Q & A

You may have some questions following the purchase of your True porcelain tile. We aim to answer those questions here, but you can always reach out to us on Lowes.com in the “Community Q & A” section. A link to this section has been provided below.

Q: Why is there so much shade or size variation in my tile?

A: When purchasing tile, it is important to select the same size, shade and JO (job lot) numbers on the carton. Multiple lot numbers will cause varied sizes and/or shades. This information is normally found on the side of the box. It is common to have multiple lot numbers on the shelf. If you need more than a pallet, please you ask your Lowe's store to order directly from the manufacturer. This tile is made in USA, so it's not a problem. Expect about a week for it to get to the store, but there is no extra cost. Always open several boxes and lay out the tiles to ensure that you have the desired look before you permanently set them with mortar. If you see that there is an undesirable variation, please reference the size and shade information on the side of the carton to ensure that you’ve received the sale job lot.

Q: Is a grout line recommended or needed?

A: Yes, a minimum grout joint of 3/16 (5mm) is recommended for pressed tile. If you’re installing with a staggered tile placement, we recommend using a 30% offset. If you must use a brick pattern with ½ offset tile placement, a larger grout joint is recommended to reduce the visibility of size imperfections that are standard in pressed tile (minimum ¼” grout joint with ½ offset brick pattern).

With any porcelain or ceramic tile that is pressed there will be slight variations in size, in accordance with ANSI and ASTM standards. As tiles are baked in the kiln, the finished product can have slightly varied results.

Rectification is the process of mechanically trimming the sides of tile. This process allows for much thinner grout line (3mm); because all tiles will be trimmed to a precise size. Thus, rectified tiles are often more expensive.

Q: What trowel size should I use?

A: Check the grout and mortar you will be using. On the back of the package it should list towel sizes needed based on the size of the tile. For example, most tiles that are 16 inches or larger will need a ½”x ½” trowel. Make sure the proper thinset mortar coverage is also met by the trowel size. Dry areas such as floors, fireplaces, and accent walls require a minimum coverage of 85% for the back of the tile. While wet areas such as showers require a minimum coverage of 95%.

Q: How do I install planks or large format tile?

A: Planks (such a 6x24, 6x36 or 8x48) will need to be installed at a 1/3 or 33% offset instead of the traditional 50% brick layout. This is to avoid noticeable lippage in the tile. The Council of North America allows for warpage in all tiles. Visit the TCNA website for more information.

Q: What color grout should I use?

A: Selecting a grout is personal preference. Your local Lowes will have several color options to meet your project needs. Choosing a color that blends with the tile is most common, however choose a grout color that is different from the tile will add some pop to the design.

Q: Can I install my tile outside?

A: In general porcelain tile can be installed outside and is made to withstand freeze and thaw cycles. Most porcelain tile is also impervious to water. Check the box for indoor/outdoor symbols or product recommendations. Lowes.com should also list indoor or outdoor capabilities for each tile.

Q: Why is my tile chipping or cracking when I make cuts?

A: Porcelain tiles have a higher breaking strength than ceramic tiles, so they require a diamond tip blade when cutting and it is recommended to use a wet saw for best results. You can also use a “snap cutter” with these tiles; but make sure that you use the correct score wheel for porcelain tile (we use a Rubi Tools score wheel #8, rated for porcelain tile). Technique is very important as well. When scoring, cutting, or drilling the tile, do not use heavy pressure (score lightly), if your wheel or blade chips/flakes the surface of the tile, then your blade is likely dull and needs replacement.

Q: How much tile or how many square feet do I need to complete my project?

A: To calculate square footage of a project simply multiply the length times width of a room or area. Then take your total square footage needed and divide it by the number of square feet in each box. Remember that it is also good to calculate an additional 10% in the event of breakage during install or replacements. You can also consult with your local Lowes to get a professional measurement scheduled to determine the exact square footage and the number of boxes needed. There are also online sites to help calculate. Remember it is recommended to purchase 10% extra for cuts or replacements.

Q: Why are there two size measurements listed on the box?

A: The boxes and most price tags will list the common and actual size of the tile. A common size may be a 12 x 24, but the actual size could be 11.75 x 23.75. Tile tends to shrink after it is fired and cooled.

Q: How do I clean the tile?

A: When cleaning tile, first you need to make sure the surface is free of debris, so a good vacuum or sweep is best. Once the floor is free of dirt or other particles you can use warm water and a mild soap to clean the floor. A mop or rag that is nonabrasive is best to use. Make sure to change the water frequently to avoid leaving a cloudy film on the tile. If the soap doesn't work, you can use vinegar and water with a 1 to 2 ratio, so 1 cup vinegar with 2 cups warm water. For stubborn marks you can mix a little baking soda with warm water and let it sit for 5-10 minutes before wiping clean with a damp cloth. Lowes also sells grout and tile cleaners in their stores that can help with more challenging stains.

Q: Can I install this tile in the shower or on a fireplace

A: A benefit of porcelain tile over other flooring options is its durability. Porcelain tile is impervious to water, making it perfect for showers or back splashes. Make sure the proper grout and substrate is used behind the tile. Lowes has many options for substrate, water resistant grout and sealers.

Glazed porcelain tile does not need to be sealed, specific product information can be found on lowes.com.

In addition to porcelain tiles ability to be fully submersed in water, it is also extremely heat resistant. Porcelain tile is fired at around 2200 degrees Fahrenheit during the manufacturing process. Porcelain tile can not only be used as a fireplace façade, but also inside pizza ovens. Porcelain tile emits no VOC (emits no harsh fumes or chemicals when exposed to heat or flame) and can act as a fire retardant, helping prohibit the spread of flame. Again, make sure you have the proper grout and mortar for high heat environments.