Reference Library: Tile
A 'tile' is a manufactured piece of hard-wearing material such as ceramic, clay, stone, porcelain, metal or even glass. Tiles are generally used for covering roofs, floors, and walls, or other objects such as tabletops. Another category are the ceiling tiles, made from lightweight materials such as perlite and mineral wool. The word is derived from the French word tuile, which is, in turn, from the Latin word tegula, meaning a roof tile composed of baked clay. Less precisely, the modern term can refer to any sort of construction tile or similar object, such as rectangular counters used in playing games (see tile-based game).
Tiles are often used to form wall and floor coverings, and can range from simple square tiles to complex mosaics. Tiles are most often made from ceramic, with a hard glaze finish, but other materials are also commonly used, such as glass, slate, and reformed ceramic slurry, which is cast in a mould and fired.
In the past twenty years, the technology surrounding porcelain tile has increased, moving it from a niche marketplace to a place of prominence in the tile community.
Roof tiles are designed mainly to keep out rain, and are traditionally made from locally available materials such as clay or slate. Tiles are rarely made from unavailable materials.
Modern materials such as concrete and plastic are also used. Some clay tiles have a waterproof glaze.
A large number of shapes (or "profiles") of roof tiles have evolved. These include:
*Flat tiles - the simplest type, which are laid in regular overlapping rows. This profile is suitable for stone and wooden tiles, and most recently, solar cells.
*Roman tiles - flat in the middle, with a concave curve at one end at a convex curve at the other, to allow interlocking.
*Pantiles - with an S-shaped profile, allowing adjacent tiles to interlock. These result in a ridged pattern resembling a ploughed field.
*Mission or barrel tiles are semi-cylindrical tiles made by forming clay around a log and laid in alternating columns of convex and concave tiles.
Roof tiles are 'hung' from the framework of a roof by fixing them with nails. The tiles are usually hung in parallel rows, with each row overlapping the row below it to exclude rainwater and to cover the nails that hold the row below.
There are also roof tiles for special positions, particularly where the planes of the several pitches meet. They include ridge, hip and valley tiles.
:For more details on the installation of floor tiles, see tile installation.
These are commonly made of ceramic, clay, porcelain or stone. Clay tiles may be painted and glazed. Small mosaic tiles may be laid in various patterns. Floor tiles are typically set into mortar consisting of sand, cement and oftentimes a latex additive for extra strength. The spaces between the tiles are nowadays filled with sanded or unsanded floor grout, but traditionally mortar was used.
While ancient Roman building bricks were broader and thinner than modern ones and are therefore usually called tiles, the term wall tile is normally applied to finishing tiles. These are usually ceramic, but other materials such as mirrored glass or polished metal can be used. Wall tiles are usually glazed, and are often patterned by painting or embossing. Pictorial tiles, consisting of many tiles that the installer assembles like a jigsaw puzzle to form a single large picture, are available.
Modern wall tiles are fixed to a wall using a synthetic bonding agent tile adhesive for dry areas, or a cement-based mortar for areas prone to moisture, such as bath or shower walls. The spaces between the tiles are filled with a fine cement called unsanded grout. The excess grout is scraped off with a hard rubber block called a float immediately after applying; further, the grout is wiped again with a moist sponge before it completely hardens. The sponging provides added moisture to strengthen the grout as it cures. Finally, a cloth is rubbed over the wall tile to remove any haze which may remain from residual grout.
Mathematical tiles were wall tiles shaped to look like bricks when attached to the wall. This was both cheaper than real bricks and also a means of avoiding the 'Brick tax' which used to exist between 1784 and 1850. [http://www.mybrightonandhove.org.uk/tour_building_materials_math_tiles.htm] The building was built with a wooden infrastucture and the panel gaps in-filled with mathematical tiles. Mathematical tiles were also used to 'modernise' the appearance of an older building without the cost of rebuilding a structural wall. Also they were used on upper floor bay windows where weight was an issue.
Ceiling tiles are lightweight tiles used in the interior of buildings. They are placed on a steel grid and they provide thermal but especially sound insulation. They are fabricated from perlite, mineral wool and fibers from recycled paper. They usually have patterns comprised of holes, to improve their sound reflexion properties.
Decorative tilework typically takes the form of mosaic upon the walls, floor, or ceiling of a building. Although decorative tilework was known and extensively practiced in the ancient world (as evidenced in the magnificent mosaics of Pompeii and Herculaneum), it perhaps reached its greatest expression during the Islamic period.
Some places, notably Portugal, have a tradition of tilework on buildings that continues today.
In the United States, decorative tiles were in vogue, especially in southern California, in the 1920s and 1930s. Prominent among art tile makers during this period was Ernest A. Batchelder.
thumb. First constructed in the late 8th century.]]Perhaps because of the tenets of Moslem law (sharia) which disavow religious icons and images in favor of more abstract and universal representations of the divine, many consider decorative tilework to have reached a pinnacle of expression and detail during the Islamic period. Palaces, public buildings, and mosques were heavily decorated with dense, often massive mosaics and friezes of astonishing complexity. As both the influence and the extent of Islam spread during the Middle Ages this artistic tradition was carried along, finding expression from the gardens and courtyards of Málaga in Moorish Spain to the mosaics of the Hagia Sophia in Constantinople.
The mathematics of tiling
Certain shapes of tiles, most obviously rectangles, can be replicated to cover a surface with no gaps. These shapes are said to tessellate (from the Latin tessera, 'tile'). For detailed information on tilings see the tessellation page.
History of tiles
Tiles were developed as a product of earthenware pottery, either as an alternative use for fragments of broken pottery (called potsherds) or as an independent invention. Tiles have been used in construction for at least 4000 years, by the Romans, Persians, Greeks, Babylonians, Phoenicians and many other cultures.
This article is licensed under the GNU Free Documentation License. It uses material from the Wikipedia article "Tile".