Giovanni Valle is a licensed architect and LEED-accredited professional and is certified by the National Council of Architectural Registration Boards (NCARB). He is the author and managing editor of various digital publications, including BuilderSpace, Your Own Architect, and Interiors Place.
With today’s modern and sleek looks, we want our bathrooms to reflect that vision. The most important part of the bathroom is the shower. Obtaining a more modern look determines if the shower tiles need to be glazed or simply untouched.
Your shower tiles do not need to be glazed for any specific reasons. However, if you wish for them to have a glossy look, then you can do so. When glazing shower tiles, it is best to stick to smaller tiles so that the grout lines can contour to move the water to the drain. With larger tiles, the grout lines are far and wide, and the tiles can gather more water, making the floor wetter.
Not only will you gain the know-how to glaze your tiles, but you will also understand which tiles are best to be glazed for your shower. We will even approach the topic of the right-sized tiles for your shower and being able to ask for help.
How to Know If the Tiles Are Glazed?
If you want to remodel your shower, you will need to know if the tiles are glazed or not. Both unglazed and glazed tiles are made with clay that is firmly pressed together. They are both then fired at high temperatures to ensure that the tile can stay as one piece.
Other than the shared characteristics above, there are other differences that you can spot. Once you know what you are looking for, the distinction between them will be easier to spot.
Glazed Tiles in Your Shower
Glazed tiles in your shower are more reflective of light. The tiles are also resistant to water, but with that comes the shower floor being more slippery. Pores in the tile allow water to be soaked into the tile. The more porous the tiles are, the more water they take in. However, if the tiles are glazed, there are no pores, and the water will sit on top of the glaze, making the flooring slippery.
If you are remodeling the bathroom, you can check the tile by doing a gloss test. The gloss test is done by cleaning the tile as much as you can, to determine if the surface is smooth and slightly glossy. If the surface looks coarse and feels matte, then the tiles are unglazed.
Unglazed Tiles in Your Shower
Unglazed tiles are a bit rougher and more durable than glazed tiles. The reason is that glazed tiles are less dense than unglazed tiles. The unglazed tiles have bigger pores after being put in a fire during their hardening process. Even after the firing process, the pores are still open enough to absorb liquids.
Another way to check to see if your tile is unglazed is to see if it is all one color. If the tile is all one color, then the tile is unglazed. Unglazed tile colors are more muted and are not usually bright colors.
You can now recognize what glazed and unglazed tiles look like. So, where do you put these two tiles in your shower?
Where Do You Use Unglazed or Glazed Tiles?
Renovating or rejuvenating your shower comes with a lot of moving parts. One of those parts is grasping the idea of wall and floor tiles. These two parts of the shower require different tiles.
With your shower wall, your tiles should weigh approx. 20% less than the floor tiles. This is because the wall is vertical, so your tiles would start to pull away from the wall if they were any heavier than necessary.
The glaze that is used for wall tiles also varies from what is used for the floor tiles. Wall tile glaze is not as thick as floor glaze and therefore does not hold up against scratches. Another reason wall glaze is not as thick as floor glaze is because the wall does not receive heavy traffic as the floor does, so there is no need for the extra protection.
Glaze for your floor will be tougher and stronger. They weigh more because the tiles must be able to support any weight that stands on them for a long time.
Understanding when your shower tiles are glazed or unglazed is important when it comes to your budget. Unglazed tiles are more expensive than glazed tiles as they are higher in density. Next, we will look at the different types of tiles for your shower.
The Different Types of Tiles For Showers
With your bathroom, you want it to shine in the best light. Every few years, there are different ways that others are updating their shower. How they place the tiles in a pattern and what designs they are putting in to make the shower stand out.
There are several different tiles that you can use in your shower that include:
- Porcelain Tiles
- Ceramic Tiles
- Stone Tiles
- Glass Tiles
All of these tiles can be glazed or have a glaze-like effect to them. If you want your shower to be slip-resistant, then your best choice is to choose an unglazed tile. All you have to do is determine which tile you want in your shower.
Take note that as you contemplate which tiles to put in your shower, you understand that the stone tiles carry weight. So, be honest with yourself that your walls can handle that much weight.
Choosing the Popular Glazed Porcelain Tile
With porcelain tiles, you can choose from a myriad of different patterns that allow you to align your designs with the vision you have for your bathroom. When choosing a porcelain tile, you must understand that the tile’s durability will vary between each manufacturer.
Each manufacturer has a different firing process that will determine just how strong their porcelain tile is. By the way, ceramic tiles are not as durable and thick as porcelain tiles are. So, this may be one factor that helps you in figuring out which tile you may want to choose.
As the porcelain tiles are being glazed there is approx. 5-7 microns of liquid glass that is added to the tile. Because of how much liquid glass is poured onto them, the tile itself must be shaved down. This helps with the overall cost of the tile.
However, unglazed porcelain tiles are much more expensive and harder to find as they are thicker, and the original color hides scratches well.
The Affordable Ceramic Tile
Ceramic tile is less expensive than porcelain tile. Also, ceramic tiles are softer and can be cut by anyone. Just like porcelain tiles, there are many colors and patterns to choose from. Ceramic tiles are made of:
- Natural Clay
Because ceramic tiles are much more porous, they absorb stains and spills. This means that if you were to spill red wine or something of color, then you must clean it before it can stain your tile. While you can purchase ceramic tiles that are glazed, the unglazed tiles are a bit of a double-edged sword. They are prone to absorbing stains but are better at being slip-resistant.
The Natural Stone Tile
Stone tiles help your shower to obtain a more natural and modern feel to it. Stone tiles are becoming more and more popular with shower renovations, so, it may be hard to pass up this option. There are five stone tile options that are available for showers:
- Marble: Marble is a stone that can be cut into larger tabs or small tiles. If you choose to purchase marble for your shower there are ranges that are from A to D, with A being the more slip-resistant of the four.
- Granite: With granite, you can rest assured knowing that any personal products that drop to the floor or on your walls will not be able to damage the tile.
- Onyx: Onyx looks incredibly beautiful in a shower. The only downside is that onyx is extremely easy to scratch. SO, you will have to be cautious of the things you bring into the shower that could damage the stone.
- Travertine: This stone acts almost like a ceramic tile. The travertine stone has bigger pores than the other stones, but with professional help, you can have those pores removed.
- Sandstone: Sandstone takes on the earth tone colors. So, if you are looking for your bathroom to have a beige or brown look to it, this would be the perfect stone for you. Placing this stone in your bathroom will require a patient hand as the work needs to be detailed enough to seal the tile properly.
With all of these stones, you will need to seal them properly and regularly. Cleaning the grout lines can be a tedious task, but the shower’s overall appearance is well worth the work to maintain the stone.
As far as the glazing and unglazed of shower tiles, with stone you do not need to worry about that. So long as you purchase a grade A stone with enough slip resistance then you are golden. Most individuals purchase stone tiles because they are better in appearance and the white stone makes the room brighter.
The Eco-Friendly Glass Tile
Sand and recycled glass are used to make glass tiles that are strong enough for your shower. Glass tiles are already glazed when you purchase them, and they are slippery when wet. So, you may want to take advantage and only place them on your shower’s walls. Unlike ceramic and a few stone tiles, glass tiles do not stain.
Because these tiles come glazed, all the maintenance that glass tiles require is to be wiped down with glass or tile cleaner. This also helps with any soap build-up that starts to appear. Because glass tiles are fragile, you will want to be careful during installation. One drop can shatter the entire tile with no hope of putting the pieces back together.
When you look at the price of glass tiles, they are more expensive than ceramic tiles. However, since it is recommended that you only use them for your shower walls, you can save money by just doing an accent wall.
Whichever tile material you decide to choose, just know that it is imperative that you have the right-sized tiles to fit your shower perfectly.
Placing the Right-Sized Tiles in Your Shower
When it comes to picking and choosing the right-sized tiles for your shower, you need to determine how big your shower is. If your shower is larger enough, you can accommodate larger slates or tiles that have fewer grout lines.
With larger tiles, the adhesive needs to be applied 2x more than a smaller tile. Stone tiles also need to have extra adhesive on them so that they do not fall.
Most people decide to purchase smaller tiles. This is because it allows for more grout lines. If the tile you purchase does not absorb water, then the water will just sit on top of the tile. However, with the grout lines, the water now can move downwards to the drain.
The grout lines make your tiles able to be shaped and placed in a downward slope towards the drain. If everything is level, then the water has nowhere to move but to stay where it is.
It is ultimately up to you on how you want your tiles sized. Some prefer to place larger slates into a smaller shower as this creates an illusion on the eyes making the space seem bigger.
Receive a Second Opinion
When it comes to doing things that could cause an injury, you may want to enlist professional help. A professional can tell you why or why not you should have unglazed or glazed tiles in your shower.
Professionals can also help you with installing your tiles so that there are no mistakes on your shower walls or floors. They know where your tiles need to be sealed properly to prevent water from seeping underneath the tile and causing mold.
If you do decide to place tiles on your shower walls, the professionals can help you to determine whether or not your walls can take the added weight. If you prefer to perform the shower renovation yourself, then there are steps that you will have to take to glaze your own shower tiles.
Glazing Your Own Shower Tiles
When you start this shower project it is best to be aware that the glaze may recede year after year. This means that more glaze is needed in the years to come for the tiles to be able to shine.
During this process in your shower renovation you will need a few pieces of equipment:
- Clothes you are not worried about becoming dirty
- Tile Cleaner
- Soft-Bristle Brush
- Plastic Tarp
With all the items listed above, you can now start to work on your shower safely and adequately. You will first need to clean the tiles with a tile cleaner that does not leave scratches or marks. Use something that will let you be able to scrub the grit off the tiles. This is where the soft-bristle brush comes in.
Now, you can secure anything from having glaze on it by using the plastic tarp or plastic sheets to cover the floor or walls. Take off any removable shower doors that will obstruct you.
Take off any caulking around the shower. You want the tiles to be nice and uniform and the caulking will stop the tile from being flush against the ground or the wall. Use a hydrofluoric acid that will be able to close the pores of your tile. Use a degreaser to wipe off the excess acid and then rinse the tiles with water.
Note that you can use sandpaper if you do not want to purchase the hydrofluoric acid. Once the water is completely dried from the tiles you can now begin to apply the epoxy bonding primer coat to your tile. You should apply at least two coats before you apply the glaze.
Next, apply high-gloss or semigloss paint if you do decide that you do not wish to glaze the tile in the current color. Apply as many coats as you believe your tiles need.
Apply the grout sealer to your grout lines to make sure that no glaze enters them. Next, you can apply the glaze which can either be clear or colored. You will want to leave the area as is for 72 hours and not run any water. Once this time has elapsed, the tiles should be shining and full of luster.
Whether you decide to use unglaze or glazed tiles, the choice is yours. There are several design patterns and tile materials that you can use for your shower renovation.
If you choose to renovate your shower by yourself, you can still communicate with a professional to decide which choices are best for you.
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