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Frequently Asked Questions
Our FAQs are provided for guidance only and do not override our Terms & Conditions of sale.
Before you buy
Can I order samples?
We can send out samples of all of our stock tiles. Samples are usually 10cm*10cm swatches cut from a tile. For Cement tiles, we will usually also send out a full size print out of the tile so that you can see the pattern next to the actual colours of the tile. We can send out three swatch samples free of charge.
If you require a full tile, there is a £10 charge to cover cost of the courier and packaging. You can order up to 3 full tiles to be sent with this option.
For larger volumes of samples, please email us with your requirements.
Can you calculate the area I need to tile?
If you send us your measurements, we can certainly help with calculations. Please bear in mind that these will be estimates and should be checked with the person who will be carrying out the work before placing an order as there are sometimes additional on-site considerations that need to be taken into account.
We recommend that 10% is added to your total quantity to allow for wastage and in the case of natural stone, cement and terrazzo, minor imperfections, breakage and natural variation.
Are tile sizes exact?
Stated tile dimensions are “nominal sizes”. Due to manufacturing processes there can be variations of up to + / - 2mm from stated sizes between batches.
Why does my sample look different to the picture?
We do our best to make sure that online images are accurate, but a computer screen can never beat the real thing. Also, all tiles have colour variation between batches, so samples and images are intended as a guide. Natural Stone has significant variation – no two pieces will be alike and cement tiles have handmade pigments that vary every time they are mixed.
If you have concerns regarding variation, please ask us for additional samples or images and we will do our best to accommodate your requirements.
Choosing your materials
What materials do you offer?
We are specialists in Terrazzo and Encaustic Cement Tiles, however we have an extensive range of Porcelain, Natural Stone, Ceramics, Mosaics and Glass sourced from the very best factories and quarries in Britain, Spain and Italy.
What is Terrazzo?
Terrazzo is essentially marble chippings in a bed of pigmented cement. As a traditional material, this cement / chip layer would have been poured on site. Pre-made tile versions would have been quite thick as they were pressed onto a concrete base. It is a very hard-wearing, durable material that you will find in many public spaces such as airports, supermarkets, train stations, schools and universities.
The modern version of this material is pre-cast in one single layer that can be produced to 20mm, 30mm, 40mm and even 50mm thickness.
What are Encaustic Cement Tiles?
Encaustic Cement tiles are made of pigmented cement that is poured into a patterned steel mould. A cement/sand/gravel layer is then poured onto this to form the base, and the filled mould is hydraulically pressed. The mould is removed and the tile is placed on a rack to dry.
What are porcelain tiles?
Porcelain tiles like ceramic tiles are made of clay, however they are fired to a much higher temperature. Porcelain tiles are much more durable than a ceramic tile and can be used in areas with heavy traffic, including kitchen floors, hallways and commercial applications.
They are an extremely versatile option that can mimic a wide variety of finishes appearances including concrete, natural stone and wood. It is often chemically resistant, frost-resistant and non-porous.
Porcelain tiles can be “through body” or “full body” where the tile has the same colour / pattern all the way through the tile so that if it chips, it should look the same (also the edges can be exposed on corners) and they can also be glazed. Glazed porcelain has the colour or pattern glazed to the surface of the tile – it is just as hard wearing, but the colour does not go all the way through the tile.
What’s the difference between rectified and non-rectified porcelain tiles?
Rectified tiles have precisely finished straight edges and exact dimensions and usually have a small bevel around the top edge to reduce chipping. Rectified tiles can be laid with thin grout lines of 3mm or less. They are also known as “dimensionally stable tiles”.
Rectified tiles undergo a process of rectifying the size after they have been fired either by grinding or by cutting with a diamond saw, as changes in moisture during the firing process can lead to the tiles changing shape and varying slightly when they come out of the kiln.
In terms of dimension, rectified tiles are almost identical as the cutting machines have very fine tolerances. Tile thickness isn’t always taken into account so there can be variation between batches. Due to the fact that rectified tiles are usually fitted very close to each other, small differences can occasionally result in the tiles seeming not to be exactly aligned – this is called “lippage”. With slightly thicker grout lines, this would not be noticeable.
Non-rectified tiles are called cushion-edged, soft-edged or pillow-edge and aren’t as sharp or prone to edge-chipping. They tend to be slightly cheaper than rectified tiles, but will have small differences in dimension that require the tiles to be laid with a thicker grout joint.
What is Natural Stone?
The term Natural Stone covers any material that has been quarried from the earth and has not undergone any mechanical process except cutting or etching. The stones that are traditionally used as tiling materials are Limestone, Marble, Travertine, Slate, Quartzite, Granite and Sandstone. Terracotta is clay that has been moulded then fired. All natural stone is porous to varying extends and should be sealed.
What is Limestone?
A sedimentary rock, Limestone is formed by millennia of compacted shells, sediment and organic materials. It is a calcareous stone, sometimes similar in appearance to marble, and with varying density. It is quite a soft material, so some edge chipping should be expected, together with pitting and occasional resin fill. Limestone is sensitive to acid, so it should be well sealed and the non-acidic or bleach based materials should be used to maintain it.
What is Marble?
Marble is essentially a dense limestone that has changed its chemical composition due to extreme heat, pressure and the addition of chemically active fluids. It is available in many coloured varieties that are the result of mineral impurities that have become crystalized such as clay, silt, sand and iron oxides which would have been present in the limestone.
Marble is a very dense stone which is usually available in a polished, honed or tumbled finish.
What is Travertine?
Similar to Limestone, Travertine is a calcium based stone that has formed as a result of dispersion by mineral springs. It is often found at the mouth of a hot spring, or in a limestone cave. Because of the essential action of water in its formation, this material has obvious pits and voids in its surface.
Travertine tiles can come “unfilled” in a tumbled or brushed finish and these voids are filled during the grouting process. Sometimes these areas that have been filled can become loose to expose the holes – this is usual and the holes can be filled again with grout or resin.
Travertine can also be supplied “filled” in a honed or tumbled finish – in this case the tiles have been filled at the quarry after cutting with a colour-matched resin.
Travertine can be found “cross-cut” and also “vein-cut”. “Vein-cut” tiles have the veins of the tile running in lines across the tile. “Cross-cut” tiles show the cross-section of the stone’s veins which presents itself in a cloudy pattern.
What is Slate?
Natural Slate is a metamorphic rock originally a combination of clay or volcanic ash that has metamorphised to due temperature, pressure and chemical reaction. Formed in sheets, Slate is a dense stone that is available in a variety of colours and textures.
In terms of finish, it is generally available in a “honed” or smooth finish, and also as “riven” which leaves elements of the natural, rustic surface, including chips and marks.
“Calibrated” slate means that the thickness of the tile has been controlled to be continuous. “Uncalibrated” slate can have varying thickness and will need to be bedded with varying amounts of adhesive to achieve a level surface.
What is Granite?
Granite is an igneous rock, usually available in white, pink, grey or black, depending on the minerals it contains. The formation of this material is the result of the molten lave cooling below the earth’s surface. Although granite is a very dense material, it is still susceptible to acid so should be sealed correctly and maintained using non-acidic, non-bleach based cleaning products.
What is Terracotta?
Literally meaning “baked earth”, Terracotta is thick clay that has moulded and then fired in a kiln. It is available in hand made finishes for that rustic look with irregular edges and colour variation, or machine made for a sharper edge and more consistent colour.
Terracotta is supplied unsealed and needs to be treated when it is laid.
What are Ceramics?
Ceramic tiles are made of cut clay mixed with other minerals that are glazed and fired in a kiln. The production of ceramic tiles dates back to the Egyptians. They can be both machine made and hand-made.
Some ceramic tiles are produced for floors, although these days we strongly recommend using a porcelain tile instead for durability. All of our ceramic tiles are made for walls, with different glazes and dimensions, including matt finishes, glossy finishes and crackled finished.
In terms of sizes, ceramic tiles tend be small formats, in rectangles and squares.
Crackle glazed ceramic tiles will need to be sealed before grouting.
Where can I use Glass tiles?
Glass tiles are mainly for wall use, although there are some factories that produce glass tiles for floor. Glass tiles are either paper backed or ceramic backed, and these backings give the colour.
Paper backed glass tiles should not be used behind a glass hob.
What’s the difference between Stone and Porcelain?
Millions of years in formation, Natural Stone is a material shaped by nature – every tile is unique and provides timeless depth and beauty.
Porcelain is a manufactured product, created to resemble the look of natural stone (amongst other materials). Modern technology means that some high quality porcelain tiles can look and feel very much like a natural stone, although close expert inspection will reveal the difference. Some porcelains are based on hundred metre square scans of actual stone, printed on the tile so that no two tiles will be the same within a batch.
Side to side, porcelain will never match the beauty of natural stone.
Sealing and Maintenance
Porcelain is very dense and does not usually need to be sealed. It can be used in most situations, including wet rooms, showers and externally without needing to be sealed. Because it doesn’t need to be sealed, it also does not need any special cleaning products to maintain.
Stone on the other hand tends to be moisture sensitive due to its porosity. This means that it can be easily stained and should be sealed in order to make it water resistant and stain resistant. Once it is sealed it should also be maintained using an alkaline based cleaning product (ideal one that works with the sealant). Under no circumstances should acid or bleach be used to clean as this will strip away the sealant and potentially stain the stone permanently.
Natural stone will be more expensive to install due to the additional material required and specialist tools for installation (ie flexible white adhesive, wet cutter, sealant).
These days, porcelain is a standard material, however larger formats (ie over 60cm*60cm) will carry additional costs as they will also require specialist equipment and additional labour.
Can it be used on floor and walls?
All of our porcelain tiles can be used on floors and walls.
Our range of cement tiles, terrazzo tiles and natural stone can be used on floors and walls, except for walls that have been plastered. If tiling material with 20mm thickness onto walls, these should be tiled onto minimum 18mm plywood but ideally onto cement board.
Our Ceramic tiles are for wall use only.
Zellige tiles have a polished finish, but can still be used
Glass tiles are usually for wall use only.
Ordering your tiles
How can I place an order?
We can receive orders placed online through our website, via email or over the phone. All trade orders must be placed in writing via email. Please call our experienced Sales Team on 020 7485 7227 to place an order over the phone – opening hours are Monday – Saturday 10:00 am – 17:30pm.
Can I cancel an order once it has been placed?
If goods have not yet been dispatched, you can cancel your order. Once goods have been dispatched, charges may apply. Once goods have been delivered we can sometimes accept cancellation of orders within 2 weeks of delivery, however collection charges and re-stocking fees will apply.
Special order items or goods that are imported or made bespoke cannot be cancelled once they have been ordered. This includes all cement tiles and terrazzo tiles.
How can I amend my order?
If the goods have not yet been dispatched, we can amend your order. If goods have already been dispatched then there might be additional carriage costs.
What payment do you accept?
We can receive all major credit cards except for American Express. We can also receive payment via BACS transfer.
When will I receive my tiles after ordering?
Most of our porcelain, ceramic and glass tiles are available for delivery next day or within 2 days of order.
Our Natural Stone tiles can take between 1-5 working days depending on the material. Cement tiles from our “stock design” range will be delivered in 5-10 working days from order – any bespoke cement tiles will be delivered in 6-8 weeks.
Terrazzo can vary from 3-6 weeks depending on the quantity required and the time of year.
Where do you deliver?
We deliver tiles all over the world. UK deliveries are usually via pallet service and prices can range from £18 – 64 per pallet depending on weight and postcode. We will advise of carriage charges, if any, before you place your order.
Will I need to be at home to receive the delivery?
Yes, tiles are heavy goods that need to be transported by pallet and need to be signed for on delivery to make sure that they have been delivered in good condition. Unfortunately the driver is not able to unpack goods from the pallet or move them into your property.
How do you deliver?
Because tiles are delivered by pallet, deliveries are usually made to the nearest accessible point by pallet truck (ie cannot go over steps). Please do let us know when placing your order if there are any issues with access, such as steep gradients, gravel driveways, narrow roads so that we can send the appropriate vehicle.
Can I have a timed delivery?
Unfortunately we are unable to offer a timed delivery service. Because of the nature of pallet delivery companies, we can only offer an all-day service, although in some cases we can offer an AM service although this carries a surcharge.
Can you ship abroad?
Yes, in many cases we can ship anywhere in the world – please get in touch with your requirements and we provide you with a shipping quote.
Will all the tiles be from the same batch?
We always try to send from the same batch, however picking errors do sometimes occur. We recommend that you instruct your tiler to check all tiles before fixing. Unfortunately we will not be able to replace or refund any tiles that have been laid.
I’ve run out of tiles, can I order extra?
For tiles that are in stock, this should not be a problem. Please make a note of the batch code on the side of the box of the tiles you have already as we do not keep this information.
For cement tiles, please bear in mind that there is a 2m2 minimum order for stock items and 4m2 minimum for bespoke tiles. Bespoke tiles will have a lead time of 6-8 weeks. We strongly recommend that you order enough tiles initially to avoid this situation (10 – 15% addition).
For terrazzo, there is a 5m2 minimum order, so repeat orders would need to be of this amount.
My tiles have arrived broken / are incorrect?
We do our upmost to ensure that your experience from choosing your tiles to receiving your tiles is as perfect as possible, however there are many variables between ordering and receiving the goods and sometimes things can go wrong – we will always try to fix issues, however damages and issues with quantity need to be advised within 72 hours of delivery. This should be notified in writing together with image showing the issue and replacements will be dispatched or a refund will be issued as appropriate.
Given the nature of tiles, if there is only a small percentage of breakages, then the tiler can try to use these where a cut tile is necessary. If however, you are still short, we can send replacements, assuming proper notification was given as above.
Minor edge chipping and slight imperfections are normal with natural stone, cement and terrazzo – tiles that are slightly damaged can usually be used for cutting.
What adhesive and grout do I need?
The adhesive a tiler uses will depend on the material being tiled and the substrate its being fitted on. For most cases, we recommend that a flexible adhesive is used, even if the substrate is not subject to any movement.
For porcelain, a grey flexible adhesive will suffice, and the choice of rapid-setting or non-rapid setting is up to the tiler.
For natural stone, cement tiles and terrazzo tiles, we recommend that a rapid-setting flexible white adhesive is used. Rapid-setting, to minimise any moisture uptake into the back of the tile, flexible to mitigate an movement from the substrate that might lead to cracking and white to prevent staining.
In terms of grout we recommend selecting a grout colour as close as possible to the colour of the tile (except in the case where a contrast is an essential element of the design).
For cement tiles we recommend that a light colour grout is always used – normally Mapei Silver 111 which works very well with colours from our palette. Dark grouts should not be used as these can stain the tiles.
Sealing and Maintenance
Do I need to seal my tiles?
If your tiles are made of ceramic or porcelain then you don’t usually need to seal your tiles. There are exceptions to this, such as crackled glazed ceramic tiles which need to be sealed using Lithofin Stainstop KF before grouting to stop the grout from staining the cracks.
Unglazed porcelain can be sealed in order to assist with cleaning and maintenance. These can be sealed with Lithofin Stainstop KF.
All natural stone tiles, cement tiles, terrazzo tiles and terracotta should be sealed.
For stone, cement and terrazzo, we recommend two coats of Lithofin Stainstop MN before and after grouting. Stainstop MN is a matte-finish sealant that will not affect the colour of your tile. For hallways and kitchens, we recommend the addition of Lithofin Multiseal. This product gives the tiles a satin sheen, but greatly assists with keeping the tiles clean.
Terracotta can be sealed using the traditional method, which is to impregnate the tile first with a 50:50 mix of boiled linseed oil and white spirit, then to wax them once they have been laid. The modern method is to use a product such as Lithofin Terracotta Impregnator first, then seal with Lithofin Terracotta Sealant – this will give the tiles a much glossier finish.
To keep your tiles in the best condition, we recommend re-sealing every 12-18 months.
What should I use to clean the tiles?
For most porcelain and ceramic tile there are no special cleaning requirements and you can use warm water to mop the tiles. In some cases you might want to use a disinfectant to sanitize the surface. For stubborn dirt, you can use Lithofin Intensive Cleaner.
For Stone tiles, Cement tiles and Terrazzo Tiles that have been sealed with Lithofin Stainstop MN (and or Multi-Seal) we recommend an initial clean with Lithofin Power-Clean after grouting. For regular maintenance we recommend Lithofin Easy-care – this is an alkaline based cleaning product that will help maintain the sealant.
For stubborn stains, you can use Lithofin Power-clean diluted 1:5 and scrub using a white emulsifying pad. This process might need to be repeated several times.
How to I remove the sealant?
If your tiles have been sealed with Lithofin Stainstop, then you can use Lithofin Wexa to strip the sealant.