Ceramic Restaurant Backsplash Tiles
The term 'ceramic tile' is loosely applied to many kinds of tile, and some of them aren't technically ceramics at all. In fact, the phrase is sometimes used in such a general way that it is actually meaningless. Often terra-cotta and quarry tiles, for example, are grouped with porcelain, even though they have very different traits and are suitable for very different locations. Check the characteristics of the tile you want to use in great detail before making a final choice.
Ceramic tiles are made from refined clay that has been pressed into a mold or extruded to create a particular shape. The tile is then fired at least once -- often several times -- at a high temperature. Glaze is often applied to provide color and change the finish before the last firing. Special glazes and firing techniques can create very special effects.
Commercial ceramic wall tiles are the tiles you're likely to see in the 'big box' stores. They're relatively inexpensive and are a good choice for any walls. These tiles have a body that is quite soft and easy to cut, so they're easy for a novice tilesetter to manage. They do not stain easily. Because they are mass produced, sizes are standard and color is uniform within each manufacturing run.
Glazed ceramic tiles are beautiful. The glassy, shining glaze gives a lovely finish to these tiles. They are available in an amazing range of colors. The glaze is quite thin, and scratches will show the color of the tile body. You don't need to use a sealer on glazed ceramic tiles, but the grout joins should be sealed to reduce staining.
Unglazed ceramic tiles are also available. They have a soft matte finish. Quarry tiles and terra-cotta tiles are good examples of unglazed ceramic tiles. These tiles are porous and will have to be sealed. The natural variation in clay color makes these tiles very appealing. This same appeal can be found in our slate dinnerware, you can read more about it here.
Terra-cotta tiles are hand-molded from clay and usually have no added coloring or glaze. There's a lot of variation in size and shape. The color varies in earth tones from red to brown to yellow, depending on the origin of the clay. The clay from some areas, such as Saltillo, Mexico, produces such distinctive tiles that the tiles are named after the place. Terra-cotta tiles have a pleasant rustic look. Terra-cotta tiles are often soft and water-absorbent even after they are sealed, which makes them a bad choice for the restaurant. However, their durability varies depending on the clay that is used and the temperature at which it is fired, so you may find some terra-cotta tiles that are durable enough for a restaurant backsplash.Ceramic tiles are sold as 'loose tiles' or 'sheet-mounted tiles'. Loose tiles are individual tiles that are set separately. Sheet-mounted tiles are glued to a mesh backing and are set as a unit. Generally each individual tile on the sheet is less than four inches; if they're less then two inches each, they're classified as mosaics. These tiles are prespaced when they are glued to the mesh, so they're quite easy to install in spite of their small size.