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What is Unglazed Quarry Tile?

February 23, 2021|In Quarry Tile|Daniel MarvinBy Daniel Marvin|5 Minutes

I started my career in the tile industry when the ‘new millennium’ was still a decade away.  If you had told me back then that one day I would be writing a blog titled ‘What is Quarry Tile?’ I would have scoffed.  And then asked ‘what is internet?‘  Yet, here we are.

The company I worked for then made all four kinds of tile – ceramic mosaics, glazed wall tile, pressed floor tile, and quarry tile.

Mosaics were little and went in locker rooms and pools.  Wall tiles were 4 1/4″ squares that sometimes were blue or gold or green but usually were white.  Pressed floor tiles got up to 12″ square if you were really wild and had the same repeating pattern screen printed on every one.  And then there was quarry tile.  Durable, eternal, and available in a rainbow of earth tones, quarry tile was well known and understood.

You can still find all of these tiles of course, but they’ve been joined by countless sizes, shapes, and decorating techniques until the distinctions have become blurred.  Many designers and installers today are not aware of what sets quarry tile apart from other types of tile.  I will be blogging about what it is and how to install it.  Today we will look at what quarry tile is:

The textbook definition – Our old friend, the Tile Council of North America Handbook defines it this way: Quarry tiles are ceramic tiles for floor and wall applications made by the extrusion process from natural clay or shale.  The ANSI standard specifications for ceramic tiles offer some additional guidance pointing out that quarry tiles are allowed more size and warpage variation than porcelain tiles and can have up to 5% absorption.

The practical definition – The textbook definitions are designed to allow for a large variety of similar products to be defined as quarry tile.  From a practical standpoint, the things you will want to know are:

Extruded – Quarry tile is extruded.  That means the clay is mixed together and pushed with an auger through a die opening and then cut with a cutter to the proper size.  This matters from a practical perspective because extruded tiles form a durable ‘die skin’ on the surface that helps with chemical and stain resistance.

For more information on how quarry tile is made, see our Youtube video.

Vitreous – Although ANSI allows up to 5% absorption, for most applications you will want quarry tile that is considered vitreous which means it has less than 3% absorption.  This helps the tile withstand freeze-thaw cycles outside and staining inside.

Unglazed – Although there are glazed quarry tiles out there, the vast majority of quarry tile is unglazed.  That means there is no glaze to chip off and if the tile does wear, the color under the surface is the same as the color on top.

Chemical and stain resistant – Unlike some porcelains and most wall tiles, quarry tile is not easily etched or stained by common chemicals.  You will typically find it used in commercial applications like commercial kitchens and breweries.

Slip Resistant – Along with chemical resistance, quarry tile has a high coefficient of friction which improves traction.  For the most rigorous slip resistant flooring applications, versions are available with tread patterns and abrasive grains.

There are other considerations that are important for quarry tile such as having the right trim shapes available for sanitary requirements and barrier free (ADA) regulations.  For now you have the basics, quarry tile is an unglazed, extruded tile made out of clay that should have less than 3% absorption so it can go in demanding environments where chemical and slip resistance are important considerations.  In our next post, we will take a look at some of the installation requirements for quarry tiles.

Metropolitan Ceramics Test Results

Don't use this type of grout for Commercial Kitchens

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Single component grouts that can be scooped directly from the bucket and applied to tiles have become increasingly popular over the last 10 years. These ready to use grouts are great for many applications, but should never be used in commercial kitchens even if the advertisement says they offer ‘all of the benefits‘ of epoxy grout. They aren’t epoxy grouts and the differences are most obvious in a commercial kitchen setting. All of them exclude environments where harsh chemicals are used in their Technical Data Sheet.

Quarry tile is the most popular floor covering for commercial kitchens because it is very resistant to anything you can throw at it. The grout you pair with the quarry tile needs to be equally resistant to harsh cleaners, grease, and other conditions found in this environment. The enzymatic cleaners typically used for commercial kitchens are designed to digest fat and grease particles with enzymes. While the best practice is to then rinse these cleaners from the floor, often that is not done. This creates oleic acid that can damage cement grout, standard epoxy grout, and single component grouts.

For commercial kitchens, Metropolitan recommends the use of 100% solids epoxy grouts designed specifically for this type of application. Generally these are advertised as industrial epoxy grouts. Common grouts in this category include Kerapoxy IEG from MAPEI, Spectralock 2000 IG from Laticrete, and CEG-IG from Custom Building Products. There are others available as well. These grouts take practice to install as they are often stiffer and more challenging to clean than standard epoxy grouts. However, they are much easier to work with than the old technology, furan grouts. When in doubt, consult the installation products manufacturer to get their grout recommendation for your installation.


Waterproof flooring

What is 'waterproof flooring?' (spoiler, it doesn't translate into a waterproof floor)

February 8, 2020|In Quarry Tile|Daniel MarvinBy Daniel Marvin|5 Minutes
What is 'waterproof flooring?

Every day on my way to work, I hear a commercial on the radio offering a variety of floor coverings for sale including ‘waterproof flooring.’  They are talking about vinyl (plastic) flooring which has been around forever in some form or another.  However, the plastic flooring industry has recently amped up their marketing machine with some crazy claims.  I always grit my teeth because I know that most people hearing that ad won’t realize that the installed floor won’t be waterproof due to the seams.  How do I know this?  Because I sat in on a very interesting session on this topic given by Eric Astrachan at Coverings this year.

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Testing the claims.  In his talk, Eric showed a number of slides titled PBM Preliminary Research detailing the claims vs the reality.  PBM in this case means “Plastic Based Flooring” and for the sake of the report includes LVT (luxury vinyl tile), LVP (luxury vinyl plank), RCB (rigid core board) and a host of other trendy three-letter acronyms the plastic flooring industry is fond of coining.  Ten of these popular products were tested with two standard ways (one US standard and one from Europe) of determining if a system is waterproof.  Ten of these popular products failed to stop water from passing through the seams into the subfloor below.  If you install the worst performer in your bathroom and your tub overflows while you are at work, almost 50 gallons of water an hour would pass through the plastic flooring into your subfloor.  That’s not waterproof or even close to it.  Of course, the warranty for these products excludes this type of damage.  Some even exclude damage from damp mopping.

What is 'waterproof flooring

Along with water comes – mold.  By simulating water trapped under the tiles, it didn’t take very long for mold to start to grow in 90% of the samples tested.  The plastic materials in the planks provide a perfect buffet of organics for mold to grow and thrive.  Chances are good that if you leave a spill on your plastic floors for more than a few minutes, water will make its way under the tile and find a perfect situation to develop mold, mildew, and VOCs.  If you like gross mold pictures, Eric’s report at the link above is full of them.

What is 'waterproof flooring

It doesn’t get better from there.  You will often see plastic flooring described as ‘wear resistant’, ‘non-slip’, and even ‘life proof.’  Dogs run across the floors, kids roll toys on them and bathtubs overflow in the ads.  Eric’s report goes on to debunk all of these claims.  In the fine print you’ll find that the manufacturers tell you not to walk on the products wet.  Why?  Because they’re slippery when they get wet.  Hmm.  Likewise these products scratch easily.  On the Mohs scale, most of them rate no higher than 3 which is very soft – maybe you’re better than me at keeping your dog’s nails trimmed but yep, Fido can scratch most plastic flooring.

If something sounds too good to be true, read the fine print.  There is a lot of fine print with plastic flooring.  Water from ‘flooding’ (ie – overflowing bathtubs)?  Excluded.  Scratching from your pet’s nails?  Excluded.  Indentations from furniture?  Excluded unless you use furniture pads.  You DO use furniture pads under all of your table legs, right?  Slipping while wet?  Excluded.  Trust me, I’ve written many product warranties and I would not have wanted my name associated with any of these.  The ‘new’ plastic floors are just like the old ones – good for dry areas you don’t walk on.  Anything beyond that?  Excluded.

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Black is Always a Popular Design Choice

October 18, 2019|In Quarry Tile|Ron WilliamsonBy Ron Williamson|3 Minutes
metropolitan ceramics commercial kitchen floor raven #710 quarry tile
Photo – Metropolitan Ceramics Raven #710 used in The Kitchen Table at the Modern – Credit Ellen Silverman.

Is black a color? Some say yes, some say no. In color theory, the mixture of black with a color is called shading – a reduction in lightness.  When discussing colors, black is both described as the absence of color and absorbing all color. To an artist, black is often seen as a coloring agent the same as the rest of the colors in a palette and is considered a color.

Whether you think of black as a color or shade, the absence of color or absorbing all colors, one thing is for sure, shades of black are still essential options in the world of design.

All types of industries use black and shades of black, from fashion to automobiles to building design and interiors. The introduction of black in design can create many positive responses.

Black can represent a number of emotions and characteristics including authority, power, sophistication, mystery, stability, strength, intelligence, seriousness, and power. Black is so essential in the fashion industry that “the new black” refers to any new color trend. Sports franchises incorporate black in their uniform designs to indicate power. Black automobiles are the leading sellers in the luxury category.

Interest in black finishes has gained even more popularity in the last few years. In the floor and wall tile category black and near black are used in conjunction with other materials as part of a pattern, as an accent, and in full coverage applications. Commercially, restaurants, for example, are adding intimacy and elegance to their spaces with designs incorporating black elements. Building exteriors too are turning to black cladding to create industrial and modern motifs.

In keeping with the requests from designers and architects for black product options for their projects, Metropolitan Ceramics has both tile and thin brick colors available in black shades.

Metropolitan Ceramics’ Raven color is a through-the-body black quarry tile available in 4” x 8”, 8” x 8”, and 6” x 6” size. Raven has the same properties as Metropolitan’s other quarry products. Raven is perfect for adding the character of black to an installation without compromising slip resistance and durability.

Metropolitan Ceramics’ also offers black thin brick in modular size wire-cut and smooth finish as part of the Fast Ship product offering and in queen size tumbled thin brick as part of the Royal Thin Brick product line.

Metropolitan ceramics raven #710 thin brick

Available to all Metropolitan Ceramics’ distributors, black quarry tile and thin brick offerings are used for walls and floors – indoors and out, this kind of versatility is especially appealing.to the end user.

Metropolitan Ceramics offers both quarry tile and thin brick in black

Black is an important color in interior design and architecture. Metropolitan Ceramics offers both quarry tile and thin brick in black to meet the demand with products that combine the aesthetics designers need with the durability the job demands.

Receive a FREE Metropolitan Ceramics sample binder and literature.

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Choose the Right Floor for Restaurant Kitchens

July 17, 2019|In Quarry Tile|Ron WilliamsonBy Ron Williamson|1 Minute

Metropolitan Ceramics unglazed quarry tile is specifically designed to take the punishment of demanding areas like restaurant kitchen floors. Here are six reasons Metropolitan quarry tile outworks and outlasts the competition.

6 reasons why quarry tile is the best choice for restaurant kitchen floors

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Product Features are Important, but the Benefit to the Customer is Really What Matters. 

June 25, 2019|In Quarry Tile|Ron WilliamsonBy Ron Williamson|1 Minute

For slip resistance and durability, the quality of Metropolitan Ceramics quarry tile is unmatched. There isn’t a better product to use in high traffic areas subject to spills and moisture, which is why there have been millions of square feet of Metropolitan Tile installed over the years.

Here are ten great features (and especially benefits) of Metropolitan Ceramics quarry tile.

Ten great features (and especially benefits) of Metropolitan Ceramics quarry tile

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It’s Time for Outdoor Projects

May 11, 2019|In Quarry Tile|Ron WilliamsonBy Ron Williamson|1 Minute

It’s time to go outdoors and look at ways to add to the beauty of a home with updates to the outdoor living space. Metropolitan Ceramics offers a broad range of tile and thin brick products that will help take these areas from bland to grand.  Whether updating a patio, walkway, pool surround, or accent wall, Metropolitan Ceramics has just the right product to fit the design. All Metropolitan Ceramics products are low absorption and slip resisting – ready for the toughest climates.  And they all install using tile set methods and material. To follow are some images for inspiration.  Products shown are Metropolitan Ceramics® quarry tile, Down to Earth® textured paving tiles, and Royal Thin Brick®.

Time for Outdoor Projects

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Choosing the Right Tile for Open Concept Kitchens

January 31, 2019In Quarry TileRon WilliamsonBy Ron Williamson5 Minutes
There are more design options than you realize with commercial kitchen quarry tile. Above are three very different examples that all meet the requirements of the commercial kitchen environment.

There are more design options than you realize with commercial kitchen quarry tile. Above are three very different examples that all meet the requirements of the commercial kitchen environment.

The latest trend in restaurant design from high-end bistros to casual dining is the open concept kitchen. In open concept kitchens, not only is the staff working feverishly in a confined space to create great food, they are now doing so with an audience.

Let’s look at this idea from the viewpoint of what’s underfoot – namely the floor. With open concept kitchens, the floor-covering must perform above and beyond when considering the critical issues of slip falls, durability, and sanitary standards all while enhancing the kitchens aesthetic.

Meeting design and performance requirements is by no means an easy task when you consider what happens in a commercial kitchen. Foodstuffs fall to the lowest point in the room and kitchen and restaurant staff grind everything into the floor.

Finding a floor-covering that can stand up to the daily routine of commercial kitchen life while looking good is no small feat. Choosing the right flooring is vital and once installed even the most appropriate floor needs regular attention when all eyes are watching.

Fortunately, there is one product  that can meet all of the requirements of an open concept commercial kitchen. That product is none other than – ceramic quarry tile.

Now you may think of quarry tile as a simple little 6″ x 6′ tile that gets high marks for performance but comes up short on the aesthetics side. And while this may have been true at one time, one manufacturer has worked diligently to create options in unglazed quarry tile that both provide the designer with the rugged dependability she demands and a naturally appealing floor.

Metropolitan Ceramics offers more options in extruded quarry products than any other manufacturer in the United States. Looking through the product options page on the Metropolitan Ceramics website a designer can choose from an array of natural earth tone color choices – from basic single tone quarry tile (aptly named Quarrybasics®) to quarry tile with texture and shade variation (Down to Earth®). There is even a thin paving brick option available – Royal Thin Brick®. A variety of tile sizes are also available in each product line.

The image below is a perfect example of the need for floor covering to perform well and look great. The Kitchen Table at The Modern presents diners with the opportunity to experience the full effect of their fantastic kitchen with seating front and center to all of the action.  They chose classic and subdued Raven 6″ x 6″ quarry tile to use throughout this space.

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Photo – Metropolitan Ceramics Raven #710 used in The Kitchen Table at the Modern – Credit Ellen Silverman.

This image from Table Six shows the kitchen and bar area featured as part of the restaurant experience.  This time Metro Tread® in a neutral tan color was used to fit both the design needs of an open concept and the added slip resistance required in an area subject to spills and moisture.

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Table Six used  an added slip resistance product from Metropolitan Ceramics in a natural earth tone color.

From fast casual to fine dining more and more kitchens and prep areas are now in open view of the clientele, creating an excellent opportunity to have an atmosphere of inclusion and participation.

A “nothing to hide” approach is a great way to build customer loyalty and trust, but it does mean that care needs to be taken to keep everything looking and running great. Fortunately, by selecting one of the many floor-covering options available from Metropolitan Ceramics, designers and owners know they have everything covered for years to come for one of the essential parts of every kitchen – the floor.

Receive a FREE Metropolitan Ceramics sample binder and brochure.

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Slip Resisting Tile from Metropolitan Ceramics

April 5, 2018|In Quarry Tile, Slip Resisting Tile|Ron WilliamsonBy Ron Williamson|1 Minute
metropolitan slip resistant quarry tile

Because they are so smooth, some glazed and porcelain tiles are just not suitable for wet and oily applications. Liquid can get trapped between the foot and the tile which in turn can lead to hydroplaning, slips, and falls.

Metropolitan Ceramics has the right tile for floor installations that demand slip resistance. Choose from one of these fine Metropolitan Ceramics quarry tile products and tame the toughest jobs indoors and out.


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Now Available, a One-of-a-Kind Slip Resisting Ceramic Tile

March 4, 2018|In Quarry Tile, Slip Resisting Tile|Ron WilliamsonBy Ron Williamson|1 Minute
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Metropolitan Ceramics® introduces a new slip resisting tile, XA Abrasive. XA Abrasive combines two slip resisting additives to create a one-of-a-kind slip resisting tile with a Dynamic Coefficient of Friction ≥ .70. The silicon carbide embedded surface, combined with the metallic additive through the body of the tile, work together to combat the effects of spills, moisture, extreme temperatures, and heavy traffic. Use Quarry Basics® XA Abrasive in the most demanding environments and anywhere durability and slip resistance are important.

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