If you're planning bathroom renovations, a major decision is what kind of tiles to use. Should you use traditional cushion edged tiles or rectified tiles? While both are attractive, one reason to choose cushioned edged tiles is if your bathroom wall or floor surface is particularly uneven or rough. The reason for this is that cushion edged tiles will more easily cope with a less than perfect surface.
Cushion Edged And Rectified Tiles
The difference between cushion edged and rectified tiles is merely the edges. You may consider the edges as unimportant, and count the tile surface, its colour, its shape and its texture as more critical. While these things do matter, equally, so do the edges.
Both cushion-edged (also called pressed edge or soft edged) tiles and rectified tiles are porcelain or ceramic tiles; moulded from clay, then baked to produce the final hard tiles. After the firing process, the tile edges naturally curve softly inwards. If you were to take these tiles, and mechanically sharply trim the four edges, you would produce rectified tiles. Rectified tiles are just cushion-edged tiles with the sides machine-cut flat and sharp.
The Effect Of Sharp Tile Edges
You might be thinking this wouldn't make an enormous difference; they are the same tiles after all. However, the flat, sharp edges significantly affect the final result. Once the tiles are laid, these precise edges (usually combined with narrow grout lines) create an ultra-modern, clean flat look across the tiled surface; without the softening effect of inward curving, tile edges forming slight valleys between adjacent tiles.
If you are after a modern, clean look, this might sound perfect. However, a negative is that any unevenness in the tiled surface soon becomes apparent. Because the edge of each tile is flat and sharp, if they don't precisely meet up, the different elevations stand out more. This difference in elevation across a tiled surface is called lippage. In contrast, soft-edged or cushion edged tiles are more forgiving. If two tiles do not precisely lie flat beside one another, the soft cushion edges camouflage this to some degree.
So if you have a particularly rough or uneven bathroom wall or floor surface that you want tiled, you might be better off using traditional soft edged tiles (along with thicker grout lines) to disguise the slight lumps and bumps across the surface. While rectified tiles create a sharp, clean, modern look, this sharpness can become its Achilles heel if the tiling surface is not absolutely even.