Tile Flooring

Manmade ceramic or natural slate

Ceramic and slate flooring options are very popular for their look, but the fact that they aren't renewable makes some people hesitant to include them in their home decor. However, when it comes to a unique look and long lifespan, natural stone and ceramic tiles often come out winners.

Ceramic Tiles

Ceramic tiles are made by kiln-firing a mix of natural clays, minerals and water. They're a hard, durable flooring choice that's often chosen to cover in-floor radiant heating systems. Quality can range depending on the tiles you choose, as can the price.

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One of the best things about ceramic is its naturally hygienic and odor-free surface. It's a good choice for allergy sufferers and isn't likely to have mold or dust problems. Water-based sealant and grout reduce VOC (volatile organic compound) emissions. When set in cement, ceramic tiles are considered by many to be the best in terms of indoor air quality. It will also make them more durable.

You can choose from different ceramic tiles:

  • Glazed

    - These have a durable exterior coating that allows them to resist moisture and stains. Some benefits of glazed tiles are easy cleaning and increased durability, although they can be slippery when wet.
  • Unglazed

    - This tile is coarser, more porous and prone to staining.

Cleaning requirements for ceramic tile are pretty basic, and water with vinegar or mild soap is usually enough. Avoid harsh abrasives that may damage the tile glaze. Ceramic tiles aren't a good choice for first time do-it-yourselfers, as they require a fair amount of skill and precision to install.

Some cons to installing ceramic tiles include:

  • Ceramic tiles can be somewhat uncomfortable to stand on.
  • They don't absorb sound (like carpet flooring does) and can contribute to a noisy home.
  • If a tile breaks, it might be hard to find an exact match. Keep a stash of tiles from the initial installation - buy more than you need.
  • Pale-colored tiles can fast become dirty looking.
  • Falling heavy objects can crack lower-quality ceramic.

Slate Flooring

Slate has much appeal, thanks to its natural color and textural variations. It can range from light earthy tones to bright oranges and deep purples. Many people prefer the unique character of slate to the more obviously man-made tiles. A soft, porous composition makes it easy to cut, but once sealed properly it becomes strong and resistant to fading, chips and stains.

Slate is chosen indoors for kitchens, hallways and bathrooms, due to its non-slip nature, even when wet. It's also popular for use around outdoor pools. It retains heat to keep warmth in a room and requires little in the way of cleaning. Regular sweeping and spot mopping is usually enough.

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