There are several types of tiles used for residential and commercial applications. Tiles provide one of the most cost-effective and environmentally friendly flooring choices. Tiles are made from natural clay and often from other (recycled) materials. Tile manufacturing does not necessitate the use of heavy chemicals or other harmful substances used to make other flooring types. There are no trees to be cut down as with hardwood floors, and the best part is that tiles are durable and have a long lifespan.
Ceramic tile is the most common tile used in the US in offices, stores and homes. Ceramic tile comes in two forms: glazed and unglazed. Unglazed tile (see below) is referred to as quarry tile. Ceramic tiles are made from clay and then heated. The glaze is added after the firing of the clay tile, which creates the color of the tile. The glazing process allows for the creation of infinite color combinations. Learn more about the benefits of ceramic tile.
Quarry (Unglazed) Tile
Quarry tile is unglazed ceramic tile. It is an inexpensive, durable and natural option for industrial, commercial and residential tile applications. Quarry tile is used a lot in industrial settings because it is so durable and can also be used outdoors. It has some other great qualities as well, such as being less prone to chips and scratches. In colder climates, freeze-resistant grades of quarry tile are used to prevent any weather-related problems. Like almost all tile types, quarry is porous, which means that it can become stained. Those who choose to install quarry in a kitchen generally apply a glaze-like seal or wax finish to help prevent stains and other damage. The color selection is not as vast as with other tile types, but there are several shades of red, orange, brown, gray and more. In residential applications, quarry is used for kitchens and pathways because it has a naturally coarse surface, making it less slippery than some other surfaces when wet. Strong mortar and grout is used during installation to ensure a strong hold between the tile and the floor. Use limited amounts of water when cleaning unglazed or unsealed quarry. Lots of water exposure can lead to mold growth in the grout. The water exposure can also damage the unglazed tiles.
Porcelain tile is a type of ceramic tile. The difference between porcelain and ceramic is that porcelain is fired at a higher temperature, making it more dense and moisture-resistant. Porcelain tiles are also less porous, making them more stain-resistant. For these reasons, most porcelain tiles are suitable for both indoor and outdoor installations. Porcelain tiles are hard to cut due to their density and hardness, so the cost and labor involved is often higher. Porcelain tiles are available in matte, unglazed or a high-polished finish. In recent years, the prices have become closer to those of ceramic tile.
Tile mosaics allow you to be creative with your tile design. Mosaics are most commonly used for smaller areas, such as a bathroom or kitchen backsplash, or even small counter space areas. Mosaic tiles are usually less than six square inches and made of porcelain or clay composition. Many come in squares, octagons, hexagons or other unique shapes. The tiles are also available in pre-mounted paper or fabric mesh sheets. View additional mosaic tile design at The Mosaic Tile Company.
Marble is a versatile natural stone which has been used for centuries in homes to create a luxurious and unique look. Because marble is a natural stone, there are variations in the color of each tile. Many homeowners like this, as it creates a unique, one-of-a-kind design, while others prefer a more consistent look, like ceramic tile. Marble is porous and must be sealed just like all other tile types.
Natural Stone Tiles
There are several types of natural stone tiles which are used for flooring, walls and more. These include:
- Granite – Granite has been used for countertops for years, and it is also used for shower walls and bathroom counters. Granite tiles are naturally antibacterial and aren’t damaged by water contact, which is why they are such a great choice for kitchen and bathroom applications.
- Slate – Slate tiles are growing in popularity due to their versatility. They are even used as roofing shingles. Slate is a natural material and is available in several color ranges, from gray to purple to black. Slate is used outside as well as inside because of its natural look and range of colors.
- Travertine – Travertine is natural beige stone and is used for bathroom flooring, kitchen backsplashes, shower mosaics and more. View travertine tiles.
- Marble (see above description)
- Onyx – Onyx is well known for its creamy, pearl-like look. Onyx is not a common choice for flooring, but it is used on some occasions. It is used more frequently for skirting around bathtubs and mosaics.
- Sandstone – Sandstone, which is extremely durable, has a grainy look and feel. It is often used for wall applications. View sandstone tiles.
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