An Introduction to Natural Stone

Written by creatingyourspace on . Posted in Tile and Natural Stone

What’s under your feet impacts life under your roof. The various floor coverings throughout your home influence interior beauty, design, décor, comfort, upkeep – life itself. From ancient monuments like the pyramids in Egypt and the majestic Greek and Roman temples, to the great civilizations of India and China, natural stone has been an important part of architecture throughout history.    Natural stone is strong and stable to live with. It exudes a rich, organic, beautiful surface and has a confident, timeless “presence” in any room. It is the world’s oldest building material — imagine its beauty and elegance in your new home or remodeling project.

  • process began millions of years ago, deep beneath the earth’s surface
  • combination of heat and pressure creates blocks of natural stone
  • types include granite, marble, travertine, limestone, and slate
  • the earth’s crust grows and erodes and pushes minerals up from its core, forming massive rock deposits, called “quarries”
  • quarries found in countries throughout the world such as Italy, China, Spain, India, Canada, Mexico and also here in the United States
  • more expensive than ceramic tile
  • requires more maintenance than ceramic
  • increases home value more than ceramic
  • large selection to choose from


Natural Stone Maintenance

Written by creatingyourspace on . Posted in Tile and Natural Stone

In a way, Mother Nature has taken care of your natural stone flooring for millions of years. Now it’s your turn. Here’s what you need to know about caring for your beautiful natural stone today and maintaining its timeless look for many tomorrows. Plus, knowing what’s expected of you regarding upkeep can be a determining factor in which type of natural flooring you choose to buy. Get to know exactly how to take care of your natural stone investment and it will reward you and your home for many years to come. Time spent caring for your stone floors will help maintain its classic beauty and unique personality for years to come.

  • Use walk-off mats or area rugs on either side of exterior entrances.
  • Choose a mat with a non slip backing.
  • Mats need to be kept clean.
  • Sand, dirt and grit do the most damage to natural stone surfaces.
  • Floors should be dust mopped frequently
  • Damp mop your natural stone floor.
  • Do not use any acids with vinegar or household cleaners.
  • Do not use products that contain lemon juice, vinegar or other acids.
  • Avoid using products that contain abrasive cleaners, cleansers (dry or soft) or any ammonia-based cleaners.
  • Do not use retail grout cleaners, scouring powders or bathroom tub and tile cleaners on your stone.
  • Don’t mix bleach and ammonia.
  • Rinse the floor thoroughly and dry the surface with a soft, clean cloth.
  • Always blot spills immediately.
  •  Vacuum cleaner attachments are also useful for hard to reach areas.
  • To remove algae or moss from your stone in outdoor pool, patio or hot tub areas, flush with clear water and use a mild bleach solution.
  • Call on your local retailer to suggest specialty products designed for use on your stone floors.
  • It is your responsibility to properly maintain caulking in heavy water-use areas.
  • Take care when moving heavy objects across your stone floor.
  • Cover furniture and table legs with protectors to guard your floor against damage.
  • Each stone has different levels of susceptibility to staining.
  •  Sealing your stone is a must.
  • If you accidentally damage or stain your floor, products are available that may resolve your problem.


Natural Stone — Before You Buy, Read This!

Written by creatingyourspace on . Posted in Tile and Natural Stone

In our last post we introduced what you need to know before buying natural stone.  Here’s the rest!


  • lines are typically filled depending on the stone tile itself
  • can be thinner than ceramic tile installations
  • can match, contrast or coordinate with your stone tile
  • will outline each tile creating a visual picture frame
  • to be less noticeable, select a grout that is close in color to the stone
  • contrasting grout color, either darker or lighter, will make the grout lines more visible and thereby will create a checkerboard effect
  • colors installed can be slightly different from the sample
  • even when the same color is used,  common to see slight differences between the grout in adjacent rooms
  • exact layouts, type of grout and grout joint widths are determined by our tile setter at the time of installation and are governed by the actual size and shape of the tile, and the exact dimensions of the areas to be covered


  • highly recommended
  • should be performed by  professionals
  • makes it less porous, more stain resistant, and protects the stone
  • different types of sealer
  • once flooring is installed, you are responsible for maintaining all caulked areas

Entire cost of ownership

The material “cost per square foot” of your stone flooring is just one component of the entire project cost. To ensure there are no surprises, and the stone you select fits within your overall project budget, be sure to ask us to calculate the total cost of your floor covering project. Here’s a list of potential additional expenses you may incur:

  1. furniture removal/replacement
  2. demolition/disposal of old floor covering
  3. sub-floor preparation
  4. product delivery
  5. stone installation
  6. materials required to complete the installation

In addition to the total project cost, you should also know the cost of annual cleanings to maintain the beauty and life of your new stone floor. Also, consult the manufacturer’s warranty and care guide for directions on how frequently the stone should be cleaned and the cost to clean it.


Natural Stone — Before You Buy, Read This! Part 1

Written by creatingyourspace on . Posted in Tile and Natural Stone

Learn all you can before buying stone for your home. In this section we’ve laid down what we know and what you should consider before making your buying decision. Because knowledge about stone specifics and characteristics, about its traits and subtle differences, can be invaluable.  Choosing the best stone for your home is really about knowing the right combination of characteristics, aesthetics, performance and budget to best meet the needs of your lifestyle.

  • no two pieces are ever the same
  • natural characteristics: color, veining and markings, hardness and porosity
  • floor begins with giant pieces of stone that are mined from the earth
  • transported to factories where they are cut into thin slabs
  • each slab is different, displaying the affects of the physical course of its ancient history
  • each tile cut from the same slab might look completely different from the next
  • veining and crystallization may be abundant in one, yet non-existent in another
  • variations are to be expected and enjoyed
  • samples you view in the showroom can have completely different veining patterns or color variations compared to the stone we will install in your home
  • is not possible for you to hand select each tile of your natural stone
  • if you are concerned about the final appearance, work with a sales associate to preview a dye lot sample of the actual tile to be installed, prior to final installation
  • irregular markings, lines, veins and crystallization are not cracks or imperfections
  •  if you select a combination of natural stone products, of the same color and type of stone, they will not match
  • no natural stone tile will have a perfectly smooth surface
  • may be small chips or pits that may be apparent in different lighting
  • will vary more in thickness, squareness and length
  • once installed, it will not be a perfectly smooth surface from tile to tile
  • varies in hardness, which is the scratch resistance of a mineral
  • talc is the softest mineral and diamond is the hardest
  • consider what types of activities will be taking place where the stone is installed
  • do not install a soft, porous type of stone in a high traffic area


How Tile Is Made Part 2

Written by creatingyourspace on . Posted in Tile and Natural Stone

5 classes:

Class 1: no foot traffic

  • interior wall applications only and not for the floor

Class 2: light traffic

  • interior wall applications and for residential bathroom flooring only

Class 3: light to moderate traffic

  • for residential floor and wall applications including bathrooms, kitchens, foyers, dining rooms and family rooms

Class 4: moderate to heavy traffic

  • residential, medium commercial and light industrial floor and wall applications including shopping malls, offices, restaurant dining rooms, showrooms and hallways

Class 5: heavy/extra heavy traffic

  • can be installed anywhere

Slip Resistance Rating

  • measured by its Coefficient of Friction (COF)
  • higher the COF the more slip resistant the tile
  •  important  for areas that get wet

Other ratings

  • scratch resistance
  • moisture absorption
  • chemical resistance
  • breaking strength


How Tile Is Made Part 1

Written by creatingyourspace on . Posted in Tile and Natural Stone

Being familiar with ceramic tile construction helps you understand and evaluate its performance aspects: why certain ceramic tile floors wear better and longer. The main ingredients of ceramic tile and its general manufacturing process have not changed that much throughout the centuries.  All ceramic tiles are created from natural products extracted from the earth that are shaped into tiles and then fired in kilns at extremely high temperatures.

2 main types of tile construction:


  • from the side, see 2 layers
  • body – called the bisque
  • top layer – called the glaze
  • hard non-porous, impermeable surface after firing
  • more stain resistant than unglazed
  • easy to clean
  • consider for areas like the kitchen and baths


  • solid colored all the way through
  • do not have a top layer of glaze
  • referred to as through-body construction
  • no additional surface applications
  • more dense and durable than glazed
  • suitable for interior and exterior applications
  • good for areas with kids

There are 5 steps in the ceramic tile manufacturing process:


  • process begins with the mining of the raw materials
  • mixture composed of clay and minerals

Blending and Mixing

  • introduces mud into the mix
  • clay and mineral mixture blended and mixed into a semi-fine powder
  • water is added to form a wet slurry or mud-like consistency
  • the slurry is pumped into a large dryer
  • result- fine clay powder that feels like warm, fine sand


  • applies pressure to the process
  • clay is pressed or formed into a tile shape
  • pressed tiles are called green tiles
  • another method called extrusion-replaces the pressing step
  • extruded tiles-formed by forcing the clay through a mold versus pressing the tile
  • pressing is the more common method used today
  • after the green tiles are formed they are dried


If the tile is to remain unglazed it skips this step and goes directly to the firing kiln.

  • liquid is prepared from a glass derivative called frit and colored dyes
  • applied by a high-pressure spray or poured onto the tile


  • fired in the kiln at temperatures around 2,000 degrees Fahrenheit
  • monocoturra tile or single fired -tiles that are fired once after the glaze is applied
  • biocuttura or double fired- first fired after the green tile is dried and  fired again after the glaze is applied

Alternative- porcelain

  • made up of 50% feldspar
  • fired at a much higher temperature
  • harder and denser
  • high performance
  • low water absorption ratings of less than 0.5 percent
  • can be used for interior and exterior applications or commercial areas

After the finished tiles have been inspected for quality assurances, they are packaged, crated and ready to be shipped.


  • not all ceramic tile is suitable for each area of your home
  • tile on your kitchen backsplash may not be recommended for installation on the floor

Rating System

  • rating system provided
  • rating system found on samples or boxes
  • most common system rates ceramic tile abrasion resistance or the overall durability of the tile

Tile Maintenance

Written by creatingyourspace on . Posted in Tile and Natural Stone

Sooner or later, time and traffic, life and living, will take its toll on any floor covering. Ceramic tile is no exception.But take heart, keeping your tile as clean and beautiful as its first days in your home just takes know-how. In fact, understanding the best methods to care for your ceramic flooring will help maintain its beauty and keep it close to its original condition. Plus, knowing what’s expected of you regarding upkeep can be a determining factor in which type of ceramic tile to purchase. Knowing how to care for and maintain your ceramic floor will help keep your investment beautiful, durable and a source of pride for years to come.

  • It’s important to sweep a tile floor regularly.
  • Use walk-off mats at all exterior entrances.
  • Remember to shake the mats often to remove the dirt.
  • Ceramic tile floors should be damp-mopped regularly using the manufacturer’s recommended grout and tile cleaners.
  • Textured tiles may require mild scrubbing with a soft brush or electric polisher/scrubber.
  • For soft water situations you may need to use an all-purpose cleaner.
  • Use cleaning products available from your local grocery store or flooring retailer for heavier cleaning tasks.
  • Consult the cleaning product’s instructions to make sure the cleaning product is compatible with your type of tile.
  • After cleaning, rinse well and wipe dry
  • Avoid using steel wool, scouring powders, or other abrasives.
  • Don’t use bleach or ammonia based cleaners.
  • Do not clean glazed tile with oil-based cleaners.
  • Try to clean up spills as quickly as possible.
  • Tile can crack under extreme force or pressure.
  • Take the proper precautions when moving heavy objects across your tile floor.
  • Cover furniture and table legs with protectors.
  • Keep extra tiles after the installation.
  • Areas exposed to water need to be caulked on a regular basis.
  • Seal your grout for added protection.
  • Grout colorants are available for stained, damaged or undesired colored grout.
  •  Consult the manufacturers’ recommendations.


Before You Buy Tile — Read This

Written by creatingyourspace on . Posted in Tile and Natural Stone

Smart shoppers take their time and collect all the facts before making a decision. Especially when it comes to the finishes you put in your home. Choosing the best ceramic tile for your home is really about knowing the right combination of characteristics, aesthetics, performance and budget to best meet the needs of your lifestyle.

The beauty of ceramic tile is the flexibility you have with design options, especially through the use of the accent pieces: trim work and decorative tiles.

Steps for trim work and decorative tile use

  • identify the room and its application
  • select the type of tile
  • then its color and shade
  • then its texture and size
  • finally, a layout pattern is designed
  • the trim and decorative patterns are determined
  • grout color and type are chosen

Floor Tile Trims


  • one rounded finished edge on the tile for a finishing
  • sometimes it is also used as a substitute for cove base

Corner Bullnose

  • two rounded finished edges on the tile to be used to complete a corner

Sanitary Cove Base

  • rounded finished top like a bullnose to cover up the body of the tile

Color, texture and shading

  • tiles are intended to show color and texture variations
  • glaze also varies, different tile styles will also exhibit different gloss levels
  • solid color tiles provide a consistent look
  • shade variation is inherent in all fired ceramic products
  • certain tiles will show greater variation within their dye lots
  • shade variation is usually listed on the back label of each sample
  • low, moderate, high or random rating
  • color of the body of the tile is determined by the color of the clay
  • quality of the tile is more related to the quality of the manufacturer, not the color of the body
  • color variations will also be present between manufacturers’ samples

Low (V1). Consistent shade and texture

Moderate (V2)

  • moderate shade and texture variation

High (V3)

  • high shade and texture variation

Random (V4)

  • high shade and texture variation

Moisture absorption and tile density

As the composition of glaze varies, different styles of tile will exhibit different gloss levels and surface textures. This is important to note when choosing your ceramic tile flooring. For example, in areas that are used while wet, such as your shower or bathroom floor, they should have low moisture absorption and good slip resistance.

Moisture Absorption

  • as the density of the tile increases, the amount of moisture that tile can absorb becomes less

Tile Density

  • as the weight or the density of the tile increases, it becomes a stronger tile
  • density of the tile increases the moisture absorption rate becomes less

Non-Vitreous Tiles

  • tiles that absorb 7% or more moisture
  • suited for indoor use only

Semi-Vitreous Tiles

  • tiles that absorb from 3% to 7% moisture
  • applicable for indoor use only

Vitreous Tiles

  • tiles that absorb less that 3% moisture
  • referred to as frost resistant tiles
  • cannot be used in exterior areas where freeze
  • thaw conditions could cause tile cracking

Impervious Tiles

  • tiles that have less than .5% moisture absorption
  • frost proof
  • can be used in exterior areas or on the outside of building facades


  • typically mixed on site
  • slight color variations can occur within different areas of the same installation with the same grout color
  • can vary from the manufacturer’s sample
  • attributed to variations in temperature and humidity at the time of grouting
  • common to see grout variations when comparing the grout color in a tile floor and the same grout color on the tile countertop or wall
  • select a color that blends in with the overall color of the tile to minimize the appearance of the grout
  • select a grout color that is lighter or darker than the tile
  • in high traffic areas, you may want to select a darker grout
  • exact layouts, type of grout and grout joints widths are determined by the tile setter at the time of installation and are governed by the actual size and shape of the tile, and the exact dimensions of the areas to be covered
  • your responsibility to maintain all caulked areas
  • may also darken over time in areas with heavy water use
  • changes of season can cause cracking and separation


  • no subfloors are perfectly level
  • may hear hollow sounds where your subfloor’s surface dips and ridges
  • that this does not affect the integrity or installation
  • hollow sounds are normal and are not considered defect

Cost of ownership – Potential additional expenses

  1. Furniture removal/replacement
  2. Demolition/disposal of old floor covering
  3. Subfloor preparation
  4. Product delivery
  5. Ceramic tile installation
  6. Materials required to complete the installation


Create a Jewel Box Bathroom

Written by creatingyourspace on . Posted in Bathroom, Design and Decorating, Kitchen and Bath, Tile and Natural Stone

DSC_0067Every room in your home deserves your design attention. One often ignored space is the small guest bath. It’s time to open your eyes to the possibilities this room offers.

To begin, consider this room as an opportunity to experiment with a look, color or style that seems too daring for one of the other rooms in your home. This room also gives you a chance to spend more per square foot than other rooms – the space is so small that the overall cost of a more expensive choice won’t break your budget.

How about stepping over to the specialty tile section? Trim tile and backsplashes can really liven up a small bath. For flooring, even a high-end option will only cost a few hundred dollars. Consider a pedestal sink – the extra visible floor makes the room feel larger.

Choose a unique and coordinating mirror and light fixture. If your taste is modern, find something avant garde to catch the eye. For a more traditional look, don’t be afraid to use a small crystal chandelier in this room – maybe something with a light that will create a pattern on the walls.

Remember to keep everything focused and coordinated. Eclectic is not the best style choice for this small a space. You might want to consider one special accessory to make the bath feel extra special. Turn your boring bath into something special, with the jewel box approach.

How to Showcase Your Floor With Tile Patterns

Written by creatingyourspace on . Posted in Design and Decorating, Floors, Hints, Tips and Advice, Kitchen and Bath, Tile and Natural Stone, Tips and Advice

There are so many choices when it comes to designing and laying floor tile.  So how do you determine what pattern and style is best for your space?  Is your space small, large, narrow or wide? These are all things to keep in mind when choosing a tile design.

Screen Shot 2013-05-30 at 2.49.55 PM Diagonal: Tiles are set at a 45% angle. This type of design makes a room look larger and longer. If you choose this design make sure you buy extra tiles (approx. 15% more) because of the angles and cuts more material is usually needed.

Screen Shot 2013-05-30 at 2.50.11 PMStraight lay: This is the most common way of laying tile and looks good in any room. This is an easier design needing less cuts and material.

Screen Shot 2013-05-30 at 2.48.16 PMHerringbone. This pattern is very stylish and adds an elegant visual texture to any floor and will make a short hallway look longer.  To spice up the bathroom use this pattern on the wall installing to “chair rail” level. Framing the pattern with brick size tiles going vertical is a great finishing touch

Screen Shot 2013-05-30 at 2.53.15 PMModular: This design has three of more different size tiles to form a pattern. If using more than one type of tile be sure they all share the same thickness.

Screen Shot 2013-05-30 at 2.50.31 PMBrick:  Using a brick pattern with ceramic or the real deal, “brick”, is one of the easiest patterns to install and can be more economical.  This pattern looks great in a kitchen, use on the floors or as a backsplash.

For an added “pop” use a smaller accent tile such as a square or diamond. These can be placed randomly throughout your design. When choosing a grout color pick something that has the same tones as your tile. You may want to lean towards a darker color, which can be easier to keep clean. Most flooring retailers have displays in their show rooms so you can shop and compare!