What is the difference between standard “ceramic” tiles and porcelain tiles?

All ceramic tiles are made up of clay and quartz ferrous sand materials, along with water. Once the tiles are formed they are fired to high temperatures and in some cases their surfaces are glazed. The only difference between Porcelain tile and regular ceramic tile is that the clay used in porcelain tile is more highly refined and purified. Consequently, porcelain tiles are denser than a standard ceramic tile.

As a result, porcelain tiles are more rugged making them ideal for harsher applications such as flooring. Also, because of their higher density, porcelain tiles are less likely to absorb moisture (0.5%) which makes them more durable and more resistant to staining. Porcelain tiles are frequently found in floor applications, outdoor areas, and in cold weather climates where freezing can occur. With their low absorption capability, they are less likely to crack in cold weather climates.

What is the difference between Silestone/Quartz and Granite?

Granite is a solid piece of rock taken out of the ground and cut into blocks of stone and processed into slabs. Granite is a product of Mother Nature. Therefore, each product is entirely unique and has various prices ranges. Silestone®, is 93% granite and quartz materials ground up and mixed with 7% epoxy resin and color pigment. Essentially, it is a mixture of crushed stone and man-made products produced in a factory. Thus, it is not as unique.

In terms of maintenance, Silestone® or Quartz products have a slight advantage over granite. Silestone® does not require sealing, whereas granite owners should seal their product once every 3-5 years. However, all it really takes to seal granite is a simple wipe on liquid that you let sit for 10 minutes then wipe off. It’s very easy to do!

Because Quartz products such as Silestone contain 7% plastic, they tend to stain less easy than granite. However, because of this plasticity, Quartz or Silestone® products are easier to scratch. In terms of heat, granite has the upper-hand as it can withstand up to 450 degree temperatures, whereas quartz peaks out at 300 degrees.

– granite consists of natural blemishes and has hundreds of color variations. There are also unlimited edge designs and granite counter tops can be matched with numerous sink styles and brands. In addition, granite comes in a number of finished styles including antiqued, flamed, honed, leather, polished, thermal, and tumbled.
Silestone® – Silestone or Quartz products are generally more uniform in pattern and have limited variations in color. However, they also have unlimited edge designs and can be matched to essentially all sink styles and brands.

What should I consider in using travertine?

Travertine is a natural stone product. Because the minerals that makeup travertine are highly reactive with acidic solutions (e.g. orange juice, vinegar), a major consideration is where the travertine will be installed and what it will be exposed to. Sealers will provide some protection to the stone no matter what the environment, but knowing what it will be exposed to will help you decide whether travertine is a good fit for your project.