Porcelain

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Beautiful porcelain tiling in South West Sydney, the Southern Highlands and Tablelands

Large scale production of porcelain tile is undertaken in many countries, with the major producers being China, Italy, Spain and Turkey. There are also countries undertaking now in competitive production, such as Australia and strong growth in Brazil.

Porcelain is a tile that is generally made by the dust pressed method from porcelain clays which result in a tile that is dense, impervious, fine grained and smooth, with a sharply formed face. The wet clay, usually quarried, is extruded into shape before firing or baking at very high temperatures, resulting in an attractive and very hard surface. 

Porcelain tiles come in both glazed and full bodied or vitrified and have a finish of satin, gloss and even semi polished or lappato. The main difference is a glazed porcelain tile has a porcelain base, or “biscuit”, and then usually a printed pattern or finish on the top. Full bodied or vitrified porcelain has the one base or biscuit material that runs all the way to the surface of the tiles. Glazed porcelain is more often than not used in internal applications, whereas full bodied porcelain is more commonly used externally. The advantage of full bodied over glazed is that should you chip the tiles’ surface, you don’t tend to see the chip as much. Some glazed porcelain tiles, for instance, may have a very light coloured biscuit with a dark surface layer, or vice versa, which will stand out more when chipped. Always try to choose a tile where the surface and the biscuit are at least the same colour tone to minimise the difference if chipped. 

Porcelain tiles usually have a much lower water absorption rate (less than 0.5%) than non-porcelain tiles, making them frost resistant or frost-proof and suitable for internal and external use. Glazed porcelain tiles are much harder and more wear and damage resistant than non-porcelain ceramic tiles, making them suitable for any application from light traffic to the heaviest residential and light commercial traffic. There is glazed porcelain and there is full bodied porcelain too. Providing the top glaze colour is of similar colour tone to the base or biscuit and you do chip it badly, it tends not to stand out that much – so always pick a tile of similar tone and you’ll have years of worry-free tiling. 

Full body porcelain tiles carry the colour through the entire thickness of the tile, meaning chips are less noticeable, virtually impervious to wear and are suitable for any application from residential to the highest traffic commercial or industrial applications. With massive advances in modern high resolution digital printing, manufacturers now have so many more choices of finishes available too. They can take high resolution images of any material and replicate this on to tiles. Things like natural stone in granite, limestone, sandstone and travertine and even Carrara marble can be replicated so authentically that you would be hard pressed to pick the difference from the tile and the natural stone piece they’re copying! There is even a polished concrete look which will give you that industrial look in your kitchen and living areas without the polishing dust and fumes of continual resin sealing.

Porcelain has become more and more popular in recent years and with it gaining popularity, the pricing has come down and the range of product has increased significantly.
The hardness of the tile can be rated from zero to five according to ISO 10545-7 (also, ASTM C1027) test for surface abrasions resistance of glazed tile, and this can be used to determine suitability for various end use conditions.
The dense, hard surface of porcelain has made polishing a viable alternative to a glazed surface.
This means the tile can be fired, then a polishing process is used to cut into the tile surface, creating a very high gloss almost glass like sheen without having to actually glaze the tile. 

The downside to polishing porcelain like this is that by way of polishing, tiny micro pores are created in the surface, which can be porous therefore leading to staining of the tile. Most polished porcelain on the market today should be sealed with an appropriate sealer, like Spirit’s Hard Surface Sealer, especially with some of the lower priced cheap polished porcelains.
Always buy from a reputable supplier that is willing and happy to back their product. Don’t be fooled by the “end of clearance”, “internet specials” or “factory outlets” who are closing down next week as there is some very dubious stock out there. Some polished porcelain is factory sealed, however, this is often not a true sealing, but rather a rag dipped in sealer run quickly over the tile to create a bit of a protective coating on the surface to make the tiler’s job easier cleaning off the grout smear.

When porcelain is first made, it is not absorbent by nature; however, the polishing process for making the unglazed surface shiny cuts into the surface, leaving it more porous and prone to absorbing stains, in the same way as some natural stone tiles. Polished porcelain tiles will need sealing unless they have a suitable, long-lasting treatment applied by the manufacturer like, for example, nanotech treatment. 
Porcelain sealants are either solvent-based or water-based, with the latter being cheaper but not as long lasting as solvent. Sealing is not labour intensive, technically hard nor difficult to do. It is highly recommended to help keep your tiles looking fresh and new for longer. Would you buy a white or light coloured lounge and not put fabric protection on it? It is the same with your polished porcelain tiles. Sealing just makes keeping your tiles clean so much easier. 

As porcelain is a denser and harder material, it is often chosen in high traffic areas because it is very durable and won’t wear as quickly as some glazed ceramic tiles can do. Being that porcelain is a denser material, it is usually heavier to handle than other ceramic tiles. For this reason, it can be generally more expensive than ceramic equivalents. As it is harder, it is more difficult to cut and drill, which can hamper fitting and increase costs. 
With rectified edge porcelain where grout joints are very narrow (usually around 1.5mm), and other tiles for that matter, laying costs can be a little more because most floors, no matter how level they may look, usually need a screed to be put down first. This screed then gives a uniformed flat substrate layer to tile onto. Polished porcelain can attract stubborn stains and becomes brittle when in contact with chlorinated water and acids, so sealing is often recommended. 

There isn’t one particular dedicated porcelain adhesive needed for the installation, however, some companies do manufacturer adhesives more suited to porcelain tiles, especially lighter coloured porcelain. When tiling on walls with porcelain tiles, stronger adhesive is needed to hold the extra weight so the tiles bond better and don’t slide or move around before the glue has fully set. Therefore, premixed adhesives are not recommended for porcelain. 

Be sure to head in store today
and have a look at what’s on offer –
you’ll be amazed!
 

Contact Hayters today

For more information about our porcelain tiling,
or for a free quote, call our friendly team today on 02 4629 6000 .
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