What is Tumbled Tile?
It is simple. Tumbled tiles start life as large stones that have been pulled from the stone quarry and can be as much as 6×6 feet big. It’s roughly cut from the earth and shipped to fabricators who cut down those large blocks of stone into slabs or tiles.
As its cut down, some pieces of the original stone will break off and they are then set aside for making tumbled tiles. They are often larger than standard sized tile pieces. Those are then placed into a large drum along with grit, crushed stones, water, and cement chunks and the drum spins. Everything inside the drum will rub and wear against the stone.
In the drum the tiles will lose corners and develop fissures or holes in the surface and when the drum stops, the remaining stone tiles are rustic looking, tumbled tiles. When you use them in your home you will be using truly natural stones and therefore you will have a variety of different shapes and sizes that you piece together to look like it was created many years ago.
Some tumbled tile can be painted with artwork or designs. It can also be mixed with mosaic glass and stone inlays. It’s called decorative tumbled marble tiles.
There are several different types of stones that can be tumbled. For most tumbled tiles you will need to use a sealant on them to prevent damaging stains from water. They are all natural so they haven’t been treated when you purchase them.
The most popular is marble & travertine because the tumbling process brings out the true natural beauty of it. If you want your backsplash to be more unique than that, choose from other types of stones such as:
* Limestone which needs special treatment in order to keep it looking good. It’s a very porous rock and definitely needs to be sealed to prevent stains and damage to it. It gives your project a softer, sandblasted look and some pieces may contain fossils naturally inside the tiles.
* Travertine is a stone that closely resembles limestone but it is a lot more versatile in how it can be used. It is more rustic looking than marble. It’s very durable, non-porous and more often used around pool decks to create a non-slip surface.
* Saturnia is a type of travertine but it is unique in the fact that it sometimes contains small holes and or fossils. It’s non-porous so it’s difficult to get stains.
* Quartzite may have a glittery appearance after being tumbled since it can contain flecks of quartz and mica.
*Marble is beautiful due to its veiny appearance and it is used very often even though it needs to be sealed to prevent damage, because it is very durable and looks great whether you use it inside or outside.
*Granite has a more granular look.
Price: It depends on the type of stone you want to use and how big the squares you want to use are. Most commonly you will find 4 inch squared tiles also 6×6, mosaic and subway tiles are available.
The true beauty of a tumbled stone backsplash is color.
Much the same as you can walk around in your yard or buy a bag of decorative rocks for your flower beds and find two rocks that are similar to each other except for slight color variations that are natural with in the rock, the same is true for tumbled tiles. The whole point of tumbled tiles is the natural beauty of the stone being brought out. If you buy tumbled marble tiles, you may purchase a particular color but there will be slight variations in it that were brought out in the drum. These tiles haven’t been created to look alike.
When you choose your tumbled tile backsplash, take into consideration your countertop color, cabinet color and other colors inside your kitchen. Try to pick a tile that will match it so that it all ties in together. With the many colors of tumbled tiles that are available it won’t be hard to get the perfect color for your kitchen.
To keep your tumbled stone clean, you will need to dust it often as well as use warm water on a rag to clean it. You should dry it immediately. If you have a deep stain, use a mild ph-neutral soap or 1 part peroxide with 4 parts water combined with a few drops of ammonia.