Ceramic Tiles - Introduction
The word ‘ceramic’ comes from the Greek word ‘keramikos’ meaning ‘pottery’. All ceramic products are therefore man-made.
The raw materials used in ceramic manufacture basically come from plastic raw materials which include kaolin, clay and bentonite and non-plastic raw materials such as feldspar, quartz, limestone, dolomite, magnesite, calcium phosphate and talc.
However, for the manufacture of ceramic tiles, clay, feldspar, pottery stone, silica sand and talc are normally used with clay being the fundamental raw material. The function of the clay is to give plasticity and binding characteristics to the mass, to provide good density level during firing and also to enhance the mechanical characteristics of the fired tiles.
Feldspar, a fluxing material provides the glassy phase and glaze as well as facilitates drying and release of gases during firing whereas silica sand acts as the filler and talc to increase the fusibility of the ceramic body.
Production of Ceramic Tiles
- In the production of ceramic tiles, various raw material are batched in the correct amounts and then grinded together with water into fine particles (slip).
- Moisture is then removed from the slip using a spray drying process.
- The resulting granulate powder or the clay paste is then put into moulds and pressed with a hydraulic press for strength and dimensional accuracy or wire cut into compacted pieces of unfired tile.
- Firing will transform the weak newly pressed tile into a strong durable product because of the chemical and physical reaction within the tile body during heating at high temperatures.
- After this the tile adopts the mechanical and aesthetic properties of a finished ceramic tile.
Advantages of Ceramic Tiles
Safety - The most significant property of ceramic tiles as compared to other flooring materials such as wood, carpets or linoleum vinyl is that they are fire-proof. Ceramic tiles do not burn or give off toxic fumes or gas during a fire. They do not absorb any fumes, odours or smoke. Ceramic tiles also do not accumulate electrostatic charge, thereby eliminating shocks from electrostatic build-up. These characteristics make them ideal for installation indoors, in rooms and other living areas where safety of the family is of priority.
Easy maintenance - Dust or residue normally do not stick to ceramic surfaces Cleaning is easy with appropriate cleaning products and a gentle wipe immediately after spills, making them ideal for kitchen areas, laundry room and counter-tops.
Durability - While most colouring materials fade with exposure to light, colours of ceramic tiles are often unaffected, making them ideal for outdoor use such as walkways and outdoor areas
Hygiene - Fired in kilns to extremely high temperatures, volatile organic compounds (VOCs) are eliminated from the finished products, making the tiles resistant to biological agents such as bacteria or microbes hence they are suitable for use in restaurants, schools, community halls, hospitals and offices where hygiene is essential.
With the above benefits and a wide variety of tile design, shape and surface texture available in order to produce any desired effect whether modern or classic, ceramic tiles are the right choice for any home.
Applications of Ceramic Tiles
These types of tiles are the most common and used in modern day construction. They come in a wide and flexible variety of colours, patterns and textures!
They contribute to the building blocks of modern contemporary interiors and design due to its dynamic aesthetic appeal.