3 March 2022
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.
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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.
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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.
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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.
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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.
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.
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.
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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:
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.