Introduction to Tile & Stone Floors
The most durable of all floorings are tile and stone–materials that, when properly installed, last the liftime of a house. The toughness combined with the natual beauty of stone and the incredible array of tile types, colors, patterns, and tectures makes tile and stone the materials of choice where quality and character are most important. The only downsides are that they are cold to bare feet(though this can be a plush in warm climates), unforgiving to anything fragile dropped on them, and can be slippery when wet.
Tile and stone are fundamentally different. Stone is just what it;s name implies: quarried slate, limestone, flagstone, granite, or marble. Tile is made from slabs of clay that are fired for hardness. A third material, stone tile, is made from real stone aggregate suspended in a polymer binder. This is a relatively affordable alternative to stone.
Tile may be either glazed or unglazed. Glazed flooring tiles have very hard, smooth surfaces that reject water and stains. They are thicker and less glossy than tiles used for walls and counters. The glaze, applied between the first firing and second one, gives the tile color and texture. Glazed tile comes in every color of the rainbow and may be high gloss, satin, matte, or dull, smooth or textured.
Unglazed tile is unfinished, so it usually the color of the fired clay or an added pigment. It doesn’t scratch as easily as glazed tile but, because it doesn’t have the hard surface finish, it is more liable to stain. It is generally treated with a sealer or wax for protection.