Ceramic tiles are a predominantly clay based material and in the context of floor and wall tiles, they are typically glazed. Glazed ceramic tiles are mad up of a ceramic biscuit with a screen print design over the top.
Glazed ceramics do not absorb moisture through the surface of the glaze, however due to the high clay content of the ceramic biscuit, the biscuit itself has an approximate 80% moisture absorption. This moisture absorption does slightly reduce the life expectancy of the tiles, though with appropriate installation technique, ceramic tiles will last on average up to 20 years. The major benefit of ceramic tiles is its cost effectiveness.
Porcelain tiles are predominantly made of rhyolite and feldspar, in conjunction with other natural minerals. The content structure of porcelain has a much higher density then ceramic tiles, and as such they are more durable and versatile. Porcelain tiles can be produced in a glazed format such as ceramic tiles (screen print design over a base biscuit), or given its high density, the biscuit itself can be manipulated and used it its raw state (unglazed).
Common forms of porcelain are polished porcelain which is polishing of the raw biscuit to a highly reflective state (often described as shiny tiles), and external format porcelain where the surface of the biscuit is purposely produced rough for slip reduction in external applications. Most porcelain tiles are available in multiple finishes and multiple sizes, making them incredibly adaptable and popular. For example a lot of people enjoy the flexibility of being able to use a 600x600 porcelain on their main living space, and the exact same tile in a 300x300 format for their adjoining powderoom and laundry.
Porcelain is typically more expensive then ceramic tiles for both supply and installation. The superiority of the raw materials which make porcelain tiles stronger and more dense, also reduce the moisture absorption to as low as 0.5% (2% on average). The increased installation cost is associated with the heightened labour effort, with the tiles being bigger and heavier, they are more difficult to manoeuvre and install.
While glass tiles date back as far as 2500BC, only since the late 1900’s has the evolution of technology seen it become main stream, as a result of the wide variety of glass tile that became available. These types of tiles typically encompass a print design on the back of the glass panel, which may contain various designs and illusions, or simply a base colour that permeates through the clear glass.
Glass tiles are most often untempered because of the need for cutting purposes around feature walls and structures. Tempered glass tiles such as the glass often used for kitchen splashbacks, are also available however contain limitations for regular tiling, as tempered/toughened glass cannot be cut once tempered.
The content which make up granite, are generally quartz, feldspars and various other minerals. It is the size, distribution and precise chemistry of these minerals, which give the granite its specific colour/design. The silica content of granite should be at least 70% for it to be truly deemed “Granite”. In the stone industry, Granite is traditionally any very hard crystalline rock (quartz based as opposed to marble.). Can be identified by unusual bright colours and heavy swirl patterns.
Over millions of years buried sediments compressed and became cemented by precipitation from mineral rich waters (generally the ocean). Generally the majority of limestones are composed of calcium carbonate. Can be identified often through fossilized articles in the stone, and typically colours of only grey/white tones.
Geologically marble is a limestone that has been re-crystallized through the action of heat and pressure. Impurities present in the stone are what in fact affect the mineral composition and the marble colour that eventually forms. The resulting rocks typically possess natural jointing systems (veining).
Travertine is formed not unlike Limestone (evaporation of water content out of the stone) however its origin is not from the ocean specifically such as Limestone. Travertine is advantageous over other traditional stones because its density/hardness increases over time and exposure.
Magma from volcanic eruptions burst through the Earth's crust and form long and persistent rifting, which cools, and crusts over (hardens) to form basalt. Basalt is commonly very fine grained and is considered a mafic silicate rock. These rocks are generally dark in colour and high in specific gravity minerals such as iron & magnesium.
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