Ceramic Tile

The types of ceramic tiles and their main characteristics essentially depend on the production method and the properties of the raw materials from which they are made. The material is widely used due to its strength and water-repellent properties. 

Tiles are classified according to various criteria, which include:

  • raw materials for manufacturing;
  • mode of production;
  • surface types;
  • the degree of abrasion;
  • water absorption and porosity;
  • coefficient of friction;
  • assortment;
  • the form.

Varieties of ceramic tiles, depending on the type of production and the raw materials used.

Depending on the raw materials used and the production technology, the following types of tiles are distinguished:

  • ricotta;
  • monoculture;
  • porcelain stoneware (grades);
  • Cotto;
  • cottoforte;
  • clinker;
  • majolica.

Each type has its characteristics and is intended for making coatings on various surfaces: on the walls, floor, outside the building.


Bicottur tiles are produced using double firing. The starting material is red clay. The clay mixture is pressed, fired, covered with enamel, and then fired again. This type of tile is intended for indoor wall installation. The material has gained tremendous popularity due to its smooth, shiny surface with a variety of patterns. A wide range of colors allows you to choose the right shade for any interior.

The small thickness of the tiles and the convenient format (20×20, 20×25, 25×33.3 cm) ensure ease of installation. Manufacturers offer numerous collections of ricotta, with smooth transitions of shades from primary to additional.

Application. The enamel applied to the surface protects the material well from the penetration of steam and moisture. Therefore it is especially relevant for walls in the bathroom and toilet, for a kitchen apron. For the floor, tiles are used only in rooms with low traffic, in those rooms where dirt from the street does not get.


Monocottura refers to the type of tiles with a single firing. The raw material for the production is red or white clay, formed by enhanced pressing. This method reduces the porosity of the material. After drying, the enamel is applied to the tile and sent to the oven. Raw materials affect the degree of water absorption, which for red clay tiles is 0-20%, and for white tiles – 0-10%.

Monocottura can be used to cover walls and floors indoors. Due to its increased frost resistance, it is used for outdoor floors.

Monocottura differs from picture tiles in improved characteristics:

  • frost resistance;
  • increased strength due to increased thickness;
  • great hardness;
  • wear resistance;
  • reduced water absorption, especially in special series.

Application. The glaze on single-fired tiles is also resistant to abrasion and chemical detergents. A monoculture with increased strength is often used in public buildings where there is no significant traffic.

Porcelain stoneware

Raw materials for the manufacture of porcelain stoneware (gres) do not differ from the materials from which the tiles are made (monoculture or bicolor). The difference lies in manufacturing technology. During production, a coloring pigment is immediately added to the clay mixture, due to which the entire mass is evenly colored. No enamel is applied on the tile’s surface because the color is initially embedded throughout thickness as the whole.

The prepared mixture is molded, dried, and pressed. To give strength and reduce porosity, porcelain stoneware is packed again using more powerful pressing machines. The material is fired at high temperatures (1200-1300 degrees). The resulting products have a very low water absorption coefficient from 0 to 4%.






The advantages of porcelain stoneware include:

  • strength;
  • frost resistance;
  • environmental friendliness;
  • resistance to chemicals;
  • wear resistance;
  • low moisture absorption.

Its popularity is slightly reduced by the high cost and complexity of installation due to its increased weight.

Application. Porcelain stoneware is intended for indoor and outdoor cladding. The increased strength due to double pressing allows the material to be used in public places: offices, airports, catering establishments, etc.


Cotto is one of the most ancient types of tiles. It is a simple unglazed material made from red clay with fine pumice stone and coloring pigments. The tile is formed by extrusion, that is, forcing through the dies of the desired configuration. After drying, the products are fired at a temperature of 1100 ° C. The moisture absorption coefficient of Cotto tiles can range from 3 to 15%.

The color range varies from light yellow to dark brown. Sometimes a pink pigment is added to the mixture. The finished tile has a rough, uneven surface and a porous structure. Depending on the end-use, the material is sanded or roughened.

Application. Cotto ceramics are usually used for exterior decoration (blind areas, drains, paths). For indoor use, series are produced, specially treated with substances to reduce porosity. The tiles are popular with retro-style private house owners and are also often used in temples or museums.


For the production of Cottoforte, double firing is used. A mixture of clay and kaolin is molded; after the first shipment to the oven, an opaque glaze is applied to the products and again fired at lower temperatures than ordinary tiles. The most common sizes are 15×25, 20×20, and 20×30 cm, but the shapes can be more extensive.

The applied glaze gives the tiles a sophisticated look and improved performance. The degree of moisture absorption is 7-15%.

Application. Cottoforte is used for indoor flooring.


The most common material used to make clinker tiles is highly flexible slate clay. No colorants or plasticizers are added to the mixture during the production process, making clinker one of the best environmentally friendly materials. Extrusion molding technology with further firing at a 1200-1400 ° C temperature makes it possible to obtain a product with high-performance properties.

The material is different:

  • low ability to absorb moisture (0-6%);
  • large thickness;
  • increased strength;
  • resistance to chemicals and mechanical stress;
  • frost resistance.

Application. The product is used for external and internal walls, floors, and finishing blind areas, plinths, drains, and steps.


Ceramic tiles Majolica are stylish and expensive elements of interior decor. The product is made from red clay using double firing technology. The mixture is molded, dried, pressed, and fired at low temperatures. After applying the glaze and pattern, the tiles are fired again but at elevated temperatures.

The high porosity of the material promotes moisture absorption; the moisture absorption coefficient is relatively high (15-25%) compared to other types of ceramic tiles. Therefore, Majolica is used only indoors.

Application. The variety of patterns and shapes makes tiles particularly popular for sophisticated designs, especially in semi-antique interiors. Walls, stoves are clad with material, decorative panels are created.

Difference of tiles by type of surface

Various production and surface treatment methods in the manufacture of ceramic tiles give a wide variety of surfaces.

The surface of the tile can be:

  • glazed;
  • matte;
  • polished;
  • lapped;
  • structured.

Finishing the front side of the tile gives it decorative properties and provides specific performance characteristics.

Glazed tiles

In the manufacture of glazed tiles, mineral composition is applied to the formed workpiece, after which the product is fired. After the coating melts and cools down, a glass layer forms on the surface, opaque, transparent, or white. By varying the content of minerals and pigments, manufacturers obtain products with the desired color and pattern.

The glaze is applied to fire or dried tiles, depending on the number of firing applications. After coating with enamel, the material acquires increased strength, does not allow moisture to pass through, and protects the product from dirt and stains.

Matte tiles

Matte tiles can be pressed and fired without glazing. The surface of the material does not shine, and it can always be immediately distinguished from other types of ceramics.

Matte porcelain stoneware made with innovative Italian equipment is of particular value to modern designers. The product is characterized by increased durability, ease of maintenance, and no-slip effect. The low level of moisture absorption allows porcelain stoneware to cover walls and floors in rooms with high humidity. Due to its density and resistance to abrasion, the material has proven itself well for facing external walls, steps, vestibules.

Polished tiles (porcelain stoneware)

With this type of surface, not ceramic tiles are produced, but porcelain stoneware. Smoothing and glossing the face of the tile are ensured by sanding. After cutting off the top layer obtained after firing, the surface is ground with abrasive discs and polished.

For the production of polished tiles, homogeneous (completely stained with pigments) porcelain stoneware is used. To increase the service life of such a material, it is necessary to apply a special mastic to its surface immediately after laying.

Lapped tiles (porcelain stoneware)

The technology for manufacturing lapped (semi-polished) tiles is similar to producing polished porcelain stoneware. Only the top layer is removed using coarser abrasives to obtain an unevenly sanded surface. As a result, two types of areas are formed on the tiles: perfectly polished and rough.

The lapped porcelain stoneware has a soft gloss effect and looks very attractive. Due to its non-slip and increased wear resistance, the material is often used in places with high traffic.

Structured tiles

The peculiarity of structured materials (tiles and porcelain stoneware) is their peculiar surface, which imitates natural materials. The product can have a texture that resembles natural stone, wood, leather, and even foliage. The corrugated surface perfectly prevents slipping; therefore, structured tiles are applicable in places with high humidity (bathrooms, saunas, swimming pools).

The tile is decorated with foliage.

The tile is decorated with a leather look.

Stone effect tiles.

Wood effect tiles.

Tiles for parquet.

Large permeability, mechanical stress will also not have a significant effect on the quality of the material during operation, the period of which is determined by manufacturers at 50 years.

Classification of ceramic tiles depending on the abrasion class

One of the most significant properties of ceramic tiles, the types and classification of which are pretty challenging to determine, is abrasion resistance. The service life of the facing material directly depends on this indicator.

The method for measuring abrasion resistance is reflected in the standards:

  • EN ISO 10545.6 (applicable to glazed ceramics);
  • EN ISO 10545.7 (applicable to unglazed ceramics).

Tiles depending on porosity and water absorption

The moisture absorption coefficient significantly affects the resistance of tiles to low temperatures. The more water the facing material absorbs, the faster it will collapse when frost sets in.

According to water absorption, tiles are divided into 3 groups:

  • Group 1. The indicator is less than 3%. Such material absorbs little moisture; therefore, it can withstand low temperatures. It can be used to cover the floor on open terraces, verandas for external cladding walls.
  • Group 2. Indicator from 3 to 10%. It is better not to use it outdoors if the manufacturer does not guarantee increased frost resistance. The tile is used for walls and floors in rooms, including increased moisture formation (bathroom, toilet).
  • Group 3. Indicator over 10%. It is only suitable for use on indoor surfaces.

The lower the degree of water absorption, the broader the scope of the tile.

Tiles depending on the coefficient of friction

The friction coefficient is used to determine the slip resistance of ceramic tiles. The higher the coefficient, the safer the application of the facing material.

The following markings indicate Anti-slip properties:

  • R 9 – the product can be used in work areas (halls, vestibules, trade enterprises);
  • R 10 – tiles are intended for public premises (workshops, warehouses, garages);
  • R 11 – the material is used in places with high humidity and dirt (bath and laundry plants, rooms for pouring water and washing dishes, car repair shops, etc.);
  • R 12 – tiles are suitable for facing refrigerating chambers;
  • R 13 – the most significant anti-slip effect, can be used in premises for processing fish, meat, vegetables.

For facing material, there are certain norms of permissible defects: aesthetic and functional. The former suggests the presence of microcracks or slight color blur. The second group – more serious flaws, such as uneven sides, sagging, curved surface.

Tiles of the first grade cannot contain elements of functional defects; only a slightly blurred coating is permissible. In the second grade, tiles can be found with both aesthetic and operational imperfections.

The third grade is substandard. Not all products need to be cracked, and they may not match in shade.

Tile shape and dimensions

When choosing a cladding material, the question always arises: which shape the tile will look best. The most common options today are:


The material is easy to install, easy to match to the size of the room. The usual measures are 15×15 cm; some manufacturers offer other dimensions, but no more than 20 cm.



It fits well into any design solution: the location can be both horizontal and vertical. The main dimensions are 20×30 cm, but some collections are represented by rather impressive dimensions (30×90 cm).



Tiles of unusual shapes are often made to order; however, many collections also contain finishing rhombuses, ovals, trapeziums.

Non-standard tiles can quickly become boring to the owners or become irrelevant. In addition, the installation of complex shapes requires a lot of time and effort.