Ceramic tile testing

Whether you’re a designer, manufacturer, supplier or builder, our ceramic tile testing services provide reliable data and relevant insights for the benefit of your product or project. We provide comprehensive testing of ceramic tiles, including tiles for use on pedestals (pods).

Determining suitability for project use

With our ceramic tile testing and evaluation services, you can gain valuable data to determine the suitability of your tile for its proposed uses. Test programs can be compiled from a wide range of tests conforming to Australian standard procedures.

Work with us from the selection of the ceramic tile, right through to use of the tile at the project level and beyond. We perform ceramic tile tests for manufacturers and projects in Adelaide, Sydney, Melbourne, Brisbane, around Australia and internationally. Samples can be sent to our NATA-accredited lab here in Adelaide.

Are the tests for ceramic tiles different to stone?

Ceramic tile test methods are tailored specifically to ceramic, mainly due to the different characteristics of ceramic compared to stone. Generally, the heat of drying is often higher with ceramic, and the length of time conditioning is often different, depending on the test. Testing is often more aggressive for ceramic than it is for stone due to the durable nature of the manufactured product compared to natural stone.

Above: Stain resistance testing of ceramic tiles; chemical resistance testing of ceramic tiles; potential to effloresce testing of ceramic tiles; mosaic tiles at Sofitel Adelaide underwent slip resistance testing.

Tests relevant to ceramic tiles include:

Water absorption, apparent porosity, apparent relative density and bulk density – AS ISO 10545.3:2020
Modulus of rupture and breaking strength – AS ISO 10545.4:2020
Impact resistance by measurement of coefficient of restitution – AS 4459.5-1999
Resistance to thermal shock – AS ISO 10545.9:2020
Frost resistance – AS ISO 10545.3:2020
Chemical & Stain Resistance (In-service) – SI-STAIN-18
Chemical resistance – AS 4459.13-1999
Resistance to stains – AS 4459.14-1999
Small colour difference – AS ISO 10545.16:2016
Slip Resistance – AS 4586:2013 & AS 4663:2013

For more tests see Summary of Our Capabilities.

Ceramic water absorption test explained

The water absorption test is important for ceramic tiles because it is what determines which Group Classification the tile falls under (see section below for more on Group Classifications). We can then determine if the tile complies with the specifications of this Group Classification for dimensional and surface quality requirements, physical properties, and chemical properties. The Group Classification, along with the unique requirements of the job and the needs of the client, together influence which tests need to be performed.

The water absorption of ceramic tiles is tested to AS ISO 10545.3:2020 “Ceramic Tiles – Method 3: Determination of water absorption, apparent porosity, apparent relative density and bulk density.” A standard number of specimens (which is determined by the size of the full tile) are dried to constant mass at 110 degrees C for a minimum of 24 hours. The specimens are weighed dry before being placed within a vacuum chamber, evacuating the air and slowly admitting water to fully immerse the specimens. The specimens remain submerged in the water under vacuum for 15 minutes before they are weighed soaked after patting excess water from the surface with a damp microfibre cloth. They are also weighed suspended in water. The water absorption, expressed as a percentage of the dry mass, is calculated using the dry weight and the soaked weight of the specimens. The suspended weight is used to determine the density.

Ceramic and porcelain tile classifications

Ceramic and porcelain tiles are classified by AS 13006:2020 (ISO 13006:2018) “Ceramic Tiles – Definitions, classification, characteristics and marking.” The ceramic tile is given a Group Classification, which depends on the method of manufacture of the tile and the water absorption properties.

Every ceramic tile, including those sourced internationally, is required to have its Group Classification specified on the packaging, or sometimes the Annex letter is written on the box as well as or instead of the Group Classification. Other information that should be included on the packaging are the manufacturer’s mark or trademark and the country where the tile was manufactured, the nature of the surface, i.e. glazed (GL) or unglazed (UGL), nominal and work sizes and “M” if modular, any surface treatment applied after firing and the total number of tiles in the package.

This information is important to know because it can help us determine which tests are relevant for the specific tile product. For tests such as stain and chemical resistance, it is important to know the nature of the tile surface – if it is glazed or unglazed, or if it has had any treatments applied to it after firing. In an instance where a client is having issues with a tile, we can complete a water absorption test in our lab to understand if the tile has been classified properly.

Below is a table showing the Group Classifications, plus the manufacture method and water absorption requirement for each group classification. The Annex refers to the part of ISO (AS) 13006 that specifies the other property requirements for each classification/group of ceramic tile.

ANNEXManufacture method / level of water absorption (Group title)Water absorption propertiesGroup classification
Annex AExtruded ceramic tiles with low water absorptionBetween 0.5% and 3%AIb
Annex B,
Annex C
Extruded ceramic tiles – Subgroup (Part) 1 Extruded ceramic tiles – Subgroup (Part) 2Between 3% and 6%AIIa
Annex D,
Annex E
Extruded ceramic tiles – Subgroup (Part) 1 Extruded ceramic tiles – Subgroup (Part) 2Between 6% and 10%AIIb
Annex FExtruded ceramic tilesMore than 10%AIII
Annex GDry-pressed ceramic tiles with low water absorptionLess than 0.5%BIa
Annex HDry-pressed ceramic tiles with low water absorptionBetween 0.5% and 3%BIb
Annex JDry-pressed ceramic tilesBetween 3% and 6%BIIa
Annex KDry-pressed ceramic tilesBetween 6% and 10%BIIb
Annex LDry-pressed ceramic tilesMore than 10%BIII
Annex MExtruded ceramic tiles with low water absorptionLess than 0.5%AIa

What is the difference between porcelain and ceramic?

Porcelain is a type of ceramic. Porcelain is fired at a different temperature and duration to traditional ceramics, and the composition of the source clay used to produce porcelain is also commonly different. Porcelain is typically identified as a Group BIa classified ceramic due to its very low water absorption properties.

Testing porcelain and other ceramic tiles on pedestals (sometimes called pods)

The use of pedestal systems for porcelain and other ceramic tiles can provide benefits such as reduced installation time, easier access to services, and benefits to drainage. However, there are also drawbacks and risks associated with pedestal systems, particularly when porcelain is involved. These include the risk of pedestrians falling through when a tile breaks and subsequent injuries, plus the cost of replacing broken tiles.

It is vital that appropriate tests are carried out on porcelain tiles intended for installation with a pedestal system. Testing can direct attention to these drawbacks and how they could affect the performance of a tile in service on the pedestal system.

The main tests recommended for porcelain tiles on pedestals:

  • Stone Initiatives method SI-CLCP – tests the concentrated static load capacity of the porcelain tiles while installed on a particular pedestal system.
  • British Standard method BS EN 14158:2004 (modified) – tests the impact rupture energy of the material.
  • Australian Standard AS ISO 10545.3:2020 – determines the water absorption capacity and density of the tile.
  • Australian Standard AS ISO 10545.4:2020 – determines the modulus of rupture and breaking strength of the tile.
  • Australian Standard AS 4586:2013 – determines and classifies the slip resistance of the surface of the tile.

Find sample requirements and other testing details on our FAQs page.

Get in touch to discuss your testing requirements.