More and more people are choosing tiles as floor covering for their homes. There are many tile options that people can choose from: ceramic, marble and granite, slate, and other natural stone tiles. Ceramic and porcelain tiles have become one of the most popular finishing materials for floors, walls and countertops in the market. Designer tiles and marble tiles are very popular choices for shower surround and wall coverings too. Designers, architects, and homeowners are learning that tile is a beautiful, reasonably priced and easily maintained product in both home and commercial applications.
Tiles are commonly made of ceramic, clay, porcelain or stone. Clay tiles may be painted and glazed. Small mosaic tiles may be laid in various patterns. Floor tiles are typically set into mortar consisting of sand, cement and oftentimes a latex additive for extra strength. The spaces between the tiles are nowadays filled with sanded or unsanded floor grout, but traditionally mortar was used.
The hardness of natural stone tiles varies such that some of the softer stone tiles may not be suitable for very heavy traffic floor areas. On the other hand, ceramic tiles typically have a glazed upper surface and when that become scratched or pitted the floor looks worn, whereas the same amount of wear on natural stone tiles won’t show or will be less noticeable.
Ceramic tile is the product most people are familiar with when they think of tile. Tiles made with the ceramic method have a bisque, or body, composed primarily of either white (talc) clay, brown clay or red clay. White body tiles are generally suitable only for wall applications. The clays are pressed into a mold or extruded through a die to form the tile shape. A ceramic glaze is applied to the bisque by either a spraying or silk screening method. The tile is then fired at a temperature between 1200 and 1800 degrees Fahrenheit. The resulting product has an impenetrable glazed surface that is highly resistant to staining.
Large format porcelain tile is the newest technology in tile manufacturing. Porcelain has three main ingredients: feldspar, quartz, and clay. Contrary to common thought, porcelain tiles are exceptionally hard and very durable. They also have an absorption rate 100 times less than most ceramic tiles. Due to the low absorption rate, all porcelains are frost resistant and can be used in outdoor installations. Porcelain tiles are formed in the same manner as ceramic tiles, most often pressed into molds. While some porcelain tiles are glazed before firing like ceramic tiles, many are fired immediately following pressing. These are called unglazed or through-body porcelains. Porcelain tiles are fired at a temperature between 2200 to 2500 degrees Fahrenheit. Higher firing temperatures and the combination of ingredients produce an extremely dense, hard-wearing, stain resistant tile. Using a process similar to polishing stone, through-body porcelains can be polished to a high gloss finish.
Selecting your tile may be fun and exciting or can seem rather overwhelming at first but there are some good rules of thumb that will help you in your decision. First, try not to limit your tile size based on the size of your room. Larger tiles can work well in smaller spaces and actually make smaller rooms feel more spacious. Make sure you are choosing tiles with adequate usage ratings for your application. Remember, any tile can be used on a wall, but only floor rated tiles can be used on a floor. Check out samples of the possible choices for your application and look at them in the lighting they will be installed in if at all possible. Different types of lighting can change the look of a tile dramatically.
Come and visit Bullnosing and Shaping in Pleasanton. We will help guide you with your tile selections for your new kitchen, bathroom, and floor coverings. Contact Bullnosing and Shaping for more information.