If you’re working on a DIY project, you’re likely looking at a variety of materials for the various surfaces. Many people want the quality and luxury that natural stone offers. Others want something that will remain durable and easy to maintain over time. Especially when it comes to flooring that’s suitable for kids, animals, guests, spills and anything else life throws at it. Porcelain tile is the perfect solution for those instances. But what is it?
First – let’s explain the difference between porcelain tile and ceramic tile. Ceramic tile is created by a combination of clay, pigment and glaze. It’s generally suitable for walls. But by adding quartz, feldspar and kaolin to this mixture, we get a more durable material… porcelain tile, which is suitable for walls, but also generally can be used for floors as well. Some porcelain is suitable only for residential flooring, whereas some is suitable for heavy commercial traffic flooring. Ask your materials provider for details.
So what makes one porcelain tile better than another? Why are some porcelain tiles more expensive than others? There are a lot of factors, but one important aspect is how the materials are created. If you hear the term double-loaded or through-body, it means that the color you see on the surface remains consistent throughout the body of the material. So if the material chips or cracks (which will happen with porcelain tile, particularly when the ground hasn’t been properly leveled or prepared), the colored body, rather than a white body, shows through. Thus the chip is less noticeable. This is particularly important in commercial projects, wherein the foot traffic is heavy. But it’s often the top choice for anyone wanting high quality tiles for their home.
So, how exactly is porcelain tile made? Porcelain tiles can be stamped or pressed, which means the mixture is poured into a metal form and pressed to create the size and shape of the tile. (Imagine something like batter in a waffle maker.) Extruded porcelain tile is created when the mixture is pushed through a metal form into a specific shape, creating either a flatter face, a flatter back, or an artisanal appearance. These processes allow porcelain tile to have various sizes, shapes and textures.
Once the body is set, the surface and or/pattern are sprayed onto the porcelain via an ink jet process or a roto color process.
The material is glazed and fired. A mineral mixture is applied to provide the first line of defense against surface wear. The high temperature, which is typically 1,800-2,00 degrees Fahrenheit , helps produce tiles that are low maintenance and have a lifespan of many decades. This process also reduces the water absorption levels of the tile, which expands the range of possible applications, so the material can be used for wet areas, such as showers or outdoor areas, even when the climate falls below freezing. Ask your sales representative for details pertaining to the products you’re interested in.
Finally, tiles either remain unrectified for an artisanal tile appearance, or they are rectified for a clean look. Tiles are then inspected before leaving the manufacturing facility.