I am often asked whether or not I can recommend stone flooring by a customer.
I have found that in many cases what the customer is referring to is tile that looks like a natural stone floor.
Let us first start with the definition of the term tile and then we can take a look at some of the categories of tile.
What is Tile
The term tile is used to refer to any natural stone or man-made material that has been manipulated into a dimensional design for your kitchen or bathroom
suitable for its intended application. In most cases tiles are square or rectangular and are used for design and construction
purposes in both residential and commercial construction. In recent years tile can not only be found in its more traditional forms
of natural stone, clay, and ceramic but has expanded into composites, porcelain, metal, glass and even natural fibers.
Stone flooring has been made out of virtually all natural stones with granite, marble, slate and travertine
being among the most popular.
Clay tile is composed of high quality clay that is usually regionally specific for example there are areas of Spain
and Mexico that are known for their high quality of clay. Clay tiles are pressed or mechanically extruded in order to form the desired
shape. They are usually not glazed and have a tendency to be soft and susceptible to staining and cold weather applications. Terracotta
is probably the most recognizable name in this category.
Ceramic tile is categorized as either glazed (fired) or unglazed. Glazed ceramic tile has a glazing that is bonded to the surface of the tile
through a process known as firing. Unglazed ceramics do not have a fired glazed surface. Most ceramic tile is primarily comprised of lesser quality clays.
Porcelain tile is categorized as either glazed or through body. While with ceramic tile the tile achieves its rigidity through being baked in a kiln
porcelain tile is formed by being pressed in order to remove all of the moisture from the tile. Glazed porcelain will have a color or design that has been baked into the surface
of the tile with the body of the tile being a different color. Through body porcelain the color and design are pressed into the tile with the surface color carrying through the entire
body of the tile. Over the past few years porcelain tile has dominated all other categories of tile. The production process lends itself to an endless array of design possibilities
and the durability of the tile makes it suitable for almost any application.