves betray them for tiles of dubious origin...) let's take a step back and talk about how to choose a ceramic tile.  

"Aged wood" effect tiles for an industrial bathroom

We created an extremely creative bathroom in Montebello with a strong industrial flavour. A very particular choice of stoneware tiles with an "aged wood" effect in a variety of colour shades: an industrial style that meets antique and warm environments.

See more photos at the following link:

Bathroom made in Montebello

How do I choose a tiled floor?

I am starting with the hypothesis that this is the first time you have decided on a floor. Well, I think you know that floors can be made of different materials. Each of these materials has different characteristics and also dramatically different prices, and in the first phase of choice a good buyer - as you certainly are - tries to read up on these "pros and cons".

How do you do that? 

The first step I'd recommend is definitely to go to a specialist flooring shop, like ours, and have them explain to you the production techniques, processes, laying techniques, behaviour and problems of the various materials. You'll be able to get hands-on with wooden floors, marble floors, laminate floors, Venetian terrace... 
If you're lucky enough to meet an enthusiastic salesman, he'll be able to give you all the information you need to get an idea of which floor is 'right' for your home. Or you can find some information here:

which material for your floor?

You'll have to examine the pros and cons of various materials and try to reconcile two functions:

  • the aesthetic function
  • technical function

Let's put the "aesthetic" issues aside for a moment and focus on the technical functions. To understand them better we need to understand how many types of flooring there are and what the differences are between them. 

Arzignano: marble effect stoneware tiles for an elegant bathroom

In this project, marble-effect porcelain stoneware covers part of the floor and then goes up the walls. The same pattern covers the large stoneware slabs on the side of the walk-in shower.

Discover the rest of the realisation here:

floors and bathrooms in Arzignano

The 'hardness' of a floor: tiles and others. 

When we talk to a customer in our tile shop, the first topic is hardness. 
Hardness is basically defined as resistance to scratching, engraving, penetration by sharp objects, and scuffing. The harder a material is considered to be, the more resistant it is, in general, to these stresses.

Hardness is often associated with resistance to wear and tear, a very important property for ceramic tiles, because a worn floor is a floor that loses its aesthetic but also its functional qualities (it can become slippery or, on the contrary, excessively rough and therefore retain dirt).

When you think of a "hard" floor, you also think of its resistance to compression: if I am supporting a piano, there must be no deformation or punching in the floor. 

There are also floors on the market that are not hard and are subject to wear from walking on them, such as parquet, resin floors, some types of laminate, linoleum or LVT. 

These floors are more susceptible to cuts, nicks, scratches and wear from walking on them. 

Large format tiles for a mansion in need of renovation

The beauty of this rustic construction is enhanced by porcelain stoneware tiles with an aged plaster effect, large 120x120 slabs which enhance the size of the spaces by limiting the joints to a minimum thickness of 2 mm. A jewel surrounded by greenery, including stables and stables.

Click here to discover this mansion:

floors and bathrooms in A RENOVATION IN Montegalda

What types of floor tiles are produced?  

Not all tiles have the same hardness. 
Although there has been a lot of evolution and the production of floor tiles has seen significant changes, especially in the last 100 years.
So let's take a look at the most suitable types of floor tiles. 

The first product used mainly for wall tiles but also, with due limitations, as a floor tile was the Double-firing. It is a type of tile that is still used, especially to produce very rich wall coverings such as, for example, hand-decorated Amalfitan majolica. Its use as a floor tile is now so rare that it has disappeared. 


If you want more information on Double-firing, you will find everything here:THE DOUBLE-FIRED CERAMIC TILE 

 

A real revolution took place in the 1970s with the production of tiles using the Single-firing technique. Thanks to a new production process developed in the Sassuolo district, new ceramic tiles were produced that were extremely resistant compared to double-firing and therefore more suitable for use as flooring. Single-fired tiles proved to be more resistant to wear from footsteps, scratching and falling objects than double-fired tiles.  
Finally, a ceramic product with a glaze capable of resisting the fall of a plate or glass was available.
The single-fired tile became widespread in Italian homes and became the best-selling floor tile of all. Aesthetics and resistance are still not entirely satisfactory and the fall of a pot can "chipping" the tile. 

To overcome these problems we will have to wait for the arrival of stoneware. 

If, in the meantime, you would like to learn more about single-firing, here's an in-depth study: single-firing

If single firing was a revolution, porcelain stoneware represents a real paradigm shift. The first stoneware tiles became popular in the 1990s thanks to process innovations. The ceramic tile became a "full-body" product, very similar to natural stone, to granite. 
Stoneware quickly became popular and offered manufacturers and end users a series of advantages that were considered incredible just a few years before. 
It can be processed on the surface, like marble, and then made mirror polished (this is polished stoneware) or structured to be non-slip outdoors. 
The fact that it offers mechanical resistance, resistance to abrasion, scratching, falling objects, resistance to acids and stains makes it a product suitable for any use, even the most extreme.
When we are asked for a "floor tile" in one of our shops in Vicenza today, we take it for granted that it must be porcelain stoneware. Single-fired tiles are no longer sold and can only be found on offer for a few euros in some Brico or large French chains. 
Here you will find information on how porcelain stoneware was created and its technical characteristics: the porcelain stoneware

Two-colour stoneware tiles for outdoor paving

A new outdoor paving can breathe new life into a home: this was the case in this house, where stoneware was laid in different colours and textures. A very rough version was used in the sections completely exposed to rain, while a smoother, easier to clean version was used in the area covered by the pompeiana, where people eat outside.

See the whole realisation:

outdoor stoneware flooring in Montecchio Maggiore

How is stoneware tile made? 

Having established, therefore, that stoneware is the most popular flooring product today, I imagine that you may have a curiosity... and that is to see, live, how a porcelain stoneware floor tile is produced. 
In the following article we have tried to solve this curiosity.
If you click on the button below you can see all the stages in the production of a porcelain stoneware tile. We have photographed and filmed every step, and we are sure you will find it fascinating to discover how we get from the earth to the canning of the finished product:

Stoneware tiles: the production

The production of a versatile, chameleon-like material like stoneware is explained in the following article, carefully going through the various stages leading to the finished product to be used in the interior or exterior flooring of a building.

A recipe based on clays, kaolins, feldspars, sands and other minerals of various colours and grain sizes is used to create various floor coverings which can take on different "effects", imitating other materials such as stone, marble, wood, cement and slate. This allows us to create entirely personalised slabs and tiles.how a stoneware tile is created

Tiles: ecological and environmental aspects

Are tiles an ecological product? Do they respect the environment? Does the production and use of tiles mean pollution or is it good for the environment? One of the topics that is discussed, especially when buying marble-effect tiles, is whether producing tiles that perfectly imitate marble also has environmental benefits. 

We discuss this delicate subject in this article:

ecological and environmental aspects of tiles

If you want to be sure that you are buying products that respect the environment, check that the boxes of ceramic tiles bear the ECOLABEL mark or the EMAS mark (or both). Here you will find indications on the meaning of the marks:  the Ecolabel mark - the emas mark

Cement effect stoneware living room floor

The cement effect stoneware floor is very suitable for a modern setting. In this realisation, stoneware tiles in large 80x80 formats  have been laid, a strong and decisive floor that immediately catches the eye.

See the rest of the realisation: 

floors and bathrooms in chiampo

The technical characteristics of tiles

If you have to buy a tile, you will certanely be wondering what technical characteristics you need to consider in order to use it safely as flooring. In addition to the aesthetic aspects, the technical and functional criteria of a ceramic floor tilw must be taken into.

The first concerns the resistance of the surface to scratches that you might cause, for example, with a simple pebble under your shoe. In the botton below you will find all the information about this:

tile scrap resistance

If the ceramic floor you are thinking of installing is outdoors you must certainly take into account the slipperiness of the tile, both in dry and wet conditions. But even if you have to lay ceramic tiles indoors, you have to take into account the environment in which they will be used and the use to which they will be put, in order to avoid dangers to people passing through. 

We discuss slipperiness here: sLIPPERINESS OF CERAMIC TILE
 

Lastly, a final technical aspect (but there are many others) concerns the hygiene of the ceramic flooring you purchase. Here, too, there have been innovations that allow you to have surfaces that are much more hygienic and easy to clean thanks to specific formulations of clay mixtures. Read more in this article: antibacterial surface in tiles


The aesthetics of floor tiles

But as important as the technical characteristics are, it is the aesthetics that will be the first thing to catch your eye about a floor tile. Tiles can look like marble, stone, resin or even wood. Here are some examples:

Marble effect ceramic tiles

Porcelain stoneware is a chameleon material. Here we find a clear example: the tile perfectly reproduces the texture and elegance of polished marble thanks to digital decoration.

The advantages of stoneware tiles are several: lower weight, easier installation, the tiles do not absorb and therefore do not stain unlike the original marble and a lower cost. In addition, the environmental impact of producing porcelain stoneware tiles is less than the process required to obtain marble.

Find out more at the following link:

marble effect tiles

Wood effect tiles

In this case the stoneware tile imitates the wooden floor. Ideal for those who love the aesthetics of a wooden floor, but are concerned about the critical aspects that laying a real parquet floor may entail: think of discolouration over time, which is very sensitive and prone to scratching, which is prone to damage from humidity.

Ceramic tiles offer much more resistance, are easier to clean and more functional. It will not have the same warmth as wood, but it will surprise you with many other features.

Read more here:

wood effect tiles

Stone effect ceramic tiles

If you are looking for a tile capable of imitating stone, porcelain stoneware is right for you. Thanks to digital decoration, stoneware tiles manage to imitate natural elements such as stone in a fairly faithful manner, bringing several advantages: resistance, durability (given by its high mechanical strength) and it is practically non-absorbent, so you don't have to worry about staining it or cleaning it with specific detergents.

A great way to bring back into the home the sensations of a natural element like stone, but without its difficulties.

Find out more in the following article:

stone effect tiles

Problems that can arise with a tile floor

One thing you should study before buying a tile floor is the diseases and problems that can occur. In this article we try to analyse them all, listing - if possible - also the solutions. 

problems with ceramic floors

Laying ceramic tiles

Those who have had the patience to read the article suggested in the previous paragraph have understood how important the laying of tiles is. Many problems can be avoided or circumvented when laying tiles by taking the precautions that a good tiler knows how to take. But you too, as a customer, can make a decisive contribution to the quality of the end result by acting BEFORE the damage is done.
We reveal how in this article:

Precautions before laying a floor 

 

One of the most important factors to pay attention to in order to achieve a good end result is the quality of the substrate to which the floor is being laid. If you have yet to have screeds made in your home then read these articles that our site technician has written explaining the characteristics and requirements of screeds:

WHAT SCREED FOR LAYING CERAMIC TILES?

The right tiles for every room! 

Which tiles should be used for the floor of a restaurant? What about a wine cellar? For a garage? Each domestic or commercial environment has certain characteristics and requires certain types of tiles. 
With these articles, we are trying to give you some suggestions, to reason with you about which are the best ceramic floor tiles to use for each individual area of application. Here are some suggestions:

Stoneware tiles for a pizzeria in Vicenza

In addition to taking regulations into account, the floor of a restaurant must take into account the heavy traffic it is exposed to. This porcelain stoneware was the ideal choice for this restaurant-pizzeria in Vicenza.

See more photos at the following link:

floor of a pizzeria in cornedo  


Ceramic floors for outdoors

On the subject of destination environments: outdoor floors are the ones most subject to accidents and stresses, just think of the summer/winter temperature changes or water infiltration and subsequent freezing.
 
This is why an outdoor ceramic floor must be well designed and well laid and the tile must have certain characteristics. One of the products best suited to this use is 20 mm thick stoneware, which our colleague Guido tells us about in this article:  high thickness tiles for outdoors

 

piastrelle ceramica pavimenti Vicenza Verona


Large stoneware slabs for floors

Technological evolution today makes it possible to produce stoneware of enormous dimensions for breathtaking ceramic floors. These are the large stoneware slabs: tiles that reach dimensions of 160x160 or even 160x320 centimetres. The large size of these new products, combined with digital graphics, have revolutionised the sector and allow you to create floors with very few joints. 

Here you will find all the information: the large porcelain stoneware slabs

Much of the success of these large tiles is due to digital decoration which has made it possible to replicate - on the ceramic slab - very high resolution photos. Veining of precious marbles, splits of slates, but also coloured decorations... everything can be easily reproduced. We talk about it here:digital decoration of ceramic tiles

Stoneware tiles for a modern office in Vicenza

We took care of the floor and wall coverings in this office. For the flooring inside the office we agreed on grey stoneware tiles with various shades of metallic effect, suitable to withstand the stress of heavy employee traffic.

See the rest of the realisation here:

Modern offices: stoneware flooring

Personalised ceramic floors? 


From this year, "pellizzari floors" can be personalised! This is the latest frontier in the world of flooring: being able to obtain customised floors, i.e. choosing one or more decorations and having them replicated on the floor of your home or business premises. We are able to provide this service at a high cost, but less than you might think:

customised ceramic tiles

piastrelle ceramiche personalizzate Vicenza Verona


Cleaning ceramic floors

The evolution of ceramic floor coverings also requires different cleaning methods and products. While polished enamel single-fired tiles can be cleaned with a self-polishing wax, modern porcelain stoneware requires neutral products that do not create a protective film on the surface.

In addition to routine maintenance, attention must be paid to the first cleaning, immediately after laying the tiles. This is a simple operation if carried out with the right products and methods. All this is addressed by our colleague Roberto in this article:  cleaning ceramic floors

 


 

Below you will find other articles on the topic "ceramic tile floors". If you don't find what you are looking for please send us an email and we will be happy to help you if possible. 
Thank you!

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