Plus, understanding how ceramic is made can make you a better shopper, help you determine ceramic flooring value and keep you “in the black” regarding your home improvement budget.
So please read on and we’ll help you learn how ceramic is made, cover the various steps involved, discuss alternate types of ceramic, and offer you an easy to understand abrasion rating system.
Glazed tiles have a hard non-porous, impermeable surface after firing. They are more stain resistant than unglazed tile and are easy to clean. Something to consider for those more active areas of your home like the kitchen and baths.
Unglazed tiles add a whole different beauty to your home. They are solid colored all the way through and do not have a top layer of glaze. This is often referred to as through-body construction.
They have no additional surface applications and are typically more dense and durable than glazed tile. Thus they are more suitable for interior and exterior applications where wearability is a concern.
If your home has areas of heavy activity or kid “zones,” unglazed tile may be just the answer.
There are 5 steps in the ceramic tile manufacturing process: Mining, Blending and Mixing, Pressing, Glazing, and Firing.
STEP 4 IS THE GLAZE PHASE.
It’s the next step in the manufacturing process for those tiles that will have a glaze.
If the tile is to remain unglazed it skips this step and goes directly to the firing kiln.
The glaze liquid is prepared from a glass derivative called frit and colored dyes. The glaze is applied by either a high-pressure spray or is poured directly onto the tile.
STEP 5 REALLY HEATS THINGS UP.
The ceramic tiles are now fired in the kiln at temperatures around 2000 degrees Fahrenheit.
Tiles that are fired once after the glaze is applied are called monocoturra tile or single fired.
The other type is called biocuttura or double fired tile. Biocuturra tiles are first fired after the green tile is dried and then fired again after the glaze is applied.
AN OPTIONAL, DURABLE CHOICE IS PORCELAIN.
Aside from the 2 types of ceramic tile, glazed and unglazed, there is another category that continues to gain popularity – beautiful, elegant, porcelain tile.
Porcelain tile is made up of 50% feldspar and is fired at a much higher temperature than regular ceramic tile. This makes porcelain tile much harder and more dense than other tile products.
Their high performance and low water absorption ratings of less than 0.5 percent make these tiles a worthy choice for your home.
Additionally, porcelain tile can be used for interior and exterior applications as well as heavy or commercial areas.
After the finished tiles have been inspected for quality assurances, they are packaged, crated and ready to be shipped.
UNDERSTAND THIS TO BE A SAVVY TILE SHOPPER.
Not all ceramic tile is suitable for each area of your home. The beautiful, decorative tile you might put on your kitchen backsplash may not be recommended for installation on the floor.
Most manufacturers have a rating system that is based on or supported by the American Society for Testing & Materials (ASTM). Many times you can find these ratings on the tile sample or in the product catalog.
The most common system rates ceramic tile abrasion resistance or the overall durability of the tile. There are 5 classes you should know about.
You may also see a rating for Slip Resistance, which is measured by its Coefficient of Friction (COF). The higher the COF the more slip resistant the tile. This is important when selecting a floor tile for areas that get wet, such as your shower or bathroom floor.
Other ratings listed by the manufacturer might include: scratch resistance, moisture absorption, chemical resistance and breaking strength.
This concludes our section on how ceramic is made – its different types of construction, its manufacturing process and how tile is rated in terms of activity.
We hope that knowing how ceramic tile is made will help you with the decision on whether it’s made for your home and for your style of living.