Natural Stone is not manufactured; it is a product of nature. Blocks are removed from the quarry, slabs are cut from these blocks, and the slabs are further fabricated into the final stone to be installed. Each block is different; each slab is different. Skillful blending or matching of the dimension stone blocks, veneer panels, tops, etc., results in a beautiful blending of nature's variety and man's design. In contrast to the uniformity of materials produced by machine or assembly line, stone's naturally varied appearance has wonderful character. "Uniformity of material," when applied to natural stone, is a term of relative value that needs to be understood when making a selection.
Granite is the most popular stone type used in countertop applications today. Granites are some of the hardest of the common countertop stones, offering high levels of resistance to abrasion and scratching. Granites are made up of several different minerals, each mineral having a different hardness. Granites contain quartz, feldspars, biotite, amphibole, ferrous titanium oxides, and other mineral combinations. Limestone is a sedimentary stone with at least 50% calcite or calcium carbonate content. Almost all limestone is composed of grains or fragments of biologic origin, ranging from fossils to dinosaur bones. Most limestone is marine in origin, composed of micro-sized fossils of marine organisms like the shells found on most beaches. It is very common to find pieces of shells in limestone tiles.
Slate is a metamorphic rock exhibiting “slaty” cleavage, which allows it to be split in thin sheets. Slate is formed in the water of rivers and ponds from clay accumulating in thin, flat layers at the bottom of these waterbeds. Slates are softer than granite and therefore vulnerable to scratching and abrasion. Slate has a natural cleft (not a smooth surface). The same precautions mentioned for marbles with regard to damage should be applied to slates.
Travertine is a calcium-based stone. Travertine is generated by the deposit of calcium carbonate resulting from water springs and streams running through the stone. Every time a drop in pressure or change of temperature occurs, the water releases carbon dioxide as gas, much like carbonated beverages. This gas causes holes to form in the travertine. These natural pores are still going to be present once the blocks are cut into tiles. The amount of holes depends by how compact each travertine type is and it varies greatly by the type of travertine. The pores present in the tiles can be filled with a paste made of cement and pigments. However, it is important to note that these void spaces are a distinctive character of travertine tiles and they are always going to be present to a certain extent.
Porcelain and ceramic tile is resistant to germs and bacteria and it is also among the easiest of flooring materials to clean. You can clean your porcelain tile with a damp sponge mop. A solution of 1/4 cup of white vinegar to 2 gallons of water works best- allowing time for drying. You can also sweep or vacuum. Although the glaze of a tile is impervious, it is still possible for its surface to discolor from certain chemicals.
ANSI A137.1 (the industry-recognized resource when it comes to tile) defines tile as: “A ceramic surfacing unit, usually relatively thin in relation to facial area, having either a glazed or unglazed face and fired above red heat in the course of manufacture to a temperature sufficiently high to produce specific properties and characteristics.”
The specific “properties and characteristics” that sets porcelain tile apart from other types of tile (ceramic tile and wall tile) include:
The combination of these elements make porcelain tile an outstanding choice for residential and commercial applications, walls and floors, interior and exterior – there’s a porcelain product suitable for every installation.
Ceramic tile is a mixture of clays, molded into a shape and fired at high temperatures resulting in a hard body. This hard body may be left untreated or it may receive a glazed layer. The clay used to make the tile may be red, white or porcelain. The quality of the tile is based more on the manufacturing process than on the color of the body.
Porcelain tile is a type of ceramic tile. The major difference between ceramic and porcelain tiles is that porcelain tile is harder and denser than other types of ceramic tile and that porcelain tile is frost-proof and impervious.