September 21, 2015 - Tilespect

Check for Visible Ceramic Tile Defects – 5 of 5

7) Visual Defects;

The occasional finishing defect is usually not a problem since the flawed pieces can be selected out by the tiler. If you bought a first quality tile you should expect that visible blemishes are rare. Although standards can vary in most cases the first quality selection is where aesthetic defects which are visible under the naked eye test shown below do not exceed 5%. If at least 95% of the tiles pass the test then you have a first quality tile batch.

NOTE; Many types of finishing imperfections do not impair the functional properties of the wall or floor tile , such as durability. Where the visible defect changes the surface texture and hence alters it’s cleanability this would be classified as a functional and a visual defect

The visual inspecion before installation is the best prevention to a poor outcome in case there is a frequency of flawed tiles which is likely to present a problem . Because of limits of control on materials the standards of quality accept that at some scale imperfections will be visible. The standard most factories apply is; “>

Wall tile aesthetic defects; Must be visible from a minimum distance of 1 metre under light conditions of 300 lux, which is equivalent to fluorescent office lighting conditions.

Floor Tile aesthetic defects; Must be visible with the naked eye from a height of 1.65 metres (or 5 ft and 6 inches) and 2 metres (6 ft and 8 inches) lateral distance away.

problems with tiles

Minimum first quality selection standard for aesthetic ceramic tile defects

However you should also lookout for flaws that can only be seen;

  • Under certain light conditions
  • That might be hidden behind the protective wax or the “engobe” dust in your cartons.

Note that the factory warranty does not include the cost of re-tiling an area if they are laid down with visible defects. Some extra attention to visible flaws also requires that you clean a few pieces to allow you to properly pick out any aesthetic defect during your inspection.

If you find a problem;

  • Quantify the number of affected tiles
  • Estimate the size of the problem.

NOTE: Flaws may not be present throughout the whole batch, or they may affect a uniform percentage of the total pieces.

Suggested Solution;

  • Use of affected tiles for cuts
  • Replacement of part or all of the batch
  • Acceptance if you feel the defects do not significantly affect the visual impact of the project.




Uneven OR bad bevelling on edges and corners

Surface spots and blemishes


Pimples and protuberances

Lack of uniformity of glazing

Less than 100% pattern coverage on surface of tile

Uneven polishing

Surface Scratches

Machine marks

Color or hue defects

Examples of various visible defects are pictured just below.

We have reached the end of the seven point quick check. A free prompter and form which you can use to conduct and record your inspection results is available for download from this link.

PDF: Do_It_yourself_tile_check_form

docx: Do_It_yourself_tile_check_form

You may print it or fill it out using a word processing program.


Pinholes in surface glaze of tiles

Pinholes in surface glaze of tiles – the circled pinholes are aesthetic defects only!

Ceramic Tile Defects

Example of incomplete glaze defect on surface of tile – these are both aesthetic and functional flaws


Protuberance tile quality problem

Protuberance tile quality problem

Example of a rare and unwelcome visible defect

Example of a visible defect which is unusual and rare.

Black spots on white tiles are a conspicuous defect

Black spots on white tiles are a conspicuous defect

Porcelain Tile Defects

Production defects on tile surface

Surface defects

Surface defects

If your tiles have passed checks 1 to 7 then well done for having minimized your risk by checking. If your tiles do not pass then well done for having caught a potential problem early.


THIS IS A SPOT INSPECTION; YOU AND YOUR TILER MUST CONTINUE TO CHECK FOR ANY POTENTIAL DEFECTS AS THE WORK PROGRESSES. The ceramic tile defects displayed on this page do not represent all of the possible defects and you must consult your supplier if you observe any other types of flaws, blemishes or defects.

I wish you good luck with your project. I recommend you also read:

When a tile job goes wrong….tiling defects


If you are having problems relating to porcelain (or ceramic) tile defects or to other issues not mentioned here such as poor installation (bad tiling) please send an email through our contact page.

Don’t forget that you can download the DIY Tile check prompt sheet and form by selecting one of the following formats;
PDF: Do_It_yourself_tile_check_form

docx: Do_It_yourself_tile_check_form


Tile quick Inspection Guide tile defects /