3 March 2022

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Rectified tiles: All your questions answered

When shopping for tiles, you are likely to come across the terms ‘rectified tiles’ and ‘non-rectified tiles’. 

The difference is subtle yet critical to the overall effect you will want to create with your tiling project. This article takes the mystery out of these technical words by answering all your questions. We also provide a glossary of associated terms, design tips and frequently asked questions that you might encounter.

rectified tiles - vela smoked

Vela Smoked 31.6X90 (Available in-store)

Why should you know the difference between rectified and non-rectified tiles?

The difference between them is important because it affects the cost and final finish of the tiled surface. It’s not a question of one being better or worse, just different. More specifically, it has an impact on the overall design objective and aesthetic.

As a rule of thumb, the non-rectified tiles are better suited to rustic, traditional-style interiors. While the rectified tiles are more appropriate for creating clean, modern and seamless surfaces.


Table of Contents


Pros and Cons

Glossary of Associated Terms

Design Tips



Rectified vs. non-rectified tiles


What is a Rectified Tile?

The term ‘rectified’ simply means that the tile edges have been corrected or straightened to provide a clean, more perfect edge. Typically, that involves grinding or polishing the tiles’ edges. The tile corners, in other words, are guaranteed to be a perfect 90-degree angle which is important for certain applications. 

The term only refers to ceramic or porcelain tiles or fired tiles. Thanks to the precision of the edges, the rectified tiles offer exact dimensions. The rectified process is not appropriate for smaller tiles – under 30 cm in any direction.

To compensate for the sharp edge, a very fine bevel is sometimes added to the tile for ease of handling and to prevent chipping.

rectified tiles - vela natural

Vela Natural 100×100 (Available in-store)


What are Non-Rectified Tiles?

Otherwise known as soft-edged or pillow-edged, the non-rectified tile has a more organic appearance. Because it has natural pressed edges, each tile has slightly different dimensions. The tile requires a wider grouting joint, providing a more traditional appearance. 

With a wider joint, the inconsistencies are masked. The grouting is often as important as the tile choice and adds to the overall look. This greatly depends on the width and colour of the selected grouting.

Only vitrified tiles are subject to the rectified process. Stone slabs and tiles, such as granite and marble, will already have straight edges and will not require any additional edge treatment.

rectified tiles - ferroker aluminio 44.3x44.3

Ferroker Aluminio 44,3×44,3 (Available online & in-store)


What are the Pros and Cons of Rectified Tiles?

Rectified or non-rectified tiles will be more suitable depending on the style and ambience of the space you are tiling. The following pros and cons in general terms describe the criteria you’ll need to consider when choosing.


Pros of Rectified Tiles

  • Rectified tiles provide much greater control concerning the overall finish. 
  • Use rectified edge tiles for ease of installation when using larger tile sizes, measuring more than 30 cm in any direction.
  • The joints between rectified tiles are much closer together than non-rectified tiles; grout joints can be as small as 1.3mm but are more commonly 3mm.
  • Narrower grout lines can provide a seamless and more continuous surface finish.
  • Rectified edges allow for a clean, symmetrical installation.


Cons of Rectified Tiles

  • It is more time consuming and requires greater skill to install rectified tiles with a pattern. Any mismatched tiles will draw attention and look wrong.
  • Because of the precision involved, the rectified tiles usually require a specialist installer. This is even more critical for grouting joints under 3mm in width.
  • The sharp, very precise edges of the rectified tile can make it more liable to chipping. This can also impact overall costs and become visible if chipping happens in situ. 
  • With rectified tiles, it’s more important for the substrate to be completely level. That can be achieved with a levelling compound or an extra layer of plywood substrate.
  • Lippage is only visible with rectified tiles. In the case of non-rectified tiles, the width of the grout masks the difference.


Glossary of Associated Terms


What does the term ‘lippage’ mean?

Rectified tiles mean that the length and width of the finished tile are subject to rigorous control. However, there are no such guarantees for the tile thickness, but they are typically flat.

The slight difference in height between two adjacent tiles, referred to as ‘lippage’, is more of an issue when the joints are finer. This is more obvious with rectified tiles because they are so close together. With non-rectified tiles, the width of the grouting masks the differential.


What is the rectified porcelain tile?

The term rectified only applies to tiles made from ceramic and porcelain. Both of these materials are clay-based, firing, or exposure to intense heat is the final step of their production process.

Porcelain tiles have a slightly different composition, they are also fired at higher temperatures. Ultimately, porcelain provides a denser and harder wearing tile. During kilning, the firing out process is not uniform. So, inevitably, some shrinkage and warping will occur. This happens when baking anything at high temperatures. The rectified process corrects these imperfections.


rectified tiles - carrara blanco 45x120

Marmol Carrara Blanco 45X120 (Available online & in-store)


Design tips for rectified tiles

Today, interior designers have access to possibilities that previous generations could only dream about. Seamless and continuous finishes, for instance.

Architects and designers would, in fact, articulate the joints between materials back in the day. With rectified tiles, there’s no need, as the joints almost disappear. Here below are a few design ideas that will help you get the most from the rectified tile:

  • A seamless tiled surface can make smaller rooms appear larger – especially when featuring larger format tiles. The thinner joints between tiles help the edges to almost disappear. This contributes to the illusion of a greater floor area for small bathrooms and kitchen spaces.
  • Rectified tiles are more suitable for laying complex geometric patterns like herringbone or chevron.
  • The rectified tile provides a much more authentic finish for marble effect floor tiles.

Frequently Asked Questions Regarding Rectified Tiles

When rectified tiles are fired, they are usually slightly larger than they need to be. Subsequently, they are cut to an exact size using a grinding process, cutting the tiles with a diamond tip saw or a laser. The resulting tiles are then identical in terms of length and width.

Yes, the rectified tile is more expensive because the production process requires more work. However, that is not the only additional cost to consider. The tiles are more complicated to install. Furthermore, the substrate must be perfectly level. These requirements may have cost implications that you should consider when selecting a tile. However, the visual and practical benefits may be worth it.

With rectified tiles, grout joints can be as little as 1.3mm but typically are 3mm. A special grout will be required for these thinner joints. One that does not contain sand which is considered too coarse.

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