Welcome to our blog.

We hope you will find information here that will help you better understand tile and stone, and some of the choices you will be making when adding tile or stone to your home. We hope this blog will provide quality information and we ask for your comments or any questions you would have about what is posted. Please feel free to ask for things that you would like to see us address. This is not a how-to site but rather a more indepth look at the qualities of various types of materials and processes that may be used in design and installation work with stone and tile. Thank you for viewing this blog. For more information, please visit my website at http://www.creativetile-designs.com/

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Natural Stone Tiles: Maintenance


People often assume that natural stone is "stain-proof," however all stone is porous to some degree. If not properly treated with a protective sealer, water, oils or other liquids can easily penetrate the stone, leaving behind unwanted stains.The good news is that once treated with a protective sealer, natural stone is ready for carefree, everyday use.

Installation of any stone requires some chemical sealant be applied to clog its pores and prevent moisture from seeping into it. Slate is by far the easiest stone to maintain. It is resistant to water, and stains, it hides dirt in its mottled surface, and it can withstand more abuse then almost any other. It is also easy to make it water safe, with just one or two applications of a chemical sealer.  Travertine, limestone, and sandstone, are all going to require an impregnator sealer which is designed to be absorbed "in" the stone surface, so that water and stains cannot permeate their surfaces.

Stain resistance is the primary reason for sealing. Choose a sealer that offers protection against the contaminants common to the area of the stone installation. For example, in kitchens or food serving areas, use a sealer that provides excellent oil resistance.

Once a sealer has been used successfully, it is a good idea to stay with the same sealer when eventual reapplication is needed.  This should be done when the surface wear on a surface-type sealer and loss of stain resistance on a penetrating-type sealer is no longer working. High quality sealers that can be purchased at tile stores, should last at least five years, as long as strong cleaning chemicals have not been used.  Proper cleaning instructions should be listed on the container. 

Penetrating-type sealers will never achieve a surface shine. Some penetrating-type sealers may slightly darken or lighten the natural stone. Coating type sealers usually highlight the stone surface, thus bringing out the real color and nuances in the stone not always visible before sealing. If the primary requirement is to darken or color enhance a tumbled or faded stone, then a color-enhancer sealer should be considered. There are several stone enhancer-sealers available today that enhance and seal, not requiring a separate sealer application. Regardless of the product selected, always test a small area to determine if the desired appearance is achieved

Natural Stone Tiles: Textures and Finishes

Textures & Finishes

Stones can have many different kinds of textures and finishes. One rough, natural texture that quickly comes to mind is clefted which can be found on most slates.  Polishing is the main and the most frequently applied finish. It follows the finest honing and employs polishing abrasives that add brilliance with mirror effect to the stone surface.  A honed finish is not reflective and makes the color tones slightly dull, but the treatment preserves the material’s natural esthetic characteristics.  In the picture below, a travertine was used on the walls of this walk-in shower in conjunction with polished marble in the striping. 

In sandblasting, a high-pressure jet of siliceous sand or carborundum or steel shots is applied to the area to be treated. It produces a smooth abrasion, leaving the material slightly scratched on the surface, but not rugged. One of my most favorite is a brushed finish.  It is obtained by applying hard plastic or metal brushes to the stone surface.  The heavily action removes the softer part of the stone and wears out the surface, giving it a look similar to that of an antiqued finish. A new type of finish that has been introduced to the market over the past year is the leather finish.  It is kind of like a river-washed effect, as if the softer portions of the stone had been eroded by a natural stream over many, many years. To the touch, it has the slightest texture as you run your fingers over it. It also takes away most of the shine, leaving a soft, satin  look and feel.  A color enhancer can be used to bring back the vivid, color uniqueness of the stone. 

When choosing a finish for the stone in your bathroom, it is important to think about the utility of the room. The floor is going to get wet. If you are using a polished stone on the floor, then it is going to be very slippery. The rougher the stone, the more tactile it will be, which will result in a safer floor when wet. Other considerations include durability. Polished and honed stones can scratch, while clefted and sandblasted ones are more resistant to damage, and hide it better.

Monday, March 21, 2011

Natural Stone Tiles: Granite

Types of Stone

Granite - It is the hardest architectural stone, making it ideal for counter tops and high-traffic areas. A visibly granular, igneous rock; generally ranging in color from near-white through the spectrum of golds, pinks, greens and blues, to grays and blacks, granite consists primarily of quartz, mica and feldspar.

Stone tiles can be polished, honed, antiqued or chiseled, and are fabricated in many different sizes — extending well beyond the standard 12 x 12 inches. Combining varying-sized pieces to form a modular floor pattern is a subtle way to spice up a kitchen or bath design. Contributing to more innovative designs in these rooms are exotic granites. These materials are being imported from countries such as Italy, Brazil, and India, and they are being employed for kitchen countertops and islands as well as bathroom vanity tops and tub decks.

The use of granite is almost limitless from kitchen counter tops, to floors and walls, offering an elegant and practical solution to many design issues.

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Natural Stone Tiles: Marble

Types of Stone

Marble - This classic stone has been the look of elegance for centuries. Known for its dramatic color and veining, the surface of marble is usually polished to a high shine.  This type of stone can create an outstanding effect in your bathroom or entry floor. However, there are some considerations to take into account before choosing marble in any room. First the high polish finish which looks so elegant is also very slippery, especially when it gets wet. For this reason, many have choosen to use honed marble for flooring instead of polished.  Marble is also a relatively delicate stone which can be prone to scratching, therefore should be avoided for use on kitchen counter tops. It is very important to seal marble to resist staining.

Natural Stone Tiles: Travertine and Limestone

Types of Stone
Limestone and Travertine - These two stones both have similar properties, being softer then slate or granite. They generally have an earthier quality to their color, which some people find very pleasing in a bathroom setting. The patterns that emerge in these stones, while unique, are usually more subdued. Although the colors seen most often are soft earth toned, bold multi-colored travertines as seen in the picture below, can also be found.  This material is appropriate for bathroom use, however a quality sealer must be used.  Travertine floors are extremely popular in today's designs.

Travertine can be bought in many different sizes.  The most popular finishes are honed and filled, honed and unfilled, tumbled, brushed, and polished.  It also has a variety of edges to choose from, depending on your design style.

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Natural Stone Tiles: Slate

Types of Stone
Slate - A very durable stone with a natural, untamed beauty, slate is highly recommended for bathroom and flooring applications. It is easy to clean, and with a little maintenance you can make it almost completely impervious to stains. Slate is available in a wide variety of colors and sizes. There are multicolored slates which have two or more hues, warring with one another in landscape formations across the surface of the tiles. These stones are one of a kind and the formations in every tile's surface are different from every other. Slate also has a rough texture, making even honed slate non slippery. 

Used in showers, it demands a bit more maintenance than other products like porcelain or ceramic tiles, but many homeowners still opt to use slate because of its uniqueness and aesthetic appeal. Because it is not a man-made product each tile may have a slight variation in depth, width, and height. It is possible to purchased a gauged slate which will help with these variances.

Natural Stone Tiles: Properties

Properties of natural stone

The inherent properties of natural stone tiles make them a perfect fit for most bathrooms and kitchens. They are durable, resistant to wear and when sealed properly, resistant to stains.  They come in a wide variety of colors and finishes, and there are many different types of stone available. The fact that it is a natural material helps to create a connection between your home and the outside world.  With its many options that are available to your project, natural stone can allow you to carve a custom look into its natural beauty, and apply it to create a bathroom, kitchen, or fireplace which is totally unique. However, there are many things you have to consider when choosing to utilize natural stone in your home.

Ceramic Tile vs. Porcelain Tile: Part 2

Non-porcelain tile is easier to work with

Non-porcelain tiles are made primarily of clay mixed with minerals and water. The material is then fired to solidify the tiles into a bisque form. This process creates tile that isn’t as hard as porcelain, so it can be worked more easily with basic snap cutters and nippers instead of a wet saw.  A sealer and a glaze are applied to the surface of nonporcelain tile to create color and texture before the tile receives a second firing.
Even though damage to nonporcelain tiles is more noticeable than with some porcelain tile, they can be purchased in grades that are perfectly suited for high-contact areas like kitchen counters and floors.
Non-porcelain tile’s main weakness is that it has a water-absorption rate of greater than 0.5%. As a result, the tile doesn’t perform nearly as well as unglazed porcelain tile in outdoor freeze/thaw environments.

Ceramic Tile vs. Porcelian Tile: Part 1

Porcelain and non-porcelain tile might look the same, but their durability differs

All tiles made of clay and cured by heat are ceramic tiles.  However, ceramic tile is best understood by dividing it into two product classifications:  porcelain and non-porcelain.  Their availability and look are roughly the same, but their durability is not.

Porcelain tile is more durable and is the top choice when strength matters most. Although nonporcelain tiles can be quite durable, none are as resilient as porcelain. Porcelain tiles are created by mixing porcelain clay and very finely ground sand, and curing them with high heat and pressure. Porcelain tile is denser and harder than nonporcelain tile and has a lower water-absorption rate of 0.5% or less. Porcelain’s density makes it highly resistant to physical damage, while its low absorption rate makes the tile frost resistant, allowing it to be used outdoors. Unglazed porcelain tile is sought after for its full-body characteristics, which means its color remains consistent throughout the tile. Surface scratches are less noticeable as a result, a benefit that diminishes when the tiles are glazed.