For some it's cars, others prefer clothing, food, cruises, watches... For me it's Tiles! I absolutely LOVE Tiles! Like a kid in the chocolate factory I enter CERSAIE [International Tiles Fair in Bologna] every year with excitement and I even loose weight by walking kilometres every day (YES, amazing right?) I'm there to see, touch and learn all that the tiling industry has on show. The classical options in walls and flooring are stone, wood and ceramics and choosing what suits your home depends on the look you want to achieve, the durability, the location and home style and of course your budget. The many options available in Porcelain over recent times has made it one of the most popular materials for floor covering, because of its durability and ability to offer virtually any texture and look you may be after. Yes, any look, from replicating wood or stone to being printed with any image of your choice. The possibilities with porcelain options are immense, and although I admit to also loving natural stone, for this post I'll focus on the benefits and options available with marble-looking tiles.
It is impossible to number how many kinds of marble exist as being naturally formed over time, the types are many and their look can vary even even within two pieces from the same quarry. The uniformity is one reason porcelain tiles are often preferred over natural stone as it allows a more consistent look throughout a home. Also being almost 100% non-porous, porcelain tiles are less prone to staining than marble, and of course a big benefit is price, as they are also cheaper to purchase and lay. Not last, marble look porcelain tiles are available in many sizes from small mosaics to large oversized sheets of 3 meters in length which can come as thin as 3.5 millimetres, assisting with transport and installation.
Popular this year at the International Tile Fair was the offer of terrazzo style flooring, being traditionally a composite of chips, using a selection of natural stone, glass, granite and quartz with a cementitious binder. It can be poured on site then ground and polished smooth for a uniform look, or pre-made and laid as tiles, which is a quicker and slighting cheaper option. This kind of floor seems to find its origin in ancient Greece, but made glamorous a few hundreds years ago in Venetian architecture where it grew from its humble start as low cost flooring to became very popular and being embraced into the building of noble palaces. Nowadays, the porcelain tiles can also perfectly reproduce this look as you can see from the images below, offering an alternative to the more laborious manufacture techniques and opening up many options for its use.
Besides looks, porcelain tiles vary in size, thickness and density, to suit different demands; I'll talk more about this in the future, but to conclude I want to show a few images from a marble quarry of Roman origins which had been abandoned for centuries. This stone was very exciting for me to see when I took a trip to MARMOMAC, the International Stone Fair in Verona.
Having been lost in time, used only for a couple of hundred years and then forgotten again in the early 1900s, it has been just recently brought back to life from its forgotten state, covered in bush and water by mother nature. The Grand Antique d'Aubert, a rich dark stone with a stunning white vein, has been employed in some of the most precious historical buildings over time including Hagia Sofia in Istanbul, St Peters in Rome and more recently for the facade of the new flagship Bulgari stores, and it is to me one of the most beautiful natural stones I have ever seen. The look of this one too has been duplicated by porcelain tiles.
Amazing! So...as you can see technology can recreate natural looking finishes, offering cost effective, some say more environmental options to the real thing, So what would you choose? Man-made or natural stone?
James Treble is an ambassador for Planet Ark and firmly believes in sensible purchasing, recycling and creative re-purposing. James Treble has more than 25 years of experience in the Building Industry, Real Estate and Interior Design. His knowledge and experience in adding value to homes, through clever design & styling, is now published for all to learn and benefit from. Interior Design For Profit is now available online.