Identifying Types of Tiles

To clean tiles correctly you need to first know what types of tiles you are cleaning. Different types of tiles require different methods of cleaning and sealing. All Aces has the expertise to easily and correctly identify your floor tiles and get the job done.

Natural Stone

Igneous Rock

Sample of Igneous Rock

This is a crystalline rock formed when magma cools and become solid, either underground or after erupting to the surface as lava. Cooled slowly underground the crystals are quite large enough for the naked eye to make them out, but when it cools much more quickly on the surface the crystals formed are microscopic.


Sample of Basalt Rock

This is an opaque black or dark grey glass form of igneous rock that occurs when the cooling is exceptionally fast. It is usually used in highway and rail road construction as an aggregate or ballast, or in tiles and block work.


Sample of Granite tile

At the other extreme, when cooling is very slow and underground, the igneous rock called granite is formed. Up to 80% of granite is composed of coarse quartz grains, sodium feldspar and potassium feldspar, with the rest being other minerals such as hornblende and mica. Granite appears in many colours and is dense and very durable, and this along with its exceptional resistance to abrasion has made it very popular in commercial building construction around the world. It is also a popular material for both residential and commercial bathroom and kitchen counter tops and flooring due to its ability to be Flamed, Polished or Honed.

Sedimentary Rock

Sample of Sedimentary tiles

Sediment consists of particles of sand, silt and clay that become worn off of other rocks, which are turned into rock themselves by being compacted by the immense pressure of weight of the rest of the earth’s crust when it is buried. The particles vary in size from sand, which is the largest, to clay, the smallest. If there are pebbles mixed in, the sediment is called gravel. Sometimes the sediment is turned into rock by a cementing action caused by dissolved material in water, and when both compacting and cementing affect the sediment at the same time, sandstone is formed.


Sample of Limestone tiles

About a tenth of all the sedimentary rock in the world is limestone, and it is mostly composed of calcium carbonate. It appears most often when lime builds up in the seas and oceans and then is washed ashore and left to dry out. It is commonly used in architecture, especially in Europe and North America, although particular care needs to be taken with it since it is acid sensitive. Many great landmarks are made of limestone, such as the pyramids in Egypt.


Photo of Travertine tiles in bathroom

Travertine is a form of limestone usually found deposited near rivers and hot springs. Impurities in the stone such as iron compounds can cause it to be beautifully banded and coloured, and it is also a very popular material for use in architecture. Apart from its acid sensitivity, it tends to bleach in sunlight, but this doesn’t stop it being used in exterior décor as well as for interior uses such as bath and shower surrounds.


Sample of sandstone tiles

Sandstone is the most common sedimentary rock in the world and, since it is resistant to weathering and easy to work, it is another very popular building material. It is formed mostly from tiny quartz grains that are cemented with other minerals such as iron oxide, silica, hematite, feldspar, mica, ilmenite and clay. These impurities cause it to appear in a whole range of colours in shades of yellow, orange and brown. It can be carved, cut and polished, and is even used for pool coping once sealed and if correct guidelines are met.


Sample of marble tiles

Marble is an example of both sedimentary and metamorphic rock; it is formed from limestone (sedimentary) that is affected by extremely high heat and/or pressure (metamorphism) and is one of the strongest and most dense stones in existence. Since it is also one of the most beautiful, with a huge variety of colour variations and a highly polished finish, it is used for just about everything from counter tops to pillars and flooring to panelling.


Sample of slate tiles

Another sedimentary rock affected by metamorphism, slate forms when shale-type rock composed of volcanic ash or clay is acted on by mild metamorphism. It is often made into tiles since it splits easily into flat leaves of rock, and these tiles are used for flooring, wall cladding and roofing among many other uses. Most slate is grey, but it can occur in many other colours. Tiles are often sold pre-prepared for installation by being gauged – having the backs ground ready – or chemically sealed to make them more stain resistant and durable.

Metamorphic Rock

Sample of metamorphic tiles

This is a rock that is changed by great heat or great pressure. The pressure can be caused by the plates of the earth’s crust rubbing against each other, or simply by the great weight of this crust pressing down on rock that is buried deep below the surface. The nearer to the earth’s molten core, of course, the greater the temperature, so deeply buried rock is baked by the high temperatures either through this or by contact with magma moving up towards the surface. The magma can also release liquids and gases that cause chemical changes in the rock it passes, eg marble.

Man-made Materials


Sample of terracotta tiles

Meaning ‘dried earth’ in Italian, this is formed by shaping chunks of refined clay into the desired items and firing them to hardness. The resulting items can be glazed to seal them, but if left unglazed it remains slightly porous and it is easily cracked or broken. It is generally available in various shades of orange, red and brown, according to what metal and/or mineral particles are in the clay. It is very popular for bricks and roof tiles because it is relatively simple and cheap to produce, and also among sculptors and potters.


Sample of porcelain tiles

These ceramic tiles are generally made by firing a fine white clay called Kaolin at temperatures of between 1200 and 1400 degrees centigrade. They often come glazed and are almost completely non-porous and very durable, so they are used in heavy wear areas such as walls and flooring, and where the tiles are required to be waterproof, such as in baths and showers.


Sample of concrete tiles

To make concrete, cement is mixed with materials such as slag cement and fly ash, along with aggregates like limestone, granite or gravel, a fine aggregate such as sand, and water. It has always been popular for driveways, floor bases, etc due to its durability and is now often found as a decorative flooring in its own right when polished.

Polished Concrete

Sample of polished concrete tiles

This is created by treating concrete with chemical densifiers and grinding it so finely that it becomes smooth and shiny. It has all the benefits of concrete such as strength, durability and making use of available materials, added to which are the beauty of the finish and its ease of cleaning.

Retaining Walls

Sample of a retaining wall

A use of rock rather than a type, these are made of whatever materials are to hand, from masonry to brick and concrete and steel to timber as well as the various types of rock. They give support against very steep grade changes, prevent downward movement on slopes and generally hold back whatever is behind them.