Natural wood flooring on the left, wood laminate on the right.
What are engineered tiles ?
How are the made?
How they are cut?
What are they used for?
Thanks for your question. I’m sorry the answer has been slightly delayed.
Unfortunately, the term ‘engineered tiles’ does not describe a specific category within surface materials. As opposed to a natural material that has been only slightly changed or worked to create a product, something that is ‘engineered’ has connotations of being broken down to basic elements and reassembled in an artificial way. For example, natural stones such as granite are cut and polished to create countertops.
However, quartz, although the basic building block is natural rock, has been ground down, purified, has resins and coloring agents added, then is pressure cooked to produce engineered quartz slabs, which can then be fabricated similarly to granite or another natural stone.
There are a couple of different schools of thought between natural and engineered products. On the one hand, engineered products tend to be cheaper and require less maintenance than some natural products. However, this does not hold true across the board, and each material and prospective use should be considered before making a decision.
Engineered products can be made from recycled materials, but not always; sometimes they contain chemicals that you might not expect. Natural stone or hardwood has a life of its own and more depth in appearance; these wear beautifully, meaning they don’t need to be replaced as quickly, and can usually be recycled at the end of their lifespan.
Wikipedia has a detailed definition of engineering, but I’d like to just take a look at which surfacing or flooring materials may or may not be logically be described as ‘engineered,’ using the simple guidelines I laid out above.
Natural: Natural stone, slab or tile. As mentioned before, this is simply cut out of the ground and then cut and polished and sometimes treated with sealers as desired.
Engineered: Quartz slabs. Again, these are bits of pure natural quartz ground up tiny with colorants and resins added, then cooked and pressured back together into slabs.
Natural: Real hardwood planking for floors. Strips of wood cut from trees, then stained and treated either before or after being applied to your floor.
Engineered: Laminate flooring or engineered hardwood, made from a base material (often a recycled wood composite) with a thin sheet of decorative material made to look like wood, tile, or some other natural material over the top, sometimes a veneer (very thin layer) of the wood the floor is supposed to emulate.
Engineered: Cork tiles. Similarly to quartz, cork tiles are made from cork that is ground down into granules, then combined with resins.
Natural: Porcelain or Ceramic tile. Although this is a little bit of a closer call, porcelain and ceramic tiles are not generally regarded as engineered. They are usually manufactured from clay, sometimes with color added in and sometimes with color stamped over the top. These materials have been around for a very long time, and are generally regarded as a traditional or even more ‘natural’ flooring or surfacing material.
I hope this list helps you somewhat – if you have any questions or would like further in-depth discussion of any of these materials or other, please let us know!
Schumacher Tile & Stone