Q. A friend told me that I should buy porcelain tile because the color goes all the way through. This way, if I chip something, it won’t show. Is this true?

A. That’s not always the case. There are two common types of porcelain tile, “through-body” and “Glazed”. Both types are solid dense porcelain “ceramic” tiles. Both tiles are made from compressed clay and baked in a kiln at high temperatures.

Porcelain tile in general is freeze/thaw stable and for exterior use. It is very durable for both heavy duty commercial and residential use. Porcelain tile is chip resistant and moisture resistant. That’s where the similarity ends.

Through-body porcelain tile refers to porcelains where the composition of the tile goes all the way through the tile. There are many manufacturing techniques for finishing these tiles, however they are typically considered unglazed. The surface may be polished, honed or textured.

Glazed porcelain tile refers to porcelain tile where the surface of the tile is “glazed”. It may be a color coat, clear coat or both. These types have excellent durability, but not as durable as the through-body porcelain for heavy commercial floor applications. The composition of these tiles may be a white body, color matched or combination of techniques.

You will find a large selection of styles in both categories.

Q. This stone I bought has veins, fissures, and filled holes. It’s defective, right? 

A. No way. Marble, granite and limestone are natural materials that are quarried from the earth. They are fabricated into tiles or slabs in factories but they are totally natural. Stones are comprised of different minerals that formed together millions of years ago. Veining, holes and fissures should be there and occurred naturally in the formation. With some stones, factories do use filler and resins to make the stone a workable material for tiles and slabs. Stones that show heavy color variation and a movement effect in the veining may well contain more fissures and less uniformity in pattern. This is simply part of the unique beauty of nature and a desirable characteristic.

Q. The tile for my bathroom should be porcelain, right? 

A. Not necessarily. Porcelain is a type of ceramic with a very dense and hard body. It is an essential choice for any commercial, heavily trafficked floor and usually a superior choice for residential kitchen use. But there will be no difference in performance between porcelain and regular ceramic in residential bathroom applications. You may needlessly be limiting your choices if you only select from porcelain.

Q. Honed marble shouldn’t be used in wet areas, right? 

A. Wrong. When properly sealed, honed and tumbled stone is fine in wet areas.  It is no less strong or stainable than a polished stone.

Q. Ceramic and porcelain tile can crack or chip, right? 

A. Improper installation is the common cause of cracking. Materials today are better than ever and it takes a very dense object to crack a tile. Appropriate setting materials must be used and proper sub flooring preparation must be done.