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Weight Limits For Tiling Walls

Brick, plaster or cement board - what your substrate means for your tile choice

Wall Substrate

Maximum tile weight

Cement:sand rendering

Generally no restriction A

Gypsum plaster

20kg/m2

Gypsum plasterboard (12.5mm thickness)

32kg/m2

Gypsum fibreboards

40kg/m2 B

Glass reinforced cement-based boards

50kg/m2 B

Lightweight foam-cored tile backer boards

60kg/m2 B

Other rigid tile backer boards

Consult manufacturer

NOTE Where multiple substrates are installed using only adhesives e.g. tile backer board bonded to plaster, the substrate with the lowest value will determine the recommended maximum weight of tiling. In this context tiling is defined as a tile plus its bedding and grouting material

A Provided the rendering has sufficient composition and has been installed correctly to achieve high strength
B Guide figures only. Certain boards may be capable of carrying greater weights - consult with manufacturer for confirmation

 

British Standards Institution (2018) BS5385-1:2018: Wall and floor tiling. Design and installation of ceramic, natural stone and mosaic wall tiling in normal internal conditions. Code of practice. Available at: bsigroup.com

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Porcelain or ceramic? Red body or white?
The differences explained

At first glance, the only important thing about a tile is how it looks. Scratch under the surface, however, and you might be surprised to find just how much difference there can be between two similar looking tiles. From the first fired-clay bricks of ancient Mesopotamia to the ultra-thin 3mm architectural grade porcelain from Spain and Italy, there is a long history of technological advancement in the industry. But why does that matter to you? Well, there are some important considerations to make when selecting the right tile for your project. We’ve listed a few below:

  • Will your tiles be used indoors or outdoors?
  • Are they going on the wall, floor or both?
  • If they’re going to be laid on the floor, how much foot traffic do you expect?
  • What’s the load bearing capacity of the surface you plan on tiling?

Read on to discover what each material offers as a solution to these problems.

Red body

White body

Porcelain

Like wine, roses, and pasta sauce, ceramic tiles come in two options.

Ceramic tiles are made from two basic ingredients – clay and water – mixed with a few extra minerals to ensure a uniform appearance. The difference is colour comes down to which clay (a mix of sand, gypsum and shale) is used in the production process. Thanks to digital printing techniques, all tiles can be glazed in any combination of colours. Red and white refers only to what’s referred to as the “body”, “biscuit” or “bisque” of the tile – the bit underneath the glaze.

A red body ceramic tile being cut

A red body ceramic tile being cut

 

Red

Red body tiles are generally (although not always) :

  • Less expensive than white body or porcelain. This is due to the ease of production and relative price of raw materials.
  • Easier to cut than porcelain. This can be helpful if you plan to do the tiling work yourself.
  • Often more hard-wearing than white body, less so than porcelain. Some red body tiles are suitable for floors as well as walls – this is never the case for white body, which is only suitable for walls.
  • Lighter than porcelain, heavier than white body. The load-bearing capacity of your wall substrate has a weight limit, measured in kg/m2 and outlined in BS 5385-1:2018. For a more in-depth explanation, see our article on weight limits for tiles.
  • More porous than porcelain. Although all types of glazed tile can be used indoors, the freeze-thaw effect means all types of ceramic tiles are unsuitable for outdoor use unless specifically treated.

 

Common use cases for red body tiles

  • You are only tiling indoor walls, or floors with low foot traffic (check the individual tile page to confirm your tile is suitable for floors)
  • You’re on a budget and you want to do the work yourself
  • Your walls have a low load-bearing capacity

Some of our favourite pasta rojas (the Spanish term for red body tiles)

White

White body tiles lie somewhere between red body and porcelain. The lack of colour in the body allows lighter glazes to really pop, but the (relative) lack of hardness means they’re only ever suitable as wall coverings. Key points include:

  • Better colour definition than red body, especially with lighter glazes.
  • More expensive than red body tiles. This is due to the higher quality materials used in production.
  • Sharper edges than red body tiles. Due to the finer grain of the clay used, white body tiles are more often rectified. See our article on rectified tiles for a more information.
  • Lighter than porcelain or red body. The load-bearing capacity of your wall substrate has a weight limit, measured in kg/m2 and outlined in BS 5385-1:2018. For a more in-depth explanation, see our article on weight limits for tiles.

 

The back of a white body ceramic tile

The back of a white body tile

Common use cases for white body tiles

  • You are only tiling indoor walls
  • You want sharper grout lines
  • Your walls have a very low load-bearing capacity

Some of our favourite pasta blancas (the Spanish term for white body tiles)

Porcelain is a special form of ceramic, made from different clays and fired at a higher temperature.

A tile is classed as porcelain when it demonstrates a water absorption rate of less than 0.5% of its weight (red and white body ceramics normally land somewhere between 1 – 3%). This means they are impervious to the freeze-thaw effect, and can be used outside without cracking. The main material used is a type of clay known an kaolinite, which is fired in a kiln at temperatures generally exceeding 1200oC

 

A kaolinite quarry

A kaolinite quarry

There are many subcategories of porcelain which are explored further in our article Understanding Porcelain Tiles. However, all porcelain share some general characteristics.

The corner of a rectified, glazed porcelain tile

The corner of a rectified, glazed porcelain tile

 

Some of these key characteristics are

  • The least porous of any type of tile. To be classified as porcelain, water absorption must be less than 0.5% of its weight. This makes is better suited to areas that will be wet often, such as showers.
  • Harder wearing. Porcelain is a better choice for areas which have high foot traffic
  • More expensive although the initial outlay is often offset by the increased lifespan
  • Heavier . The load-bearing capacity of your wall substrate has a weight limit, measured in kg/m2 and outlined in BS 5385-1:2018. For a more in-depth explanation, see our article on weight limits for tiles.

Common use cases for porcelain tiles

  • You are tiling a floor with high foot traffic
  • You are tiling an area that’s likely to get wet often and/or be subjected to below-freezing temperatures

Some of our favourite porcelain tiles

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John & Sarah’s Split Face Shower

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Kitchen SS19

Twenties

How times change. Long gone are the days of small, rustic tiles being the only choice for kitchen splashbacks. Nowadays there are a wealth of exciting colours, shapes, sizes and materials to compliment or contrast your kitchen. Large tiles can give the illusion of seamless space while smaller tiles can be used in differing patterns and mixes to achieve to achieve the perfect look.

So, sit back, scroll down and browse the latest collections assembled by our experts in-house designers.

Keep It Simple

When kitchen doors are coloured or patterned, worktops are statements, and/or floors are decorative, all you need is something plain on the walls.

Plain, of course, does not mean boring. With some of our heavy glazes in matt and gloss finishes, plain means class.

Spice It Up With Patterns

Patterned tiles have revolutionised the kitchen wall tile market in recent years. From strong Victorian to cool urban, these tiles can bring a kitchen to life. If you feel the look may be too strong over all the walls, why not use them as a feature in part of the kitchen? For instance above the hob.

Believe in Bevel

Often called metro tiles, the bevel edged look is now an established favourite for kitchen walls. They can be laid brick-style (for the more traditional look) or in straight columns (for a more modern look). Available in multiple colours and sizes, we will have a bevelled tile to suit your needs.

Biselado Metro Blanco Brillo

Make Your Mark With Mosaics

Mosaics have been used as an attractive and effective covering since Roman times. Modern technology means they are now far easier to fix, yet still give a classically elegant finish.

The Many Faces of Split Face

These cleverly engineered tiles give the look of hand-quarried stone. Widely used in many areas of the home, it has fast become a stylish favourite.

Classical Stone and Marble

If you're looking for a simple but classy, timeless look, this could be your category. From almost-white Carrara to heavy, dark blue stones, there will be a colour and finish to compliment your kitchen.

These tiles replicate the beautiful materials quarried from around the world.