An important decision when choosing your tiles is the actual material they are made of and their suitability for your project. Tile materials have different properties and this is especially important when considering natural stone products.
Like most types of natural stone, the formation of marble makes it an incredibly durable material which can stand the test of time. It's one of the most porous natural materials so sealing your newly-laid tiles with a stone-specific treatment will help prevent any stains or scratches.
Known for its opulent aesthetic, marble has always been an awe-inspiring material however with its muted tones and sleek finish marble can be very adaptable to different interior schemes. Incorporating marble touches in geometric and linear formats will create a more industrial look when combined with rustic woods and coppery metallics.
The Travertine dream
Usually found in a rustic country kitchen, travertine is known for its distinct earthy look due to the naturally-formed pits and voids in the tile's surface. Recent technological advances mean that travertine has been modernised; now available in sleek plank formats and cut on the vein to mimic the look of driftwood, travertine now works well in modern settings too. Its incredible durability makes it ideal for use in busy areas such as hallways and kitchens and when used with a darker grout can hide a multitude of sins.
Travertine is usually rated by a star system to denote the quality and finish of the material. Three starred products offer great value with darker variation and more distinctive pits and voids for an antiqued look. At the other end of the scale, five starred products are superior in quality which means a lighter tile which has minimal surface filling creating a denser and less porous tile. Whichever grading you choose, make sure to seal your product to protect the stone and prevent stains and scratches.
Go all-out with Granite
Formed by excessive volcanic temperatures close to the Earth's core, it comes as no surprise that granite is one of the most hard-wearing, durable materials on the market. Its formation process also makes it an intricately beautiful rock that rarely depreciates over time, no matter what is thrown at it.
As one of the most desirable materials, granite may not be the cheapest option available but you really do get what you pay for – an unusual, one-of-a-kind feature that will stand the test of time. Make granite work in a contemporary setting by taking it from the living area through to the outdoors for one streamlined, continuous area.
It's now all about nature…
Natural stone seems to be at the top of most people's wish list when it comes to choosing their surfaces; however that's not to say that man-made materials can't still offer many – if not more – benefits to your home. The tradition of creating ceramic tiles dates back centuries, and is the result of combining clay, sand and water, moulded into the desired shapes, glazed then baked in a kiln at extremely high temperatures.
In-line with their original purpose, ceramic tiles are ideal for adding pattern and texture to your décor. Opting for a geometric textured splash back or experimenting with different formats or colours can create a design statement in an otherwise minimalist space.
Win with Porcelain
Porcelain tiles are the ideal alternative to natural materials. This man-made material is as durable as many varieties of natural stone as well as having an incredibly low water absorbency. This means it lends itself well not only to damp environments around the home, such as in the bathroom, but also to use outside too – perfect for achieving the current trend for indoor/outdoor living.
With today's rapidly developing technologies, porcelain can now be made to look identical to its natural counterparts. So whether you're after marble, wood, slate or limestone, opting for this man-made material will give you the same desired and stylish finish at a fraction of the cost without the hassle of maintenance.