Tile flooring can be used in virtually any room of the home making the possibilities of a beautiful home endless. At Carillon, you can select from the trendiest ceramic tiles from around the world as well as an extensive assortment of porcelain tiles.

What are the differences between porcelain tiles and ceramic (i.e., non-porcelain) tiles? Porcelain tiles are typically made with "porcelain" clays that have specific properties. Typically, these tiles are dense and by definition, they have water absorption of 0.5% or less. Ceramic tiles have water absorption greater than 0.5%.

There are both glazed and unglazed porcelain tiles and it is important to know the difference. All porcelain tiles have microscopic holes in them. If these holes have been filled-in, they are called glazed porcelain tiles. If the holes are left untreated, they are referred to as unglazed porcelain tiles. The glazed variety are usually a little easier to clean, but the unglazed porcelains usually have better slip resistance.

Because porcelain tiles have a low water absorption, they are usually frost resistant - although, not always. To know if a tile is frost resistant, you should check the manufacturer's literature. There are also many ceramic tiles that can be used in freeze/thaw environments and that are manufactured with properties similar to porcelain tiles.

Ceramic tiles cover a wide range of properties - typically they are glazed (although unglazed quarry tile is the exception) and the glaze layer can be extremely durable. However, as there are differences from one glaze to another, it is important to check if the tile has been tested and to make sure the glaze hardness is suitable for your application.

In general, ceramic tiles are easier to bond to the floor and are usually easier to cut. Porcelain tiles are harder to bond and harder to cut. While this can be relevant to the tile installer, it generally makes little difference to the end-user, so long as the installer uses the right materials.



What is a through-body porcelain tile?

Some people refer to unglazed porcelain tile as "through body" - i.e. the color on the top goes all the way through. Even in extreme applications, these tiles tend not to show wear as the porcelain is quite durable (harder than granite) and the color goes all the way through.

Many glazed porcelains also have extremely good durability. Although the color in the glaze layer may be different from the body, the surface is usually sufficiently resistant to abrasion to not show wear in typical applications.


Shopping for tile can be overwhelming. There are so many variations and an unbelievable number of manufacturers.

Obviously, if you are just getting acquainted with tile, deciding which one will best suit your needs is not going be easy. But with the following information on sizes, styles, and textures, along with a few helpful hints, you should find the process a little simpler.


Tile varies in size, from 1" X 1" to 24" X 24" and larger. The most commonly used sizes are the 12" to 24" squares.

Although choosing the appropriate size tile for your application may seem difficult at first, it's really quite simple. It is just a matter of what type of look you desire. For example, if you are installing tile in a 9' X 9' area, you would probably use 12" or 13" squares. Using larger squares in an area this size would give the impression of panels rather than tiles and make the floor overpower the rest of the area. In larger spaces, however, you could use any tile size and achieve an attractive, balanced look.

Using larger tiles gives any area a larger, less-busy look. Larger tiles also provide another benefit: you'll have less grout to keep clean. The bottom line is that the floor should compliment the room and its décor, not detract from it.


Ceramic Tile in varied styles from Carillon Floor Center   Ceramic Tile in varied styles from Carillon Floor Center   Ceramic Tile in varied styles from Carillon Floor Center  

When it comes to styles, the selection is practically endless. Even so, you can narrow the selection by concentrating on the look you want to achieve. For intance, if you want the room to have a warm, rustic appearance then you would focus your search on tiles with a natural stone-look or tiles that look like wood.

Stone-look and wood-look tiles are extremely popular, and for that reason, there is a good selection available. Their appearance is so realistic that they are often mistaken for the natural stones or woods they imitate.

If you prefer a more formal, classy look, then perhaps you should focus your search on the high-gloss, marbleized tiles. These tiles will add a touch of elegance to any home. But there are things other than aesthetics to consider before deciding on marbleized tile.

If your household includes active children, anyone disabled, or elderly family members, high-gloss surfaces can present a problem. They can become extremely slippery when wet, and thus present a fall hazard. High-gloss surfaces also tend to show dirt more readily than a less glossy or textured surface - something else to consider if you have active children running in and out.


A variety of ceramic tile textures is available    A variety of ceramic tile textures is available

A tile's texture is directly related to its style. The feel of a rustic stone-like surface will be irregular and somewhat rough, though the ridges will not be sharp. An imitation marble or granite, on the other hand, will have a very smooth, polished feel. In addition to the feel, textures also vary in degree of shine - from dull to semi-gloss to glass-like.

Just as there are many varieties of stones, there are many varieties of tiles faithfully duplicating them. An imitation slate, for example, will exhibit the real stone's thin layers. Other natural stones may have random porous areas or cracks; features that you will also find duplicated in the tiles.

From a safety standpoint, one thing to keep in mind when deciding on a texture is where the tile will be installed. Remember: the smoother the surface, the greater the risk of slipping when it's wet.

There are non-skid finishes designed for outdoor use. These are sometimes installed on patios, walkways, or around pools. But even though they have a gritty, sand-like surface, they could still pose a slip hazard under certain conditions.

Just as a car with all-weather tires can hydroplane if the water is deep enough, so can smooth-soled shoes slip on a non-skid surface covered by water or ice, or a petroleum product.

If you have any questions about ceramic or porcelain tile or need help deciding which one is best for your application, feel free to give us a call. We'll do our best to make sure you get the right tile - one that's as functional as it is decorative.

A variety of ceramic tile textures is available A variety of ceramic tile textures is available A variety of ceramic tile textures is available A variety of ceramic tile textures is available