There's nothing quite like a natural stone floor. It exudes a timeless elegance that other floors just can't achieve. It's stronger, last longer and adds more value to your home than any other flooring options (in our opinion anyway). Just take a look around the world to see great examples of natural stone longevity- the pyramids in Egypt, the Coliseum, ancient Greek and Roman temples all made from stone and still standing.
Natural stone is formed by heat and pressure being forced together to create blocks of natural stone, including granite, travertine, marble, limestone and slate. All these elements mix together with such force that is causes the earth's crust to erode, pushing minerals up from its core, forming huge rock deposits which are commonly known as quarries.
Natural stone is available in a wide range of colours, shapes and sizes. When looking for natural stone tiles you may come across a whole host of names. Many companies have a generic set of names to identify different types of stone, but some don't. This has lead to great confusion in the industry and of course to you, the buyer. Many of the original names were in Italian and would always consist of two parts. The first describing the colour and the second part describing where the stone was quarried from. here's a quick guide to help you:
|Italian Name||Colour in English|
1.2. Colour variations
Stone is formed from many types of natural minerals. Marble is mainly made up from calcium. Calcium Carbonate naturally bonds the stone. The colours are formed as a result of certain additive minerals being blended into the calcium during formation. Below is a list of popular colours and the mineral that creates it.
|Black||Biotite, Hornblend, Carbon|
|Grey||Mix of minerals|
|Green||Mica, Chloride, Silicate|
|White||Feldspar, Calcite, Dolomite|
|Augite||Brown, green, black, purple|
|Biotite||Black, brown, green|
|Calcite||Pearlenscent and pale colours|
|Dolomite||Colourless, pink, pale brown|
|Feldspar||Yellow, white, pink, green, grey|
|Hermaite||Metallic Grey or black|
|Hornblend||Green, yellow, brown, black|
|Limonite||Black, brown or yellow|
1.3. With great natural stone flooring, comes great responsibility
Stone is of course a product of nature and needs to be treated with a little TLC. In return for all your nurturing you'll get a beautiful floor that lasts a lifetime. Abrasive cleaners, wire brushes and incorrect sealants can all damage your stone. We sell a full range of special cleaners and sealants that work in harmony with our natural stone, just add some to your order. Our Sales Team will be happy to advise what will work best. You may find it useful to read the following information.
1.4. How to clean natural stone?
Natural stone is easy to keep clean. Simply sweep or dust the surface regularly to remove loose soil and dust.Fill a mop bucket with warm water and a clean non-abrasive sponge or mop. Use only a recommended neutral cleaner that has been specially formulated for natural stone. We sell a full range of them (just visit the accessories section of our website for more details). Do not use general purpose cleaners or you may damage the stone or the sealer applied? Any products that contain lemon, vinegar or other acids will definitely damage your stone by removing the sealant. Without a sealant your stone is left bare to the elements and will get damaged.
1.5. The facts about natural stone
-Expect the unexpected
No two stone tiles are the same- that's what makes them so special. Even if you know someone else with a marble floor, yours will look different. Each tiles exhibits natural and geological variations in yazi of colour, markings, textures and movement in background. These elements all vary from batch to batch. There may also be different sizes as this unpredictability also affects the production techniques. That's why tolerance levels are set in the manufacturing process as well. As we want to make sure we maintain high standards despite these natural occurrences, we only work with selected and well known suppliers around the world. 'We also employ two full time inspectors that travel the world, who go and inspect orders before they are shipped out. That way we ensure that all our stock is of the best and most consistent quality.
-Use your samples as a guide not a guarantee
Your samples should only be used as a guide, not a guarantee of colour. Please be aware that samples are not a true reflection of the entire stone, they do not always show all the characteristics. For example, if you are buying a multi-coloured slate and purchasing it off a 10x10 cm example, when you receive the full delivery you may be surprised at what you actually get, as that particular stone varies greatly from tile to tile. To avoid any disappointment we suggest you look at an array of samples or tiles before you purchase stone. Being aware of this (and hence we are an internet company and can't possibly offer a full sample service) we have developed a system in which:
-You look at real life pictures to see the effect stone creates.
-You order a sample free of charge to see the background colour so that you can cross-reference between samples supplied and the photo, which will help you visualise your project.
-You need to seal all natural stone
All natural stone tiles need to be sealed with an impregnator. It will fill all the tiny holes with that are not visible to the naked eye. By sealing the stone you are protecting it from any spills that would otherwise seep into the structure of the stone and stain it. The sealant forces the liquid to stay on top of the stone, until you wipe it off. Sealing the stone helps it last longer and gives you peace of mind.
Some natural stone tiles are easily scratched/ are subject to pitting/chipping. We feel It's only fair to warn you that some of your order may get chipped/scratched in transit. Soft limestone can often get damaged in transportation and handling. But there's no need to panic, as you will always have spare tile for cutting built into your order anyway. Some marbles (crema marfil for example) are hard but very fragile. As a result, many of them break in production. To stop this happening, manufacturers employ a technique called "mesh backing/gluing". This means a special thick chemical solution is applied to the back of the tile to make the tile more stable. Some tiles are naturally cracked and have a line running through them caused by Mother Nature. Some pitting/voids on the surface are very rarely seen as well, these are considered minor imperfections and are a natural part of the stone. To make up for these natural imperfections, we always recommend to purchase extra 5%-10% as you will most likely need to cut the tiles for corners. Or for future it is always recommended in case extras are needed and keep in mind that batches change all the time.
-Blend before installation
We strongly recommend that you blend your natural stone tiles before you install them. Your fitter should know to do this anyway, but it doesn't hurt to remind then about it. We encourage blending as sometimes your order may be from different batches. Blending involves laying out the tiles and having a good look at them. Those with minor damages or unusual markings should be put to one side and used for cutting or less visible locations. If you're having a specific pattern fitted make sure your installer knows before blending.
You may wonder why your stone tiles are wet when delivered. They are always packed in wet conditions at the factory and can not properly dry out until unpacked. They will lighten in colour as they dry out. You have to make sure that the tiles are completely dry before blending them and installing them. Sometimes it may be necessary to dry the tiles in front of a direct heat source to see the true colour of the stone when it is totally dry.
We always recommend an additional 10% worth of tiles to be added to your order to compensate for wastage. Our Sales Team will help you calculate wastage for your particular project. They will help you work out how many extra tiles you may need bearing in mind site handling, site cutting and grading.
2. Porcelain Tiles
2.1. What is porcelain?
If you want an attractive yet very hard wearing floor, then porcelain is for you. Porcelain tile is made up of 50% feldspar and is fired at a much higher temperature than regular ceramic tile. It's this process that makes porcelain much harder and denser than other tile products.
It's a tile that is made from porcelain clay using the dust pressed method. All of our porcelain range is suitable for light to heavy traffic in commercial or residential application. Basically it can go anywhere and everywhere and it won't let you down.
Just to boast a little more, Porcelain tiles are non-porous so you don't have to worry about sealants as water can not penetrate the surface of the tile, meaning it can't be damaged by water.
They are strong and durable which makes them great for high traffic areas such as hotels, showrooms and shopping centres. And they are frost-resistant. They can cope with sub-zero temperatures and won't crack under freezing temperatures like some tiles. They are also the best heat reactors- so they work well with underfloor heating. So there's no need to worry about your flooring expanding or warping because of the heat.
They are hygienic and healthy, which is great if you have allergies. Simply dust them down daily or give them a quick mop. Ever wondered why hospitals always use porcelain? It's because grimes and dirt can't penetrate the stone and cause bacteria to fester. Plus you can use the majority of cleaning products on it, without worrying that it might erode away.
It's also environmentally friendly as It's made from natural materials. There is very little waste and what isn't used can be reworked.
2.2. Things to think about when installing porcelain tiles
As a flooring material, Porcelain is one of the best you can choose. Apart from the vast choice now available, It's everything you want it to be : strong, durable, resistant to stains and easy to clean. They come in all shapes and sizes and can be tailored to suit your individual budget.
In order to get the most out of your porcelain flooring it is important that it is installed properly. If installed correctly your floor should last you a lifetime. It is very important that the tiles are laid correctly; with the right adhesive and that the grout is applied correctly. If It's not installed well, you will get problems. Common problems include -cracked tiles, water collecting in lower areas, water seeping through the grout which can then cause damage to the subfloors.
How to choose a qualified tiler
Your first point of call will probably be the Yellow Pages/Local directory. It often helps if you know someone who has had tiles installed and have been happy with it. An uneven base or misplaced tile can ruin the look of the whole floor.
When choosing a tiler here's some top tips to make sure you get the best contractor for the job:
1) Don't let anybody except a qualified professional do it. No matter how many floors your Dad's Uncles DIY friend has installed, he won't be able to guarantee his work. In this case, don't keep it in the family.
2) Check what qualifications they have. I suggest they have at least 2-3 years experience as well as examples of their work (pictures) Or ask them for reference form previous jobs. If they're good they won't mind.
- If they can let you see some example of their work even better. Whilst looking at the floor, look for
3) All tiles should be equally spaced and close together
4) Grout lines should be straight.
5) Check the edges of the pattern, are they equal?
6) Have they finished well? Check doorways and funny shaped edges.
7) Do the tiles fit under the door and fittings? Gaps here could cause water damage to your sub floor so make sure the floor is flat and even throughout.
8) What's the surrounding area like? Can you see signs of sloppy workmanship like water stains and flicked grouting?
9) Ask if they got on with the tiler and what his attitude was like whilst working on their project. If there were amendments did he make them quickly?
2.3. What is the difference between ceramic and porcelain tiles?
Ceramic Tiles are made from red or white clay, which are then kiln-fired. A majority of the time they are finished with a glaze which carries the colour and pattern. The main difference between ceramic and porcelain is that ceramics are easier to cut than porcelain making them easier to work with. On the other hand they are more porous which means they are less resistant to frost, you are more likely to get chipping and signs of wear and tear on them than porcelain tiles.
2.4. What is the difference between glazed and full body tiles?
Our Porcelain range is glazed. That means they have been coated with a liquid glass, which is then baked into the surface of the clay. Glazing provides an unlimited source of colors and designs. It also protects the tile from staining. If a tile is "unglazed" it just means that their surface has not been coated. Full-body porcelain tiles are great for commercial applications, such as showrooms as they do not show wear and tear. This is because the are "full-bodied" because their color extends throughout the whole tile.
2.5. Should a sealer be used on a porcelain tile?
Although our tiles are already glazed, it means they are already stain proofed, we would still recommend to use sealer as you will have to apply grout on the tiles. The sealer will act as an invisible, stain resistant cover that is absorbed into the surface , it's a good way to give you peace of mind.
2.6. How to clean porcelain tiles?
If you hate cleaning then you're lucky you've got a porcelain floor. It's so easy to maintain. By nature, porcelain is dense and does not absorb liquid easily. Many floor cleaning products on the market are made for porcelain tiles (just be sure to check the label), we even sell them through our website, so just ask one of our Sales Team to pop a bottle on to your order.
To clean our porcelain tiles, follow these simple instructions:
1) Remove any loose dirt by sweeping or vacuuming the floor first.
2) If your tiles are on the wall make sure any dirt (shower scum) or (kitchen grease) has been removed with a soft brush before cleaning.
3) Mop or wipe with a mild cleaning solution.
4) Mop or wipe again with clean water, to make sure all the cleaning solution has been removed.
5) Using a dry mop, or towel, rub the floor until It's dry. This may seem like hard work but it will increase the shine and prevent water spots.