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Stone Tiles As a Surface Covering

A Look at Natural Stone Tiles As a Surface Covering

If you have ever taken the time to think about all of the surfaces that get covered, you know there are many of them. Building facades, flooring, walls, cabinetry, fireplace surrounds, steps, pool decks, and the list goes on. Additionally, it seems as though, there are just as many types of surface covering materials as there are surfaces. In this article, we are going to delve into one type of surface covering that you may not think of that often, natural stone tiles. As we take a look at natural stone tiles as a surface covering, we will discuss why they are a great option and we'll talk a little bit about what is involved in working with some of them.

What is Natural Stone Tile?

When people hear the word tile, one of the first things that many people think of is ceramic tile or porcelain tile. This is because these tile materials are virtually ubiquitous. However, tiles are also available in natural stone. That's right, there are natural stone tiles that are produced from stone that is quarried right out of the side of a mountain. The material is quarried, then processed into tiles of various sizes. These tiles are then used as surface covering in a variety of ways.

Available Types of Stone Tile

What kind of stone is used for fashioning tiles? Rather, what kinds of stone are used for making natural stone tiles? Quite a few of them actually. Take a look at this partial list:

Stone Tile Materials

  • Granite
  • Marble
  • Travertine
  • Sandstone
  • Limestone
  • Basalt
  • Slate
  • Quartzite

As you can see from that short list of natural stone types, many materials are used for tile surface coverings. And that list is by no means exhaustive. The natural question then is why do natural stone tiles get used as surface coverings? And how do you work with them?

Properties of Stone Tiles

When it comes to talking about stone tiles, there is a wide range of properties that one could mention since each natural stone will have specific features. For example, travertine has a very distinct look and is marked by notable pits (also called voids or holes) that are often times filled to strengthen the stone without hindering its rustic look. So in order to speak about things common to most natural stone tile, we will keep our subject toward the broad end of the spectrum.

Natural Stone Tile is Porous

You might be thinking, "I would think that porous material would not be good for a floor tile." And in some cases you would be hitting the nail right on the head. Yet, there are other times when you may want a porous material. One case in which porous tiles would be beneficial is when they are used as pool decking. Why? Because of the tremendous amount of water that ends up on the surface. Non-porous surfaces keep all that water on the surface, making it a potential slip hazard. Ah, but a porous material like natural stone absorbs the water and the surface is not slippery when it is wet.

But what if you don't want the surface to absorb water? Well, another thing about natural stone tiles is that they can be polished, treated and/or sealed using various kinds of sealers so that they are not as absorbent as they are in their original condition.

Natural Stone Tile is Unique

Natural stone is a unique material. Even the same slab varies in its color and pattern. Therefore, a natural stone tile surface is going be unique from all others. The unique look of natural stone tiles is an appealing trait that draws people to the idea of using natural stone tiles.

Natural Stone Tile Durability

Finally, natural stone tiles are durable and last a long time. Surfaces that are covered with natural stone tile withstand a good deal of wear and tear. In fact, even some building facades are made of natural stone panels because of their durability.

Working With Natural Stone Tile

Now that we have talked about what stone tiles are and seen some reasons why they are desirable for use in projects, what is needed to work with them?

Tile Blades for Natural Stone

Natural stone is is a durable building material and as we mentioned earlier, it is even used on the exterior of buildings. stone tiles are not as thick as slabs that are used for say, kitchen countertops. So, when cutting them it is good to use a diamond blade made for tile. Tile blades are made to cut very hard materials that are brittle. And although natural stone tiles are not as brittle materials like porcelain, ceramic, or sintered stone, using a tile blade to cut them makes sense.

Natural stone tiles are similar to their porcelain counterparts. Although they do vary in some ways. Natural stone tiles will most likely be heavier. Natural stone is dense compared with porcelain. But the concepts and techniques used to install stone tiles will be very similar to those of porcelain. In the end, the consumer will likely have a preference of which tile to use. Having experience and tools for installing either of them will prove to be beneficial.

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