It’s understandable to feel overwhelmed with the seemingly countless tile options and trends available. Porcelain, ceramic and natural stone are common tile terms that you’ve probably heard. What exactly are they and how do you know what best suits your home, your family and lifestyle?
This easy to follow guide outlines everything you need to know about the different types of tile materials out there and what to look out for when you begin tile shopping.
Porcelain is made from dense clay and feldspar and fired at very high temperatures. Due to this manufacturing process porcelain has very low water absorption, is scratch-resistant and easy to maintain. Porcelain tiles are suitable for floors, walls, splash-backs, feature walls and external areas.
Thanks to their durability, porcelain tiles are the most popular choice for all areas of the home. One of its most appealing features is its ability to perfectly replicate natural products such as marble, timber, brick and natural stone, and all without the maintenance associated with naturally made products.
This deluxe bathroom (pictured below) has been tiled in Florence Isola porcelain tile and simulates natural Statuario Marble. Each tile is unique and offers its own characteristic pattern and natural veining.
Ceramic tiles are made from red or white natural clay. A durable glaze is added to the face resulting in the colour and pattern of the tile. It is then fired at high temperatures to bake or ‘cook’ the tile and to remove most of the water content.
Ceramic tiles are ideal for wall and light to moderate traffic on floor surfaces. They are stain resistant, fire resistant, won’t fade in sunlight and are easy to clean. Generally, they are softer than porcelain which makes them easier to cut and install. Over time, however, ceramic tiles are more prone to show signs of wear and tear and chipping when used on floors.
There’s something very special about the characteristic patterns and tonal variation of natural stone tiles. Marble, terrazzo, concrete and bluestone tiles exude an opulent look and feel that is hard to beat. However, this undeniably beautiful product generally comes with a list of special requirements and on-going maintenance needs.
Firstly, natural stone tiles should only be cleaned with a mild non-acidic product so most supermarket cleaning products are out. Special stone cleaners can be purchased from tile outlets or hardware stores. Secondly and most importantly, your stone tiles will need to be sealed on a regular basis. Most stone tiles are porous meaning stains or dirt can penetrate deep into the stone, therefore if the stone is not properly sealed or maintained, marks and blemishes can be impossible to remove.
Stone tiles generally cost more than ordinary tiles so the ongoing maintenance requirements and expenses should be carefully considered. If you still have your heart set on stone but the maintenance is a concern, consider using the tiles on a feature wall away from water or in a low traffic room like an ensuite or powder room.
Another option definitely worth considering is to choose a porcelain tile that replicates the look and feel of stone. These days the look is so similar that it’s difficult to see the difference and the biggest bonus in choosing porcelain is that there is no sealing required.
The following bathroom uses Carrara marble herringbone mosaic tiles to create a stunning feature wall in this ensuite.
Handmade tiles offer a style that is quite different to any other tile available. The characteristics achieved during the baking process are truly amazing. Imperfect edges, glaze variation, interesting patterns and colours that contrast from tile to tile are all handmade features that highlight their uniqueness and ultimate sense of beauty.
These characteristics cannot be achieved with a factory-made product. Handmade ceramic tiles are generally more delicate therefore are best suited for large area walls, splashbacks or low traffic floors.
Glass tiles create a stunning visual effect that is unique and luxuriously tactile. The pattern and colour possibilities are endless and can even be custom made from a photo or if you have a specific pattern in mind.
Glass mosaics from Italian companies Bisazza and Sicis offer an exquisite array of dazzling colours and a variety of styles to choose from. Due to their impervious nature and durability, glass tiles can be used in swimming pools, feature walls, splashbacks and even on floors. The following bathroom uses Sicis glass mosaics to create a glam feature in this bathroom.
Choosing tiles is one of the most important choices you have to make when renovating or building a home and purchasing the correct tile is imperative if your valuable investment is to last the wear and tear that comes with everyday use. If you need further help with selecting tiles the tile experts at Perini Tiles can walk you through the process.
Kate Fuller is the Marketing Manager and Product Developer for Melbourne’s most popular boutique tile showroom Perini Tiles.
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