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Do Ceramic Tiles Chip Easily?

  • September 29, 2019

Ceramic tiles are a great choice for any kitchen or bathroom, they look eye-catching thanks to a wide variety of colors and styles on offer, they are highly convenient and easy to maintain, and they can even be replaced individually should anything happen to them.

But no solution is entirely free from drawbacks, and ceramic tiles do have a few weaknesses that you need to keep in mind. One is that they chip relatively easily, meaning that if you should drop something onto them, or strike them with something, they will be more likely to show a mark.

In this post, we will explore why this is and how you can ensure your tiles stay looking amazing.

How Easily Will Ceramic Tiles Chip?

Ceramic tiles are made from clay that has been heated. This means they are made from the precise same ceramic as any ceramic bowl you might have, or any crockery. As anyone will know, it is particularly easy to chip a bowl or mug, and this is no different for your tiles!

Of course, there are some differences. For one, ceramic tiles are made from thicker ceramic than bowels. At the same time, the rigid square shape means that they are structurally more sound. Ceramic tiles are also often reinforced with another material on the back (which also allows for easy adhesion) and of course they are covered largely by the wall which lends them extra support!

Despite the relatively brittle material then, ceramic tiles aren’t quite as prone to breaking as your crockery.

The other good news is that the tiles you use in a bathroom won’t be exposed to much opportunity for getting chipped! When you’re in the bathroom, you tend to be working with soft bottles, shampoos and conditioners, and lots of water. None of these are things that can easily damage your tiles! While it’s possible you might drop a glass beaker or similar, that is definitely the exception rather than the norm.

That said, this does mean that the tiles used in your utility room, porch, or conservatory are a little more exposed!

How to Protect Your Ceramic Tiles

So now that you know the potential weakness of ceramic tiles, how can you protect them and prevent them from getting damaged? The good news is that there are lots of things you can do both before and after the damage. The first is to consider the grouting.

When you fix them to the wall or floor, you need to ensure that the grout is filled right to the top – at the precise height of the surface of the tile. This means there should be no visible “dip” between the tiles. This actually has a lot of other benefits, because it means that you won’t have canals for water to collect in!

In this case though, what it means is that it will protect the most vulnerable part of the tile – the edge. It will also lend support all around the tile, which will reinforce it against impact. Keeping your tiles very close together is also a very good idea for the same reason, and this is also a more modern and popular look for your décor.

While grouting can help to protect the edges of your tiles, that won’t solve every problem. The tops and bottoms of your tiling for example might not benefit from grouting. This is why it’s important that you always tile right up to the ceiling or coving, and right down to the ground.

You should also think about the trim around your tiles. If you look at tiling in a show home, you’ll notice that there is often a dividing line between different types of tiling, or a frame around small sections of tiling. This is the trim, and its job is to provide a visually pleasing border around your tiles and to protect those delicate edges!

You can actually get all kind of trim. Wood trim can look great in a kitchen for example, and you can even use trim tiles. Trim tiles are smaller tiles that you will use around the edge of the larger, main pattern. Trim tiles are going out of style somewhat, but they can still look good while providing a buffer against damage to your main tiles.

How to Mitigate Damage to Your Tiles

Following these tips, your tiles become far less likely to get damaged… but it can still happen!

For that reason, it can also be useful to know what to do to minimize the damage caused by a chipped tile and how to prepare for it.

First, you should always buy more tiles than you need. When renovating your bathroom, aim to invest in an extra 10-20%. This way, you’ll have spares that you can quickly swap out for your damaged tile – no harm done!

Likewise, you should also think about the tile and how much it is likely to show this type of damage. For example, if your tile has a nice glaze over it (a shiny gloss) then of course this will also come off when the tile is damaged. That in turn means that even a small chip can look particularly bad – and it will also compromise the integrity of the tile.

On the other hand, a matte tile will be far less affected by a small chip. If that tile is patterned then this is even more true!

Alternatives

Finally, consider the alternatives to ceramic tile. You can of course invest in stone tiles in any area where you will have a high footfall. Granite or limestone are less likely to get chipped, though they are more expensive and less versatile. Think about the right type of tile for the job!

And if you want something very similar to ceramic, consider porcelain. While porcelain tiles are slightly more brittle (meaning they’re more prone to cracking) they are also harder meaning that they’re less likely to chip. Swings and roundabouts! It’s all about the best solution for your home.

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