Ceramic tiles is a generic name which covers wall and floor tiles in general. Different tiles are designed to have different physical properties with different technical performances and applications. Hence, ceramic tiles are sub-divided into different types according to their rate of water absorption. Common terminologies would be porcelain tiles, homogeneous tiles, ceramic wall tiles.

A wide range of ceramic tiles are available, with different styles and material properties. Besides aesthetic qualities, ceramic tiles have the following key benefits:

  • Affordable
  • Hygienic
  • Versatile
  • Easy Maintenance
  • Durable
  • Chemical Resistant to most household detergents
  • Low-Allergenic
  • Free of Volatile Organic Compounds
  • Termite-Proof

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  1. What tiles should I use?

Consider the environment of the area which the tiles are to be installed, and the technical characteristics required of the tiles. It is important to choose the right type of tiles to ensure durability of the tiles for the intended function or application.

Tiles with lower water absorption rates are more compact and have higher mechanical strength. Hence, wall tiles which have higher water absorption rates and lower mechanical strength should not be used for the floor. While porcelain and floor tiles, which have lower water absorption rates and higher mechanical strength may be used for walls if desired.

A key technical property to consider for floor tiles is slip resistance for spaces with high traction or prone to being slippery.


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  2. What is the difference between wall and floor tiles?

Floor tiles are generally tougher and more durable than wall tiles, and can be applied on the wall as well. Wall tiles are not recommended for application on the floor as they are not designed to withstand heavy traffic or abrasive forces.

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  3. What is the best way to view the tiles before buying them?

It is always a good practice to view several pieces of tiles at standing distance of at least one meter away to have a realistic representation of a particular product.

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  4. Why do tiles come in different shades, tones or sub-sizes?

As ceramic tiles are made of natural materials that are compressed under high pressure before being kiln-fired at high temperatures, some variations will occur. Tiles will have variations in colour tones within the same batch, and more so from batch to batch.

For some tiles, these variations are part of the design to give the tiles a natural characteristic and charm.


When planning tile layout, dry-lay the tiles first to ensure the shades are harmonious and provide a minimum of 3mm tiling gap to accommodate sub-size variations and prevent buckling.

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  5. How many tiles do I need?

Measure the areas to be tiled and have your drawing plans, sketches and measurements on-hand.

To ensure that you have sufficient tiles to complete your project, it is advisable to buy an excess to cater for wastages, breakages and future replacements. A general guide for the percentage of excess would be to add on 5% to 10% for normal installation and 15% to 20% for diagonal installation or for rooms with many curves and corners.

Also see TILES ESTIMATOR to calculate the amount of tiles required.

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  6. Why do my tiles appear to be in a different shade from the ones I selected at the showroom?

Each batch of tiles will have shade variations, as this is an inherent characteristic of ceramic tiles. It is important to dry-lay the tiles first to ensure that you are satisfied with the colour of the tiles. It is also ideal to ensure that the lighting condition in the area being tiled is as close as possible to the final lighting condition, so that the final effect is as desired.

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  7. Why do I have to check the carton labels before receiving the products?

Quality tiles are clearly labelled on the carton packaging. It is important to always check the information on the cartons to confirm that the tiles purchased are of the required specifications.

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  8. Should I choose textured-surface tiles or smooth tiles?

Textured-surface tiles provide more slip-resistance, and are suitable for households with children, babies or elderly, and for outdoors or areas susceptible to wetness, such as driveways, wet kitchens and bathrooms.

If smooth tiles are preferred, limit the application to indoor areas such as dry bathrooms, bedrooms, living rooms and light cooking kitchens.

If slip resistance is a priority, note that the slip resistant characteristics on the textured-surface tile will trap dirt and will be difficult to clean.

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  9. Why are polished tiles easily stained?

Polished tiles are usually less stain resistant as the polishing process exposes microscopic pores, and spills trapped in the microscopic pores can be difficult to dislodge. It is important to quickly clean the spills before it dries.

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  10. Why did my tile get chipped?

Tiles are fired at high temperatures, making them hard and relatively non-resilient. It is best to avoid impact from hard objects.

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  11. What causes hollowness?

Hollowness can occur due to insufficient adhesive coverage under the tile, wrong adhesive used resulting in poor bonding and/or incorrect installation techniques.

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  12. Why did my tiles crack at the corners?

This is usually due to insufficient coverage of adhesive under the tile corners.

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  13. Why have deep cracks appeared across several of my tiles?

If cracks run in lines across several tiles, it is likely due to excessive movement in the substrate during shrinking and curing, or underlying structural issues.

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  14. Why did my floor tiles buckle?

The probable causes are insufficient width of tile joints, insufficient or absence of movement joints, inappropriate or adulterated adhesive, poor workmanship such as uneven substrate, shrinkage and expansion of overall flooring system, insufficient curing time and/or structural movement of buildings.

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  15. Why are fine cracks appearing on the glaze of my tiles?

Known as 'crazing', these fine hairline cracks on the glazed surface of the tile can be due to manufacturing defect, excessively thick adhesive application during installation, or high cement contents in the mortar causing high shrinkage during curing of the cement.

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  16. What is the white powdery substance which is appearing on my floor tiles?

The white powdery substance is an effect known as efflorescence, where soluble salts rise to the surface of a cement-based substrate. The powdery substance can be cleaned with mild diluted acid or vinegar, but there is no sure way to prevent reoccurence. Efflorescence does usually clear up over time with repeated cleaning, unless there ia an ongoing issue with rising dampness from the substrate.

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  17. What is optical hazing?

The glossy surface of polished porcelain is subject to a natural phenomenon known as optical hazing, which presents a smoky haze when the surface is struck by oblique light sources, such as the early morning sun, halogen and white lights. Optical hazing is not considered a defect and does not affect the technical characteristics of the tile.

The effects of optical hazing can be minimised by careful design planning, such as the use of curtains and blinds, and careful placement of furniture.

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  18. Why is cement not recommended as a grout?

A proper grout is formulated to have properties of good abrasion resistance, compressive and flexural strength, low shrinkage and low water absorption. While a cement mix is rigid and does not have these properties.

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  19. Why has my grout become soft & crumbly?

Crumbly grout is usually due to poor mixing and application. Before applying, mix the grout thoroughly to a consistent, thick and creamy paste. Ensure that the grout is compressed into the joint and completely fills the joint without voids. Is might also be possible that the grout has not fully hardened and cured before the floor was open for use.

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  20. What is the average lifespan of tiled surfaces?

If tiles are properly installed and maintained, it can last a lifetime, with porcelain tiles known to be the longest lasting.

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  21. Why can't tiles be butt joined?

Grout joints or tiling gaps are required to accommodate substrate movement underneath the tiles, minor tile size variations, shrinkage of cement, to provide allowance for workmanship, and to serve as vents for adhesive to cure. The recommended minimum tiling gap is 3mm for floors and 1.5mm for walls.


In general, on all ceramic tile surfaces, do avoid impact or vibration with metal parts.

For Ceramic or Glazed Tiles

  • As sand is one of the raw materials in producing ceramic tiles, it can scratch the glaze on the tiles.
  • Sweep or vacuum to remove loose sand and other contaminants before wet mopping.
  • Never use metal pads or brushes for cleaning as these can wear out the glaze.
  • Do not drag heavy objects such across tiled floors that are not specified for heavy-duty use.
  • Do quickly clean the spills before it dries, as the longer the spill stands on porous tiles the greater the possibility of staining.
  • Ensure that the cleaning agent used does not contain hydrofluoric acids or its compounds, as this may etch ceramic surfaces.

For Porcelain & Polished Porcelain Tiles

  • Use less aggressive cleaning agents for polished tiles, compared to unpolished, matte or honed finished porcelain tiles.
  • For polished tiles, wipe dry with a soft cloth to prevent water spots and to increase shine.
  • Do not allow cleaning agents to dry on the tile, as a coating may form, which will be difficult to remove.