Natural stone tiles have become exceptionally popular over the last few years due, in no small part, to the rise in popularity of do it yourself programs on the telly. Our passion for property and DIY has led to a predominantly higher number of people interested in furnishing their homes using the best quality fixtures and fittings they can find. Stone tiles have grown to be one of quite a few elitist or exceptional quality furnishings that have endured the cruel climate of the past 2 years and have retained their popularity. Well-known heroes will often be heard saying, 'with great power, comes great responsibility' and the fact is that this is especially true of stone tiles and their distributors - albeit the particular phrase is more like this 'with great popularity, comes great numbers of immitations' and it is this key point that we'll be looking at in this article. How could you tell a great quality natural stone tile from an immitation one?

Quality natural stone tiles can be measured by several intrinsic properties:

1) Solidity
This is fairly easy to explain and when I do, people tend to be a little shocked by just how simple this is and how, if I hadn't mentioned it, they wouldn't have actually thought about measuring it. Solid means rock hard, almost impossibly hard to chip, scratch or crack. You can get a good indication of just how solid a stone tile is when you pick it up. If there is absolutely no rigidity or you don't get any sense whatsoever of frailty, then chances are it's a solid tile. If you weren't averse to some exciting experimentation then you could always drop a hammer from a good height onto the tile to see if it breaks. Alas! The timeless hammer drop test. There's not many suppliers that will do the test for you (probably for H&S reasons), but in at least one stone tile showroom, I've seen it done. The result, as it should be with a real, high quality natural stone, is that the stone will resist the impact of the hammer and leave no marks. In your case, do you think the tiles you're thinking of buying could withstand this kind of challenge? Only superior quality stone will be able to and this will help you make your first decision.

2) Water Absorption
A real, quality natural stone tile will not absorb water at all. This is why our jerusalem stones prove forever popular for wet rooms, bathrooms, swimming pools, jacuzzis and even exterior stone walls. All of our high quality natural stone tiles will propell water completely, continuously and if you are considering buying some other 'stone' tiles, such as travertine or immitation stone, always make sure you ask about the water absorption rates, especially if you're looking to tile your bathroom.

3) Resistance to Weather Factors
This is a direct follow-on from the previous stone tile property. it's not surprising to hear that a superior natural stone will be completely resistant to harsh weather conditions, particularly those suffered in the UK winter time or heavy rain seasons (all year?). Our quality jerusalem stone will resist harsh winds, icy rain and hot summers and any other natural stone you're considering should be able to do the same. The best way to find out if the stone you're looking at can do this is to simply ask the sales assistant for examples of where the stone was used externally. One telling sign might even be if they have any natural stone on display outside of their premises.

Many 'stone tile' suppliers will sell cheap immitation stone and display them in perfectly considered display areas within their shops but you should never accept displays on face value or through clever marketing tactics. Always ask for examples, always ask for as much information as possible and always, always do plenty of research before buying!