Updated: Aug 5, 2019
Q) What are tile faces?
A) The number of faces refers to how many different patterns are printed on the tiles.
Talking about tile faces can seem like an odd concept but it is something everyone buying tiles should be aware of.
Not all tiles are made equally and that can be evident in the number of different patterns you get in each box of tiles.
Tile faces can vary from only 1 on low-cost tiles to 30+ on premium ranges.
A tile with 20+ faces will look extremely realistic when laid, and you are far less likely to see two tiles that look the same. A high-quality tile will have a degree of variation between the tile faces to make it look more authentic, just like the real stone that they are aiming to replicate.
A tile with fewer faces will repeat the same pattern over and over and when a pattern is noticeable it will look artificial. This is a big give-away and really shows where you have chosen to be budget conscious.
The below photo on the right shows a tile with only 5 faces, in comparison to a tile with 69 faces (left) where the marble looks more realistic.
Marvel Calacatta Made in Italy (left) vs. Absolute Carrara Made in China (right)
Italian and Spanish companies are leading the way with new designs and technology. They have design engineers who study the natural product and focus on creating near perfect replica’s of the real thing. They put more money towards research, design and production, which results in a tile that is extensively thought out through the whole manufacturing process. They end up with a more accurate design and replication of natural materials such as stone, marble or wood. These highly engineered tiles have many different faces and variations, therefore, the pattern once laid, is less likely to be repeated, making them look more realistic and natural. Sometimes it can be very hard to distinguish between the natural material and the porcelain tile replica. This is what you want to achieve in your home or commercial project.
Nordic Stone Made in Italy - suitable for heavy commercial use.
The key is to understand how a tile with multiple faces will look once it is laid compared to a tile with limited tile faces.
With a tile that has multiple tile faces there are potentially more colours and patterns (veining) and presses (textures) than the single sample you saw in the store. The marble, wood and stone look tiles with multiple faces often have high variation between individual tiles, While this isn't always the case it's important to know in advance. Ask one of your consultants to show you some photos of the tiles laid to see how the end result will look. At the Tile Shed, most tiles are displayed on large display boards or in-situation displays so that you can see first hand what the tile will look like once it is laid.
Below is an example of a marble look tile with just 1 face laid. - Not recommended if you can help it.
Be Organised: Talk to your tiler early about tile faces and encourage them to separate and rotate matching faces for a more realistic look.
Context White Made in Italy - Note the high colour variance between tiles.
Travertino Cream Made in Italy - Note the high colour variance between tiles.
Tile faces are most common in tiles that are trying to replicate a natural material such as stone, marble or wood which naturally have a lot of variation.
Not all tiles need to have different tile faces. A good example of this is a white subway tile. Once installed every tile will look uniform and identical and there will be minimal variation.
Boston Gesso Made in Italy - Note the colour variance is almost zero but the ripple patterns vary to emulate a hand made look.
Tile Shed is the reseller for Tile Space in the Hawkes Bay Region. Visit our showroom today where our friendly staff will walk you through choosing your tiles from start to finish. Read what our customers say about us here.
Original blog post written by Tile Space