Ceramic wall tiles - the basic shapes

Ceramic Tiles are considered hard wearing, waterproof and stain resistant, as such they are ideal for kitchen and bathroom walls.

While square and rectangles tiles are readily available and easy to use, more complex, often interlocking or irregular tiles, are available.

Square/Rectangular tiles.

Ceramic wall tiles are available in various sizes, common sizes are 100mm (4 inch) square, 150mm (6 inch) square, and 195x150mm (7¾ x 6 inch) rectangular but there is a wide choice of other sizes available.

Basic tilesUsually within a pattern style, square/rectangular tiles often offer various tile options:

  • Field tiles - for the general pattern - either with or without spacing lugs,
  • Single and double round edge tiles - for the border tiles,
  • Frieze tiles - to provide a horizontal pattern,
  • Decorative tiles - to give isolated decoration to break-up an area of fairly plain tiling.

Plain Field TilesPlain Field Tiles are square or rectangular with plain edges - usually with each edge unglazed however some tiles do have two adjacent edges glazed which enables one or both edges to be used as borders or external corner. Where all edges are unglazed, a border strip (normally plastic) needs to be fitted under the last row of tiles.

When Plain Field Tiles are being fixed, spacers need to be used between tiles to achieve the grouting space.

Spacer Field TilesSpacer Field Tiles incorporate spacing lugs on all four edges so that when they are fixed, the grouting gap is achieved just by pushing one tile up against those previously fixed.

To provide a border (or external corner) for these tile, a border strip (normally plastic) needs to be fitted under the last row of tiles.

Round Edged TilesRound Edge Tiles (aka RE tiles) are used for border edges and external corners.

When required, they need to be purchased separately from the 'field' tiles.

Not all patterns include Round Edge Tiles, so they may not be an option.

Where vertical tiling meets horizontal tiling, (as at a window sill), the round edged tiles are fitted on the horizontal surface with the vertical field tiles butting up under the front edge. To keep symmetry,where vertical tiling meets vertical tiling (as at the sides of a window), the round edged tiles are fitted on the window recess with field tiles on the main wall.

Double Round Edge TilesDouble Round Edge Tiles (aka REX tiles) are used for changes in border edges (i.e. where the border drops down) or corners.

Like Round Edge Tiles, they need to be purchased separately from the 'field' tiles where needed, generally very few will be required.

Again like Round Edge Tiles, not all patterns include Double Round Edge Tiles, so they may not be an option.

The positioning of double round edge tiles is similar to single edged above, i.e. on horizontal surfaces.

Frieze Tiles can come in type styles,

  • Full size Field Tiles with the frieze printed on (as illustrated above)- in which case, the appropriate number of tiles need to be purchased rather than standard Field Tiles.
  • Separate smaller Frieze Tiles where the width is the same as the Field Tiles but the height is only that of the frieze - these tiles are then just fixed in a line above a row or ordinary Field Tiles.

Decorative Tiles within a range can be various, these can be mixed and matched or one style used throughout, usually these tiles are available singly so that you can choose the number you require rather than buy a box.

As an alternative to using Decorative Tiles to break-up an area of tiling, self-adhesive tile transfers can be added once the tiling has been completed. This gives a wider choice of decorative designs but the transfers are not as robust as the patterns on decorative tiles.

Non-square tiles

Various options are available, commonly hexagonal, Provençal and mosaics.

Hexagonal TilesThe hexagonal and Provençal tiles fit together to give a uniform gap for grouting.

Provencale tiles Hexagonal and Provençal tiles are not normally available with friezes or rounded border edges but some styles are available in 'half' tiles so that a straight edge can be formed without having to cut tiles in half.

Mosaic Tiles are made up of small pieces of tiling to give either a pattern of shapes and colours or with a random layout with varying gaps for grout. Usually Mosaic Tiles come with the individual pieces mounted on a flexible mesh backing in the order of 30cm (12 inches) square, this keeps the pattern as defined during manufacture and makes this type quick to put up.

Normally the pattern is such that butting one square against another (with them both the same way up) will produce the desired pattern.