Not all materials are created equally. Here you can learn about the differences in materials and how to get the best use out of them.
** Properties vary from material to material and manufacturer to manufacturer. Listed above are generalizations per category
**There are sealers for natural stones that can decrease the frequency of sealing and greatly improve the porosity
Porcelain is a type of ceramic, but it is created at a higher heat so it is stronger, less porous, and harder than normal ceramics. It is one of the least expensive options for flooring, and tiles are easily replaced if they crack. Although the porcelain itself is practically impervious to staining, the grout is not, so cleaning spills quickly is still necessary.
Porcelain is a stronger, much more durable type of ceramic. It is less porous, and harder than normal ceramics. It is one of the least expensive options for walls and it won't fade in sunlight. The only drawback is its small variety of color and style, but it's an environmentally-friendly option.
Porcelain is a type of ceramic, but it is created at a higher heat so it is stronger, less porous, and harder than normal ceramics. It is one of the least expensive options for countertops. Porcelain slab is practically impervious to staining, can hold up to high heat, won't fade in sunlight, is chemical-resistant, and it's extremely hard. The best part: it's one of the most environmentally-friendly materials out there.
Ceramic is a very affordable choice for your walls. It's durable (not as strong as porcelain), but comes in a variety of color, style, and size variations. Ceramic tile is most popular for being used for subway-style walls and is known as a classic choice to clad your walls.
Marble for flooring is quite popular because of its beautiful appearance. Its ability to enhance the look of a room prevails over its expensive price tag and comparatively low durability. Marble is a soft stone which makes it more prone to scratches and etches when coming in contact with acids. This stone is high-maintenance but too beautiful not to consider for your home.
Limestone is an extremely durable, natural stone. It is quite popular and thus adds value to your home. Limestone needs to be sealed to protect from scratches and stains. It's generally inexpensive compared to other natural options
Travertine is form of Limestone that forms nearby mineral spring deposits. Travertine needs to be sealed to protect from staining, but it is a very hard material that does not scratch easily. It is a very affordable option for your floors
Onyx is a beautiful, naturally occurring descendant of limestone that is soft and brittle making it a fragile stone to work with. Possibly the most unique quality of this stone is its translucence. Light passes through extremely easily, highlighting the swirling patterns and veins. Onyx is an expensive stone, but it's worth the money for its unique characteristics. It needs regular care for the stone to last a long time: clean with a pH-neutral solution and warm water
Glass tiles are a beautiful option for your walls. They are more expensive than ceramic, metal, or porcelain, but their sleek look amplifies any space. Glass tiles are often made from recycled materials and they are easy to clean, but they're also not as durable which is why they're better on your walls than your floors
Metal tiles are a great way to bring character into your home. Metal is long-lasting, easy to maintain, and is a little less expensive than glass. Metal tiles offer unique finishes and modernizes a space
Quartz countertops are engineered, being made up of quartzite, pigments, and resins. They are popular because they are easy to maintain, being nonporous without needing sealant. Quartz countertops are slightly less durable than Quartzite and can stain if food or spills are left sitting too long. It more affordable than Quartzite, and easier to maintain.
Marble is a popular choice for countertops because of its elegance and rich, veiny characteristics. Marble is a softer stone than most, making it a little more prone to scratches, and it does react to acidic foods in the form of etching. This stone is high-maintenance and a little more expensive than other options, but many believe it's worth the trouble for the beauty.
Granite is one of the most popular options for countertops and have been for some time now. A naturally occurring stone that develops its unique colors and patterns over millions of years, granite comes in many styles and colors. Granite can range from affordable to expensive depending on its availability and uniqueness, and its quite manageable to maintain.
Quartzite is a naturally occurring metamorphic rock that's created below the Earth's surface when sandstone or chert with lots of quartz mixed in experiences high pressure and heat. The high concentration of quartzite grains bond together by the mineral silica. This makes quartzite entirely natural. Quartzite is a little more durable than Quartz, but it does need to be sealed, making it higher maintenance than Quartz. It is also slightly more expensive than Quartz.
Soapstone is a combination of quartz, iron, talc, and magnesium. Although Soapstone is softer than other stones, it stands up to heat and resists stains. This material does scratch, but it's low maintenance. Imperfections can be removed easily.
Zellige tiles are special in that they are made by hand and when installed have a rippled appearance from the minute imperfections of the tiles being handmade. They look wonderful when used in a backsplash but are difficult to clean due to their ununiform nature. Zellige tiles are expensive compared to other options.
Terracotta tiles are highly durable (although very porous) and made up of natural materials. They warm up any space and come in a variety of finishes. Terracotta looks great on floors and can be used in both indoor and outdoor spaces. This material is inexpensive compared to other flooring materials.
Encaustic cement tiles have grown in popularity in recent years. They are a durable, long-lasting option for both indoor and outdoor flooring. Cement tiles come in a wide variety of patterns and colors and they do not stain easily. These tiles should be sealed and care is standard. Cement tiles are more expensive than ceramic and they are environmentally-friendly.
Terrazzo is an Italian material developed over 500 years ago. It is made of glass, cement, marble chips, and resin. This material is heavy and long-lasting. It's also heat- and scratch-resistant. Terrazzo should be sealed annually, and it costs on average a little less than marble.