When a homeowner is ready to remodel and replace the flooring in their house, they face a number of choices. If a tile floor is on the list, then the selections can be narrowed down to natural stone and man-made materials. Each has its place in the home and it often comes down to budget and personal preference. When shopping for floor tiles for that next remodeling project, here are some points to consider when looking at both stone and manufactured products.

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Natural Stone Flooring

Marble, granite and limestone have long been the favorites for homeowners who want the warmth of a natural material. Stone tiles can add a luxurious look to any room. There are several characteristics of natural stone to think about when shopping for these tiles.

Price. Natural stone tiles are often the most expensive of the materials available. However, when properly maintained, stone can last the lifetime of the home.

Appearance. Stone tiles can be left natural or polished to a high gloss. Most stone has variations in color and contrast throughout the tile which creates a striking look in a large area. This can also prove to be an inconvenience such as when a tile cracks in the middle of the room and a suitable match is hard to find.

Durability. Stone varies from soft (soapstone) to hard (granite), so the homeowner needs to know what activities will take place on the tile floor to select the right material. Marble and granite wear the best in high-traffic areas. Soapstone and limestone do better in bathrooms and areas with less constant activity.

Maintenance. Some stone can scratch easily and must be sealed regularly to protect it from damage. However, dark granite tile is very hard and rarely needs to be sealed. Mild soap solutions should be used when cleaning stone, as some materials can be damaged by harsh household cleansers.

Man-Made Flooring

Homeowners may be drawn to these materials due to their lower price than natural stone. However, there are several other elements to consider.

Appearance. Man-made tiles can be polished or left with a matte finish. Designs range from the look of marble and granite to real wood. Cultured marble is a man-made material with veins of color running through the tile. But ceramic and porcelain tiles have uniform color and contrast throughout the tile making it easy to replace when cracked.

Durability. Ceramic tiles work well in high-traffic areas and rooms with high-humidity. Some tiles made by combining crusted quartz with a resin binder are as durable as natural stone. Porcelain tiles hold up to traffic and are heat resistant.

Maintenance. Man-made materials tend to be easier to keep clean and less likely to be damaged by repeated scrubbing with household cleansers.

Price. Most man-made flooring is less expensive than natural stone. Some tiles, especially composite materials designed to look just like stone, are a pricier option in this category.

Flooring selection ultimately comes down to the personal preference of the homeowner. Knowing the differences between natural and man-made tiles can assist in making the ideal choice.

Photo Credit: Iriana Shiyan

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