Understanding Shade Variation in Tiles

Have you ever painted a room and realized that your results slightly varied from the in-store color sample? Well, you can also expect shade variation in ceramic and porcelain tile products. Often, when people see variations in their tile products they assume it’s a defect but it’s actually a result of the manufacturing process.

What Exactly Does Shade Variation Mean?
Shade variation affects the porcelain or ceramic tile that you’re considering purchasing. Advances in technology has allowed for tiles to be printed in all types of patterns and colors. Therefore, you can expect some slight variation is some of your printed tiles. During the production of ceramic and porcelain tiles you’ll notice that there isn’t just a variation in color but it can slightly alter in texture and shade. However, shade variation only occurs towards unpolished tile.

How does shade variation occur? Well, during the production process, natural clay elements are taken and fired at high temperatures and depending on the baking conditions and the materials it can generate slight variations in each batch. It’s similar to baking cookies. All the cookies will look the same but you can expect small changes in each batch.

For some tile designs, shade variation is done purposely. These days, most tile products will come with a shade variation rating.

Understanding Shade Variation Rating
In 2001 the Ceramic Tile Distributor Association (CTDA) developed a shade variation rating system. When shopping for ceramic or porcelain tiles it’s important to see what rating a tile product has so you can know what type of results to expect. Here is a breakdown of the CTDA rating system:

V1- Uniform Appearance
A tile product with a V1 rating you can expect very minimal variation between each tile.

V2 – Slight Variation
There will be some clearly distinguishable differences between each batch.

V3- Moderate Variation
A ceramic or porcelain tile with a V3 rating will vary significantly.

V4 – Substantial Variation
Products with a V4 rating will have random color differences in each tile. One tile might be saturated with a different shade of colors than the previous tile in the batch.