No matter your choice of floor covering, it will adopt a certain method of construction or process of manufacturing. With our initial focus drawn to ceramic tiles, its process of manufacturing is a world of its own.
It’s an ancient process and the resulting benefits are many and desirable: beauty, durability, practicality, and versatility. Ceramic tile is art beneath the foot, admirable to the owner and covetous to the visitor.
Understanding how ceramic is made provides you with knowledge of its birth. Knowledge of ceramic tile construction also helps you understand and evaluate its performance aspects, helping you discover why some tiles are easier to clean than others; and why some have high durability and others do not.
Understanding how ceramic tiles are made will make you shop better, and keep you ‘in the black’ concerning your home improvement budget.We here have an article about A Guide to Understanding the Costs of Installing Floor Tiles, I hope it can help you.
Sit tight as we walk you through into what materials tiles are made of, and how ceramic tiles and other tiles we shall examine are made. We shall cover various stages involved in the production, and of course, review of abrasion rating system.
Ceramic Tile Production
Ceramic Tile production unites earth and fire. The main ingredients they are made of and their general manufacturing process hasn’t changed that much throughout the past centuries.
Ceramic tiles are made from natural products extracted from the earth which are shaped into tiles and then, they are fired in kilns at extremely high temperatures.
Classes of Ceramic Tiles
There are 2 main types of construction:glazed and unglazed.A closer look at a glazed tile from the side, you can observe layers. The largest layer or body of the tile is also known as bisque. The second is the top layer also referred to as a glaze.
They are characterized by a hard non-porous, impermeable surface after firing. They are more resistant than unglazed tile and they are easy to clean. They are more suitable for active areas of your home like the baths and kitchen.
These tiles add a whole different beauty to your home. They are solid colored all through without a top layer of glaze.
They are without additional surface applications as they are typically more dense and durable than glazed porcelain tile. Fittingly, they are more suitable for interior and exterior applications where the high tendency to wear is of great concern.
For areas characterized by heavy activity or kid zones, unglazed tile may be just appropriate.We mentioned Glazed or Unglazed: How to Figure it Out in Porcelain Tiles? in the previous article. If it is helpful to you, you can click here to learn about it.
How Tiles Are Made:
The stages of the manufacturing process of tiles are divided into 5:
Blending and Mixing
Stage 1- Basic and organic
The process of making tiles begins with the ‘mining’ of the raw materials, which is a mixture of clay and minerals.
Stage 2- Transforms mud into fine sand
The mixture of clay and mineral is then ‘blended and mixed’ into a semi-fine powder. Thereafter, water is introduced to the mixture to form a wet slurry or mud-like consistency after which the slurry is pumped into a large dryer.The outcome is a fine clay powder that feels like warm, fine sand.
Stage 3- Take a Shape
Next, the clay is pressed or formed into a tile ‘shape’. These pressed tiles are known as ‘green tiles’ at this stage.As an alternative, another method –Extrusion can replace the pressing step.
Extruded tiles are formed by forcing the clay material through a mold for the desired shape.However, in comparison, pressing is a more common method today; after the formation of green tile, they re-dried to remove some of the moisture.
Stage 4- Glaze
Here comes the next step in the process of making tiles that are glazed.For any tile that would remain unglazed, it would skip the stage and go directly to the firing kiln.
For the glaze, the glaze liquid is prepared from glass derivatives called frit and colored dyes. The glaze is applied by either a high-pressure spray or is poured directly onto the tile
Stage 5- Heating
Finally, ceramic tiles are now set for firing; to be fired in the ‘kiln’ at temperatures around 2000 degrees Fahrenheit. Tiles that are fired once after the glaze is applied are called ‘monocoturra’ tile of single fired.
The other type, ‘biocultural’ or double-fired tile; are tiles that are first fired after the green tile is dried and then fired again after the glaze is applied.
Apart from the 2 types of ceramic tile, glazed and unglazed, porcelain beckons our attention, gaining popularity due to its durability, beauty, and elegance.
Porcelain tiles are made up of 50% feldspar and are fired at a much higher temperature than regular ceramic tiles. This explains why porcelain tiles are harder and more dense than other tile products.
Having low water absorption ratings of below percent and high performance makes them a worthy choice for many homes. In addition, porcelain tile can be used for interior and exterior tiles applications as well as heavy or commercial purposes.
Materials in Tile Production
Now that we have walked you around the manufacturing process of tile production, let’s round off this section by previewing the most essential raw materials used to make tiles.
These materials, usually classified according to their function and properties are grouped into two: Plastic material and nonelastic material.Plastic material includes clay, kaolin, and bentonite while non-plastic material includes feldspar, quartz, magnetite, dolomite, talc, calcium phosphate, and limestone.
Among all, the four most common materials are:
It serves as a binder, an inexpensive source of alumina and silica, as well as a suspension aid. It constitutes the most of the ceramic body with the following functions:
- It gives a light coloring during the firing process
- Enhance binding and plasticity of the mass
- Enhance mechanical characteristics in the tiles
- Provides a good density level
- It creates a good rheological flow of the properties
It is an important and common fluxing material for ceramic bodies. It gives a glossy finish to ceramic bodies. Feldspar plays an important role in attaining the vitrified and mechanical resistance of a product.
Silica is abundantly found in the earth’s crust. It reduces shrinkage and increases the whiteness of a fired body. Silica comes in various forms like quartz, tridymite, and cristobalite. Silica is often used as filler and acts as a glass former in ceramics.
Also called talcum is a naturally occurring mineral that is mined from the earth. It is composed of magnesium, silicon, oxygen, and hydrogen. Talc is used in small quantities. Talc enhances the fluxing action and is formed with the contact of water- to improve the whitening level.
To conclude, now that we have kept you in the known, wouldn’t you rather choose George intl as your preferred one-stop store for your tiling needs?
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