Ceramic tiles are formed from clay or similar earth products with a decorative glaze on the surface that comes in an endless variety of styles and colors. Ceramic tile can be used indoors for floors, walls, light use countertops, fireplace hearths and surrounds. Whether glazed or unglazed, ceramic tiles are used in decorative applications and typically not suitable for wet areas of the kitchen or bathroom, nor outdoors subject to significant weather and temperature changes. For those types of projects, see Porcelain.
Glass tiles are small, smooth pieces of glass that add deep, intense color and light reflection to a tiling project. Glass tile is sometimes used in kitchens and bathrooms as an accent tile together with other types of tile. A glass tile backsplash in the kitchen is becoming an increasingly common decorative element, as are glass tile accent walls. Glass tiles can be made from recycled glass, a growing ‘green’ technology in the tile field.
Granite is a visibly crystalized, very hard stone with outstanding durability. It comes in a wide array of color variations and is typically polished to a high luster. Granite is resistant to acids and makes an ideal kitchen countertop material. Granite is heat resistant and scratch resistant. Granite tiles are used in flooring, accent walls, hearths, fireplace surrounds, bathrooms, and kitchens.
Natural limestone is typically light in color with a fine grain and smooth finish. It is a porous stone that wears easily and so is used in decorative projects such as accent walls, fireplace surrounds, and outdoor patios. Limestone is known for its absorption qualities but can stain easily if left unsealed.
Marble is a hard, durable, somewhat crystalized stone surface with great beauty and value. As a slab or tile, marble usually has a highly polished surface. Marble varies widely in color from light to dark, with many colors displaying veins or clouds of contrasting colors. Marble is not as hard as granite and is used more in bathrooms and hearths, and less in kitchen projects. Marble also varies widely in both quality and price.
Onyx stone is a type of limestone that can display dramatic parallel layers of color and beautiful striations when cut and polished. Onyx tile can enhance decorative projects such as fireplace surrounds, stone walls, or casual table tops that are not subjected to staining or heavy wear.
Porcelain tiles are similar to ceramic tiles, but they do not absorb water readily. This makes porcelain tile an excellent choice for many indoor and outdoor uses including kitchens, bathrooms, floors, and projects that are subject to weather and climate changes. Because of their low water absorption, porcelain tiles are less subject to breakage in wet or cold applications.
Travertine tile is a type of limestone that typically has a more porous appearance and characteristic small holes even when finished to a smooth luster or shine. Often beautifully colored or banded, travertine tile tends to be light in color. Travertine is suitable for floors and decorative projects, but is susceptible to heat and staining and not often used as countertop material. Travertine can be filled before it is finished and therefore have a smoother texture that is easier to clean.
Quarry stone is typically an unglazed floor tile in clay or earth tones. Though it can be glazed, quarry tiles are often used in more rustic projects that call for a natural, less polished appearance.
Slate is a natural stone that can be used in slab pieces or cut into tiles. Slate is characteristically mid to dark in color, riven in texture, and is typically used with its naturally uneven surface intact. Slate tile is quite durable and can be used indoors or outdoors. Its uneven texture can provide a naturally non-slip surface that resists chips and cracks.