Are you planning a home remodel project?

Maybe you need to update the flooring throughout your home or remodel your kitchen or bathroom? Today there are so many materials to choose from. The most popular in hard surfaces is natural stone, and porcelain, a man-made material. Many man-made materials look like natural stone, there are just a few differences to consider. Here are a few tips to help you decide which one you prefer.

What is the difference between natural stone tile vs. ceramic/porcelain tile?

Both materials are of excellent quality and durability. Natural stone is varied in color and no two pieces ever look the same. It is unique and timeless. Many ceramic/porcelain tiles are made to mimic natural stone. They are a bit controlled in the range and variation, however many people have difficulty distinguishing between natural stone and ceramic/porcelain tile due tot he advanced technology used today.

Natural stone will require periodic maintenance. It needs to be sealed once a year, and it is more expensive to install due to the fact that each piece has a different thickness, therefore it needs to be carefully installed by “floating” the material. Ceramic/porcelain tile requires no extended upkeep, is virtually maintenance free, and is less expensive to install.

How should I decide which type of product to use?

The application (for use in a bathroom shower, floor, etc.) and the traffic levels it will experience will determine the type of tile you should select. Be sure to research what the best application is for your remodel project – Is the design project you’re doing a residential or commercial remodel? There are different levels of wear and durability – ask your interior designer to direct you properly.

How big of a grout joint should be expected for tile/stone?

For non-rectified tiles, 1/8″ is the smallest grout joint we recommend for ceramic/porcelain tile. For stone that has a straight edge, 1/8″ to 1/16″ grout joint is recommended. If the stone is tumbled, then your grout joint will be larger. Many factors determine the size of the grout joint, therefore it is important to discuss this with your tile installer.

Will setting tile on a diagonal require more material?

Yes, typically more material is required when tile is set on a diagonal versus a straight-set. Approximately 20% should be allowed for a diagonal tile design. Standard rule of thumb is to order at least 10% on top of what you need to allow for cuts.

What is the best way to maintain my granite/marble/stone/tile?

For everyday cleaning, simply use a Ph-balanced natural stone cleaner to care for your stone. Natural stone needs to be sealed after installation. There are many sealers on the market that are made specifically for natural stone as well as companies that specialize in sealing and maintaining natural stone.

Should I be concerned about radon in granite?

No. Scientific studies have found that granite countertops pose no significant radon or radiation risk. While it is true that some types of granite do emit radon gas, the studies have shown that even the most active test samples of granite most commonly used in US countertops contribute emissions that are below the levels requiring EPA-recommended remediation. And most fall below what the EPA would consider “background levels” of radon.

Do I need to seal my granite countertops?

Yes, granite countertops should be sealed periodically. In a new installation, ask your installer if the countertop has been sealed and what product was used. If it has not been sealed, then use a penetrating sealer made for granite. Sealing granite will provide a barrier that will give you time to clean upa spill before it penetrates the stone. On average your granite surfaces should be sealed every one to three years. Higher traffic areas may need to be sealed more often.

How do I keep the grout clean?

Grout cleaners are available for stubborn stains. Remember to have your installer seal your grout after installation to keep a barrier from spills and stains.

How do I repair cracked tile or grout?

Cracked tile will need to be replaced. This is another reason to order additional tile to store in case one piece cracks. It’s also important to use material ordered from the same dye lot to ensure that the colors will match. Cracked grout can be removed with a grout saw and then re-grouted.

Can the holes in travertine be filled?

Yes, and it is recommended to fill the holes to prevent cracking in natural stone. When the installer sets your floor, they will fill the voids wiht the grout color of your choice.

If you need help selecting materials for your home or corporate office remodel, I’d love to help! There are many material options available today, so it can quickly become an overwhelming process. I will help you narrow down your options and make the overall process less stressful.

Audra Miller, ASID, CID www.audrainteriors.com

(714) 904-7431

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