Step 1: Elemental and Earthy
The tile construction process begins with mining of the required raw materials, which is a mixture composed of mostly clay and minerals.
Step 2: Introduces Mud into the Mix
The clay and other mineral mixtures are blended and mixed into a semi-fine powder. Water is added to form a mud-like consistency. Then the slurry is pumped into a large dryer. And the result? A fine clay powder that feels like warm, fine sand.
Step 3: Applies Pressure to the Process
Next, the clay is pressed into a tile shape. These pressed tiles are called green tiles at this stage.
There is also another technique called extrusion, which can replace the pressing step. Extruded tiles are formed by forcing the clay material through a mold for the desired shape versus pressing the tile.
However, pressing is the most popular method used today. And after the green tiles are formed, they are further dried to remove some of the moisture.
Step 4: The Glaze Phase
It’s the next step in the industrial 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 known as 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 heated in the kiln at temperatures around 2,000 degrees Fahrenheit.
Tiles that are heated 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 heated after the green tile is dried and then heated again after the glaze is applied.
Porcelain Tiles – An Elegant, Durable Alternative
Porcelain Tiles are elegant, durable and an Ideal alternative to ceramic tile
Aside from the two types of ceramic tile, glazed, and unglazed, there is another type that continues to gain popularity – beautiful, elegant, porcelain tile.
Porcelain tiles are made up of 50% feldspar and are heated at a much higher temperature than regular ceramic tile. This makes porcelain tiles much harder and denser 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.
A Word to the Wise
Not all ceramic tiles are 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.
A rating system is called for, and that’s exactly what the tile manufacturers have provided. Now let’s take a look at that system.
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Most manufacturers will 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 five classes you should be aware of.
Class 1: No Foot Traffic. These tiles are suggested for interior wall applications only and not for the floor. May a shoe never touch them.
Class 2: Light Traffic. These tiles are suggested for interior wall applications and for residential bathroom flooring only.
Class 3: Light to Moderate Traffic. These tiles can be used for residential floor and wall applications, including bathrooms, kitchens, foyers, dining rooms, and family rooms. They’re a good all-around performer.
Class 4: Moderate to Heavy Traffic. These tiles are recommended for residential, medium commercial, and light industrial floor and wall applications, including shopping malls, offices, restaurant dining rooms, showrooms, and hallways.
Class 5: Heavy/Extra Heavy Traffic. These tiles can be installed anywhere. They will hold up in floor and wall applications at airports, supermarkets, and subways. Tile doesn’t get any tougher.
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.