Rectified Tile Review: Pros, Cons, and Installation

Is Rectified Tile Right for You?

Eleganza Neutra Rectified Tile

Eleganza Tile

Rectified tile is fired tile—ceramic or porcelain tile—that has been mechanically cut or ground down to an exact size. Since it applies only to the tile's edges, it is called an edge treatment. Additionally, the edges are usually precisely cut at a square: a 90-degree angle.

Rectification is not considered better than other edge treatments. It is just a different treatment that allows for a different look: neat, trim, and precise, with narrow grout lines.

The Pros and Cons of Rectified Tile

Pros
  • Trim and neat look

  • Collect less debris

  • Smaller, fewer grout lines

Cons
  • More expensive

  • More difficult to set

  • Easy to notice chipped edges

Rectified Tile Cost

To purchase rectified tile, the average cost varies from $1 to $20 per square foot. If you have a professional install it, installation fees can vary around $15 to $20 per square foot. Rectified tiles can be placed closer together, allowing for minimal grout lines, which can make the cost of installation somewhat higher than normal tiles. 

Maintenance and Repair

Rectified tile is easy to clean and maintain. Simply sweep to clean up any debris and damp mop weekly with a water and mild soap mixture. While the tiles themselves are stain- and scratch-resistant, the grout lines typically need to be sealed occasionally to keep out any stains and mildew. Since rectified tile is either porcelain or ceramic, the grout area should be sealed to protect it and help keep it cleaner.

If a tile becomes cracked or chipped, that one tile can be replaced, although this can be a bit trickier to do with rectified tile since they're so close together, and it's best to let a professional handle this job.

Design

Rectified tile is a good choice for any room in the home. These tiles are normally larger in size, are either porcelain or ceramic, and come in many colors and shades.

Thin Grout Lines

For most homeowners, the main reason to buy rectified tile is to have a tile installation with minimal grout joints. The thicker the grout line, the more tolerance you have available to accommodate oddly sized tiles.

One way to look at this is to look at the opposite: tiles with ragged edges. Notice that quarry tiles—those thick, often red, and not rectified tiles seen outdoors—may have lines as thick as 1/2-inch. One reason for these wide grout joints is to cover imperfect facial dimensions.

Clean Precise Grout Lines

The clean, 90-degree angle afforded by the tile-cutting saw means that your grout line would be equally clean.

For materials like honed, polished tiles that readily show errors, rectification is a necessity. It's important to make certain that your substrate is absolutely flat when laying large rectified tile.

You do not have the surface tolerances with larger tile that you might with 4-inch by 4-inch or 2-inch by 2-inch or certainly mosaic tile. Lippage will be immediately apparent when laying tile with thin grout lines.

Larger-Sized Tiles

Typically these tiles come in 15 inches or larger. It is rare to find small rectified tiles. Just how small is the minimum, though?

Generally, a 12-inch by 12-inch tile is the smallest rectified tile that you'll find. An exception would be with mosaics that are 1-inch square or 2-inch square and are cut (and therefore technically rectified). But they are mesh mounted and the grout joint is predetermined.

Fired Tile, Not Natural Stone

Rectified applies only to fired tile. You do not find the term applied to marble, granite, or travertine. Since these are natural stones, they are, by definition, already rectified since they need to be cut from larger blocks of stone.

Rectified Tile Installation

If you have ever baked a pizza, bread, or cookies, you know that it is impossible to predict the eventual size of the product.

With heat, it first expands, then it contracts as it cools. While ceramic and porcelain clays do have more predictability than dough, they still are subject to size variability based on minute differences in firing temperatures and composition of materials: tile shrinks upon firing.

Ordinary tiles that are molded and then fired, but not rectified, will have slight dimensional differences that may affect how neatly and precisely the tiles are laid out. It is important to note that rectifying affects only the tile's facial dimensions, meaning the side-to-side sizing you see when looking down at a tile. It will not correct the thickness of the tile.

Top Brands of Rectified Tile

All major tile manufacturers carry rectified tile. You usually need to look at the specifications and edge finish, to determine if a tile is rectified.

By default, all mosaic tiles are rectified since they are cut. But since mosaics are often stuck to a mesh backer, you won't be able to lay those tiles close together. You'll need to look for loose mosaic tiles if you want that.

Also by default, any kind of natural stone tile is rectified since it is not fired. All natural stone is cut and thus is rectified. This applies both to stone cut from the slab as well as engineered stone.

Is Rectified Tile Right For You?

Choosing whether to use rectified tile or another type of tile comes down to personal preference. If you're looking for thinner grout lines, larger tiles, and a more modern, seamless look, then it is certainly a good option to consider.

Since it is a durable material and both scratch- and stain-resistant, rectified tile holds up well in high-traffic areas or with children and pets.