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What tiles will be fitting of the floors and the kitchen countertops in your house? What about the bathroom tiles?

Whether you want to mix and match tiles with naturally looking patterns, or choose tiles with printed designs, think about the inherent properties of the stone first. Then weave the tiles into your own interior design scheme, considering both the room’s function and the tile properties. Before you make your decisions, find out more about the various options available.

What materials to use for the tiles in your house?

Marble

The biggest advantage of marble tile is that it is available in multiple colours, and even in multicolour mixes, providing flexible options for a variety of decorative schemes. Tiles can also be cut to varying shapes and sizes, to create complex mosaic piece installations. Because it is a product of the earth, every single piece is unique.

Unlike most natural stones, marble can be polished, getting silky smooth and shimmering when treated properly.

You’ll find that marble scratches easily, unlike granite, as it’s softer and more porous. The homeowner that chooses marble must be prepared to use sealant to fill in those gaps. Scratches also show up more evidently if the material is polished, as the imperfections will be more noticeable on the smooth, flat solid surface. Unfortunately, scratches cannot be easily repaired without replacing the damaged material completely. Marble tiles will also have a chemical reaction whenever it comes in contact with acidic substances. Acidic foods, sauces, beverages, and cleaning products also can cause etching in the marble. Unfortunately, the discoloration stains that come from these processes are permanent.

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Marble tiles can suffer from cracking, breaks, and chips. If the tile is improperly installed, this can be a particular problem, as any gaps between the material and the subfloor will be weak points ready to burst and break under even standard pressure.

Granite

The popular choice is granite, as this natural stone has plenty of character, with unique grains, colours and customisable finishes.

Granite is a natural stone, and so every individual slab of granite is unique in its hue, patterning and shading. When properly sealed, it’s one of the most durable options as its heat, scratch, stain and water resistance.

The only con with granite is that there are so many options available depending on what colour and patterns that you like, and prices vary for different types of granite. If you choose some of the more exotic slabs, it can be expensive, and many suppliers will charge you for the whole slab even if you just need a small part. Installation can also be expensive. To reduce waste and save money, work with your designer and a supplier to select a slab early and work that slab into your design.

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Slate

Natural slate combines the functional durability of hard tile with the natural beauty of a towering mountain range. However, there are both benefits, and drawbacks to the use of this material, which are often dependent on the environment where it is being installed.

One of the strongest natural stone flooring materials, the slate has an inherent durability that makes it resistant to cracks, scratches, breaks, and chips. It does have to be sealed against stains on a regular basis, but if properly maintained these materials can last for decades, looking great without having to be removed or replaced.

There are numerous colours and patterns available when choosing slate floor tiles. That means that every tile produced is a one-and-only work of earth-born artistry.

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While its initial price can be quite high, especially for grade A quality materials, it does have the ability to add real estate value to an entire home. This is especially true when installing in locations such as the kitchen and bathroom.

In some cases, a tile may be damaged due to high impact, natural chipping, weather, or slating over time. While this can be unsightly and dangerous, it is also possible to repair these pieces to restore the surface perfection of the floor.

There is a wide variety of both solid colour and colourful slate materials that are available to match nearly any decorative style scheme you are trying to create.

Ceramic

Ceramic is the most common tile found in homes today. Ceramic floor tile wears well, provides good traction, and is essentially water and stain proof and easy to maintain using almost any cleaning chemical. As such, it can be installed in any room without any particular concerns.

Tiles can be printed to credibly reproduce the look of some hardwoods and natural stones. They can also be printed in patterns or accented with designs or motifs. Finally, the tiles themselves can be cut and shaped into triangles, rectangles, and planks.

Ceramic flooring is extremely tough and the tiles are difficult to crack or scratch. A quality installation can last for years if well maintained. If a single tile does crack due to a severe impact, the process of replacing that tile is relatively simple. It is also is fairly easy to care for ceramic flooring. Ceramic tiles have a hard, solid surface that does not tend to attract dirt, dust, pollen, or other allergens. When these small debris particles do land on a ceramic floor, they stand out against the surface, making it easy to wipe them away with a mop or sponge.

Are you a fan of air-conditioning? This material does not hold on to heat very well. That means that it can get very cold with air conditioning, which can be a shock to your toes first thing in the morning. The flip side to this is that ceramic can be quite comfortable underfoot on a hot day.

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Now that you know about the different properties of the stones, you can decide on what materials to use when you are choosing the tile for your kitchen countertop or flooring!

Still Confused? Here’s a quick summary!

MARBLE

GRANITE

SLATE

CERAMIC

COST High Depends on the grade Depends on the grade Low
VARIETY OF COLOURS Multi-coloured Granite is a natural stone, and so every individual slab of granite is unique in its hue, patterning and shading. A natural stone, slate reflects the mountain quarry it is found in. Many colours and patterns can be printed on the tiles.
MAINTENANCE (ETCHING, SEALING) Can be polished. Must be sealed tight as the material can stain when it comes into contact with food or water. When properly sealed, it’s one of the most durable options as its heat, scratch, stain and water resistance. The slate has an inherent durability that makes it resistant to cracks, scratches, breaks, and chips. It does have to be sealed against stains on a regular basis depending on the environment where it is installed, but if properly maintained these materials can last for decades, looking great without having to be removed or replaced. Ceramic tile wears well, provides good traction, and is essentially water and stain proof and easy to maintain using almost any cleaning chemical. As such, it can be installed in any room without any particular concerns.
BEST USED FOR: Flooring, kitchen countertops. Kitchen countertops. Kitchen countertops, bathroom flooring or walls. Floor tiles.

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