Frequently Asked Questions
For your convenience, some frequently asked questions and answers about Crossville® and our Porcelain Stone® tile products are provided below. If you don’t see your question or topic listed here, or on our other Resource pages, please Contact Us for more information.
How strong is porcelain tile?
If the word “porcelain” evokes images of dishes and dolls, think again when it comes to porcelain tile. Porcelain tile by Crossville is fired at extremely high temperatures of 2000° F and above until it becomes vitrified, making it an impeccably tough and long lasting surface material. The firing process makes porcelain tile 30 percent harder than stones such as granite and marble.
What is the likelihood of porcelain tile chipping? If it does chip, is it noticeable?
Porcelain tile is extremely durable and not prone to chipping. However, should a chip occur, it is often not noticeable, as the color runs all the way through the body of the tile—unlike items such as sinks that are merely glazed with porcelain.
What’s the difference between porcelain tile and ceramic tile?
This is a common question posed by consumers and product specifiers alike. Over the course of the last 15 years, the market has shifted from ceramic tile to porcelain tile as the standard offering. At one time, the phrase “ceramic tile” was to tile what “Kleenex” is to tissue, but that’s evolved as more U.S. manufacturers started making and selling tile with porcelain bodies. And though ceramic and porcelain tile are very closely related, there is a difference in how manufacturers present the two in the marketplace. Understanding that difference is valuable as you make product decisions.
How Ceramic Tile & Porcelain Tile Are Related: The classification of “ceramic tile” serves as an umbrella term for tiles made of clay and fired in a kiln. Under this umbrella, there are porcelain and non-porcelain tiles. Because porcelain tile is actually a kind of ceramic tile, it is not inaccurate to interchange the terms. However, it’s wise not to do so, as porcelain tile offers distinct features that don’t apply to other, non-porcelain tiles that also belong under the “ceramic tile” umbrella.
Porcelain Tile = 0.5% or Less Water Absorption Rate: To identify tile that earns the “porcelain” distinction, start by checking the water absorption rate on the product’s technical specifications. Porcelain tile must have 0.5% or less water absorption rate. In contrast, non-porcelain tile products may have higher water absorption rates. These are internationally recognized standards. Crossville products typically exceed the standard with an absorption rate of less than 0.1%.
How is this very low rate of water absorption achieved? Porcelain tile products are often comprised of more refined raw materials (though the same or similar) than non-porcelain tiles fired at higher temperatures. All of our U.S.-made porcelain tile products are fired at more than 2000˚ F instead of 1800˚ F, like other ceramic tiles. The higher temperature results in extremely dense tile bodies that resist water absorption.
Some people ask why porcelain tile costs more. In reality, prices vary between porcelain and non-porcelain tile products for many reasons beyond the type of body, and some “ceramic tile” may actually cost more than porcelain tile selections. Intricacies of design and glazes, as well as market supply and other manufacturing factors, can affect pricing. Regardless of exact costs of products, end-users can be assured that porcelain tile provides great value as a surfacing solution with longevity to perform and look great for years to come.
What are the benefits of porcelain tile?
The extremely dense body and low water absorption rate of porcelain tile provide some notable benefits. Low water absorption translates into superior performance in wet areas like showers, as well as in various temperature ranges such as freeze-thaw conditions outside on patios, walkways, etc.
Just as porcelain tile resists water, it also resists any moisture, dirt, stains or grime. The densely packed body or porcelain tile nearly defies penetration of undesired elements. That means you can keep it clean with minimal maintenance and breathe easier along the way, as it won’t trap contaminants that might affect indoor air quality or allergy-sensitive occupants.
Porcelain tile’s exceptional performance characteristics make it ideal for commercial applications, exterior uses and in heavy traffic installations, even in residential settings. Of course, it’s always essential to check the specifications of every product for exact technical specification details to be sure all factors meet your installation needs.
What are rectified tiles?
Rectified tiles have edges that have been precisely finished for uniformity, ensuring size is exactly the same from tile to tile within a product line.
Using rectified tiles allows installers to place tiles closely together with minimal grout line. Because of the precise dimensions, rectified tiles are easier to work with when installing patterns and unique tile designs. Non-rectified tiles that do not have uniformly calibrated edges require wider grout lines so that differences between tiles are not visible.
What is meant by “nominal tile size”? How does Crossville state tile sizes?
Typical nominal tile sizes are those you may likely find stated on tile product packaging, such as 12” x 12”, 16” x 16”, 24”x24” and so on. According to accepted industry standards, the actual size of the tiles as found in the box may be 3% smaller or larger than the nominal tile size stated. This acceptable variance is defined by article A137.1 of the American National Standards Institute (ANSI). For example, a product that is described as a 12″x12″ may be as small as 11.64″ or as large as 12.36″.
Crossville provides both the nominal tile size and actual tile size information on product information. We offer the nominal sizes in inches, with the actual sizes in millimeters.
Crossville prioritizes full disclosure and product education, so we give the details you need on all product information, whether in print or online. No matter what tile you select, be sure to learn if it’s rectified, as well as its nominal versus actual size. This will help you and your installer have the best outcomes.
Why does porcelain tile cost more than other ceramic tile?
Porcelain tile requires the finest natural ingredients and a rigidly controlled manufacturing process that utilizes the most advanced processes and technology. Consequently, the product is superior, and the cost reflects this longevity of quality, beauty, and performance.
Why are certain colors of porcelain tile more expensive than others?
Certain colors cost more to manufacture than others. The coloring agents are more expensive and difficult to control, requiring more technology, time, and skill. This is an effect of the raw material used to create our porcelain tile.
How can I be sure the tile I’m specifying is sustainably manufactured?
Through the TCNA’s Green Squared® program, architects, designers and consumers can easily identify green products and have assurance that their choices meet stringent sustainability standards. Launched in 2012, Green Squared is the tile industry’s common measure for sustainability developed by the TCNA under the American National Standards Institute process (ANSI A138.1). It is the consistent, clear benchmark for defining and acknowledging tile products that are green.
Because of our third-party certified production process, Crossville was the first tile manufacturer to achieve Green Squared certification for its entire porcelain tile product line-up. Just look for the Green Squared logo on information for our U.S.-made porcelain lines.
The Green Squared standard evaluates products and processes in five key environmental and social categories, including product characteristics, manufacturing operations, corporate governance, innovation and end-of-life product management. To meet the standard, a product must meet all mandatory requirements and a certain number of elective requirements.
Ensuring transparent, full disclosure of sustainability product by product, manufacturer by manufacturer, Green Squared makes it possible to know the tile you’re considering is really green. (And, of course, going with Crossville’s Made in America porcelain tile products is also a sure bet you’ve gone green, as well!)
What considerations should be made when specifying porcelain tile for countertops?
In terms of cost, porcelain tile is competitive with other counter surfacing choices. Generally porcelain tile costs more than manmade laminates but less than most solid surfacing products and natural stones, like granite. However, when you do a value comparison, porcelain tile delivers impeccable beauty, a wide range of color options, easy installation, and wipe-clean maintenance.
For performance on countertops, virtually impervious porcelain tile withstands stains and mildew, though the grout between tiles requires special attention. Many countertops are now installed with grouts of advanced formulation, such as 100% epoxy grouts, that are easy to use, clean up quickly following installation, and defend against stain or mildew. Otherwise, an application of high performance grout sealer is recommended to retard joint staining when using conventional sanded grout.
How can I address tile’s temperature when specified for living areas where the desire for comfort is at a premium?
Porcelain tile is no different in temperature than anything else in a room, though we often mistakenly equate smooth surfaces with cool temperatures. To ensure utmost comfort when installing a new floor, consider installing under-floor, radiant heating; your contractor should be able to provide information. Low-voltage electrical floor warming systems are readily available, affordable, and do not adversely impact heating budgets. Additionally, you can incorporate area rugs into your design to help warm things up, literally and aesthetically.
My design requires a very bright, white tile. The porcelain tile colors look creamy. Why is this and what are my options?
Porcelain tile is made from raw materials that simply don’t come in bright white. Ordinary tile appears bright white because of its glaze. The body color hidden beneath that glaze can be any natural clay color. With our porcelain tile, on the other hand, the color is consistent throughout; that’s one reason a scratch wouldn’t affect the appearance of the stone. Typically white porcelain blends nicely with other bright, white design elements. Our Crossville colors have been carefully designed with the goal of coordinating with the whites in other interior decorating products.
How can I find a qualified installer for my tile project?
We manufacture porcelain tile right here in the U.S. with adherence to highest quality standards, ensuring our porcelain products have superior technical properties to perform everywhere from residential to commercial environments. However, our porcelain tile products will only perform to their fullest potential if installed property.
It’s essential to work with only experienced, proven tile installation professionals to ensure your tile performs at its best and looks beautiful for years to come. Follow these tips for finding the best installers in your area.
1. Cull your list of tile contractor options by referring to lists provided by trusted industry resources. Don’t blindly search Google or open the Yellow Pages and start calling down the list of tile installers. Turn to organizations like NTCA and TCAA to trim your list and find the professional you need.
National Tile Contractors Association (NTCA)
The Five Star Program recognizes NTCA members who have demonstrated a track record of providing successful installations. Earning Five Star recognition includes customer recommendations, peer reviews, and participation in continuing education and training.
Tile Contractors’ Association of America (TCAA)
The Trowel of Excellence Program recognizes TCAA members who have demonstrated a track record of providing successful installations. Earning the Trowel of Excellence designation includes reference letters, detailed project descriptions and photos, and employee participating in educational programming.
The Ceramic Tile Education Foundation
The Certified Tile Installer Program is a comprehensive testing of the skills and knowledge of experienced tile installers, including a multiple-choice exam and a hands-on test. Both are based on current industry standards and best practices for producing a sound installation that exhibits good workmanship. Consumers and designers can access the CTEF directory to search for certified installers, and the CTEF provides a Contractor Questionnaire to help evaluate and compare contractors.
2. Compare the list(s) you find with recommendations from your distributor or retailer. Your porcelain tile supplier is also a great resource for determining who’s who for tile installations in your area. Bring the lists you find through the above websites to your sales representative to see who on the list matches the recommendation of your supplier.
3. Review portfolios and outside referrals/recommendations. Once you pinpoint the installer or installers you want to consider for your job, ask to see portfolios of their work with a particular focus on projects that are similar to the one you need completed. It’s important to know your installer has “been there, done that” in terms of the specific and unique needs your installation might entail. Additionally, request referrals and recommendations from their customers, as well. Don’t hesitate to call the contacts they give you to get a firsthand perspective on how the installer worked, the timeliness of the project and how the installation has performed since completion.
4. Maintain a working knowledge of tile installation. It’s always helpful to be able to “speak the language” of porcelain tile installation well enough to ask intelligent questions. Though you don’t need to be an expert, it is helpful to be familiarized with the basics of the tile setting process, setting materials, etc., so that you can feel confident about your project and the work that’s done to make it happen.
What are considerations for the sealing of porcelain tile?
Our porcelain tile is installed as easily as any ceramic tile. No sealing is required for Crossville products except for those with polished finishes. The grinding involved in the polishing process produces microscopic pores that should be sealed with a penetrating sealer (a one-time process that seldom needs reapplication). Otherwise, top sealers and waxes are unnecessary. You may select to have your Crossville products protected by our unique Cross-Sheen™ finish, which is sprayed on before the stones are fired. Cross-Sheen™ closes the stone’s pores, producing a permanent finish that enables stains and scuff marks to be easily wiped off. Likewise, you may choose the Hydrotect™ by Crossville® finish to enhance your tile’s anti-microbial, self-cleaning, air-purifying properties.
What size grout joint should I use?
Grout joints are a personal decision. Keep in mind that larger joints have a tendency to crack and attract more dirt than smaller joints. We suggest a thin grout joint – as thin as 1/8” to 3/16”. If your design will contain stones of multiple sizes, a 1/4” grout joint throughout will add consistency to the final product.
How can polished porcelain stone be maintained to retain shine?
The key to keeping polished porcelain tile shining is to thoroughly rinse off the dirty wash water when cleaning. Detergent residue can form a coating on the surface that is difficult to remove after it is allowed to sit and dry. After cleaning polished porcelain tile, the surface should be dried with a soft cloth or buffing pad to enhance the shine and prevent water spots.
Does Crossville manufacture other kinds of tile?
Crossville has manufactured only porcelain tile since we first fired up our kilns back in 1986. For the better part of two decades, we were the lone U.S. manufacturer making porcelain tile in America. Before we came on the scene, product specifiers looked to imported options from global manufacturers for the porcelain, commercial-grade tile they needed. We at Crossville knew that porcelain was the future–the higher and better standard–and we set out to be the domestic source for porcelain tile that customers wanted and needed. (Note – We do offer natural stone and glass tile collections, as well, that are globally sourced.)
Many tile products are made in other countries. Is there any advantage to buying porcelain tile that’s produced in the U.S.?
At Crossville, we believe there are four important reasons for purchasing American-made porcelain stone: first-rate production, geographic proximity, domestic investments, and environmental responsibility.
- First-rate production: Crossville is recognized as a world-class manufacturer, employing the latest technology and technical expertise available globally.
- Geographic proximity: Crossville’s location in the U.S. supports more immediate supply and often reduced freight costs compared to imports.
- Domestic investments: Located in the heartland of the United States, Crossville has an important, positive impact on the economy of our community, our employees, and their families.
- Environmental responsibility: We manufacture the majority of what we sell right here in the U.S. We not only adhere to U.S. environmental standards, but we also go above and beyond with our third-party certified, eco-friendly practices. We control all aspects of our processes and product output to ensure the most sustainable manufacturing possible.
Do you have an outlet store where I can buy Crossville, Inc. direct?
Yes, we have an outlet store. It is located at:
Crossville, Inc. Store Outlet
345 Sweeny Drive
Crossville, TN 38555 (Exit 320 off I-40)
Store Hours: 8 a.m.– 4 p.m. Central Time
Monday through Saturday
The outlet carries discontinued and select grade tile (“select” means it may have: scratches, small chips, shade variation, or not quite square). They also carry setting products and transition pieces. All purchases must be made in person with a limit of 3000 square feet per person.
Not all products are available at all times. It is a good idea to check availability with the outlet before visiting.