For thousands of years, builders have chosen tile for their projects due to its many benefits. When you begin to factor in how environmentally-friendly ceramic and porcelain tile products are, you’ll see that tile is the obvious choice when building green. Ceramic and porcelain tile are some of the longest lasting flooring products on the market today. Unlike carpet, vinyl, or laminate flooring which have to be replaced periodically, properly installed tile will last a lifetime. Choosing the right tile for your home may seem like a daunting decision. It's a process that combines your personal taste with careful thinking about practicality. After all, it's a surface you, your family and friends will walk, stand and sit on and your kids will spill, play and grow up on.
Ceramic and stone are on opposite ends of this scale. Stone is a natural product and variations in colour, texture and appearance are what give stone its natural appeal. Stone comes however with more maintenance required. Ceramic is low maintenance material made from a clay base and finished with a glaze. Porcelain will straddle this line of natural vs. maintenance depending upon the style of porcelain you are looking at.
A browse through our Warehouse Showrooms with guidance from our Flooring Consultants who will help you to choose the right tile flooring for the many areas of your home.
Ceramic (or non-porcelain) tiles are made from a mixture of red or white clay, sand, and other natural materials. The mixture is often then pressed into the shape of a tile and then kiln-fired at high temperatures. Afterwards, they are most often finished with a durable glaze to carry the colour and pattern.
Ceramic tile is available in many sizes, colours and finishes, and is most often used for wall tile. It is important to note that any tile can be used on the wall, but wall tile cannot be used on the floor. Ceramic tile is easy care and maintenance; many household products will actually stain or etch stone, whereas it will have almost no effect on ceramic tile. This is going to be the least expensive choice in this category and is also the least expensive to install, it has great forgivingness and can be installed with the simplest of thin sets.
Porcelain tile is generally made from porcelain clays and are fired at higher temperatures than non-porcelain tiles, making them more dense and impervious. Glazed porcelain tile can be used for high traffic areas (PEI rating of 5) and outdoors due to a low water absorption rate (less than 0.5%) and frost resistance. Porcelain, relatively speaking, is the hardest of tile materials. A natural (through-body) porcelain tile can be up to 30% harder than granite.
The Porcelain Enamel Institute (PEI) developed a test standard for abrasion resistance for glazed tile. A rating of 0 is for wall only whereas a rating of 5 is for high traffic and commercial use.
Natural stones have differing chemistry and characteristics; it's always wise to consider the application when choosing the one for you. It is worth the extra care and maintenance. Nothing beats the beauty of real and ancient stone.Rub your hand across any natural stone product and you can feel the eons of time it took to produce this natural wonder of our planet.
Marble is defined as 'metamorphic', or 'changed-in-form' which means the stone is a result of millions of years of pressure and heat acting on the structure and chemistry of the rock. Marble floors were laid down thousands of years ago and are as beautiful today as they were then. It is typically supplied in a polished or honed surface. Marble is somewhat susceptible to damage from acids or staining agents so must be cleaned and sealed every 9-12 months.The main attributes of marble is its inherent beauty; and it comes in a wide variety of colours and patterns. This naturally lends to giving a great sense of richness and natural beauty to any home. If you are looking to awe and demonstrate your status and wealth, there is no level of opulence that can beat marble.
Limestone is a sedimentary rock made mostly of calcite. True, pure limestone is nearly white in colour with little to no veining or variation. Most of the limestone seen for sale and installed in homes and businesses will be in a range of colours from cream to black and include accents of gold, brown, pink or red. Limestone rock that is formed in what was at one time a sea bed will be filled with tiny fossils. These fossils will resemble snail shells, leaves, and insects, and there may be varying amounts of them in the stone.
Limestone tiles are nearly all available in two finishes, honed and tumbled, while some are also available with a high polish similar to marble. Limestone is a much softer stone than marble and can therefore not always be ground to a high finish. Limestone that has been honed will have a soft, matte finish and square, clean edge. Tumbled limestone tiles will resemble tumbled marble tiles with worn edges and face. Polished limestone tiles, such as Crema Luna, will have a brighter appearance than their honed counterparts, since polishing brings out the natural colour in the tiles. Limestone in its natural state is very porous, thereby requiring a sealant to curtail absorption of stains.
Travertine is a limestone that was formed inside of a hot spring. Vapours escaping the stone as it cooled left behind millions of holes inside the rock. These holes can be invisible to the naked eye, or could be large enough to put a man's fist through. Travertine ranges in colour from cream to dark brown, with some golds and reds available as well.
Like limestone tiles, travertine is most often seen honed or tumbled, but there are occasionally stones which are dense enough to handle a high polish. The holes of travertine must be filled to maintain the stone's integrity. Honed and polished tiles are usually filled at the factory with epoxy, while tumbled tiles are filled during installation with grout. The filled travertine may have lighter areas that form veins, or what the Italians call "fiorito," or flowers, on the stone's surface. Travertine's many holes make it the perfect product for tumbling and for rustic design.
Slate is another metamorphic stone like marble. Slate is formed when ocean or riverbed sediments are compressed and heated by the earth's crust. It's usually quite earthy or muddy in colour and has a natural cleft face which offers slight roughness for anti-slip traction. Slate can also be worked to produce a polished or smooth surface, for a slick look and feel. A penetrating seal can be applied for a wet look, or dry look without any glossy build-up, you can choose the look you want.
Unlike some other natural stones, slate flooring can even retain heat, making it perfect in colder climates or for spa-style bathrooms.
Granite is an igneous rock formed by volcanic action; Flecks of quartz, feldspar and mica give each tile a special character.
Whereas all natural stones are works of art produced by Mother Nature Granite is the hardest and most durable form of stone. It can withstand heat and resists staining and scratching well, so it makes a good choice for kitchens. Granite is less porous than marble, but it still requires a regular application of stone sealant.