The Tile And Stone Revolution

Degeus Tile & Granite - Owner / Rochester, MN

Photography Courtesy of: Builder Remodeler Magazine

Revolution - or maybe we should say evolution.

With the overwhelming gain in popularity of tile in the home, manufacturers have responded with an abundance of colors, sizes and finishes.

When considering the use of tile in your existing or new home, the possibilities are endless. Applications range from use in spacious master baths with whirlpool tub surrounds and large walk in showers, expansive flooring in kitchens, foyers, mudrooms and sun porches, and in fireplace surrounds, countertops and kitchen backsplashes.

Tile can be both functional AND aesthetic – becoming a focal point to reveal the beauty in your home.

Selections range from traditional stone and marble to the latest contemporary styles with crisp linear movement and solid color shades.

The expanding selection of glass and stone mosaic blends has ignited endless possibilities for decorative accents and borders in all area of the home.

Tile is a relatively generic term used to describe a number of different natural or manufactured tile products.

Manufactured tiles consist of two basic parts; the clay body of the tile and the top glazing application that adds strength and beauty.

The body of manufactured tiles is generally made of clay. This portion of the tile gives it compressive strength and rigidity.  Higher quality clay products with fewer impurities are used to produce “porcelain” tile. This term is given to a ceramic process that passes specific tests for compressive strength and lower absorption rates.  Generally speaking, “porcelain” tiles are simply a higher quality version of ceramic tile.  Used almost exclusively in commercial applications where floors are exposed to heavy equipment, they are also ideal for exterior applications where tile is exposed to freeze and thaw conditions. Highest grades of porcelain tile can have glass like properties. While being very hard and dense, they can be more difficult to cut when installing.

Traditionally a white clay body was considered better than a dark or red color.  Color is determined by the concentration of iron oxide in the clay. It is possible for a tile to have a dark red-brown body and still achieve “porcelain” rating due to testing criteria.

Easily lasting for decades, glazing or wear surface is applied over the body of the tile. This layer gives texture and characteristics that define the overall look. The process in which the color and shading is applied has reached new heights. With advances in technology, a remarkable resemblance to real stone products has been achieved, giving the consumer a look akin to natural stone, yet at lower cost.  Compound this with the lower maintenance of ceramic or porcelain tile and you have captivating beauty at an affordable price.

A portion of the industry is thriving on the production of natural or real stone tiles. These tiles are mined or quarried in countries all over the world. They range from granite tiles that are very hard to marble to travertine and limestone tiles that are more moderate in their density. Typically cut to 3/8” thick in sizes from 1” to 24” in style, they come in a variety of finishes like polished, honed, tumbled and brushed.  Each finish appears different and contributes to the overall look when selecting a natural stone.

While the look and feel of real stone has long been a preferred choice by many, it does come with a cost. Natural stone products are generally more expensive to purchase and are more costly to install. Some softer natural stones require additional maintenance.  Because limestone and tumbled marbles have a higher absorption rate; they should be sealed every one to two years if used in wet or dirty environments. Many consumers feel this is a small price to pay for the unmatched beauty and elegance that a natural stone product will provide. 

Enhance your tile floor by adding an in-floor warming system for unparalleled comfort. Several different in-floor warming systems are available, most designed for installation in the cement base under the tile floor.

Tile warming systems are available in either electrical or hydroponic versions. Relatively affordable and offering a good solution for heating multiple rooms, electrical in-floor heating systems requires communication between the tile installer and the electrician to ensure proper installation.

Preferred by consumers for larger areas, a hydronic or water type system is a better option and less expensive in the long term (though initially more expensive to install).  A greater portion of the cost of this system is the boiler to heat the water. Water is pumped through piles that are installed in the cement base under the tile.  This system requires communication between the plumber and your tile installer. 

Hydroponic systems can be installed in concrete floors in lower levels of homes or in garages. This system is usually efficient enough to act as the sole heat source for a home.  Both systems are a great compliment to tile and natural stone floors.

With many exciting tile colors and styles to select from, it is easy to be confused or overwhelmed. Give careful consideration when selecting tile products for your project. Choose a company with a good reputation willing to answer your questions and provide educational information for your project.  Select professionalism, quality and service for your timeless investment over low cost or budget materials.

Varying by manufacturer, expect a broad range of prices for tiles and installation methods.  Let the unmatched value of tile or stone enhance the value of your home! 

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