Ceramic tile has been coveted on floors for centuries . . . and for very good reason. Stone brings the colors and textures of nature to our homes, lending a warmth and sense of permanence to a room. Likewise, fired clay tiles have been a popular material for interior and exterior decoration for thousands of years. They come in all shapes and sizes, colors and glazes and can be used plain, decorated or as part of a mosaic. The sheer variety of tiles is endless!
Because natural stone is hewn from the earth, you’ll find numerous variations in its color and quality. Every stone floor will have its own, distinct personality . . . just like you. There are so many choices of color, style and finishes that’s it’s hard to know where to begin.
Start by picking the stone type that most appeals to you. Each of the 3 types below have qualities that affect their performance:
Sedimentary ─ Tend to be porous, coarse-grained stone. Although quite hard and durable, sedimentary rock is permeable and needs to be sealed when used as flooring.
When it comes to aesthetics, look for travertine in a range of subdued tone including white, pink, yellow and brown. The colors are often banded as the result of the iron compounds. Limestone offers beautiful patterns of striated colors while similarly structured sandstone shows more consistent color palettes.
Igneous ─ Boasting a very dense grain that’s virtually impervious, igneous rock has nearly the hardness and durability of a diamond. When polished, its high-gloss finish resists scratching and etching, making it an ideal choice for your natural stone kitchen floor.
Granite, the classic example of igneous rock, is the hardest of all flooring stones and comes in a variety of rich colors. From midnight black to maple leaf red and every conceivable color in between. Granite is also highlighted with sparkling quartz or gold flecks that make for an exceptionally striking visual.
Metamorphic ─ This rock type offers a happy medium ─ hard enough to last with permanence but soft enough to be worked with tools.
Marble and slate are well-known metamorphic examples, each offering distinct characteristics. Marble comes in many color variations usually with dazzling veins that contrast with its base color. More porous than granite, marble is susceptible to staining and not the best choice for kitchen floors.
Slate’s fine grained texture splits into sheets easily with a strong tendency to show clefting along the surface. This unique layered look works well in just about any décor, from minimalist modern to country rustic. Look for slate in every color imaginable, including orange, green and gold. This highly versatile natural stone adapts beautifully to every room in your home.
Tile flooring offers the broadest range of colors, textures, patterns and sizes. When combined with a spectrum of grout and glaze options, tile floors open up an vast array of styling options to suit any taste.
There are 3 types of ceramic tile floors that you should know about:
Glazed ─ Coated with glass-forming minerals and ceramic stains, glazed tiles offer good stain and moisture resistance. Finishes include matte, semi-gloss or high-gloss.
Unglazed ─ Hard and dense, unglazed tiles offer good slip resistance, however, they require sealing to resist staining. They come in a variety of surface treatments and textures.
Porcelain ─ Fired at a much higher temperature than traditional ceramic tile, porcelain tiles are hard and dense. These properties not only make them more resistant to scratches but also naturally stain resistant. The body color permeates the entire tile so small scratches or chips are far less noticeable.
When selecting tile size, first look at the size of your room. It’s not always true that small rooms look better with small tiles. Larger size tiles can visually increase the size of a room because they show fewer grout lines.
When shopping for natural stone or tile flooring, order enough material to complete the job in one shipment. This will avoid getting mismatched lots. It’s also a good idea to keep extra on hand if you ever need to repair your floor later.