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Ceramic, stone, porcelain or glass?

One of the first decisions you will need to make before undertaking a bathroom tiling project is which type of tile you prefer. Tiles have come a long way over the years, especially as we’re no longer regulated by the limitations faced by earlier generations. However, only some materials are suitable for bathrooms because of the heat and moisture generated in bathrooms. Generally speaking, the best tile options for this room are stone, porcelain, glass or ceramic tiles.

Each type of tile has its pros and cons, and no single tile can be said to be the best all-rounder. Instead, you are looking for the tiles that work best for your lifestyle and home. That combination can include design, style, budget, maintenance, colour and durability.

While there may not be one unbeatable tile, you are certain to find the perfect match for your home.

What are ceramic tiles?

Ceramic tiles are easily the most prevalent tile in the general marketplace. They can be made to just about any specification, including colour, and are often an economical choice. The term ‘ceramic’ refers to any tile made from a clay or silicate mixture that undergoes a kiln-fire process. This technically includes porcelain tiles, though the term ‘ceramic’ colloquially refers to non-porcelain tiles. As there is enough of a difference between porcelain and non-porcelain ceramic tiles, they are separated here for facility.

Non-porcelain ceramic tiles are designed for light to moderate use, and your bathroom is likely to fit that category. Red or white clay are the most widely used materials, though the final colour and appearance of ceramic tiles is dependent on the production process. You can expect to find a wide variety of sizes and colours available, though the price will vary accordingly. The Putney Noce floor tile is an example of a very attractive tile with ceramic finish and a delicate, worn look which will suit a spa-like décor.

When compared to porcelain tiles, ceramic tiles are more porous, which leads to slightly more moisture gain. This, of course, can be countered through a clever ventilation system and protective glazes. Also, some ceramic tiles are suitable for use in wet rooms; all you have to do is check that this is the case before you make up your mind.

On the plus side, ceramic tiles are usually the most inexpensive tiles, and they are remarkably easy to maintain. Once they have been fitted, you should only need to look after the grout on a regular basis.

What are porcelain tiles?

Porcelain tiles are created in the same manner as other ceramic ones, but the clays used are different, and there are often more layers involved, creating a denser product. Porcelain tiles are fine grained and smooth. More importantly, they are more impervious to moisture and significantly less susceptible to absorption. This is why they are typically considered separately from ceramic tiles.

These tiles are an excellent choice for bathrooms because they are hard, moisture resistant and fairly easily to maintain. They are often compared to marble tiles as they are similarly dense. However, porcelain tiles are far less likely to stain than marble is. Porcelain tiles are a viable choice for deluxe, elegant bathrooms that bring a touch of class, and are less work to fit than marble.

Another reason that porcelain tiles are often separated from ceramic tiles is price. The manufacturing process, as well as the likelihood of breaking during transport, renders these tiles more expensive.

Porcelain tiles can also be used in the pool and spa areas of your home. Because they are inherently impervious, they are perfect for the floors of these areas. While you can add these tiles to your walls, many people choose to work with porcelain on the floor and ceramic or glass on the walls.

What are stone tiles?

Unlike ceramic tiles, stone tiles are not created - they are quarried. This group of tiles includes marble, slate, travertine and limestone. Each of these materials offers a distinct look to any bathroom as individual tiles are all unique. Stone tiles are cut and polished to set sizes, though they do range between moisture-sensitive and moisture-resistant, depending on the type of stone used.

Marble tiles are one of the most common choices, as this stone is cut and polished to create a smooth edge. They are typically sold in grey or cream colours with different veins of colour running through them. While marble is an elegant choice, it does require a high level of maintenance; they must frequently be cleaned to avoid staining and should be resealed at least once a year.

Although both marble and travertine belong to the limestone group, they are very different. Travertine is formed in underground springs. Escaping carbon dioxide creates distinctive holes during the formation process. Despite this, travertine is quite a hard stone which is often used in Italy or Italianate building. This is evident in the overall look of the Belgravia travertine floor tile.

As an alternative to travertine wall tiles, floor tiles, and SplashPanels, we offer each of these in a range of travertine effects. These can serve as a less expensive option while retaining the same sophisticated look that real travertine has.

Limestone is less dense than marble and travertine, even though they belong to the same family of stone. Limestone tiles often reflect the natural beige, grey and off-white colours of this stone. It is prone to scratching and staining if it hasn’t been thoroughly treated and, therefore, is best used as a wall tile.

Slate tiles are frequently used in modern bathrooms for their typically rich, dark colours. Characteristic to slate tile is a cleft cut pattern which provides an uneven surface unless deliberately smoothed. Slate is quite dense as it is often formed from sedimentary rock shale, making it an excellent choice for bathroom floor tiles, though it also creates a stunning feature wall.

All stone tiles reflect the timeless beauty and the unique lifestyle of their homeowners. More maintenance is required for most stone tiles compared to ceramic or porcelain tiles, however they also add to the value of your home. Indeed, the prevalence of ceramic tiles designed to replicate the appearance of natural stone shows that these tiles set the bar for aesthetic excellence.

What are glass tiles?

Glass tiles have recently captured the imagination of homeowners owing to their glossy finish and are finding their way into bespoke bathrooms and home spas. Glass tiles are often used in mosaics to create unique and stunning walls, floors and borders for SplashPanels, but they are also sold alone in a wide range of colours and sizes.

Glass is resistant to discolouration, fading and chemical damage. In addition, it is naturally impervious to water and new, green methods of production make it an excellent choice for homeowners concerned with sustainability. It is typically fragile until installation, after which it is strong enough to use in swimming pools.

Colours and designs can be imprinted on the underside of glass tiles to create a distinctive look. Glass tiles can be used in just about any bathroom as they are easy to clean and maintain as well as being impervious to water and durable after installation. Glass tiles also have the ability to transform between bright and understated, modern or dramatic and just about everything in between. The vivid blue of the Bayswater mosaic glass tile, for example, would look striking coupled with white fixtures, creating a dramatic contrast while incorporating a watery tone.

Choosing the right tile for your bathroom

Every type of tile has its pros and cons, so there will always be one that is perfect for your bathroom. Understanding your needs is the key to finding the right fit.

If you prefer a less expensive option, consider ceramic tiles first. When money is no object, then you might consider opting for one of the natural stones for your bespoke bathroom. Easy cleaning can be found in both ceramic and glass tiles. Varying levels of timelessness and modernity can be found in all types of tiles, and the right one for you will perfectly balance all of your needs.

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