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FAQs

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Our commitment to providing expert advice and support means we’re always happy to speak with you in person. But if you’d like to continue your research online, here are the most common questions we get.

 
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Types of Tile

What types of tile are available?

Natural Stone, Ceramic & Porcelain Product Descriptions:

Marble, granite, limestone, travertine, slate, ceramic and porcelain products are powerful enhancements to any building project intended to be "high-end".

Marble building products are processed from blocks that are quarried all over the world. This metamorphic rock is comprised primarily of calcium carbonate and other minerals that create a wide variety of colors. Applications include floor tiles, wall tiles, vanities & other surfaces, fireplaces, columns, balustrades, water tables, steps, thresholds & windowsills.

Polished:

  • High gloss finish - vivid colors.
  • Excellent for wall and light traffic floor use.
  • Must use grout in any installation that may be exposed to moisture or installation will eventually fail.
  • Must use unsanded or epoxy grout to prevent scratching finish.
  • Sealers do not penetrate well and offer little protection against etching and will not protect against abrasion.
  • Very expensive to repolish or remove stains.

Tumbled:

  • Natural looking aged finish - soft muted colors.
  • Best choice for floors, bath and countertop use.
  • Displays best surrounded with honed or tumbled field tile.
  • Must use grout in any installation that may be exposed to moisture or installation will eventually fail.
  • May use sanded grout for additional strength - excellent for outdoor applications.
  • Accepts enhancers and sealers readily - excellent protection against etching - scratches are less obvious.
  • Resistant to staining and easy to reseal.

Granite is the most durable architectural building stone. This igneous rock is comprised mainly of quartz, graphite, mica and other minerals. The increasing popularity of this stone is a testament to its beauty, versatility and consistency. Used in a wide array of commercial and residential applications, granite is ideal for tile floors, walls and countertops, as well as exterior applications such as pavers and wall cladding. Granite is quarried worldwide, with the most exotic colors coming from Brazil, India, Finland, North America, China and Southern Africa. New quarries are discovered each year further enhancing color choices and keeping prices in check.

Limestone is a sandy sedimentary rock formed closer to the earth's surface and often captures fossilized plant and animal life. Similar to marble and granite, limestone is processed for a wide range of interior and exterior building applications, including floor tiles, wall tiles, vanities & other surfaces, fireplaces, columns, balustrades, water tables, steps, thresholds & windowsills. Limestone can be polished to a high gloss finish, but is more commonly known for its honed (matte), tumbled (antique or acid washed) and natural (split face or rough) finishes, typically in more neutral tones.

Travertine, mostly known for its porosity, is comprised primarily of calcium carbonate. Slabs and tiles are cut from blocks with the veining (regular cut) or across the veining (cross-cut). Processors of this material will market the stone as is, with the holes for a more rustic & antique look, or fill the holes with a tinted epoxy and hone or polish the surface to achieve a solid surface effect. The stone is used in a wide range of interior and exterior building applications, including floor tiles, wall tiles, vanities & other surfaces, fireplaces, columns, balustrades, water tables, steps, thresholds & windowsills.

Slate is a fine-grained metamorphic rock that splits into thin, smooth-surfaced layers. The most common building applications for this material are floor, wall and roof tiles as well as fireplace surrounds. Tiles can be split and cut-to-size with only the natural cleft surface, or manufacturers will add value by calibrating the material to ensure a consistent thickness throughout the piece.

Ceramic & Porcelain tiles are hard, brittle, heat-resistant products that are manufactured by firing clay and other materials. Porcelain tile is a type of ceramic tile fired from pure white clay to generate a translucent effect. The patterns of these products attempt to emulate the look of natural stone products; the prices are typically less expensive; and the color range is very consistent due to the man-made nature of the product. As a result, ceramic & porcelain tiles are an excellent alternative for the value-oriented buyer. Primary applications include floor and wall tiles, along with trim and transition (corner, wall to floor, etc.) pieces. A good example of a porcelain product is Tau Corten (Taugres Corten).

ask the proTom Smith

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Tom Smith

 Tom provides executive leadership for the American Import Tile team, with industry renowned product development and sales experience.

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