Definitions for the
various types of tile
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 can feature colored or
highly designed surfaces which can be glazed (finished with a glass surface)
from matte to high gloss.
Porcelain tiles are
also ceramic tiles, but are composed of finer clays and fired at much
higher temperatures. That process makes porcelain tile more homogenous (can have
a through-body coloration, so scratches or 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, Limestones, Travertines, Slates, Quartzites 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
- Marble: Metamorphic stone formed millions of years ago due to
the action of extreme heat and 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.
- Limestones: Sedimentary stone formed millions of years ago
due to the action of water and extreme pressure. Fossilized seashells
and other sea life and treasures are often found in limestone. Primarily
light beige and tan in coloring.
- Travertines: Sedimentary stone formed millions of years ago
due to the action of water and heat. Water and gases percolating through
the stone give travertine its characteristic 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 widely and
wildly. Typically, slate is not "finished", as the natural cleft surface
is its focal point and source of interest and beauty.
- Quartzites: 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
- 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 a 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.
are generally man-made tiles that recycle or reuse materials from other
tiles or industrial products with a nod to an environmentally-conscience
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