While it seems obvious, before we perform the final two checks it is worthwhile at this point to examine if the tile you bought matches the the original samples used during selection of the product.;
Some key factors to check are; (you may need to clean the wax off the tile surface first)
– Pattern? Did the displayed product in the tile showroom feature a variable pattern with every piece? Check if you have a variable pattern too.
– Is the pattern as subtle or as bold as the original you ordered from? Does the pattern properly cover the entire surface of the tile?
– Colour? Is it the correct colour? Does it have good coverage over the surface of the tile?
– Surface; Is the surface smoothness/roughness and the sheen the same as your original samples. These properties can change as production methods and materials change over time. If the tile is a floor tile with a specified slip resistance rating, is the tile delivered smoother or rougher than your original sample?
Is the tile the same thickness as your original sample. A change in thickness may indicate a change of production plant, product substitution and hence the characteristics of the product may have changed.
Consult your supplier if any of these are not to your satisfaction – do not wait until they are laid. If you have a doubt, go back to the showroom and bring along some samples and compare them with the samples on th original display.
(porcelain tile sealer problems, protective wax removal problems, tile cleanability difficulties)
Test cleanability now, don’t let your tiler discover the problem later.
Engobe: Sometimes referred to as a slip, engobe is a dust-like film that sometimes occurs in excess. It is easy to wipe of the surface of the tile and it does no harm if also covers the back of the tile. It is merely an pre-firing additive used to control the desired finish on the glaze of the tile.
Transit Wax:Wax is often applied to tile surfaces by the factory to protect them during transport delivered.
Ideally the wax should be easy to remove with a scraper or a cloth, or brush. Sometimes the factory specifies a cleaning product. Check that it does clean off easily. I have experienced problem jobs where the wax applied to tiles has resisted all normal attempts at cleaning.
Transit wax comes in two general forms. The first is a four or five dot hot wax mostly used applied on ceramic wall or floor tiles. The second is a film that covers the tiles and is most often applied to polished or semi polished unglazed porcelain. This is generally harder to remove and tilers may use special cleaners and rotary brush machines which are just for this purpose. If it is really exceptionally hard to remove even with these methods the tiler may claim that this is a tile fault and basically leave it to the client and the supplier to resolve. Happily transit wax is become less used as sealers improve.
Check for this by trying to clean one piece and if you or your tiler find it difficult to remove during your inspection ask your supplier for cleaning instructions and test that their recommended methods are effective.
Factory crayon or ink selection markers: Often dashes or crosses will be written on tile surfaces, in a highlighter colour such as blue,yellow or green. These are put there by the selector on the production line which allows a scanner device to sort the piece according to the selectors choice. These are supposed to be easy to remove. Test it now- try to clean it with a tile cleaner. If it does not come off using normal methods get advice from your supplier.
Mould, mildew, fungus: Tiles pallets where the packaging has been exposed to weather moisture will eventually develop mould. Mould is difficult to permanently erase. It will exhibit itself as dark smudges on the front and on the backs of tiles.
Note: Porcelain pre-sealer or transit-wax cleaning problems:
Factory applied Porcelain transit wax and occasionally porcelain pre-Sealer should be removable with the methods used by professional tillers (rotary pad machines and wax removal products)
Incorrect application of porcelain tile sealer or transit wax during production can result in a surface “film” which is exceedingly difficult to remove and requires the use of solvents. I have personally spent days cleaning floors to remove this excess after the tilers had declared that this was due to faulty transit wax and therefore not included in their quote. It is a difficult task and it is hard on your knees.
Note that while problems are rare with pre – sealed porcelain tiles, a quick check is still advisable.
Ease of cleaning: Check that any polished or semi-polished porcelain tiles are easy to clean under expected conditions of use. While this check is something the end user should have considered before purchase, occasionally there are batch – specific cleanability issues such as the one pictured below (that ring mark could not be completely removed!).
In some situations an additional post-installation sealer is recommended. If this is the case it may improve the cleanability of the product. If possible, test this sealer out on one piece prior to installation and see if you can clean it.