Ceramic tile, which is composed of both clay and porcelain, remains at the forefront of the floor covering industry today. Tile provides years of durability while offering timeless designs and color combinations to enhance the value of your home.
Tile is tough enough to resist wear in foyers or halls with heavy foot traffic. At the same time, it can be shaped into stunning designs for a master bathroom or a decorative fireplace. In the kitchen, it often protects walls from water and grease, as a backsplash.
We select tiles from markets around the world to offer a huge selection of sizes and colors. Advancements in technology also have increased the production and availability of high-grade porcelain tiles manufactured in the United States.
We scrutinize the tiles we install to meet a high standard of quality, and that quality allows us to guarantee our workmanship. Check out our showroom to see all of the latest looks in tile!
The Making of Tile
Ceramic tile comes from raw clay mined from the earth. The clay is mixed with water, formed into shapes and pressed in a mold under extremely high pressure. Some types of tile, such as quarry tile and pavers, are left unglazed. Most are glazed. The clay body is coated with a clear or colored finish and fired at very high temperatures in a kiln to harden the tile. The density of the tile body determines its overall hardness and compressive strength. The glazing on top of the tile is the wear surface that determines the durability of the tile as well as its ability to resist scratching.
Manufacturers also set a “coefficient of friction” for their tiles, which helps to rate the performance of a tile in wet or slippery conditions. Ask your tile contractor or retailer for this rating.
Porcelain tile is manufactured much the same way as ceramic, with a few slight differences. The body of the tile is manufactured from clay and ferrous quartz sand, which has been purified. In most cases, the tile surface then is glazed, just like ceramic tile. The result is a harder tile that has a lower water absorption rate and a higher compressive strength than most other tiles. Porcelain tiles are when used in an exterior application where freezing conditions will occur.
Stone tiles are composed of naturally occurring minerals in the earth and are quarried in large blocks. The type of mineral composition contributes to the overall hardness and absorption rates for a given stone and determines its classification. The blocks of stone are then shipped to a fabrication plant where they are cut into slabs for countertops or into tiles for use on walls and floors. Natural tiles commonly are cut to a 12”x12” size, but can sometimes be found in other sizes.
Granite Slabs & Natural Stones
The unique character and timeless beauty of natural stone makes it popular for uses including countertops, fireplaces, bathtubs and floors. The types of stone vary by mineral composition. Granite is the hardest of stones, with quartz and feldspar also among prominent minerals for manufacturing. Quartzite, soapstone, marble, onyx, slate, limestone and travertine are others that lend natural beauty in a broad range of applications.
These stones are available in various sizes from slabs as long as ten feet to tiles measuring just six inches. We import them from markets all over the world to give our customers an array of choices in color and character. You can view all types of natural stone tiles and slabs at our showroom. Let our design specialists help you integrate the natural stone into your home!
Background on Granite Slabs & Natural Stones
Natural stones are carved from the earth at quarries all over the world.
Granite is one of the hardest and most common naturally occurring stones. Formed from the cooling of lava, granite is found in many of the world’s countries.
It is composed mostly of quartz and feldspar, two minerals that are harder than steel. Granite can contain a variety of accessory minerals that contribute to the stone’s intense color, such as black mica biotite and hornblende. Granite is one of the preferred products for residential and commercial countertops and exterior building panels because of its extreme durability, strength and unmatched beauty.
Marble is a metamorphic rock, which is composed mostly of calcite, aragonite, and dolomite crystals that have been compressed deep within the earth under intense pressure and heat. The characteristic swirls and veins of colored marble usually are due to various mineral impurities including clay, sand, silt, iron, and oxides. Although marble is much softer than granite, it can create elegant options for fireplaces, floors and bathroom countertops. Marble takes polish well.
Limestone and Travertine are sedimentary rocks that have been compressed under significant pressure deep in the earth. They can contain fossils of plants, animals and shells that have settled into the layers of sediment. Where there is enough heat to re-crystallize some minerals, a travertine, or limestone deposit, forms. Although limestone generally cannot be polished, travertine will take a partial polish.
Slate forms when shale, which consists of clay materials, is pressed and heated naturally to a temperature of a few hundred degrees. The clay then reverts to mica minerals from which they formed.
Quartzite, onyx, sandstone, and soapstone are just a few of the other natural stones that are valued in building for their original characteristics and unique beauty.
Quartz slabs are manufactured from natural quartz crystals. The crystals are mixed with polyester- based glues and formed into a sheet, or slab, of engineered stone. Slabs are available in thicknesses ranging from one centimeter to three centimeters. They also are founded in many colors, which provides an array of design options.
Most commonly seen in the kitchen as a countertop, quartz also is a practical and elegant surface for shower walls, vanity tops, and fireplace surrounds. Quartz has become increasingly popular as manufacturers produce more color choices and patterns to appeal to people of all ages. Its easy maintenance and predictable color patterns make it a great choice for high use areas. Visit our showroom to see samples of Silestone, HanStone, Cambria, Ceasarstone, Viatera and other popular quartz products.
A quick guide to quartz
Quartz countertops are manufactured from raw quartz mined from the earth. The crystalline stone is bonded with polymers and resins, and various pigments are added for color. When fully processed, the engineered quartz slabs contain 93% quartz stone and 7% polymers and resins. They are polished and sold to fabricators, who cut them into lengths and shape the edges for countertops and other products.
Engineered quartz slabs feature consistent colors and patterns, which allows predictable designs for your project. They also do not require sealing because the material is dense and has a very low absorption rate.
Silestone, Hanstone, Ceasarstone, Viatera, Cambria, and Zodiac are all brands of engineered quartz products manufactured with similar technology.
Silestone has taken the process a step further by adding an agent called Microban to its slabs to inhibit growth of bacteria, mold and mildew between cleanings. Manufacturers of engineered quartz also are working hard to develop color patterns to rival some of the marvelous color variations that exist in natural granite countertops.
Veneer stone can be divided into two categories, natural and man-made. A natural veneer comes from quarried stone, which then is cut into thin slices to be used as surface. Veneer stone also can be manufactured from clay products and colored to resemble real stone.
The popularity of veneer stone has grown significantly because it is thin and light. Veneer stone is used as exterior facing for houses as well as a stylish covering to accent interior walls and fireplaces. The veneer finish offers the classic charm and warmth of stone and, at the same time, flexibility to act as an accent or a complete wall covering.
The Culture of Veneer
Stone veneers long have served an important role in building décor. They add a natural look to both residential and commercial buildings. Veneers often are used as exterior facing on homes to enhance curb appeal. Homeowners also bring stone veneers inside their houses for fireplaces, pillars, stone wainscots, and accent walls.
Real stone veneers are natural stone products that are cut from mineral deposits all over the world. They now can be cut to approximately one inch thick, much thinner than the past four inches. This thinner and lighter product can be applied without the additional structural support previously needed. Many veneer stones also can be cut in shapes and sizes so precise that the stones can be set together without using grout. The popularity of this product has prompted manufacturers to import a variety of new colors and give consumers a broader selection of choices.
Cultured stone refers to a product that is manufactured to look like natural stone. It is fabricated from raw clay products, which are formed into shapes that resemble quarried stone. Colors and pigments are added during production to create many different shades for a wide range of uses.