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Varieties of Tile
What is tile made of?
There are many different kinds of tile, but most fall into three categories: porcelain tiles, ceramic tiles, and natural stone.
Porcelain tiles are made of highly refined clay that has been fired at extreme temperatures. The resulting product is a tile that has a very hard surface and will wear well under the highest of traffic conditions. Porcelain tiles are commonly found in a large number of commercial applications because of their durability, but also can be used in residential installations. Porcelain tiles are classified as water and frost resistant and can be used in wet areas such as swimming pools and patios outside.
Ceramic tiles are generally made from white or red clay which is molded and fired in a kiln. The glaze is applied to give the tile color and hardness. Glaze is typically made from ground glass and metal oxides. The hardness of the surface will depend on the quality of the glaze. Ceramic tiles have different applications, such as floor or wall tile, depending on the quality of the tile.
Natural stone tiles are a beautiful finish to any project. Stones include slate, marble, and granite. Natural stone tiles can be found in polished or honed finishes. The application for the installation should be considered when selecting the finish. You wouldn't want polished tiles in a potential slip-hazard situation such as a shower floor. Other natural stone tiles include tumbled marble which is typically found in kitchen backsplashes above granite countertops. This combination makes for a nice finish to almost any kitchen. Slate can be found in many applications including outside areas.
Your tile selection is important not only for the finishes available, but also for the intended purpose. Take your time and consider the final "look" you are trying to achieve. Tiles can't be just changed out once they are installed, so make your choice wisely and consider a qualified installer. A tile job done right is a beautiful thing, but a tile job done wrong is a nightmare.