Ceramic tile technical specifications are key pieces of literature when it comes to selecting appropriate tiles for projects in Dubai, and indeed the rest of the world. To many, some of the details included within these documents might appear to resemble something quite foreign.
We’ve compiled this handy guide to ceramic tile specifications to deconstruct the information they contain. While some manufacturers in the region choose to conform to the US standards, which could be those formulated by one of either ANSI (American National Standards Institute) or ASTM International standard testing methods, Meraki Ceramics, as a British-owned company, conforms with standards developed by the European Union and the official International Standards (EN-159 and IS 13753).
This article has been formulated to help sort out the real meanings of some of the more important technical properties that buyers will need to be aware of, beginning with tile Dimensions and Surface Quality.
DIMENSIONS & SURFACE QUALITY
When we consider dimensions and surface quality, the key components here are accuracy and care in process of manufacture. Meraki Ceramics tests and conforms with the highest standards in the following areas regarding dimensions and surface quality:
Dimension – This relates to the accurate measurement of each manufactured tile, which, in order to conform with European standards, should be within 0.5% of the stated tile size. Our high demands for first rate quality and accuracy give our own tiles a standard range of +/- 0.2% – an industry leading figure.
Deviation in Thickness – As above, the deviation in thickness is a section that states the expected difference level in thickness from one tile in a batch to the next. While the European Standard demands no more than a plus or minus of 0.6mm, we strive to ensure our tiles will never deviate by more than 0.2mm.
Straightness on Side – A hugely important factor in preventing misaligned tile arrangements, the straightness on each side of the tile should not deviate by more than 0.3% as per European Union standards. With Meraki Ceramics products we aim to produce tiles that are within 0.2% in terms of straightness.
Rectangularity – There isn’t really much of a difference between the aforementioned straightness, and rectangularity. After all, if you are accomplishing straightness on each side, you’re likely to be achieving perfect rectangularity. The European Standard calls for +/- 0.5%, the Meraki Ceramics standard is +/-0.3%.
Surface Flatness – The evenness of flooring is so often overlooked, and can be determined by a number of factors, including poor installation method. However, it all begins with the quality of the tile surface. An uneven tile will contribute to poor flooring before the process of installation has even started. While the European Standard on Surface Flatness requires accuracy to within 0.5%, for Meraki Ceramics this figure is 0.3%.
Surface Quality – Surface quality refers to the standard of finish. Tile surfaces are observed perpendicularly at a set distance with a specific light intensity to allow for identification of defects visible with the naked eye. The list of defects that can go against the score of a particular tile is comprised of cracks, crazing, dry spots, unevenness, pinholes, glaze devitrification, specks or spots, chips, blisters and rough edges. The tile is then marked down from 100% according to the quality of surface. European Standards require a minimum score of 95%. Meraki Ceramics requires a minimum of 96% on all tiles.
Water Absorption – This is one of the most important factors in tile selection, if not the most, since in the majority of cases all tiles will at some point in their existence come into contact with water. Water absorption essentially is a measurement of how much moisture a tile will absorb on an ongoing basis. The reason this is important is because certain tiles have the potential to crack if the moisture penetration is too high. If a tile has a low water absorption percentage, durability and strength are higher. Low water absorption rates restrict the amount of water that can permeate through the tile and open it up to failure from freeze thaw or cyclic salt attack. The percentage for water absorption will often reflect the density of the tile’s body.
In all cases, we are generally looking for tiles with the lowest water absorption levels, because they are guaranteed to be the most hard-wearing, and less likely to succumb to catastrophic failure. If you see cracked tiles in completed projects here in Dubai, you can be sure it is due to a lack of attention paid to the water absorption rate of the product – most likely to save money in the short term without a long term view of the implications tile failure has further down the line. It should also be noted that lower water absorption rates also enable tiles to be more resistant to food or beverage stains. In our ceramic collections, water absorption percentages vary depending upon the tile choice, however none of collections exceed 14% water absorption, and in general they hit the 10% level, which is industry standard.
Bending Strength – Bending Strength is self-explanatory, and refers to the strength of the tile. A good ceramic tile will be able resist up to 150 kg.
Scratch Hardness (Moh) – To give customers a relative measurement detailing scratch resistance, we use the Moh’s Hardness Scale. This scale uses ten common minerals with established hardness and ranks them from 1 to 10 – with talc being the softest and ranking at 1, and diamond the hardest at 10. To give some context to the ranking numbers, case-hardened steel has a ranking of six, and this is used for drill bits. A good ceramic tile will hit a ranking of at least 3 on the hardness scale.
Crazing – While there are many tiles that provide a crackled finish (and we have plenty in our ranges), cracks on the surface are much less desirable on tiles that are supposed to be smooth, glossy and flawless. Crazing happens naturally over time, but if you’re purchasing a tile with up to 5 cycles crazing, you know this isn’t something you’re likely to have to worry about in your lifetime.
Slip Resistance is not a component we consider for ceramics, because there are no real life scenarios where a ceramic should be considered for floor tiles. Porcelain is the only choice here as it has far higher durability, water absorption and slip resistance than ceramic.
Other resistances that are far more pertinent to ceramics include acid resistance, household chemical and thermal shock, all of which should reach the European Standards which are outlined below.
We hope you’ve found our quick reference guide to ceramic tile technical specifications useful. Please contact us if you have any further enquiries about the quality of our tiles, or our recommendations for use in any of your projects.