Ceramic tile is a mixture of clays and other natural materials that are mined from the earth, shaped and fired at high temperatures. Traditional ceramic tile can be naturally-colored and left unglazed, like terra cotta, or they an feature colored or highly designed surfaces which can be glazed (finished with a glass surface) from matte to high gloss.
Porcelain tile is also ceramic tile, but is composed of finer clays and fired at much higher temperatures. That process makes the porcelain tile more homogenous (can have a through-body coloration, so scratches and dings are less obvious), much stronger and less prone to moisture and stain absorption. For those reasons, porcelain can be suitable for both indoor and outdoor installations.
Natural Stone tiles consist of any product quarried from the earth and can be categorized into Marbles, Granites, Limestone, Travertine, Slates, Quartzite and various other products. Each type of Natural Stone will vary from piece to piece in regards to color, surface texture, edge treatments, durability and maintenance.
- Marble: Metamorphic stone formed millions of years ago due to the action of extreme heat pressure. Marble is simply “changed” limestone that, due to the heat and pressure has crystallized, melted and re-cooled. Coloring is extremely varied and often accompanied with lots of veining and other mineral deposits.
- Granite: Igneous stones formed millions of years ago under conditions of extreme heat. Hard and crystalline in nature, granite is most often seen polished.
- Limestone: Sedimentary stone formed millions of years ago due to the action of water and extreme pressure. Fossilized seashells and other sea life and treasure are often found in limestone. Primary light beige and tan in coloring.
- Travertine: Sedimentary stone formed millions of years ago due to the action of water and heat. Water and gases percolating through the stone give travertine itscharacteristic holes.
- Slates: A metamorphic stone formed millions of years ago and derived from sedimentary rock. Slate is normally split (cleft) rather than cut with a saw as other stones are. Coloring can vary wildly. Typically, slate is not “finished”, as the natural cleft surface is its focal point and source of interest and beauty.
- Quartzite: A rock formed from the metamorphism of quartz sandstone consisting essentially of quartz in interlocking grains.
- Tumbled: Stone finish achieved by putting the stones in a machine that “tumbles” the stones around together causing an uneven rough surface and edges. This finish has a rustic appeal.
- Glass: tiles can be either cast glass, layered or laminated glass, fused glass or cut glass- each with its own unique appearance and translucency.
- Cast Glass: A solid product that consists of a hot liquid that is poured and then cooled. The color is either applied to the back of the tile, or within the glass itself.
- Layered or Laminated Glass: A layered product that literally “sandwiches” different pieces of glass together. It is then heated, or fused together to create one unit.
- Cut Glass: A large piece of glass cut into smaller pieces, similar to mosaics.
- Fused Glass: Similar to layered glass, whereas different pieces are fused together to create one piece, however fused glass is more artistic and can utilize different shapes of glass to create one piece (for example a triangular piece fused to a square piece.)
- Metal: tiles are referred to as anything that is solid metal, a metal laminate, a metallic glaze, a metal and resin composite or simply tile that gives an illusion of metal with a lustrous finish.
- Resin: tiles consist of either stone or cement particles mixed with an epoxy or other chemical to increase durability and allow for limitless options in shape and texture.
- Eco Friendly: tiles are generally man-made tiles that recycle or reuse materials from other tiles or industrial products with a nod to the environmentally-conscience manufacturing process.