Natural Stone Tile
Natural stone refers to a variety of mountain born materials including Slate, Marble, Limestone, Travertine, Granite, and Sandstone.
- Granite: Granite has been used for countertops for years, and it is also used for shower walls and bathroom counters. Granite tiles are naturally antibacterial and aren’t damaged by water contact, which is why they are such a great choice for kitchen and bathroom applications.
- Slate: Slate tiles are growing in popularity due to their versatility. They are even used as roofing shingles. Slate is a natural material and is available in several color ranges, from gray to purple to black. Slate is used outside as well as inside because of its natural look and range of colors.
- Travertine: Travertine is natural beige stone and is used for flooring, kitchen backsplashes, shower mosaics and more.
- Marble: Marble is a versatile natural stone which has been used for centuries in homes to create a luxurious and unique look. Because marble is a natural stone, there are variations in the color of each tile. Many homeowners like this, as it creates a unique, one-of-a-kind design, while others prefer a more consistent look. Marble is porous and must be sealed just like all other stone types.
- Onyx: Onyx is well known for its creamy, pearl-like look. Onyx is not a common choice for flooring, but it is used on some occasions. It is used more frequently for skirting around bathtubs, mosaics, and table tops.
- Sandstone: Sandstone, which is extremely durable, has a grainy look and feel. It is often used for floor and wall applications.
Each of these has slightly different properties. It’s important to understand the characteristics of the type of stone flooring tile you are purchasing in order to determine whether it is appropriate for a specific location. As you shop for natural stone tiles, these are the factors that you should take into consideration prior to your purchase.
Absorption Rating: The absorption rating refers to how porous a given material is. The more absorbent it is, the more susceptible it will be to stains, as well as cracking damage in freezing conditions.
The four levels of absorption for a natural stone tile:
- Non-vitreous: This is the highest absorption level. In most cases non-vitreous tiles should not be used in any damp environment.
- Semi-vitreous: While these tiles are less absorbent, the more liquid they are exposed to, the more maintenance they will require.
- Vitreous: This is the standard absorption level for flooring tiles and these materials are generally considered appropriate for most low to mid traffic indoor and outdoor applications.
- Impervious: These materials are resistant to the absorption of liquids and thus will be easier to maintain. They are often used in high traffic commercial applications.
In general, Sandstone is the most porous natural stone material, Travertine, Limestone, and Slate have medium absorbency, and Granite is relatively waterproof. Polished materials also absorb less water than honed or clefted surfaces.
Grade: There exists a grading system to rate the quality of materials. This can refer to the size, shape, and thickness of the tile, as well as the condition of its surface. Most grading systems have three levels of quality.
- Grade 1: Refers to high quality, uniform materials.
- Grade 2: Consists of materials with minor defects such as chips, scratches, or irregular surfaces.
- Grade 3: Materials that exhibit major flaws in size, shape, surface, or chipping, making them appropriate only as accent pieces, or in certain rustic decorative applications.
Selected Natural Stone Tile Samples
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