Monday, 11 February 2013

How can tiles wear out?

The problem of wearing.

Tiles are well known for their durability and wear resistance, but they are not indestructible. If mistreated, or subjected to harsh conditions, or incorrectly selected for purpose, the glaze on a ceramic tile will scratch or wear away. There is a difference between wearing and scratching. Wearing is where the glazed surface is thinning and eventually actually worn through. Scratching is damage to the surface from a harder substance that scratches the glaze. Heavy scratching can give the effect of making the surface of a glazed tile look dull. This is damage to the surface, but not actually wearing through. Even solid granite slabs in a heavy traffic area will dull from scratching. If you have ever been in an old castle you will have noticed that over the centuries solid stone stairs wear away until the are distinctly hollowed. The best way to avoid tiles becoming worn is to select tiles appropriate to the traffic; proper porcelain for high-traffic and commercial spaces. The other way is to keep the floor clean and free from sand and abrasive dirt. This is especially important at doorways and entrances.

What can cause the problem?

Abrasive grit is brought in under shoes. Gravel can be very hard and if it is trapped under a shoe and then trodden onto the tiled surface it will cause scratches and wearing. Not having doormats at entrances to remove grit and sand from shoes is a major factor. The effect of grit underfoot is like sandpaper. Your professional advice to customers is crucial. When advising a customer make sure you determine where the tiles are to be laid and how much traffic the area will receive. Recommend a suitable tile with the right wear resistance. Porcelain full body tiles rather than glazed are the best for high traffic areas as even with massive wearing the colour will not appear to fade.

In the worst case, soft glazed wall tiles, laid on a front porch or other heavy traffic area will wear through very quickly. Advise the customer to keep tiles clean. A clean tile won't have a film of accumulated grinding dirt on the surface. Advise against using unnecessary chemicals, especially acid based ones or using hard cleaning implements such as steel wool. These will deteriorate the surface of a tile.

Once the glaze on tiles has worn, it can't be rejuvenated. Likewise, damage by harsh scratching can not be reversed. Scratched tiles will continue to perform as a tile should. But, once a tile surface has worn through, and the protective glazed surface is gone, the tiles will have to be replaced.

What are the hardest wearing tiles?

Our Titan full bodied porcelain tiles are amongst the hardest wearing tiles in our collection.