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Choosing The Right Natural Stone Tiles

Michelle Symonds

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With such a variation in type and quality of natural stone tiles it is important to understand some factors which will affect the suitability of certain tiles for different purposes and help you to assess the quality of any tile you are considering buying.

Most people know that the colour of certain tiles is a key indicator of quality, particularly when it comes to white Carrara marble tiles where the purer the white the higher the quality. But how pure is “pure white"? Many tiles will look very white, particularly under showroom lighting but can look very different in a domestic setting where they can be revealed to have a yellowish tinge. That is not to say there is anything inferior in the quality of marble tiles that are not pure white but it is an important factor in terms of what you should be prepared to pay for such tiles.

The colour of the veining is also important, with darker veining indicating lesser quality as does indistinct veining. Comparing different pieces from a range of suppliers and in a range of price brackets can also help you to learn to distinguish the better quality tiles. It is sometimes only when viewed next to high-quality tiles that the shortcomings of a lower-quality tile are made obvious.

The thickness of natural stone floor tiles is also, fairly obviously, an indicator of quality so most people would expect the thickness to affect the price but so too will the physical size of the tiles because larger tiles are more expensive to produce because of the different manufacturing equipment required.

Another factor to take into consideration when purchasing natural stone tiles is the number of holes they contain. These will have been filled with epoxy resin before the tile has been polished but are still visible on close inspection and are again a quality factor because any tiles with a high proportion of filled holes are more likely to develop new holes after installation, which will affect not only the appearance of the tiles but also their durability as it is not easy to fill imperfections in the same way as those done professionally in the tile factory.

How accurately the tiles are cut is also an important consideration; you need to know that they will fit together neatly with consistent widths of grouting all round. Tiles that are of lower quality are often not cut entirely square making the grout joints uneven in width. Of course, there are some very high quality tiles with uneven edges designed to give a rustic feel to the flooring or walls and in this case the uneven grouting can be part of the charm of the tiles but tiles designed for a classic or contemporary feel should be truly square.

Unfortunately there are no manufacturing standards in place to help the consumer assess the value of any tiles they are considering purchasing so it is important to use a reputable supplier - one that has a well-established business with a real bricks-and-mortar location where you can view samples of a range of tiles.

But don’t forget that part of the beauty of natural stone is the variation in colour and texture and if you want a perfect matt colour and a smooth texture then ceramic tiles or porcelain tiles would probably be a better choice for you than natural stone floor or wall tiles .


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