Tiles have been used in construction for thousands of years. They are some of the most durable human artifacts, along with pottery. It’s precisely because of their tough and durable character that tiles are among the most popular flooring materials today. Tiles are the best flooring material for areas like kitchens and bathrooms that see heavy traffic and need to be cleaned frequently. Tile floors are easy to maintain and if, over the years, they lose their pristine look, tile floor restoration will make them as good as new.
Choosing a flooring material
Location is a major factor when choosing a flooring material. For high traffic areas, kitchens and bathrooms, hard flooring is the best choice. As many as 90% of homeowners choose tile or hardwood flooring for their kitchens. For bedrooms, carpeting creates a cozy and warm space.
Measured by their wholesale market share, the most popular floor covering categories are:
- Carpet and Areas Rugs: 52.1%
- Vinyl sheet and floor tile: 12.6%
- Ceramic Floor and Wall Tile: 12.5%
- Laminates: 4.8%
- Hardwood: 10.4%
- Stone: 5.9%
- Resilient materials like cork, rubber, linoleum: 1.6%
Some popular materials used for floor tiles are terrazzo, ceramic, stone, laminates and travertine.
Terrazzo is composed of chips of material like marble, glass, quartz or granite held together by a binding material. Terrazzo has a long history and was used by Venetian workmen to make the floors for their own dwellings using leftover materials. Nowadays terrazzo uses colored chips held in an epoxy resin. This is called thinset terrazzo, and tiles 1/4 to 3/8 of an inch thick are created by pouring the mixture onto the base.
Terrazz is still an ecofriendly and inexpensive material. When 100% recycled glass chips are used, it can contain up to 75% recycled raw material measured by volume.
Laminates recreate the natural look of wood and stone in a form that’s easy to maintain. They are popular on account of their versatility and the wide range of colors and styles they offer. With laminate tiles, cleaning is easy and when necessary, the tile floor restoration is quick and minimally disruptive.
Ceramic tiles are a popular choice for kitchens and bathrooms. In the U.S., ceramic tiles account for 12.5% of all floor coverings. In 2012, $18.76 billion dollars’ worth of ceramic tiles were sold in the U.S.
Ceramic tiles come in a range of colors and designs. Ceramic tile cleaning and maintenance is easy: most of the time a simple sweep up, mop or wipe with a damp cloth suffices.
Travertine is a naturally-occurring stone widely used in building since Roman times. Until recently all the travertine used in the world was supplied from Italy; now it is mined in a few other locations as well. It was used by the Romans for some of their most important buildings such as temples, aqueducts, monuments, and amphitheaters. The Colosseum and St. Peter’s Basilica are only two of the the most famous examples of the use of this material.
Travertine is sometimes called travertine marble but is actually a kind of limestone. It can be polished for a shiny finish, making it suitable for flooring. It comes in colors varying from coral to grey. In the U.S., about 0.85 million tons of travertine is used each year.
Maintenance and tile floor restoration
Tile floors are easy to maintain. Tile floor restoration experts recommend avoiding harsh chemicals for tile cleaning. A simple homemade mixture of one third white vinegar to two thirds water works well for tile and grout cleaning. If a tile floor is really worn and pitted, it’s best to call in the professionals. Tile floor restoration can replace missing or cracked and chipped tiles, clean up existing tiles and grout, and leave the floor looking like new.