Ceramic tile is basically clay formed into uniform shaped, glazed with coating for texture, color and strength and baked to harden it. The tiles can either be hand-made as how it was done in the past. But nowadays, they are manufactured using machines for faster and more efficient delivery and uniform product.
There are a wide variety of clay types that can be used to make the tiles such as earthenware, porcelain and stoneware. Each type offers unique characteristics to its final product. They can produce great decorative tiles and in order to be water sealed, they have to be glazed.
Hand-made ceramic tiles start their life by rolling them out into flat shape and uniformly cutting the tiles or pressed to form or mold to be shaped. Pressing the clay can be a very time consuming process and when it is formed into tile shape, the clay will be fired for the first time and after that, it can be replaced to allow the tiles to dry naturally under the heat of the sun.
The application of the glaze is the next step and then it is fired again. The glaze can be in the form of a simple clear coating that is used to seal the tile from its moisture and it can be painted decoratively. The carving needs to be done first before the initial firing. Hand-made tiles are not totally alike and they have slight variations in sizes. The clay tends to shrink in the firing as well as the drying process that alters the final tile size.
Each company producing tiles has their own recipe in creating the clue to be used in the manufacturing process. The clay can be mixed with the combination’s of feldspar, quartz and sand, made more pliable by incorporating water into the mixture. After the drying process, excess water will be removed, rendering the clay into powder or dust. The powder is placed into a pres to shape according to desired shape and size.
The process of feature that uses electricity, the powder will be pressed into shape. The pressure provides the tile with strength that hand made ceramic tiles don’t have. The drying process also removes the traces of moisture and it is followed by the glazing process. After glazing the tile is baked then they will go through the final process to decorate the may require a number of baking.