Saturday, December 5, 2009

How is Ceramic/Porcelain Made?

All floor covering products for your home are constructed in some manner, but how ceramic tile is made is in a class by itself.

The process is ancient and the resulting benefits are long and desirable: beauty, durability, practicality, versatility -- a work of art you walk on.

Come join us as we describe how this unique product is born, and who knows, with the knowledge gained from this section, ceramic tile just may be the flooring solution for the way you live.

A product of earth and fire.

The main ingredients of ceramic tile and its general manufacturing process has not changed that much throughout the centuries.

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

In this section we will take a look at ceramic tile types, the manufacturing processes, and tile rating systems. Ready? Good. Let’s get started.

On the surface, there are two kinds of tile.

There are 2 main types of tile construction: glazed and unglazed.

When you look at a glazed tile from the side you can see 2 layers. The body of the tile, or largest layer, is called the bisque. The top layer is called the glaze, as in glazed donut.

ceramic tile floorsceramic tile flooring

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.

Unglazed ceramic tiles are very hard and dense. They come in various surface treatments and textures. Typically, these are installed outside your home as they do not offer much protection against stains compared to glazed ceramic tile.

Unglazed tiles do have good slip resistance, however please note that they do require sealing to help prevent staining.

An enduring alternative is porcelain.

porcelain ceramic tile

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.

Be a smart 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.

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 just the ticket.

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 5 classes you should be aware of.

Class 1: no foot traffic.

ceramic bathroom tiles

These tiles are suggested for interior wall applications only and not for the floor. May a shoe never touch them.

Class 2: light traffic.

ceramic wall tile

These tiles are suggested for interior wall applications and for residential bathroom flooring only.

Class 3: light to moderate traffic.

ceramic floors

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.

white ceramic tile

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.

ceramic subway tile

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.

The following article was taken directly from the World Floor Covering Association ( Also, please visit my websites at and for all your flooring needs.

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