The abrasion group plays an important role in the search for the right floor tiles. This is because it shows how well the product can withstand daily stress. In the following article you will find out into which abrasion classes tiles are classified and for which areas they are therefore suitable.

Whether in private living areas, for commercial use or outdoors – tiles are generally regarded as extremely robust and hard-wearing. Provided, of course, that they are actually able to cope with the daily stress in the respective area. The decisive criterion in this context is how much abrasion tiles produce – and there are sometimes quite big differences.

Glazed vs. unglazed tiles: Abrasion depends on the surface

Unglazed tiles are usually indestructible even under the highest stress and strain. The special manufacturing process makes the material as hard as diamonds and therefore resistant to surface damage and wear. In addition, unglazed tiles also score points in terms of slip resistance due to their rough surface. This means that they can be used in any area and in all rooms without any restrictions, without having to pay particular attention to slip resistance or abrasion resistance.

In contrast, abrasion is much more relevant for glazed tiles. The glaze makes the surface much more sensitive to external influences. This can not only lead to reduced slip resistance in wet or damp conditions, but over time also to wear and tear. These traces of use are often visible in the form of a loss of shine in the affected areas, particularly in the case of scratching dirt and grinding or rubbing movements when walking on the floor with shoes. And this in turn sometimes leads to limitations in the possible areas of application. Not least for this reason, ceramic glazed tiles are also assigned to an abrasion group according to DIN EN 10545-7.

Quality criterion abrasion class: Tiles in endurance test

In order to be able to assess the resistance of the surface to wear and tear, glazed tiles are therefore tested for their resistance to abrasion in a standardised test procedure. A machine produces artificial abrasion by rotating steel brushes with the addition of water and abrasives until the surface of the tiles visibly changes. Depending on how many rotations this is the case, the tiles are divided into abrasion groups 1 to 5 according to DIN EN 10545-7.

Which abrasion group tiles should have

The abrasion of glazed tiles depends both on the glaze itself (hardness, thickness, degree of gloss, etc.) and on the frequency of foot traffic, the degree of soiling and the type and intensity of use in the area in question.

All these factors are also taken into account in the abrasion class, which is why it is a decisive quality and selection criterion for tiles. In order to find out whether the tiles are suitable for the planned location, it is therefore worthwhile to pay attention to these classes when buying. The following overview shows what the respective tile abrasion class means in detail.

Abrasion groups at a glance

Abrasion group 1:

Tiles in this class are only suitable for very light use. The surface rubs off quickly and is extremely sensitive to scratching dirt. The recommended use for these tiles is in principle as wall covering. As floor coverings, they are only suitable – if at all – for rooms that are mainly walked on barefoot or only with very soft soles, such as slippers, when there is little foot traffic (for example bedrooms or bathrooms). Due to their low resistance and limited application, however, tiles of abrasion group 1 are generally only rarely offered by the tile manufacturers.

Abrasion group 2:

Group 2 tiles are already somewhat more robust: they can be used for rooms with light traffic. The surface resists minor scratching dirt and is therefore basically resistant enough to walk on with normal footwear. However, the inspection frequency should not be too high. Tiles of this abrasive group are therefore suitable for private living spaces, with the exception of heavily frequented and stressed areas, such as kitchens or stairs.

Abrasion group 3:

Class 3 tiles are most commonly found in private homes. They withstand medium loads well and are therefore suitable for most rooms with average foot traffic and dirt (e.g. living rooms, hallways, corridors). If the tiles are in principle approved for outdoor use, they can also be laid on balconies. Tiles of the abrasion group 3 can also be used in hotel rooms.

Abrasion group 4:

For rooms that are frequently entered with normal footwear or that are exposed to heavier loads, tiles in abrasion group 4 are recommended. they remain resistant to abrasion even under heavy loads and score points for their correspondingly long service life. Not only can they be used without restriction in the entire private living area, both inside and outside, but they are also resilient enough for public or commercial use. Tiles of this class are suitable for stairs, kitchens, terraces, offices, hotels, entrance areas etc.

Abrasion group 5:

Class 5 tiles are mainly used in commercial areas. They have maximum durability and abrasion resistance, which is why they are convincing even under the highest loads, foot traffic and dirt. Tiles of Abrasion Group 5 are mainly relevant for shops, restaurants and hotel lobbies, but also for garages, industrial halls, schools or railway stations. Such robust tiles are generally not necessary for private households.

For the sake of completeness, however, it should be mentioned again here that unglazed tiles can always be assigned to the highest abrasion class by default. Especially for highly frequented areas they are therefore sometimes the better choice. Particularly in the case of extreme stress, it is therefore advisable to rely on the material, which is by nature extremely abrasion-resistant.

Attention: Do not forget the anti-slip protection!

To ensure that tiles not only optimally withstand loads but also have the necessary slip resistance, attention should be paid to the anti-slip class of the tiles in addition to the abrasion group when selecting the tiles. This is particularly important for use in bathrooms, showers or outdoors. This is because the glaze of the tiles often tends to turn into a slide when wet or damp.

The classification of the slip resistance R9 to R13 shows the coefficient of static friction of glazed tiles and the angle of inclination up to which the surface can be walked on without risk. The suffix A, B or C also indicates how non-slip the tiles are in wet areas where bare feet are present (e.g. bathrooms, showers, swimming pools, etc.)

Extra tips against abrasion

The selection of the appropriate abrasive group already has a significant influence on the service life of glazed tiles. However, to ensure that the tiled floor remains free of visible signs of use for a longer period of time, the colour or brightness of the tiles should also be adapted to the use. For example, it is advisable not to use tiles that are too dark in areas subject to heavy traffic, as any changes in colour and gloss will be more noticeable on them. In addition, you should always use a chair pad under desks, for example.

Furthermore, it is of course important to clean the tiles regularly and properly. Due to the pressure and friction when walking on the floor, dirt and dust particles otherwise have a similar effect to sandpaper – and sooner or later this can have undesirable effects on the appearance of the tiles.

In areas with particularly heavy traffic, dirt-trapping mats or doormats can also be laid out to remove the coarsest dirt from street shoes and thus additionally protect the tiles.

While slip-resistant tiles are mandatory in public and commercial areas, there is no obligation whatsoever for the private sector. However, why you should also pay attention to the slip resistance of your tiles in your own four walls and how you can ensure the necessary slip resistance, you will find out in the following article.

Watch out, danger of slipping!

Universally applicable and hard-wearing, yet at the same time visually appealing and easy to clean: a floor covering made of tiles offers many undisputed advantages. If it weren’t for this small but sometimes momentous downer.

Tiles can quickly become quite smooth in wet or damp conditions. This is because water, grease and dirt significantly reduce the static friction coefficient of the surface. Especially in the bathroom, around the pool, on the terrace or even in the kitchen, one wrong step is often enough to lose your footing.

This is not only annoying, but above all can be dangerous. According to accident statistics, insufficiently slip-resistant floors are one of the most frequent causes of falls and injuries. A good reason, therefore, to attach importance to sufficient safety in areas with increased risk of slipping.

Non-slip tile: That’s what counts

Although slip-resistant tiles are not a must in the private sector, they are the best prevention against accidents. It is therefore best to pay attention to the slip resistance of tiles as early as the planning and purchasing decision.

Material and format

The material or the structure of the surface already gives a first visible hint. In general, the rule is: the rougher a tile is, the higher the slip resistance. For example, untreated natural stone or porcelain stoneware tiles are inherently relatively slip-resistant, while glazed, impregnated or high-gloss polished tiles are generally less able to meet the requirements.

The size of the tiles also has an influence on slip resistance: with smaller formats, the proportion of joints on the floor surface is higher – and this also has a positive effect on slip resistance. This is one of the reasons why mosaic tiles are often used, especially in areas with an increased amount of water (e.g. showers or swimming pools), as the many joints give the floor a kind of braking effect.

Anti-slip classes according to DIN standard

However, it is not possible to determine at a glance how slip-resistant the tile actually is. Much more decisive is therefore the marking based on standardised slip resistance classes. However, these have nothing in common with the tile abrasion group.

Although these are primarily important for compliance with the legal requirements for non-slip tiles in the commercial or public sector, they naturally also offer private consumers a reliable guide to help them choose the right tiles.

Assessment of slip resistance: Tiles in test procedure

As with any other floor covering, the assessment of the slip resistance of tiles is carried out according to a special procedure: the so-called walk on sloping ground. In order to determine the static friction coefficient of the tiles, an expert test person from the tile manufacturer walks back and forth on the surface to be tested, whereby the angle of inclination of the tile is increased more and more by lifting it to one side. Depending on the commercial sector in which the floor covering is to be used, the test is carried out either with footwear on oil or barefoot on water, in order to simulate as real a use as possible. As soon as the test person begins to slip or become unsteady on the prepared surface, the test ends.

Classification according to evaluation groups

Based on these results, slip-resistant tiles are now assigned to the corresponding evaluation groups R9 to R13 according to DIN standard 51130 as follows

Class R9:

low coefficient of static friction, safe to step on at an angle of inclination of 6 – 10°, suitable for e.g. living rooms, interior stairs, entrance areas etc.

Class R10:

normal coefficient of static friction, safe to step on at an angle of inclination of 11 – 19°, suitable for e.g. outdoor stairs or tiles in outdoor areas, bathrooms, balconies / terraces etc.

Class R11:

increased coefficient of static friction, safe to step on at an angle of inclination of 20 – 27°; suitable for e.g. outdoor installations,

Class R12:

high coefficient of static friction, safe to step on at an angle of inclination of 28 – 35°, suitable for e.g. cold stores, hospitals, canteen kitchens

Class R13:

very high coefficient of static friction, safe to step on at an angle of inclination of over 35°, suitable for e.g. workshops, slaughterhouses, production halls etc.

If the floor covering is also suitable for use in so-called wet barefoot areas according to DIN 51097, an additional value is added to the tiles:

Class A:

very low slip resistance, slip resistance up to an angle of inclination of 12°, suitable for dry to maximum wet floors

Class B:

medium slip resistance, slip resistance up to an angle of inclination of 18°, suitable for wet floors

Class C:

high slip resistance, sure-footed up to an angle of inclination of 24°, suitable for swimming pools

What slip resistance tiles need in private homes

Depending on the slip class to which tiles are assigned, this results in the possible areas of application. However, it must always be kept in mind that the evaluation groups apply primarily in the commercial sector – and there the requirements for tile slip resistance are much higher than in private use. In addition, with tiles of higher slip-resistance classes, the cleaning effort also increases because the surface is rougher. The motto with regard to surefootedness at home is therefore: less is often more.

For normal domestic use, therefore, tiles of the R9 and R10 rating groups are usually laid. Even their “low” to “normal” coefficient of static friction usually meets the requirements for adequate slip resistance completely without the floor covering losing its attractiveness and comfort.

In sanitary rooms or outdoor areas, a higher degree of slip resistance can be achieved, if required, by using rating groups “B” or “C” and with tiles R10 and R11. Especially if people often walk barefoot there, this can of course be highly recommended. Class R12 and R13 tiles, on the other hand, are basically designed for special, mostly industrial areas and are therefore no longer relevant for private use.

Making smooth tiles non-slip

Ideally, the slip resistance is therefore already taken into account during the planning or laying phase. But even if it only turns out afterwards that certain areas are too slippery, this does not necessarily mean that the leg is broken. After all, even in retrospect there are various methods of improving slip resistance:

  • A simple but very effective option are self-adhesive anti-slip strips. These are simply stuck onto the smooth areas at specific points and thus provide more grip. They are particularly suitable for stair steps, but can also be used in wet areas.
  • In order to increase the slip resistance on larger surfaces, adhesive coverings and foils are suitable, which can also be applied relatively easily.
  • In addition, there are special anti-slip coatings or varnishes with which the entire surface can be provided.
  • Another possibility is to treat the tiles mechanically (e.g. by sandblasting or compressed air technology), chemically (e.g. fluorine, chlorine or ammonium compounds) or with laser technology and thereby additionally roughen the surface.

The right tile adhesive is one of the most important criteria for an optimal result when tiling. Unfortunately, it is not always easy to find it among the countless products. That’s why good advice is needed – and that’s exactly what this article is supposed to offer you.

What is the important thing with tile adhesive?

Laying tiles is not exactly the easiest thing to do. In order to achieve the desired quality, you need not only manual skill and the utmost care in preparation and execution, but above all the right material. And this applies not only to the tile itself, but also to the tile adhesive.

But this is also the key point that challenges even experienced craftsmen when making purchases. At first glance, tile adhesives appear to be almost indistinguishable. And also their actual function, i.e. to glue tiles, is basically fulfilled by all of them. However, you should not choose a product arbitrarily. Ultimately, the decisive factor is for which tiles, on which substrates and in which application areas the respective adhesive is suitable. And when it comes to these factors, not every product is the same.

What types of tile adhesives are available?

Basically, a distinction is made between cement-based and non-cement-based tile adhesives, although within these two categories there are different variants:

Cementitious tile adhesives

Cement adhesives are the most commonly used today for laying tiles. Although the term “adhesive” is actually not quite accurate in this case. In truth, these are not so much tile adhesives in the literal sense of the word as mortars.

The products usually consist of a cement-sand base and various additives and are available as dry mixtures in bags or buckets. To become ready for use, the powder only needs to be mixed with water to form a lump-free mortar mass. The adhesive effect results from hydraulic curing. This means that by adding water, the cement becomes solid and thus ensures the necessary adhesion of the tile.

But beware: This setting process is relatively fast, which is why it is necessary to process it as quickly as possible. You should therefore not mix too much tile adhesive at once, otherwise it will not be possible to apply it. Completely dry and thus resilient, the adhesive is usually after about 24 hours, the product contains special accelerators, the time span is even shorter.

Cement adhesives are very useful for laying on the wall as well as on the floor. In principle, they can be used on all rigid, absorbent surfaces, such as concrete, screed or plaster. In addition, they are water-resistant and frost-proof and are therefore also suitable for tiles in outdoor areas without further ado.

Flexible adhesive

The so-called flex adhesives offer even more application possibilities indoors and outdoors. They also belong to the cement-based tile adhesives, but become a real all-round genius thanks to special plastic additives.

Firstly, the plastic component allows the material to cure more flexibly. This enables flex adhesive to better compensate for vibrations, tensions and movements in the substrate and thus prevents cracks or chipping in the tile. This is particularly advantageous when laying tiles on subfloors such as dry screeds, fibre cement, plasterboard and wooden floors, but also for tiles on underfloor heating systems.

Secondly, the plastic provides a significantly higher adhesive strength than is the case with conventional cement adhesives. This means that flexible mortar not only ensures a secure hold on difficult or particularly smooth surfaces (e.g. tiles on tiles), but also when laying tiles with a very dense or glassy surface, such as porcelain stoneware or mosaics.

But all these advantageous properties have their price, of course. Flex adhesives are generally much more expensive than standard tile adhesives.

Natural stone adhesive

Since conventional cement adhesive is not suitable for natural stone, there are special natural stone adhesives for this purpose. Although these products also contain cement, they bind the water particularly quickly. This prevents the cement from settling via the water in the sensitive and porous surface and causing discoloration. In addition, the adhesive is usually white or transparent, which does not affect the appearance of the natural stone tiles.

Fluid bed adhesive

When laying tiles on large floor areas, special cement adhesives are also frequently used: the so-called fluidised bed adhesives. Their consistency can be flexibly varied between more or less liquid, depending on the amount of water added, so that they are – as the name suggests – suitable for fluid beds. This means that they do not have to be applied to each tile separately like the otherwise much more viscous standard tile adhesives, but can be spread directly on the floor. Since the back of the tiles is completely wetted with adhesive with this laying method, cavities under the tiles can be excluded. That is why fluidised bed adhesives not only provide optimum adhesion for large-format tiles, but are also ideal for outdoor applications. This is because cavities can quickly lead to frost damage, especially in these areas.

Non-cement-based tile adhesives

As this article is about an overview of the different types of tile adhesives, the repertoire of course also includes non-cement-based adhesives. However, this is more for the sake of completeness, as in practice these play a rather minor role.

Dispersion adhesive

Dispersion adhesives are water-soluble tile adhesives based on plastics, which are usually already available as ready-to-use mixtures. The biggest advantage of these adhesives is that they are more flexible after curing and have a higher adhesive strength than cement mortar. For this reason, dispersion adhesives are also mostly used on smooth surfaces (e.g. plasterboard or rigid foam).

On the other hand, there are also significant disadvantages: dispersion adhesives are not frost-resistant and are therefore only suitable for indoor use. And even there there are certain restrictions: Dispersions do not harden by setting like cement, but by drying, which makes the process much longer. For wall tiles this does not play a major role in principle, but dispersion adhesives are less recommended for the laying of floor tiles for this reason.

Reaction resin adhesive

Reaction resin adhesives can be useful primarily in commercial areas where particularly high demands are placed on the tile adhesive (e.g. commercial kitchens, laboratories, industry, etc.). Due to their excellent adhesive performance and high flexibility, they are not only suitable for critical substrates such as plastic, metal or glass, but are also resistant to chemicals.

However, reaction resin adhesives are hardly to be found in the private sector. Not least because of their complex processing: they consist of two components (synthetic resin and hardener), which must be joined together before a chemical reaction can finally ensure curing.

When buying tile adhesive, the following applies: Pay attention to the brand

Once the question of the appropriate type of tile adhesive has been clarified, it is “only” a matter of selecting the specific product. It definitely does not fail because of the selection. Because no matter whether in the DIY store or in the online shop – products are available in abundance.

The recommendation here is quite clear: quality before price. Or to put it another way: If you want to play it safe, you can also rely on branded products from well-known manufacturers, such as

  • Ardex
  • CMI
  • Knob
  • Lugato
  • MEM
  • PCI
  • Sopro
  • U. v. m.

These probably cost a little more than private labels or no-name products. But for the price you will certainly also get products made from higher quality raw materials, which usually meet all the necessary quality criteria according to DIN EN 2004. Many brand manufacturers also offer their customers a free service hotline for questions and support before or during installation.

Speaking of embarrassing: One final word of advice.

Which tooth size for which tiles?

Whereas tiles used to be fixed to walls or floors with a good portion of mortar, this is now usually done using the thin-bed method. The tile adhesive is applied over the entire surface using a toothed trowel. The size of the teeth depends on the tile format and also has an effect on the tile adhesive requirement. The exact recommendations can be found in the manufacturer’s specifications, whereby the following applies as a general guideline:

Tile edge length up to 100 mm: 6 mm tooth size

Tile edge length 100 to 200 mm: 8 mm tooth size

Tile edge length 200 to 300 mm: 10 mm tooth size

Tile edge length from 300 mm: 12 mm tooth size

As technically sophisticated as the production and firing process of tiles has become, it is not impossible that slight normal deviations in dimensions may occur. This is quite simply because tiles are produced at very high temperatures while at the same time enormous pressure is applied. However, in order to achieve the most accurate result possible during installation, such deviations are undesirable.

Because they lead to the fact that with jointing mortar for tiles, corresponding levelling must be carried out, which in many cases unfortunately becomes optically visible in the form of joints of varying width. This applies to both floor and wall tiles.

But there are solutions for exactly this dilemma, namely calibrated or better yet rectified tiles. For both types an additional edge processing takes place in order to create tiles that are as identical as possible. Whether calibrated or rectified tiles are preferred for a particular project depends primarily on the final desired width of the joint. Rectified models enable a much more precise result.

What happens during calibration?

Calibrated tiles have meanwhile become the standard product . This refers to the exact adjustment of the tiles to the desired size. Cutting is usually carried out in such a way that edges are created at an angle of 90 degrees. In principle, however, other production dimensions are also conceivable. Calibration is often used for natural stones or ceramic tiles.

If the calibration is carried out as precisely as possible, the joints between the tiles can be very small. Sometimes, however, this is not even desired or necessary (e.g. in the case of polygonal tiles laid in mosaic style).

What is a rectified tile?

For rectified tiles an additional correction takes place after production: With the help of diamond saws they are precisely ground. This means that no deviations or unevenness remains on the edges after the machine finishing and all tiles have the same dimensions.

By rectifying tiles, you give them a sharp 90 degree edge. As a result, it is easy to lay tile after tile and the joints are very narrow, which is often preferred in the area of floor tiles.

Rectified tiles are always marked with the addition “Rettificato” as a quality feature.

What are the advantages and do rectified tiles have disadvantages?

On the one hand, due to the straight edge, they allow an exact and simplified installation as well as a homogeneous joint pattern with a filigree joint dimension of less than 2 mm width. This is particularly important for large areas, so that exact calculations can be made and no shifts occur. In order to obtain a precise result, it is of course still necessary to work with spacers for the joints in rectified models. The overall optical result is then flawless.

Due to the further processing step, however, rectified tiles are naturally more expensive. Especially for less experienced people, laying with calibrated tiles is therefore much easier, as they allow a more flexible joint width and require less precision. The slight variations in the edges underline the desired design, especially in the case of tiles with a natural look, so custom-made Rettificato models are less suitable for this.

Whether to choose rectified or calibrated is therefore ultimately not only a financial but also a technical decision and depends on the width of the joint. The bottom line is that tiles are easy to lay when they are rectified, but it also means that precise procedures are essential.

Before this consideration can take place, it is important to choose the correct tile for the particular need and to be well informed about the different options and respective advantages. A distinction is generally made between stoneware, earthenware and porcelain stoneware tiles, with the latter variant in particular being increasingly used for floor and wall tiles in living rooms and bathrooms, as well as for stair coverings.

The outstanding breaking strength of the mixture of feldspar, sand and clay used in its production makes fine stoneware tiles also ideal for outdoor applications, for example for laying garden paths or terraces. There is also an almost endless range of possibilities in terms of slip resistance, weather resistance and, of course, design.

What does lappato mean in tiles?

The Lappato technique can be applied to porcelain stoneware tiles and refers to the partial polishing of the tiles. Since this does not happen over the whole surface, beautiful transitions are created that look like a silky shimmer.

This effect is particularly effective on large surfaces and with narrow joints between the individual tiles. In any case, Lappato tiles should be laid indoors. Although the slip resistance is higher than that of polished tiles, the requirements are even higher for tiles in outdoor areas.

Tiles convince not only through functionality and comfort, but also through their appearance. To keep it that way as long as possible, regular cleaning is of course indispensable. In the following article, we will give you useful information and practical tips on how to effectively remove various smaller and larger stains from your tiles.

Tiles are extremely hard-wearing and robust. No wonder that they are particularly popular where walls and floors are in great demand. However, dirt, stains and deposits cannot be avoided, especially under heavy use. And over time, this can leave its mark on even the most grateful tiles.

The bad news in this context: To keep your wall and floor tiles clean or to make them clean again, you unfortunately have no choice but to clean them. But the good news is that tiles are basically quite easy to clean.

Tile cleaning: Simple, but with certain differences

Generally speaking, cleaning clay tiles does not require much. They are generally very easy to clean and can usually be kept in good condition with a vacuum cleaner, cloth and clear water.

Most tiles are also quite resistant to cleaning agents. Most, but not all. With ceramic tiles, you can in principle use all common products without hesitation. However, anyone who wants to clean unglazed porcelain stoneware tiles should make sure that they do not contain any surfactants. Tiles made of natural stone, on the other hand, are the famous exception to the rule: The sensitive surface needs particularly gentle cleaning and should, if at all, only be treated with special cleaners.

In addition to the material of the tiles, the type of dirt also plays a role. On the one hand, in terms of the effort involved and on the other hand, how best to deal with the dirt. So it makes a difference whether you are dealing with everyday dust and conventional street dirt in the hallway, grease splashes in the kitchen or stubborn lime stains in the bathroom.

Tips from A for all-purpose cleaner to Z for toothbrush: How to clean tiles properly

In other words: Tiles are not the same and dirt is not the same as dirt. This makes it all the more important to have the optimum procedure, the suitable cleaning agents and aids or the best household remedies for every application. And the following tips should help you do just that.

First basic cleaning: Cleaning of tiles after laying

The first step for beautiful and clean tiles is a thorough cleaning after the laying work. Warm water alone can have a great effect: To remove the remains of the jointing mortar, first of all simply wipe the newly laid tiles carefully with a damp cloth or sponge.

If a grey cement veil remains nevertheless, you now have several further possibilities. For example, there are various special chemical cleaners available in the trade with which you can easily get the dirt off the tiles. However, you should pay attention to the ingredients (e.g. hydrochloric or phosphoric acid) so that the product is also suitable for the material of your tiles.

Alternatively, you can also use household remedies. Lemon juice or a mixture of vinegar essence and water can also be used to remove the cement film: simply apply to the tiles, leave to work for a few minutes and wipe thoroughly with clear water. This may require a little more effort because you may have to repeat the process more often, but it is also much cheaper and more environmentally friendly.

What is important in any case: Wait with cleaning until the joints (including the expansion joints of the tiles) are completely hardened (approx. 7 days) in order not to risk damage.

Clean floor tiles

Floor tiles are exposed to more or less high loads, depending on the area of application. Thus the degree of soiling also varies from light to heavy. And this logically requires different procedures for cleaning. But of course there are also helpful tips for each specific case (most of which can be applied to the cleaning of wall tiles):

  • The most important basic rule for clean floor tiles: Clean regularly. This means that dirt has fewer chances from the outset and the overall effort is kept within limits.
  • In case of loose dirt and dust, it is best to simply reach for a broom or vacuum cleaner as quickly as possible so that the dirt cannot spread and become stuck.
  • In addition to dry cleaning, you should of course also wipe your floor tiles wet at regular intervals. The recommendation here is usually once a week, or more often if there is heavy use. All you usually need is clean, warm water, any cleaning system (e.g. mop) and a suitable cover (ideally made of cotton).
  • Of course you can also add a few drops of cleaning agent to the mopping water. In the case of ceramic tiles, standard household or all-purpose cleaners or simple washing-up liquid are completely sufficient. You can also clean porcelain stoneware with anything, as long as it does not contain any surfactants. This is because the residues can settle in the porous surface, making the tiles much more difficult to clean over time. To be on the safe side, alkaline or acidic cleaners (e.g. acetic or citric acid) are therefore the better choice for porcelain stoneware.
  • You should generally avoid aggressive cleaning agents for tiles. On the one hand it is usually not necessary anyway and on the other hand it can damage both tiles and joints in the long run.
  • Remember to change the mopping water regularly when cleaning floor tiles so that the dirt absorbed does not get back onto the tiles and, above all, into the joints.
  • After wiping, it is recommended to dry the tiles with a microfibre cloth. This means that excess water cannot leave behind limescale stains – and the floor remains free of streaks even if too much cleaning agent is used.
  • Heavily soiled tiles are best cleaned by soaking: Apply the water-cleaner mixture generously to the affected areas and let it soak in for a few minutes before wiping your floor tiles clean as usual. Particularly stubborn stains can be additionally treated with a brush, for dried incrustations the ceramic hob scraper from the kitchen can also be useful. If all this does not help, there are still special remedies for stains in the tile trade. TIP: Do not use sharp or pointed objects or metal meshes to scrape off any dirt – they could damage the tiles despite their resistance.
  • If you generally do not feel like scrubbing, you can use a steam cleaner instead. The practical devices are ideal for cleaning floor tiles and dissolve even heavy dirt almost by themselves.
  • If you prefer natural cleaning, you can fall back on proven household remedies: vinegar, citric acid or orange peel usually remove dirt just as reliably as the considerably more expensive cleaning agents. Curd soap and soft soap are also alternatives worth considering, especially the latter is even suitable for cleaning natural stone tiles.

Cleaning bathroom tiles

In general, the same recommendations apply when cleaning bathroom tiles as in any other room. With one special feature: In the bathroom, the dirt consists mainly of lime deposits – especially where walls and floors frequently come into contact with water. Here are a few additional tips:

  • The best tip against annoying lime spots is to avoid them at first. Ideally, you should therefore remove the water from your bathroom tiles with a squeegee and/or a dry, absorbent cloth immediately after each shower. Do not forget the joints!
  • Remaining lime residues are best removed with the popular household remedy vinegar. Take the cheapest household vinegar or mix vinegar essence 1:1 with water and wipe the calcified tiles with it. Allow the vinegar to soak in for a few hours before rinsing thoroughly with warm, clear water. Tip: Since vinegar is highly acidic, you should avoid the joints as much as possible when applying the product.
  • The alternative to vinegar is lemon juice or orange peel. Simply rub the calcified tiles with it, let it take effect and rinse with clear water as usual. A positive side effect: the citrus fruits not only remove limescale, but also leave a wonderfully fresh scent in the bathroom.
  • An insider tip against lime are dishwasher tabs. Dissolve the tab completely in a spray bottle of water and spray the mixture onto the tiles. After a short reaction time of approx. 15 to 20 minutes, the lime residues should be easily removed with a damp cloth. TIP: You can achieve the same effect with denture cleanser or vitamin C tablets.
  • For heavily calcified tiles, rinse aid is also often used. When applied diluted with water (or undiluted in cases of hardness), the unsightly white stains should disappear quickly.
  • Limescale deposits on natural stone tiles are easily removed with gemstone soap. Put a little soap in warm water and wash the tiles with it. Afterwards you should wipe with clear water to avoid a lubricating film.

Cleaning tiles in the kitchen

What is lime in the bathroom is fat in the kitchen. Grease stains are a daily occurrence, especially on the wall tiles around the stove. To remove them, however, it does not take much:

  • Warm water and dishwashing detergent usually already achieve the desired result.
  • Liquid detergent also dissolves the grease and gives your kitchen a new shine.
  • Encrusted areas can be additionally treated with curd soap and brush.

Clean rough tiles

If tiles are particularly rough, dirt particles can settle more easily. But with the right tips you can also clean rough tiles very easily:

  • Microfibre cloths are very useful on rough surfaces, as the fine fibres penetrate deep into the pores and even get out deep-seated dirt.
  • With a dirt eraser you can also get rid of the dirt on your rough tiles.
  • In case of coarser dirt, it is recommended to wipe the tiles with vinegar water.
  • You can also clean heavily soiled areas on rough tiles with a versatile household remedy: baking powder. To do this, make a paste with water and apply it to the tiles. Then spray some vinegar on the paste and let it work for about 15 minutes. If necessary, you can also help with a toothbrush before you finally clean the treated area thoroughly.

Cleaning old tiles

If tiles are already a bit old, yellowing often occurs. A mixture of salt and turpentine helps to get rid of the unsightly yellow veil.

Clean matt porcelain stoneware tiles

In the course of time, tiles can become dull. Rub your tiles with ammonia or ammonia solution – and they will look like new again. You can also use rinse aid, linseed oil or hair shampoo to make matt tiles shine.

Clean joints

A not very popular (because it is much more complex), but at least as important topic is joint cleaning. Finally, here are a few valuable tips and household remedies:

  • Wipe the joints in the same way with all-purpose cleaner and a damp cloth when cleaning your tiles. In this way you keep the dirt – and the associated cleaning effort – within limits from the outset.
  • Dirty joints are made nice and clean again with a paste of baking powder and water. Simply apply with an old toothbrush, let it work for a short time and rinse off with water. Of course you can also use a special joint brush.
  • As an alternative to baking powder, you can clean the joints of your tiles with soda. The procedure is basically the same as for baking powder, as is the effect. Please note, however, that soda may cause skin irritation.
  • And you will often find another tried and tested household remedy when grouting and cleaning tiles: With baking soda you can not only remove dirt, but also prevent the formation of mould.

If you want tiles, you also need joints – and therefore sooner or later you have to find the right grout. Compared to the tiles themselves, the choice is much less extensive, but the decision is no less important. Read this article to find out what types of grout are available and how to choose the right product for your tile project at home.

The tasks of joints

There are two main reasons why grouting tiles is so important: one visual and one technical. On the one hand, joints set design accents and give wall or floor tiles their final, characteristic appearance. On the other hand, they compensate for movements of the tiles or the substrate, distribute acting forces, prevent the penetration of moisture under the tiles and ensure a hygienically closed surface. In other words: joints take over several central functions for a durable, flawless, robust and hard-wearing tile covering.

However, the decisive factor is to find the right grout for the tiles used, the existing substrate and the degree of stress in the respective area of application. After all, not every grout is equally suitable for the different requirements in terms of durability, use and load of the tiles.

What kind of grout is available?

A large number of different grouts are available in stationary specialist shops, DIY stores or online. Apart from brand and price, these differ primarily in their composition. Depending on the raw material base, jointing mortars are divided into the following categories:

Normal joint mortar / cement joints / joint white

The classic joint mortar – commonly referred to as joint white – consists of fine cement, colour pigments and fillers without a plastic content. Simple joints in tiles or slabs can usually be produced without problems and at a reasonable price with this type of grout.

However, it should be noted that the material does not guarantee water-repellent joints, which means that conventional cement grout is not recommended for tiles in damp or wet rooms . In addition, the grout made of conventional, cement-based tile mortar is relatively rigid and should therefore only be used on flexurally rigid and thus vibration-free substrates.

Flexible joint mortar / Polymer-modified cement joint / Flex joint

In principle, flexible joints are also cement grouts – but enriched with plastics. These make the grout more elastic, so that material movements and surface tensions (e.g. with vibrating substrates or temperature fluctuations) of the tiles can be compensated. In addition, flex joints are usually water-repellent and improve the tile’s flank adhesion.

This means that jointing compounds made of polymer-modified cement can be used in a variety of ways and also for more demanding applications. The areas of application range from wall and floor tiles subject to higher loads to tiles on underfloor heating systems and other problematic substrates to patio tiles or tiles in rooms subject to splashing water or wetness, such as bathrooms or showers.

Rapid jointing mortar

Wherever newly laid tiles need to be reused quickly, fast grouting mortars are often used. These grouts set within a few hours and are then both waterproof and frost-proof (partly suitable for tiles in outdoor areas). In addition, fast-setting grouts can be washed off the tiles earlier and at the same time longer, which is particularly advantageous when grouting large areas. As a rule, this type of grout is mainly used in the commercial sector, less so for private individuals at home.

High strength jointing mortar

If tiles are exposed to heavy loads, high-strength grouts are recommended. The extra-fine microcement jointing compound hardens particularly densely, then exhibits a very high abrasion resistance and is even resistant to weak acids.

Epoxy resin jointing mortar

Where even the best cement grout is no longer sufficient, expoxy resin grouts are used. They are diffusion-tight, resistant to chemicals, easy to clean (important for clean tiles with tile cleaner) and extremely hard-wearing. The solvent-free two-component joint sealants are therefore often used on complicated substrates or in wet areas exposed to water, such as swimming pools, wellness areas, commercial kitchens, laboratories, etc.

However, all these advantages are counterbalanced by disadvantages – first and foremost the elaborate processing and the higher price. But even the completely vapour-tight surface can become a problem if penetrated moisture under the tiles can no longer escape.

Grout colours: What works how?

As mentioned at the beginning, besides the functional benefit, the optical effect of joints should not be disregarded. Especially the colour play of grout – tiles can make a room look completely different. For example, a surface is generally considered to be much more harmonious when tiles and grout are colourful tone on tone, while strong contrasts are often used as a conscious element of interior design.

This should definitely be taken into account when deciding on a suitable grout. However, the colour sorting of many tile manufacturers is unfortunately not always very varied – most articles are offered in various gradations of the classics white and grey, with more and more alternatives being offered online in particular.

Even ambitious craftsmen know: tiling is not that easy. It requires craftsmanship, experience and precise execution. Otherwise, mistakes can quickly happen that cannot be easily eradicated. So if you don’t think you can do it yourself, you should probably leave the laying to a professional. The decisive question in this context is then quickly: What will the tiler cost me? The answer to this question is revealed in this article.

What are the costs of tiling?

One thing in advance: It is not easy to give a general answer to the question of how much the laying of tiles by a professional actually costs. This is because the tiler price depends on several factors and can therefore vary greatly depending on the project.

What the tiling will cost is always influenced by the following three components:

  • Material
    • which tile manufacturer
  • Workload
  • possible additional services
    • must the substrate first be levelled with a leveling system for tiles?
    • must the substrate be levelled with a levelling compound for tiles?

These costs are usually quoted per square metre, which is also the most reliable basis of calculation for you as a customer. This allows you to estimate the total cost of tiling a given area when you request a quotation.

Material costs

The tiles themselves naturally account for the largest share of the material costs. The following applies: the price differences are just as large as the selection. While simple ceramic floor tiles or promotional items are already available from 5 to 10 euros per square metre, extravagant brand-name tiles or special formats, such as mosaic tiles, for example, can also be considerably more expensive at 70 to 100 euros per square metre. On average, however, high-quality tiles usually cost between 20 and 40 euros per m2. When making your choice, make sure that the tile is suitable for the desired application. You should pay particular attention to the tile abrasion class and in the bathroom or on the terrace additionally to the skid resistance of the tiles. This may increase the costs a little bit, but the higher quality is definitely worth it in these cases.

In addition, there is also the tile mortar or tile adhesive during laying or the grout. Depending on the size of the tiles, joint width and the filling material used for the expansion joints of the tiles, the costs per m 2 for this can be between 2 euros and 11 euros.

The total cost of the material depends, of course, on the surface on which you want to lay the tiles. Because on the one hand, this determines how many square metres of tiles you need, and on the other hand, what tile mortar or adhesive is required.

You can easily calculate a guide value for the material requirements:

For a floor installation, multiply the length and width of the room, for wall tiles take instead the height up to which the tiles should be placed. Also remember to allow for about 10 percent reserve for cuttings, breakage or later repairs.

Labour costs

The choice of tiles also influences how much the laying work costs. This is because tilers calculate the estimated work required with the corresponding tile and also convert this into costs per m2. In addition to the cost of laying tiles, the prices quoted per m 2 usually also include grouting and other necessary sealing work (e.g. silicone or acrylic joints). If not, this usually adds about 1 to 2 euros per meter.

The price per square meter is influenced by several factors:

Thus, floor plans that require complex cutting of the tiles increase costs just as much as special requests or complicated patterns. In addition, glued installation is in principle cheaper than laying tiles in a mortar bed. On the one hand, even large-format tiles often mean less work and correspondingly lower costs because they can be laid more quickly. On the other hand, however, they must also be aligned much more precisely, which at the same time increases the effort required. The trend towards particularly narrow joints, often associated with large tiles, can also increase costs.

As a rule, the cost of a tiler is between 30 euros and 50 euros per m 2. However, the above-mentioned influencing factors can by all means increase the costs per m 2 by another 10 to 20 euros. In addition, regional price differences may exist: For example, tiles are generally more expensive to lay in the city than in the countryside – and the well-known West-East divide also plays a role.

Some tilers prefer, especially for complicated orders, to charge according to actual time spent instead of a price per m 2. An example of this is the laying of tiles on stairs, as the amount of work involved here is above average in relation to the area. An hourly rate of at least 40 euros is normally customary in the industry, but the costs can sometimes be considerably higher depending on the requirements or qualifications of the tilers.

Additional services

In addition to material and installation work, additional costs may also be incurred. For example, you should check whether the offer already includes the filling and priming of the surface. This is because this work is required relatively frequently and can also cost around 5 euros per square metre extra. Also the installation of edge or skirting boards usually costs around 5 euros per meter extra. Not to be forgotten are possible costs for travel, construction site equipment or transport or delivery of the tiles.

Example: Costs for 20 square meters of tiles

On the basis of the cost factors for tiling, which have now been explained, the following exemplary calculation now shows what a tiler can cost for 20 m2 :

  • Tiles (porcelain stoneware, abrasion class 2, non-slip, EUR 30,-/m2) 600,- Euro
  • Tile adhesive (permanently elastic, EUR 7,-/m2) 140,- Euro
  • Filling and priming (extra charge, EUR 5,-/m2) 100,- Euro
  • Labour costs for tilers (EUR 40,-/m2) 800,- Euro
  • Additional services (installing skirting boards, setting silicone joints) 150,- Euro
  • Journey all-inclusive 70,- Euro

Total for 20 m2 Have tiles laid 1,860.- Euro

The best saving tips when tiling

All in all, it can be quite expensive to hire a tiler. Therefore we have a few tips on how you can reduce costs:

  1. It pays to compare prices
  2. You can also save on the installation itself, for example by dispensing with elaborate installation patterns or by not selecting a joint width that is too small.
  3. Avoid billing on an hourly rate to avoid unforeseeable cost developments. Instead, it is better to agree on a flat rate if a price per square metre is not possible.
  4. In addition, you can already make some advance payments yourself, which the tiler would otherwise charge for. For example, you can prepare the substrate by cleaning, smoothing and priming it yourself.
  5. You can also do the grouting or sealing with silicone yourself. Compared to tiling itself, this is almost child’s play.

Tiles convince not only by their attractive appearance and durability, but above all by their durability. Optimum adhesion to the substrate is the be-all and end-all – and for this you need the right conditions. In this article, you will learn how to ensure that your tiles have a lasting hold and what a decisive role the primer plays in this context.

The right substrate for tiles

Whether cement, concrete, plaster or even tile on tile in the bathroom – in principle, you can lay tiles on almost any surface. The prerequisite, however, is that they are clean, dry, flat and stable.

For example, when laying a new screed, it is essential to allow time for the tiles to fall below a certain residual moisture content and for the floor to be ready for laying. While, on the other hand, when laying tiles on top of tiles, you must first create a sufficiently even surface – preferably by using tile levelling compound, which you use to cover the old tiles.

But that’s not all. Because in most cases, an optimally prepared substrate also includes the right primer.

Primer – why actually?

If we were to ask you what actually makes tiles stick, tile adhesive would probably be your first answer. Basically, this is not wrong of course – after all, you can use it to attach the tiles to the wall or floor. But then it is not quite right either. Because the adhesive alone does not provide good adhesion.

In order to ensure that the tiles actually remain permanently bonded, you must first ensure that the substrate is evenly absorbent to increase the effect of the tile adhesive or even create it in the first place. And that is exactly what the primer is for.

Which primer for which substrate?

In principle, a distinction is made between the categories of deep primer and adhesive primer. The various products, which are available in a wide range of ready-to-use products in specialist shops, differ both in their composition and in the type of surface on which they can be applied:

Deep base for highly absorbent material

Highly absorbent substrates, such as plaster or cement, draw water from the tile adhesive – with potentially unpleasant consequences during and after installation. On the one hand, the adhesive hardens faster, leaving you less time to install the wall or floor tiles. On the other hand, the adhesive effect can be impaired, which in turn leads to less adhesion of the tiles. In these cases, therefore, a pre-treatment with Tiefengrund forms the basis for a permanently perfect result when tiling.

Tiefengrund is usually a liquid primer based on synthetic resin, which is applied to the substrate diluted with water or undiluted, depending on the manufacturer’s information. It penetrates deep into the surface, solidifies the material and thus reduces its absorbency. In this way, the primer not only helps the tiles to adhere better, but also protects against too much penetrating moisture under the tiles.

Primer for smooth surfaces

In contrast, primer is used on non-absorbent or only weakly absorbent, smooth surfaces on which bonded tiles would normally not hold sufficiently.

This type of primer provides optimal conditions, especially for surfaces made of concrete, metal or even screeds made of mastic asphalt. In addition, existing tiles can also be treated with primer to ensure the necessary adhesion when laying tile on tile.

Adhesion primer consists of coarse-grained mortar with binding agents, which serves as a bonding agent between tile and adhesive. Unlike Tiefengrund, Haftgrund does not penetrate very deeply into the surface.

The best tips for an optimal primer

1. determine the absorbency of the substrate

Before priming your wall or floor, you should first test the absorbency of your substrate. With the so-called scratch test this can be tested well and easily: The easier and deeper you can prick the surface with a screwdriver or other sharp object, the more absorbent it is.

Another possibility is the water test, in which you moisten a small area of the substrate. If a dark discoloration is visible, you are also dealing with a highly absorbent material.

2. choose a suitable primer

On the shelves of DIY stores, but also in various online shops, you will find countless different products for priming. You can find out which of these is the right one for the condition of your surface from the manufacturer’s information. In addition, the primer and adhesive must be compatible. Ideally, therefore, only products of a system should end up in your shopping cart.

3. apply primer step by step

Before the primer can be applied, dust, dirt and material residues must be carefully removed from floors or walls. For the priming itself, it is best to use a paint roller or ceiling brush to achieve the most even result. Alternatively, you can also use a brush or a spray bottle.

In case of highly absorbent surfaces or larger damages, it is recommended to apply at least two coats of primer (first diluted and then undiluted) – more if necessary. Make sure that the first layer is sufficiently dry before applying the next one. All necessary information about the drying time can be found in the manufacturer’s instructions. When the primer is dry, you can start laying the tiles.

Expansion joints is the decisive keyword for a permanently beautiful and damage-free tiled floor. After all, like almost any other material, tiles need sufficient room to move to be able to work. In this article you can read about the important functions of an expansion joint, where it is required and how best to create it.

Why do you need expansion joints?

Tiles consist mainly of natural raw materials that react to external influences. Temperature fluctuations or the application of force cause the plates to work: The material expands and contracts according to the ambient conditions. However, this reaction behaviour is not a unique phenomenon of the tile, but occurs always and everywhere where different building and material materials meet.

This is exactly the point why expansion joints are so important when laying tiles. They serve as a buffer to compensate for the movements of the different materials without the components colliding with each other. At the same time, expansion joints have another function: they dampen sound because they reduce the transmission of vibrations.

What happens if the expansion joint is missing?

As low as the expansion and shrinkage behaviour of tiles may be, it can be unpleasant if expansion joints are not taken into account accordingly. Although the changes are usually barely perceptible to the human eye, they do increase the pressure on the individual plates.

This causes stresses on the surface, which in turn can cause cracks in the tiles. And sometimes not even directly where the joint is missing, but – due to the transmission of force – in a completely different place. Therefore even adjacent floor coverings or the screed can be damaged if the corresponding joints are not set.

For which tiles are expansion joints necessary?

Expansion joints – often also called movement joints, expansion joints or dilatation joints – are to be considered in principle for all tile floors. No matter whether it is natural stone, earthenware, stoneware or porcelain stoneware. Also the substrate or the tile adhesive or tile bonding primer used during installation have no influence on the necessity of the joints.

Where should an expansion joint be placed?

Specifically, expansion joints must always be created when different components come together. This primarily concerns all transitions to rooms (e.g. door thresholds) and between different floor coverings (e.g. B. tiles and parquet), but also areas which are only partially tiled (e.g. around a tiled stove or fireplace) or which adjoin rigid elements (e.g. radiators or fittings).

Edge joints as a connection area to the wall are also considered expansion joints and must therefore always be taken into account accordingly. In addition to their compensatory function when expanding, they also ensure that the impact sound is not transmitted to the wall and thus into the room. This is one of the reasons why they should be regularly maintained and checked for their condition or tightness (to protect against moisture under the tiles).

Important: Interaction of expansion joint & observe screed!

Existing expansion joints from the screed must also be taken over in the tiled floor – and in the same position. This applies both to the initial laying of tiles and slabs and to subsequent renovations. Only then can it be guaranteed that the substrate also has sufficient room to move and that the materials can work independently of each other according to their properties. This avoids cracks or fractures that could otherwise sooner or later be transferred to the tiles. Where these joints should be planned exactly is usually announced by the screed layer.

By the way: A term that also appears again and again in connection with the screed are the so-called dummy joints. Although these serve a similar purpose to expansion joints, they are not actually expansion joints. Rather, these are deliberately placed predetermined breaking points that specifically control the further course of possible cracks in the screed.

From which room size are expansion joints required?

The formation of expansion joints is regulated according to DIN standards. Accordingly, field boundary joints are prescribed for rooms with a size of 40 m2, whereby the field length and width should be between 5 and 8 m at the most. In this context, the room geometry, the tile format used and the expected stress on the floor must be taken into account. If the room has a floor heating under the tiles, the arrangement of the heating circuits must also be taken into account.

In general, the recommendation is to work in expansion joints vertically and horizontally at intervals of 3 to 6 m. For larger areas and tiles in outdoor areas, joints should be planned around every 4 m, as the expansion of the tiles can be even greater there than indoors due to higher temperature differences.

How wide must an expansion joint be?

The width of the joints depends on the tile format as well as on the respective position. The limit values recommended by the DIN standard again serve as a guideline:

Especially in the edge areas to the wall or wherever the tiles are adjacent to other rigid components, a width of 5 mm should not be undercut under any circumstances. To be on the safe side, in this case it is even better to increase to 8 mm. Professional planning and exact calculation of the joint dimensions is definitely advisable.

Excursus: Attention with narrow joints!

However, since the joint pattern in a room also has visual effects, care should be taken to ensure a balanced distribution and the most uniform width possible of all necessary joints. In particular, the continuing trend towards large-format tiles with very narrow construction joints – i.e. the distance at which the tiles are placed on the floor during installation – can sometimes become a problem.

On the one hand, because the considerably wider expansion joints can quickly look unsightly in comparison and thus disturb the overall harmonious impression. On the other hand, the narrower the joints are, the more difficult it is to grout – and improper execution impairs the quality of the joints.

If too much water is added to the jointing mortar to make it more fluid, this can lead to differences in colour and spots in the joints due to different drying phases. While too little water, on the other hand, makes the joint sealant brittle. For this reason, filling with conventional, cementitious jointing compound is only possible from a width of at least 2 mm. Among these, only highly viscous materials with a synthetic resin content can be used, as these are more elastic and can be worked into the joint more easily.

And even otherwise, very narrow joints entail an increased risk of damage. This is because if the proportion of joints is small, moisture can only escape from the floor very slowly on the one hand and on the other hand, tensions are less well balanced.

How is an expansion joint correctly filled?

In order to be able to compensate for the movements of the tiles, expansion joints may only be sealed with permanently elastic sealants. The best known and most frequently used material for this is silicone. The best possible result is achieved if the joint sealing compound is applied as deep as the joint is wide – otherwise, too deep filling can have a negative effect on the elasticity. Tip: You can work particularly precisely if the tip of the cartridge is simply cut to the appropriate joint width.

Since the silicone must not adhere to the substrate under any circumstances, expansion profiles made of foam or plastic are also recommended. These are pressed into the joint before filling and fixed at the edges with adhesive tape. Alternatively, paper strips can also be used.

Practical side effect: In this way, the material requirement is also minimized.

Before filling, dust, dirt or adhesive residues must be thoroughly removed from the joint. This is especially true when existing expansion joints are renewed: They must be carefully scraped out before the new filling material is applied.

After the joint has been sealed, the joint sealing compound is evenly removed with a smoothing trowel. Finally, the attached adhesive tape is peeled off and the excess joint sealing compound and any adhesive residues are removed with a damp sponge.

Terrace, balcony or garden can be tastefully decorated with tiles in various styles according to individual preferences. However, the requirements are much higher outdoors than indoors. In this article you will find out which requirements tiles must fulfil in order to be able to exist permanently as floor coverings outdoors and what you should absolutely observe when laying them.

Possible applications of tiles: Exterior vs. interior

From small to large, from light to dark, from natural stone to wood look – tiles are available in the most diverse formats, colours and designs. Coupled with their advantageous properties in terms of comfort, durability and cleaning, this results in almost unlimited application possibilities. No wonder, then, that tiles are both popular and widespread as floor coverings not only indoors but also outdoors.

However, the conditions outside are completely different from those in enclosed living spaces. The ground is exposed to the weather all year round and the interplay of sun, rain, ice and snow demands a lot from the material. In order for the flooring to be able to withstand outdoor use for a long time, tiles must therefore be particularly robust and resistant to external influences and stress.

Which tiles are suitable for outdoor use?

In order to ensure that the tiles are able to withstand the daily stresses and strains on the terrace, balcony or garden, the following criteria should be taken into account when selecting the tiles:

Weather resistance and frost resistance

The most important criterion for outdoor tiles is that they are weatherproof. Thus, the material must not only be able to withstand the heat of direct sunlight in summer, but above all the cold and frost in winter.

Decisive for the frost resistance is the water absorption capacity. The rule is: the less, the more frost-resistant. If too much water penetrates into tiles and joints due to humidity or precipitation and expands in the cold, there is a risk of cracks, flaking or efflorescence.

In principle, a porous surface absorbs more water than a fine-pored one. For this reason, pure stoneware is generally not recommended for outdoor use due to its nature. Ceramic tiles made of stoneware or porcelain stoneware, but also natural stone (e.g. granite) or terracotta can very well be used outside, provided that they are approved for this purpose according to the information provided by the tile manufacturer.

The decisive factor for the degree of frost resistance is the classification, according to which the tiles are divided into the following five groups based on their water absorption capacity:

Group Ia: < 0,5 % water absorption capacity

Group Ib: < 3 % water absorption capacity

Group IIa: 3 to 6 % Water absorption capacity

Group IIb: 6 to 10 % water absorption capacity

Group III: > 10 % water absorption capacity

Group Ia and Ib tiles – i.e. up to a maximum water absorption capacity of 3 percent – are generally considered frost-proof. They are additionally marked with a blue ice crystal as a symbol and can be laid outdoors without hesitation. To be on the safe side, a tile with a water absorption capacity of less than 0.5 percent should be preferred in the best case.

In contrast, there is already a considerable risk of frost damage in groups IIa and IIb – and group III is not advisable for outdoor areas if the flooring is to survive the winter without damage.

Abrasion resistance

Another selection criterion for exterior tiles is abrasion resistance. It determines the stress the surface is suitable for without signs of wear and tear.

This is divided into 5 tiles abrasion groups:

Abrasion group 1: Very light duty

Abrasion group 2: Light duty

Abrasion group 3: Medium stress

Abrasion group 4: Heavy duty

Abrasion group 5: Very heavy duty

Basically nothing can go wrong with unglazed tiles in outdoor areas – they can always be assigned to the highest abrasion class. The hardness of the surface is comparable to that of diamonds, making them virtually indestructible even under extreme stress.

With glazed tiles, on the other hand, things look slightly different. Depending on the type and design of the glaze as well as the degree of wear and tear and soiling, visible signs of use are quite possible over time. Therefore, glazed tiles on the balcony should have at least abrasion class 3, for use on terraces or in the garden, abrasion class 4 is even more recommended.

Skid resistance

Last but not least, special attention should also be paid to slip resistance in the case of exterior tiles. This is because wet or damp tiles can quickly become slippery and cause nasty falls or injuries.

The slip resistance can be recognised by the skid resistance classes, into which tiles are divided depending on their static friction value:

R9: low coefficient of static friction, safe to step on at an angle of inclination of 6 – 10°

R10: normal coefficient of static friction, safe to step on at an angle of inclination of 11 – 19°

R11: increased coefficient of static friction, safe to step on at an angle of inclination of 20 – 27°

R12: high coefficient of static friction, safe to step on at an angle of inclination of 28 – 35

R13: very high coefficient of static friction, safe to step on at an angle of inclination of over 35

In outdoor areas, at least R10 should be selected, and R11 ensures even better slip resistance if there is a particular risk of slipping (e.g. on stairs). In areas that are also frequently walked on barefoot (e.g. in and around the pool or in the garden shower), attention should also be paid to the additional “B” or “C” marking for suitability in wet barefoot areas.

Unglazed tiles also offer a certain advantage in terms of slip resistance in outdoor areas. Thanks to their rough surface, they are naturally more slip-resistant. Even small tile formats can additionally increase the slip resistance due to the significantly larger joint proportion.

Garden, balcony and terrace: Choose the right tiles for the outdoor area

When choosing tiles for the terrace, balcony or garden, it is therefore advisable to always opt for the higher quality class. This may have an overall impact on the price, but the extra cost is worth it simply because of the longer life of the floor tiles.

Which exterior tiles are ultimately best depends primarily on personal preferences and the style of the house. Floor tiles for outside as well as for inside are available in the most diverse surfaces (e.g. unglazed, glazed, matt, silk matt, high gloss etc.), optics (e.g. wood optics, natural stone optics, marble optics etc.), formats (e.g. square, rectangular) and colours.

What should be taken into account when laying outdoors?

However, the decision for the right exterior tiles is only half the battle. Even the best flooring can be damaged – usually by water – if the tiles are not laid properly.

Therefore, outdoor installation should be carried out with great care, taking into account the following factors:

Prepare the substrate

The substrate for exterior tiles must be load-bearing, frost-resistant and completely even. Concrete slabs or a cement screed reinforced with construction steel mats on a compacted and sufficiently drained layer of gravel or crushed stone are most suitable.

A gradient of 2 per cent must be observed so that water can quickly drain away from the tiles to the outside. In order to protect the tiled floor from moisture even from below, the substructure should also be sealed (e.g. with bitumen coating or sealing slurry and double-layer PE foil). In addition, the surface should be carefully checked again for cracks, unevenness or any residue from removed flooring before installation and repaired if necessary.

The right laying material

When laying outdoors, only flexible tile mortars or adhesives should be used to reduce stresses on the floor surface and thus prevent cracks or fissures in the tiles.

Laying tiles correctly

When laying the tiles themselves, it is important to avoid cavities between the substrate and the tiles in order to prevent water inclusions. This is best achieved with the so-called buttering-floating process, in which the tile mortar or adhesive is applied both to the substrate and to the back of the laid tile. Alternatively, thin-bed installation can be used, in which the tiles are pressed in sections directly into the damp fluidised bed mortar or tile adhesive.

In the edge areas, it is essential to ensure that the necessary expansion joints are provided in order to give the floor the necessary scope for temperature-related expansion and thus avoid stresses. It is also important that the tile adhesive is allowed to harden (approx. 48 hours) before grouting is started.

Carefully grouting tiles

Leaky joints are often the Achilles’ heel of exterior tiles. They can easily allow moisture to penetrate and cause damage to the substructure, the tile mortar or the tiles themselves. Therefore, special care and precision is required when grouting in outdoor areas.

In order to be able to work as precisely as possible, the joint sealing compound should be applied to the gaps diagonally to the joint line with a rubber wiper. Excess grout can be removed with a sponge board after approx. 15 minutes of drying. In the last step, the expansion joints and other transitions can then be sealed with silicone.

ATTENTION: The surface can only be walked on and loaded when the tile mortar or adhesive has completely hardened. This phase can take different lengths of time depending on the product, so it is essential to follow the manufacturer’s instructions. During the drying phase, excessive humidity and direct sunlight should be avoided.