When you are deciding on the kind of tile you would like to use in your space, in addition to considering the overall aesthetic you are seeking, the other furniture in your room, as well as a variety of other factors, you will also want to consider the finish of your tile. A tile’s finish, like its color and pattern and other physical characteristics can dramatically impact its overall, finished appearance as well as the impression it makes in your space.
In today's article, we will explore these different types of finishes for ceramic and porcelain, to help you determine the right finish to choose for your tile to complete your space. In order to understand the different finishes of tile, we must first take a closer look at the material of ceramic and porcelain, and how their composition affects their final finish. Ceramic and porcelain may look quite similar to the untrained eye, but they each have their own unique properties that drastically affect their application.
Ceramic is composed of natural clay, sand and water. This mixture of materials is molded into tile and then fired at very high heats in an oven in a process that helps remove most of the ceramic’s moisture. The body of a ceramic tile can be either white or a red color, like terra cotta. While ceramic is available in glazed or unglazed finishes, it is usually glazed.
Unglazed ceramic has an unfinished, more natural and rugged appearance, which makes it potentially more durable and scratch-resistant than that of glazed ceramic. As unglazed ceramic is also strongly slip-resistant, it is also a good choice for high traffic areas that are prone to moisture due to its durability. For instance, rooms like the bathroom, kitchen or laundry room are good candidates for unglazed ceramic tile. It is still advised to use a sealant and a wax to protect the tile after installing unglazed ceramic tiles in your space.
While unglazed ceramic is usually more dense and thick and therefore, more durable than glazed ceramic, glazed ceramic is still long-lasting and highly resistant making it a great choice for your space. As glazed ceramic features a layer of coating of liquid glass, it is more resistant to staining.
With glazed ceramic, you can choose between matte and satin finishes. We will dive into these finishes in more detail in a moment.
Porcelain is made from a higher quality clay than ceramic and is also fired at higher temperatures for a longer period of time resulting in the material being harder and more dense than ceramic. It is the most popular option for flooring, but is also commonly installed on walls as well.
Porcelain can either come in a glazed or full body finish. The full body finish will have a uniform appearance from edge to edge, also showing the pattern of the porcelain tile through the whole thickness of the tile. This means that it will also be more durable and more resistant to potential damages due to heavy foot traffic or other wear and tear. Since full body porcelain tile is suitable for high traffic areas, it is a good choice for commercial spaces like restaurants, airports or shopping centers or residentially, in the kitchen or bathroom of a home, for example.
Glazed porcelain will have a glazed coating applied to the surface of the tile. Unlike full body porcelain which is more resistant, if you damage or cut glazed porcelain tile, you would see the pattern layer on the surface and the paste which could be a different color. It is common, therefore, for the body of glazed tiles to be tinted the same color as the glaze itself so as to make any damages or wear less noticeable.
A natural or matte finish has a non-reflective appearance, absorbing light and does not appear to have a sheen. Therefore, it has an organic, rustic look to it, inspired by the natural materials it is composed of. You may want to opt for a matte finish for your tile, if you desire a more lowkey aesthetic, that won’t take attention away from the other furniture in your space.
A satin finish, on the other hand, falls somewhere between matte and glossy, appearing to have a muted or subtle sheen. Therefore, satin is a perfect happy medium type choice, if you’re unsure of which finish to choose as it is neither too glossy or lacking sheen altogether.
A lappato finish is defined by a shiny texture that is added to the surface of the tile to give off a semi gloss appearance. Therefore, it has a partial luminosity creating a beautiful effect when the tile is exposed to light. You may choose a semi-gloss finish to highlight a certain area of your space