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Is there a difference between standard “ceramic” tiles and porcelain tiles?

A. Tile terminology can be confusing. Most types of tiles that are made from clay or a mixture of clay and other materials, then kiln-fired, are considered to be a part of the larger classification called “Ceramic Tiles”. These tiles can be split into two groups, porcelain tiles and non-porcelain tiles. These non-porcelain tiles are frequently referred to as ceramic tiles by themselves, separate from porcelain tiles.

“Ceramic” or non-porcelain tiles are generally made from red or white clay fired in a kiln. They are almost always finished with a durable glaze which carries the color and pattern. These tiles are used in both wall tile and floor tile applications, are softer and easier to cut than porcelain, and usually carry a PEI 0 to 3 rating. Non-porcelain ceramic tiles are usually suitable for very light to moderate traffic and generally have a relatively high water absorption rating making them less frost resistant and they are more prone to wear and chipping than porcelain tiles. Porcelain tile is a tile that is generally made by the dust pressed method from porcelain clays which result in a tile that is dense, impervious, fine grained and smooth, with a sharply formed face. Porcelain tiles usually have a much lower water absorption rate (less than 0.5%) than non-porcelain tiles making them frost resistant or frost-proof. Glazed porcelain tiles are much harder and more wear and damage resistant than non-porcelain ceramic tiles, making them suitable for any application from light traffic to the heaviest residential and light commercial traffic. Full body porcelain tiles carry the color and pattern through the entire thickness of the tile making them virtually impervious to wear and are suitable for any application from residential to the highest traffic commercial or industrial applications. Porcelain tiles are available in matte, unglazed or a high polished finish.

Should a sealer be used on porcelain tile?

A. glazed tile is already stain proof, so there is no purpose to putting on a sealer. You may put a penetrating sealer on your unglazed tile or your grout joints. The penetrating sealer is an invisible, stain resistant shield that is absorbed into the surface.

Can I expect my floor to have color variations?

A. Yes. Hardwood flooring is a natural product. Therefore, you should expect there will be natural color variations in the wood. Although lower grades of flooring will have a larger number of character blemishes, you can expect color variations in all grades.

What are the benefits of hardwood flooring?

A. Hardwood flooring is one of the most popular types of residential flooring. Here are a few reasons why you should choose a hardwood floor:

  • Solid hardwood offers a variety of grain patterns, natural color variations, and the beauty of a natural material
  • Hardwood floors are easy to clean.
  • Hardwood floors are ideal for allergy sufferers as they do not promote dust or harbor dust mites.

What is the difference between your prefinished and unfinished flooring?

A. The prefinished hardwood floor is end matched with a tight micro-beveled edge, and has up to 10 coats of aluminum oxide finish. The unfinished floors come end matched with a square edge and must be finished on site.

What makes granite the hardest building stone?

A. Granite is formed by solidification of liquid magma (molten rock) under the pressure of earth’s crust. It is composed of Feldspar, Quartz, Mica, and other minerals, making it one of the hardest stones in the world. It has been used for building and decorative purposes for centuries. Granite resists wear-and-tear remarkably well, making it ideal for interior or exterior flooring. When used outdoors, granite’s mineralogical structure is not influenced by freeze-thaw cycles.

Why is granite an excellent material for kitchen countertops?

A. Next to diamond, sapphire, and ruby, granite is the hardest natural product on earth. Once polished, natural granite will maintain its high gloss virtually forever. Normal use of kitchen knives, cutlery, and cookware leaves no scratches. Heat has almost no effect on natural granite, making it much safer than synthetic surfaces with polyesters and resins. Pots and pans heated to 900 degrees Fahrenheit will not dull natural granite’s lustrous finish, but the use of trivets is recommended to keep your granite counter clean.

What does the finished surface of travertine look like?

A. Travertine can have four major finishes, polished (shiny), honed (matte), brushed and tumbled (textured surfaces). The type of finish given to the travertine will determine how shiny the surface will be. The polished and honed surfaces are flat and smooth, while the brushed and tumbled surfaces are flat and textured. The polished surface is the shiniest, while the tumbled surface reflects the least amount of light. The most common finish for travertine is honed.

What colors does travertine come in?

A. Travertine comes in many different colors including ivory, beige, walnut, noce, and gold. The color of travertine is the result of iron compounds or other organic impurities.

Where would I use travertine?

A. Travertine has been used in the construction of buildings for thousands of years. In today’s construction, travertine is used for flooring, cladding on buildings, showers, wall coverings and counter tops.

How durable is marble?

A. Marble has been counted on for centuries by cultures across the globe to last as flooring, wall tile, and other surfaces. Although marble is susceptible to acidic substances and metal abrasion, it remains to be a surface to be counted on to look great for years, given that a cleaning and maintenance regimen is incorporated to make sure it retains its original look. Sealing the surface of marble with an impregnator can help to do this, and to make maintenance a much easier job.

Are sealers really necessary?

A. Absolutely. Marble is a porous material, which means that any liquids which spill onto the surface tend to leach into the body of the marble. This can negatively affect how your marble will look over time. A sealer, or an impregnator as it is also known, can make sure that any materials remain on the surface of the marble, until you clean it off, of course. This is the best way to make sure that your marble retains its original look for as long as possible. Talk to your local outlet about which products to use and how long to leave them before sealing your marble again. Always read the labels of the products you buy, take safety precautions where necessary, and follow instructions carefully.

What’s the best way of removing stains?

A. When a stain is unavoidable, taking steps to remove stains from marble tile is a fairly simple procedure. The same reason marble is susceptible to staining is the same reason it’s a straightforward process to remove them – marble is porous. A procedure called ‘poulticing’ is a great way to remove stains by literally drawing the stain up from your marble and into another material – a mixture of a reducing agent soaked into a cloth or papertowels is the most basic variety of poultice. The best methods should always be measured against the kind of stain you’ve got. Once again, the best source of knowledge on this is your local DIY retailer who can advise on what procedure to use on what types of materials which have stained your marble.

Is slate resistant to damage?

A. Slate (and any other natural stone that we offer) is highly resistant to damage, as long as it is applied to a solid substrate. If the sub-floor prior to the slate installation is flexible (for example, a thin plywood sub-floor), the slate could crack like any other tile. It is therefore very important to have an adequate substrate prior to installation. If in doubt, you should consult a professional installer about this.

Can slate tile be installed outside on sand?

A. Slate tiles can be used outside if set on a solid substrate with mortar. Slate tiles should not be installed on sand nor should they be used as pavers. Slate pavers from BuildDirect are designed to be set on a sand base (they are 1 ¼” thick).

What is the thickness of granite slabs?

A. All our granite slabs are 3cm (1 ¼”) thick.