Frequently asked questions

Below is some information on how to care for your custom tile.
Please click on each section header below to view the information.

Cleaning Tips

Walls & Counter Tops Routine Cleaning:

  • Wipe with Damp Cloth or sponge
  • Use window cleaner (Windex or Glass Plus) good for glossy surfaces.
  • Wipe dry with cloth
  • All purpose cleaners, spray cleaners
  • Heavy Duty Cleaning:
    • Scouring powder, commercial tile cleaner. All-purpose cleaner applied with non-metallic scrubbing pad. Rinse and wipe dry.

Floors (Light traffic areas) Routine Cleaning

  • Vacuum regularly to remove gritty particles.
  • Damp mop with water and your favorite detergent.
  • Heavy Duty Cleaning:
    • Commercial tile cleaner
    • Strong solution of soapless detergent
    • Scouring powder paste, let stand 5 minutes, brush and scrub, rinse and wipe dry.

Showers Routine Cleaning

  • All-purpose cleaner, allow to stand five minutes, rinse and dry.
  • Wash with equal parts white vinegar and water
  • Commercial tile cleaners
  • Heavy Duty Cleaning:
    • Mildew: Use commercial tile cleaner, chlorine bleach or ammonia -- DO NOT MIX!
    • Stains: Use chlorine bleach or hydrogen peroxide.
    • Stubborn Stains - Use scouring powder containing a bleaching agent.
    • Let stand 4 to 6 hours, scrub and rinse thoroughly.
Types of Ceramic Tile

Quarry Tile

An unglazed, natural clay tile, usually 3/8" to 1/2" thick. Limited, mostly natural colors. Usually frost proof. Usually available with and abrasive surface for added slip resistance.

Ceramic Mosaic Tile

An unglazed porcelain tile, usually 1" x 1" or 2" x 2". Usually frost proof. Usually available with an abrasive surface for added slip resistance. Used for mosaic murals and patterns. Frequently used in shower floors, commercial rest room floors and swimming pools. Available in many colors although unglazed mosaic tile colors are usually muted. Mosaic tile tile is also available with a glaze.

Porcelain Tile

An unglazed porcelain tile usually 6" x 6" up to 12" x 12". Available in a variety of textures such as smooth unpolished, polished, flamed and natural cleft. Colors are usually muted or speckled.

Glazed Ceramic Wall Tile

A standard "white-bodied" tile with a glaze on the surface. Available in many colors and sizes from 4" x 4" to 10" x 12". Many accent tiles and stripes are also available.

Glazed Ceramic Floor Tile

A standard "red-bodied" tile with a glaze on the surface. Available in many colors and sizes from 6" x 6" to 16" x 16". Many of the newest ceramic floor tiles are made to look like natural stone, come in various modular sizes and have accent pieces available.

Natural Stone Marble, Granite and Slate

Available in hundreds of colors but only naturally occuring colors. Natural stone exhibits a great deal of color and vein variation. Considered by many to be the most beautiful finish available for floors and walls. However, natural stone requires more maintenance and is more susceptible to chipping, staining and scratching than most man made ceramic tile tiles. Granite, as opposed to marble, is usually used for kitchen counter tops due to its higher resistance to staining and scratching.

Handmade Tile

Usually a quarry tile or "red-bodied" tile made by hand or at least glazed by hand. Usually with imperfections in size, shape and glaze.

Installation Tips

There are countless sites on the internet that offer advice and instruction on the installation of tile. Of course every installation is unique and there are many factors that will have bearing on the success of any tile project. Some tile types have very specific requirements. Some substrates present problems that are not immediately apparent. And there are many situations such as exterior, below grade and wet area installations that require special care. Garretson Tile Company can assist you in determining the best and most effective approach to any installation based on industry standards and the latest in setting material technology.

Please feel free to discuss the specifics of your project when you visit our showroom.

Miscellaneous FAQ

WHAT IS THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN UNGLAZED AND GLAZED TILE?

Glazed tile is coated with a surface finish (glaze) fused to the body of the tile by firing at very high temperatures. Because of the ease of adding color, pattern and texture to the glaze, style, color and design are virtually unlimited. The color of unglazed tile results from the color of the tile body or pigment added to the clay. The colors are more limited; but because that color extends throughout the tile, wear is not visible. Unglazed tile is, therefore, an excellent choice for the most trafficked areas.

WILL CERAMIC TILE BREAK OR CHIP?

Ceramic tile is more susceptible to breaking and chipping before installation than after. After proper installation, it is very difficult to break or chip tile unless it is hit with a heavy object, like a hammer, having a small impact area. Structural breaks can occur if there is movement in the substrate. If damaged individual tiles can be replaced.

IS CERAMIC TILE COLD?

Tile is actually the same temperature as the surrounding air - it holds warmth in a sunny room or a cooler temperature in an air conditioned or cold room. Body temperature is usually warmer than the air, and this causes the tile to feel cold.

IS CERAMIC TILE SLIPPERY?

Slip resistance will vary with the type of tile. Ceramic floor tile will have about the same slip resistance as other hard surface floors such as vinyl or hardwood. Naturally if there is liquid spilled on any hard surface floor, the slip resistance will greatly diminish. Abrasive surfaces are available on many tiles. Keep in mind that the more abrasive a tile surface is, the more difficult maintenance will be . Consider using a mat at entrances and wet areas.

HOW DURABLE IS CERAMIC TILE?

Ceramic tile properly installed, should last the life of your home with minimum care. Tile will not show wear when used on walls; unglazed floor tile also will not show wear. Glazed floor tile is dependent on the durability of the glaze and body and the amount of traffic to which it is subjected. Most manufacturers do classify the durability of their ceramic tile.

Rating - 0: Walls only
Rating - 1: Light traffic (residential bathroom floors) and counter tops
Rating - 2: Medium-Light Traffic (residential interior floors except kitchens, stairs, landings and entrance ways.)
Rating - 3: Medium-Heavy Traffic (all residential areas and commercial areas with similar traffic)
Rating - 4: Heavy Traffic (all residential and most commercial)
Rating - 5: Heaviest Duty Traffic (all residential and commercial areas)

CAN CERAMIC TILE BE USED OUTDOORS?

There are numerous ceramic tiles that are frost resistant and are excellent for patios, porches, pool decks, etc. Many unglazed tiles are suitable for exterior use. Their slip resistance will be dependent on the surface texture, and slip resistance is important! Glazed, frost resistant tiles are recommended for vertical exterior surfaces only. The manufacturer will indicate if a particular type of tile is frost resistant. A frost resistant installation is essential.

DOES CERAMIC TILE HAVE SHADE VARIATIONS?

As is true with any other quality decorating products such as textiles, carpet, wall coverings and wood, ceramic tile does have shade variations. Handcrafted tiles generally have the greatest variation, and this quality contributes to their unique beauty. Samples are meant to represent the tile as adequately as possible but may vary to some degree. Be sure to inspect your tile before it is installed to determine if it meets your approval.

WHAT SHOULD I KNOW ABOUT GROUT?

Grout, the colored mortar between the tiles, has been drastically improved in recent years. It is available in numerous colors to coordinate with your tile choice. The actual finished grout color in an installation is affected by moisture, temperature and installation techniques. Because of these variables, the installed shade may differ from a showroom sample. Choose grout color to blend rather than match. Today there are grout formulas that contribute to stain and mildew resistance. Good maintenance procedures that remove surface soil always improve the appearance of any ceramic tile installation. Improved sealers can assist in keeping the grout at its best.

DOES CERAMIC TILE REQUIRE A SPECIAL FLOOR CONSTRUCTION?

Standard floor construction of 2" x 10" floor joists spaced 16" on center with 5/8" plywood underlayment is suitable. However, more than 20 years experience shows that rigid cementitious backer board is superior to plywood as an underlayment. Whether consisting of a double layer of plywood or a layer of plywood with cement board on top, the total thickness of the subfloor must be at least 1-1/4". A clean, structurally sound concrete slab is suitable and does not require additional underlayment. In some cases 1/4" or 1/2" thick cement board can be laminated directly over existing floor coverings without having to remove them.

SHOULD CERAMIC TILE BE WAXED?

Do not wax glazed ceramic tile. Your tile is more durable than wax and will become more beautiful with regular minimal maintenance. A small amount of neutral detergent in warm water plus a clean rinse are suggested.

SHOULD SEALER BE USED ON CERAMIC TILE?

Sealer is unnecessary and should never be used on glazed tile. Sealer is often used on unglazed natural clay tile, pavers or unglazed porcelain tile. Some manufacturers of these products recommend a particular sealer. However, in most cases a good penetrating sealer is advisable. It is usually invisible or provides a soft luster. Heavy sealers such as urethane are not recommended because of potential scaling or uneven wearing.

HOW DOES THE PRICE OF CERAMIC TILE COMPARE WITH OTHER FLOOR COVERINGS, WALL FINISHES AND COUNTER TOPS?

The initial installed cost of ceramic tile may be higher than other finish materials. Today's improved technology, marketing and competitive pricing have decreased the margin of difference. When considering the true cost comparison, you must look at the life span of ceramic tile. Due to the fact that you will probably never have to replace your tile and the low cost and easy maintenance, ceramic tile is the least expensive of all finishes. Statistics show that an investment in ceramic tile will increase the value of your home.