Ceramic Tile Construction

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Ceramic Tile Construction

Your home consists of what’s under your roof, but don’t forget what’s under your feet. Floor coverings have a huge influence on your home and lifestyle. They impact interior design, décor, livability, comfort, and upkeep; thus, floor coverings can make, or break, a home.

In this section, we explain how ceramic tiles are manufactured. This information can be very advantageous because it enables you to understand the various uses and applications for tile.

What Makes Tile Flooring Different?

Being familiar with ceramic tile construction aids you in understanding and evaluating its performance aspects: why certain ceramic tile floors wear better and longer.

Tile Combines Earth and Fire

The chief ingredients of ceramic tile and its general manufacturing process have not changed significantly throughout the centuries.

All ceramic tiles are created from natural products extracted from the earth that are shaped into tiles and then heated in kilns at extremely high temperatures.

The World of Ceramic Tile has Two Hemispheres

There are two major types of tile construction: glazed and unglazed.

When you view a glazed tile from the side, you can see two layers. The body of the tile is called the bisque. The top layer is called the glaze, as in a glazed donut.

Glazed tiles get a hard non-porous, impermeable surface after heating. They are more stain-resistant than unglazed tile and are easy to clean. These tiles are great 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 called  through-body construction.

There are Five steps in the Ceramic Tile Manufacturing Process:

The Manufacture Process of Ceramic Tiles

You can choose from a range of ceramic tile options

  • Mining
  • Blending and Mixing
  • Pressing
  • Glazing
  • Firing

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    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

    Ceramic Tiles on Display

    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.

    Got traffic? Here’s your ticket to smarter shopping.

    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.

    Tile Flooring Advantages

    • Durable – a properly installed ceramic tile will outperform and outlast nearly any other floor covering product created for the same application.
    • Easy care – and that’s for you, right? Glazed ceramic tile resists stains, odors, and dirt and can be cleaned up with a damp mop or sponge or common household cleaners. But don’t forget the grout. Keeping your grout dirt free requires regular cleaning and periodic professional cleaning. Ceramic tiles are essentially a low-maintenance material. However, even glazed tiles are somewhat porous and require care and attention, especially in heavy traffic areas. In our Ceramic Tile Maintenance segment, we’ll share ideas on keeping tiled surfaces looking their best and performing well for you year after year.
    • Scratch-resistant – Grade III and Grade IV glazed ceramic tiles are extremely resistant to scratching, and you never have to worry about a cut or tear as you do with some other types of floors.
    • Environmentally friendly – ceramic tile is manufactured using natural materials and does not retain odors, allergens, or bacteria.
    • Beautiful and versatile – modern ceramic manufacturing technology has created virtually an unlimited number of colors, sizes, styles, shapes, and textures that will add rich beauty and character to any room’s decor.
    • Fire resistant – ceramic tile doesn’t burn nor emit toxic fumes. Even hot kitchen pans or skillets will not scorch or melt the surface of glazed ceramic tile. That can be a comfort when you’re actively preparing food.
    • Water-resistant – most glazed ceramic tile has a dense body that permits little or no accumulation of moisture. This means spills from common liquids found in a kitchen are not a big concern.

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    Tile Advantages

    • Durable – a properly installed ceramic tile will outperform and outlast nearly any other floor covering product created for the same application.
    • Easy care – and that’s for you, right? Glazed ceramic tile resists stains, odors, and dirt and can be cleaned up with a damp mop or sponge or common household cleaners. But don’t forget the grout. Keeping your grout dirt free requires regular cleaning and periodic professional cleaning. Ceramic tiles are essentially a low-maintenance material. However, even glazed tiles are somewhat porous, and require care and attention, especially in heavy traffic areas. In our Ceramic Tile Maintenance segment we’ll share ideas on how to keep tiled surfaces looking their best, and performing well for you year after year.
    • Scratch resistant – Grade III and Grade IV glazed ceramic tiles are extremely resistant to scratching and you never have to worry about a cut or tear like you do with some other types of floors.
    • Environmentally friendly – ceramic tile is manufactured using natural materials and does not retain odors, allergens, or bacteria.
    • Beautiful and versatile – modern ceramic manufacturing technology has created virtually an unlimited number of colors, sizes, styles, shapes and textures that will add rich beauty and character to any room’s decor.
    • Fire resistant – ceramic tile doesn’t burn nor emit toxic fumes. Even hot kitchen pans or skillets will not scorch or melt the surface of glazed ceramic tile. That can be a comfort when you’re actively preparing food.
    • Water resistant – most glazed ceramic tile has a dense body that permits little or no accumulation of moisture. This means spills from common liquids found in a kitchen are not a big concern.

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