Tile School: Questions about Crazing
We get a lot of questions about our crackle glazes aka crazing (which makes sense, these aren't words that you hear often...if ever). From what these words actually mean to where you can use tiles with a crackle finish - we're addressing your top questions here!
What is Crazing?
After a tile or other piece of ceramic is fired in a kiln, a ceramic glaze will develop subtle surface cracks, which adds to the natural patina of a handmade tile and we call this crazing or crackle. This is due to the glaze contracting as it cools on the surface of the tile. All of our ceramic tiles have some degree of crazing. Here's one of our glazes, Salton Sea:
Crazing is something that happens naturally and can continue over time, even after the tile is installed. You may actually hear this phenomenon as it happens, where the tile will emit a faint tinging sound.
We're big fans of this effect, so we sped up the process by offering a number of glazes that crackle, or "craze" during kiln firing.
Below is Salton Sea installed in a bathroom application. The crazing adds a touch of texture and a handmade feel to this soft green glaze:
Crazing is something that we cannot control from order to order, which is the beauty of handmade tile. Here's a close look at an installation where the crazing is noticeable:
Where can Glazes With Crazing be Installed?
Glazes with crazing can be installed in nearly any application. There are some limitations with steam showers and pools, but if you're going that route, just give us a call and we'll let you know what will work best.
Crackle finishes do just fine in heavily used areas, like the kitchen:
Here's a closer look:
Adriatic Sea is a color with crazing. You can see that it can be installed for both wall and floor tile in a residential bathroom:
Here's Sand Dune, a glaze with visible crazing, installed alongside Milky Way in a pool application:
Here's a close-up of Sand Dune for reference:
Does it affect the strength of the tile at all?
Crazing is something that happens naturally in ceramics and in no way affects the durability of the tile. Over time, your tile may develop a bit of crackle that wasn't there when it was installed initially. Don't fret! This is perfectly normal and your tile is A-ok (more on crazing over time here).
Here's Adriatic Sea going to work in a hotel bathroom:
Does Crazing Require More Maintenance?
It is good practice to re-seal crackle glazes every couple of years. It's important to note though, that it's actually your grout, more so than tile, that will require occasional maintenance.
Can a Contrasting Grout be Used on Tiles That Have Crazing?
We highly recommend not using a high contrasting grout for your installation if you've chosen a lighter color glaze. While some of our tiles may exhibit virtually no visible crazing, all of our ceramic glazes have some degree of crazing that can become stained and visible by dark grout.
When using a contrasting grout, there is a higher chance of staining your tile as shown below. Unfortunately, once a pigment has penetrated the crazing, it's nearly impossible to remove.
Like any of these colors? Order color samples online now. Need help or still confused about crackle? Simply call, chat or fill out our Design Assistance Form and one of our talented design consultants will get back to you shortly.