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Porcelain tile question

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sueatmo Sep 29, 2012 03:43 PM

OK, we're buying a house with a large kitchen. It isn't my dream kitchen, but for that I think we'd need about $50,000 more dollars. So, I'm getting a ten year old OK kitchen that has loads of counter space.

The counters and backsplash are all porcelain tile. I assume they are original to the house, meaning they would be 10 years old. Here is my question: how heat resistant is porcelain tile. To be clear this is not ceramic tile, but the large porcelain tiles laid with very narrow grout lines.

And, anything else I need to know about this surface? Because I know nothing!

Oh--the grout is gray so at least I don't have to fight icky, yellowing tile grout.

  1. Sid Post Sep 29, 2012 03:46 PM

    For heat tolerance, I would expect similar performance to porcelain serving dishes.

    The bigger question for me is what happens when a HEAVY pot gets set down hard?

    1. a
      AZGrandpa Sep 29, 2012 04:01 PM

      We do not have porcelain tiles in countertops/backsplash. But do have porcelain floor tile in the kitchen. Only problem is that they chip, just small chips, or maybe nicks, whenever something is dropped on them, such as silverware when loading the dishwasher, etc. Not really noticeable unless you know they are there, and look for them.

      And no issue with hot spills (accidents do happen).

      Fortunately, the builder of our house left behind several cartons of the tile, and when we no longer can stand looking at the small chips, we call a tilesetter to come in and remove the chipped tiles and replace them from the leftover supply. But after a dozen years in our house, our extra supply is diminishing. Damissus thinks we should take out all of the porcelain, and replace with a more durable type. Won't happen soon (at our age).

      AZGrandpa

      1. s
        sueatmo Sep 30, 2012 02:52 PM

        Surely someone out there has porcelain tile for countertop surface?

        How do you clean your counter if so?

        Thanks!

        8 Replies
        1. re: sueatmo
          t
          Tom34 Sep 30, 2012 04:12 PM

          Have loads of high quality porcelain tile on the floors in the foyer, cooking kitchen, breakfast room & Florida room. No chips or cracks. Tile itself was over $6.00 sq/ft which is well beyond the big box stores or builders quality. The tile is tough as h*ll (no chips or nicks) and it cleans to brand new appearance with very little effort. The problem with any kind of tile in terms of cleaning is the grout. Best advice is to spend a whole day scrubbing the ever living *#^@ out of the grout with a small, short, stiff bristle brush and a good grout cleaner. Then let it dry a day and seal it. Its pricey, about $30.00 a can, but Sure Seal aerosol spray sealer is a good product that is easy to apply (3 coats min). I bought several hundred dollars worth of it and have been very pleased. I know it sounds expensive, but after a weekend scrubbing unsealed grout $30.00 a can is well worth it.

          I don't think moderate heat would bother it but I wouldn't recommend sitting a red hot cast iron pan on it. One of the biggest enemy's of tile is movement. More often than not the tile substrate costs more per sq/ft than the tile itself (when done properly) and this is where most tile failures occur. If the cabinet boxes were properly shimmed & the substrate was installed correctly it will probably outlast you. The biggest thing will be sealing that grout. ****Cinch all purpose cleaner is recommended for cleaning granite because it sealer friendly.****

          1. re: sueatmo
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            mikie Sep 30, 2012 05:32 PM

            Unfortunately, I can't comment on counter top, however we have a lot of procclain tile in our house. There are two types of porcelian, glazed (similar to but much more resistant to chips than ceramic tile) and through body (the color runs all the way through the tile top to bottom). Glazed porcelain can chip, but typically, the base color is similar to the glaze color and chips don't show. We have a master bath in Italian glazed hand-cut and tumbled porcelain tile, the fact that it's tumbeled should tell you how well the glaze and body match. In the other full bath we have through body procelain and we also have a through body porcelain in the kitchen, laundry room, half bath, and family room. Through body, if you're lucky enough to have it, is the same on the surface as is the body of the tile and chips, if you got them, would not show any difference in color. Porcelain tiles are fired at higher temperatures and are much more robust than ceramic tiles. They are impervious to stains and can take heat as well as any porcelian dinnerware. They are different enough from ceramic that you need a special blade on a wet saw to cut them. The obvious down side is the grout, which is not going to be a big positive. There have been some new grouts that are epoxy based, similar to how they fill the seams in granite counter tops and this would be much better than regular old fashioned gorute, but this would only be there if the grout is extremely small. Unfortunately, I can't tell you how to tell what type of grout you have.

            1. re: mikie
              t
              Tom34 Oct 1, 2012 04:53 AM

              I doubt a new construction "Builder" throwing together non custom homes would use epoxy grout today let alone 10 years ago. As you said, need small grout lines and its not the easiest stuff to work with.

              At least the grout color is gray. Main thing is to keep it sealed and use a good cleaner like Cinch that does not degrade the sealer. I would also wipe up staining liquids like red wine and spilled coffee asap. We have well sealed granite counters and have never had a problem but we are careful and wipe up spills as they happen.

              1. re: Tom34
                s
                sueatmo Oct 2, 2012 08:07 PM

                The house was done as part of a subdivision, but the owner told me that she and her husband used to build houses themselves. There are some nicer things--not luxurious--but quality features. One of these is the size of the kitchen, but unfortunately the appliances are not that impressive. Its kind of odd that way. The kitchen is large and pleasant with quite a bit of cabinet storage and counter space. The tile itself is so nice that both the realtor and I took if for granite tile at first. I haven't seen any chips, but I haven't moved in yet.

                We need to have a very minor amount of regrouting, and I will talk to the guy about what we have.

                After the walk through it is apparent that the grout is quite dirty. Spaces between the tiles are very small.

                1. re: sueatmo
                  t
                  Tom34 Oct 3, 2012 04:21 AM

                  Every surface has its pros & cons. Granite can be stained & delicate thin tapered edges can break. Corian can be stained, cut with the slip of a sharp knife and it will melt it a hot pan is put on it. Repairs to corian which involve sanding are usually noticeable from certain angles. Cabinet movement can pop tiles & crack grout lines not to mention keeping the grout clean. Stainless scratches & dings. Wood has more potential problems than I care to list. Nothing is perfect, the main thing is that YOU like it.

                  Bottom line is you say its beautiful and a little grout cleaning and repair along with sealing should do the trick. If this is going to be a long term house you could always start a kitchen fund to upgrade the appliances & possibly the counters if the grout cracking becomes a persistent problem.

                  1. re: Tom34
                    s
                    sueatmo Oct 3, 2012 10:43 AM

                    Grout is just gross, frankly. There are several possible problems in the kitchen, including the glass cooktop. I need to get in there (beginning later today) and get my hands dirty, so to speak. We are going to get a pro to look at the counter and grout so we know what we have.

                    Just to be clear, to forestall advice about how to buy a house, please know that we are getting a good fridge in the deal, and the previous owner is quite elderly and frail. And after 2 solid months of looking, we feel this as good as we are going to do in this market.

                    1. re: sueatmo
                      m
                      mikie Oct 3, 2012 03:23 PM

                      The grout situation can be taken care of, how much work than entials depends on a couple of things. How large are the tiles? There are tiles anywhere from 6x6 to 24x24 that could be used, if they are large, there are fewer grout lines and removing and replacing the grout becomes a more realistic possibility. There is equipment that will remove the grout without damaging the tiles if the grout lines are the right size. If this is feasable, then a good epoxy based grout could be used and that would be the end of dirty grout lines.

                      Before we remodeled our kitchen, we had 6x6 red quary tile with 1/4 inch white grout. I looked really nice right after you spent a day on your hnds and knees scrubbing the grout with bleach or grout cleaner. Unfortunately, it didn't last long and you had to do it again. New floor has very small grout lines and they are a color match to the tile and not as prone to show soil and much easier to clean.

                      1. re: sueatmo
                        t
                        Tom34 Oct 3, 2012 04:37 PM

                        I think having a pro look at the tile is a good idea, especially the areas where the grout cracked. They will be able to tell if the cabinet boxes were shimmed properly & if the proper substrate was used and if it was installed properly. Then you will know where you stand.

                        As far as people second guessing your purchase, I know quite a few people who thought they could afford a whole lot more house than they really could. Most of them are back with mom & dad. Your initial post indicated you had a number you wanted to stay within and most financial experts would say you were wise to stay within it. Lots and lots of folks greatly over extended themselves & only wish their problems were limited to a counter top & a few worn appliances.

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