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Glazed Ceramic Tiles

Coating a tile with glaze adds both color and a hard protective surface to the tile. A glaze can also give the tile a satin, textured or glossy finish. Glazed tiles resist stains, scratches and fading, and they're easy to maintain.

To create different colors and designs, tiles are coated with a mixture of frit (ground glass) and metallic oxides (the glaze). The coated tile is then kiln-fired to yield a tough shiny or matte surface. There are two types of glazed ceramic tiles:

Single-Glaze Tiles
To produce single glazes, the glaze coating is applied directly to the tile before it is fired. Single-glazed tiles offer more vivid colors and are typically more durable than double-glazed and unglazed tiles, making them more suitable for floors.

Double-Glaze Tiles
Double glazes are produced by applying a glaze coat to tiles that have already been fired, then firing the tiles a second time. Double glazes show patterns better than single glazes, but are somewhat less durable, making them more suitable for lighter-traffic floors, floor accents and countertops.

Durability - Depends on how glaze was applied. Some glazes wear away with heavy traffic. Others are guaranteed for up to 15 years. In general, single glazes are harder and more durable than double glazes. Most manufacturers rate glazed floor tiles with a performance indicator for wear resistance, ranging from 1 (least durable) to 5 (most durable). The Home Depot requires that the rating be visible on the carton label. Also check the tile manufacturer's warranties.

Water Absorption - Most glazed floor tiles have a low water absorption rate, making them suitable for outdoor use and for rooms with a lot of moisture, such as bathrooms.

Maintenance - Single-glazed and double-glazed ceramic tiles are easy to clean - simply wipe with a wet cloth or sponge. To remove more difficult spills, dirt or stains, use a commercial cleaner that is pH-balanced to avoid damaging the glaze or grout.

Cost - Varies considerably, from $1 to $20 per square foot.

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