The beauty and character of a well-crafted floor are magnified by colour variations. If you’re trying to achieve a uniform look, variations in colour can be infuriating, however, dramatic differences between tiles have the ability to mimic natural stone surfaces. According to Ceramic Industries, there’s a few things that designers can do to avoid colour variation when it’s not wanted and ways to use it when it is needed to achieve a certain look.

Tshepo Molefakgotla, COO at Ceramic Industries, says that the clay and silica that make up the tile bodies and glazes are subjected to extremely high temperatures in the manufacturing process and it is because of this process that colour variations occur.

“Tiny differences in the composition of the materials, their moisture content and the temperature of the kilns can result in a slightly different appearance from batch to batch,” says Tshepo.

The colour of tiles is regularly inspected during the design process, but slight variations are expected.

“Tiles in a run are assigned shade numbers appropriate to them, and these numbers are printed on the label of the box. Batches manufactured on different days but with the same shade number may still vary slightly from each other in colour. The best way to ensure consistency of colour is to use tiles from the same batch,” says Tshepo.

Thanks to modern manufacturing and printing processes, Ceramic Industries can produce tiles that are virtually indistinguishable from natural materials like stone and wood. Since designers and consumers expect some visual variation in those materials, tiles in these ranges match the degree of variation. In this case, the variation adds to the effect.

Designers and built environment professionals can look at the shade numbers assigned for different batches of the same tile, or consult the Shade Variation Guide from Ceramic Industries. This Index indicates how much variation to expect within tiles of the same design, whereas the shade number indicates how the colour of the tiles in a particular batch varies from the master tile of that design. According to the Shade Variation Guide, tiles are rated V1 (Uniform Appearance), V2 (Slight Variation), V3 (Moderate Variation) or V4 (Random Variation).

An important tip is to lay the tiles out and check their colour in good lighting before the flooring project commences. Work with four or five boxes at a time to ensure an even spread of colour for designs with a mottled surface.

“Make sure you get the variation you want and if you find problems with variation, call the supplier right away. Let the shade number and Shade Variation Index guide you – whether you’re going for clean, precise, consistency or recreating the beautiful variations of nature,” concludes Tshepo.

For more information, contact Ceramic Industries on Tel: +27 (16) 930 3600 or via