are a glass-like surface derived from sand. Some manufacturers
offer tiles containing recycled glass light bulb waste, automobile
windshield waste and a waste product from feldspar mining.
tiles are growing in popularity for many reasons. They are highly
durable, freeze-proof and easy to clean and maintain. They also
have a high thermal storage capacity which means they retain their
heat and emit it slowly especially good in climates which
are warm during the day and cool at night.
are available in many varieties, glazed and unglazed, mosaic and
quarry tile and in various sizes, surface textures and colors.
Unglazed, often called Mexican pavers, are all clay usually requiring
a coat of protective sealant before or after installation to prevent
soiling and bacterial growth. They are usually less expensive
than glazed. Glazed tiles are water-resistant, require no sealant
and permanently retain both their hard quality and their surface
issues can include the mining of raw materials which can produce
soil erosion, pollutant runoff and habitat loss. Although relatively
abundant resources, clay and sand are nonrenewable. Tile manufacturing
is energy-intensive, but the industry is making many improvements
in this area. Some glaze pigments are obtained from heavy metals
and some conventional tiles can have radioactive glazes, particularly
cobalt blue and some yellows. Radiation detectors are available
to test the levels. Still, when chosen carefully, tile can be
a good sustainable choice.
installation involves adhesives and grout which are typically derived from petrochemicals and can contain plastic additives, considered inert when cured, but can emit VOCs while curing. When making your choice of tiles, remember that larger tiles require less grouting joints to fill.