Ceramic Tile Countertops
Kitchen countertops are made from a variety of different materials ranging from stainless steel and marble to granite, but the most popular type of countertop material for kitchens today is ceramic tile. Ceramic tile is made from pressed clays that may be covered with metallic oxides, ceramic stains, a matte surface, or a glaze. Ceramic tiles are offered in a variety of colors and styles and they can be cut into just about any shape you can imagine with the proper ceramic tile cutting tools.
The Benefits of Ceramic Tiles
Ceramic tile is a popular choice for many reasons. It offers the lowest long-term cost of any alternative product, and most ceramic tiles are resistant to scratches and heat as well as stains and water. Ceramic tiles are resistant to mildew, and they are allergy-free, meaning smoke, fumes, and germs won't penetrate them. Unglazed ceramic tiles are durable as well, but unlike glazed tiles, they must be sealed if they are being used around water.
Ceramic Tiles and the Use of Grout
No matter what type of tile or design you choose, once your creation is complete, the spaces between the ceramic tiles should be filled with epoxy grout. Epoxy grout is one of the strongest types of grout on the market today. Not only is it hard and virtually stain proof, in many cases the bond between the ceramic tiles is stronger than the actual tile. Conventional grout maybe used, but it's not as durable and it stains easily.
Texture and Shade of Ceramic Tiles
Besides durability and strength, another important characteristic of ceramic tiles is texture. Textured ceramic tiles are categorized as "tactile" or "visual." Tactile texture means the tile looks like the natural product, but the texture can be felt. Visual texture means the ceramic tile has a smooth, flat surface, but the look of texture is created through shade variation and/or color. A popular shade variation look is "stone tile." Depending on the type of kitchen design, in addition to countertops, ceramic tile can also be used for trim or backsplashes.
Ratings and Types of Ceramic Tiles
Depending on use, there are four basic wear ratings for ceramic tile. Class 1 is for walls only, class 2 can be used for light residential applications, class 3 is appropriate for all residential and light commercial applications and class 4 works for all residential and commercial applications. There are many different types of ceramic tiles for kitchens ranging from inexpensive standard ceramic tiles to imported, antique, or hand painted ceramic tiles.