Vitrified Tiles – Better than hardwood floors?
Hardwood floors are gorgeous and add a great deal of elegance and charm to a home. But as with many things so beautiful, they are very delicate. Hardwood floors require a great deal of care and maintenance to keep them looking great. And for folks who cannot spare a lot of time to give them the required care, vitrified tiles can be a great option.
Vitrified tiles are very attractive too. And unlike hardwood floors, these are very tough – they are much harder than natural stones, and pools of water can definitely not damage them … unlike hardwood floors.
What are vitrified tiles?
Vitrified tiles are made by combining 40% clay and 60% silica in a process called vitrification. The process of manufacture makes them extremely hard and non-porous – a great advantage over natural stones like marble which are porous and hence need a good deal of care.
Vitrified tiles are virtually maintenance free and have very good abrasion resistance – which makes them very suitable for use in high traffic areas.
And there is another huge advantage vitrified tiles have over most other floors. The designs on vitrified tiles are printed with soluble salts which are essentially penetrating pigments that penetrate to a depth of 2 to 3 mm below the surface of the tile … and that means the design is present at depths of up to 25% of the tile’s thickness! And the high hardness and abrasion resistance of vitrified tiles essentially means that the design is permanent for all practical purposes. In contrast, some floor polishes exist over the surface of the floor and have little abrasion resistance.
But on the other hand, vitrified tiles are not currently available in a great variety of shades – at least not in as many shades as natural stone tiles are.
Other advantages of vitrified tiles…
Vitrified tiles hardly expand or contract with changes in moisture and temperature – unlike other floors like wood for instance. This means that they may be used for a joint free application. But instead of a joint free application, it may be better create uniform gaps between tiles by fixing them using spacers and then filling the space with grout. This would especially be recommended when the tiles would be exposed to extremes of temperature – either very hot or very cold.
Vitrified tiles are virtually maintenance free. They may be swept clean. But still, it would be better to take a few steps to ensure that they keep looking great for several years or decades…
Vitrified tiles – Care and cleaning
Using a floor mat at the entrances to minimize abrasive dust being carried in by people would be a good thing to do. This would be true for any floor you may choose to have – whether stone or wood.
You may want to avoid using cleaners with harsh chemicals to clean the floor. Since vitrified tiles are extremely hard and non porous, a damp mop may be good enough to clean the floor.
You may also want to clean the grout joints a couple of times a year or so. Also, keeping the grout joints in good shape by scraping out cracked, loose or powdery joints and refilling them would be a good thing to do once in a while.
Vitrified tiles can be extremely beautiful and elegant and with the right care and maintenance, can last for a lifetime.