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dianne: ceramic tile matte or glossy??

updated sat 16 jan 99


Brenda Woods on thu 14 jan 99

Hello Dianne,
I am writing on behalf of my own experience with ceramic tile. I have not
made any tile myself, but I have bought thousands of square feet and laid it
myself in my own houses. I have bought matte and glossy for different
houses. In the present house that I live in, I personally laid 1600 spuare
feet in the dining room, kitchen, kitchenette area, three bathrooms,laundry
room, mud room, foyer and down the halls. I did it for the obvious reason,
I did not want to pay someone the money to lay it. While I was laying the
tile I hated it, but after the job was finished I was proud. I put glossy
white 8" X 8" with peach streaks through the tile with summer peach grout in
most of the house. The rest of the house is White gloss 13" X13" with dark
green streaks and Hunter Green Grout. The 13"X13" was the hardest to get
seated without air bubbles underneath it. (The air bubbles make a hollow
sound when you walk on it if they are there.) So "Burp" your tile properly
when laying it. Also, I found that the acrylic thinset is the best to use
when laying the tile. THis thinset will move with the tile as the house slab
or floor expands and contracts. It prevents cracking of the tile. If there
must be a crack for expansion the acrylic thinset will grack on the
groutlines and not through the tile as the regular thinset does. Also there
is a membrane that you can purchase from DALTILE that you can install with
thinset under the tile which prevents cracking also. I used this membrane
under an area going to the Laundry room where there was a dog leg in the
slab. It was sure to crack in this area so I installed the membrane to
prevent the tile from cracking.

I clean my tile with a mixture of alcohol, ammonia and water. I dry it
with my feet right after I mop it. I put a towel under my feet and scoot
around this polishes any film that might dry on it off. The shine is
beautiful and I love the gloss of the tile. Yes, it is slippery when wet,
but so is the matte. I cannot really remembere any time that the floor is
wet except during mopping. The alcohol in the water causes the tile to dry
faster. I also put a fan in the area to help it dry faster. On rainy days,
I have rugs at the front door and back door so I have not had any wet tile
to slip on. I have rugs at the bathrooms also. Noone has ever slipped. The
only tile that I have laid that wasn't slippery when wet was the tile with
granular surface that I laid around my father's swimming pool. This was not
an acceptable tile for the inside of a home.
O.K. that is my 2 cents. Oh, I almost forgot to tell you about the spacers
that I used to lay the tile, I bought them at Home Depot and they come in
several sizes.(1/4" or !/2" or 3/4") They are shaped like a plus sign and
made out of soft plastic. Get them, they will make your tile job almost
perfect. There is no way that a person could space a tile job perfectly
without them!

Brenda Woods
Midway GA

orion on fri 15 jan 99

I'd like to offer one more factor to consider when selecting matte or glossy
glaze for tile: How stain resistant does the tile need to be?

Porous glazes and finishes appear to be much more susceptible to stains than
tight, glossy ones are. Tile and sinks for kitchens and bathrooms are
bound to be exposed to more than scuffing shoe soles and soil. They're
likely to be exposed to household dyes, shoe polishes, food coloring, hair
coloring, and kiddie chemistry experiments (bacteria and household fungi,
too!). When proposing a finish for an outdoor project, consider its
inevitable exposure to algae, fungi, beast and bird visits, and -- alas --
public projects may become canvases for vandals bearing felt-tip pens or
spray paint cans.

I make a point of testing glazes for stain resistance before putting them
into durable service. Think about all those things that stain your
fingers: cranberry Jello! dyed pistachio nutshells! whatever!

If the glaze tends to take a stubborn or permanent stain, it may actually be
a good candidate for SEALING with a tile or stone sealant product. I'd
take another (unstained) test tile, treat it with sealer, and repeat the
stain experiment.

The downside of using sealers would include: (1) it will likely require
periodic recoating, (2) the coating, itself, may be discolored or stained
over time, and (3) the coating may not be food-safe (toxic) or not be heat
resistant, and (4) the coated surface may become extremely slippery when

I've found gloss glazes most durable and stain resistant, in general -- but
I thought I should bring up the option of using a "sealed matte" finish!

Best to all,

Ellen Baker -- Glacier, WA