Everything You Wanted to Know About Tile: An Interview with Ryan Fasan
Before we get too crazy with the art here (I’m so sure we will!) I wanted to share some solid info about tile from the man who knows it best, Ryan Fasan. I had the pleasure of meeting “THE tile man” on my recent trip to the trade show Cevisama with Tile of Spain. Ryan is a professional consultant for all things tile related and also spoke this past week at the trade show Coverings in Orlando. Explaining and sharing his vision and understanding of ceramic tile is what he does best and he has graciously agreed to dish his knowledge here with us at Artful Kitchens. Take it away, Ryan! (For your viewing pleasure I am including some photos from some of the Spanish tile brands seen at Cevisama15)
AK: What’s the difference between porcelain and ceramic tile?
Ryan: Porcelain (who’s technical term is impervious tile) is a classification of ceramic tile. There are four types of tile, each classified by its water absorption capabilities. Impervious or porcelain tile happens to be the densest with a porosity of 0.5% or less. It is important to note that densest does not mean “best” in every application. The industry makes four types of tile for a reason and each type has an optimal area of use. When selected and installed properly any type of tile can last for decades if not centuries.
AK: Is it true that porcelain tile is the same color all the way through?
Ryan: Well there is “through-body” porcelain and colored body porcelain which is probably what you’re referring to. Through-body is a heavy duty commercial product that is unglazed and extremely durable with very low water absorpbtion, usually around 0.01%
In residential design you’re more likely to encounter colored body porcelain which has some type of glaze. The body of the tile is then colored to match the glaze but the wear layer is still just in the glaze, so no, it’s not “the same” all the way through.
AK: Do I have to use grout?
Ryan: Even though this is often the wording used, the real question is do I have to leave a joint or can I just put the tile tightly together (called a butt-joint)? The answer is yes, you do have to have a joint. Our buildings are not as solid or perfect as we often think they are. Joints allow for natural expansion and contraction.
AK: I know that all tile is made of white or red clay. Is one better than the other?Ryan: Absolutely not! A good factory will make quality tile from any color of clay. Often the most cost-effective and environmentally responsible decision is to use whatever color of clay is locally available and modify it as required. Price is most likely dictated by the proximity of the clay source.
AK: What benefits are there to “rectified” tile?
Ryan: Rectification is the cutting grinding of all 4 sides of the fired tile to ensure that all sides are square and the entire surface area is flat. By removing the sides, we get rid of the characteristic “pillow” in a ceramic which makes for much more realistic stone or wood reproductions. This can allow for a joint as small as 1/16″! However remember to ask if a tile is mono-calibre before specifying that small of a joint.
Wow! Just think how knowledgeable you are going to be next time you go tile shopping! Thanks again to Ryan for taking the time to answer my probing tile questions.
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Gloria is a kitchen and bath cabinetry designer with AKBD certification from the National Kitchen & Bath Association. She has also served on the Florida Treasure Coast Chapter's Board of Directors as the VP of Communications. Her work has appeared on This Old House as well as in Florida Design Magazine, K+BB Magazine and the Palm Beach Post. She is co-author of The Complete Idiots Guide to Remodeling Your Kitchen, Illustrated, as well as a freelanced writer contributing occasionally to the Sun Sentinel in the area of kitchen design. She is a proud member of the Blanco Design Council and the illustrious Brizo Blogger 19.