There are a lot of similarities between natural stone tiles and the various natural stone materials that are available. They are both hard-surface flooring options that are highly durable and water-resistant and can last for many years in numerous environments. The key difference is in the melted glass glaze that can be applied to ceramics to protect them from damage and stains. Ceramic tile also can be manufactured to mimic the look of other materials, such as wood, glass, metal, and, yes, natural stone.
Natural Stone Tile
Mountain-born stone comprises a variety of specific materials, each of which has unique properties and characteristics.
The hardest and densest construction-grade stone material, granite can be polished smooth, honed flat, or left in a naturally gauged state. While it is resistant to stains and water penetration, it is somewhat porous and should be sealed after installation, to protect both the tiles and the grout lines between them.
Almost as hard as granite, slate is a striated material that consists of layers of flat, hard-packed stone that are compressed by the weight of the earth into solid pieces. This gives the material a very strong structure, making it resistant to cracks and breaks. However, it is prone to some chipping on tile edges. Naturally porous, like all stones, slate should be chemically sealed after installation, with periodic reapplication recommended for best effect.
Limestone offers moderate density and strength and is porous (must be sealed). It tends to weather well, taking on an aged, antique look over time, reminiscent of classical stone structures.
An extremely porous material, sandstone needs to be treated with multiple applications of a quality penetrating sealer and a surface sealer on a regular basis. Sandstone is generally not recommended in bathrooms and other humid or wet environments