In 1978, it was said in newspapers that the Italian masters created a composite material, the coefficient of water absorption of which tended to zero. In many respects, the material was not inferior to natural granite, which was very new in the ceramic tile market. The Italians, accustomed to using ceramic tiles in interiors for thousands of years in their hot climate, did not stop in search of ways to improve it. They developed the technology of high-temperature single firing of noble white clays. The firing process occurs at a temperature of about 1300 ° C and is very similar to the birth of a stone in natural conditions, with only one difference - the speed of production of porcelain stoneware is several times higher, and porcelain stoneware at the exit does not need to be processed by a stone cutting master. The result is an affordable, stylish tile with the characteristics of natural rock.
Ceramic granite (porcelain stoneware) is an artificial finishing material that surpasses many natural materials in its properties. It is produced by pressing at a pressure of 400 - 500 kg / cm2, followed by firing at a temperature of 1200 - 1300 ° C. Granite chips and two types of clay are used for the production of porcelain stoneware - one is more plastic, rich in illite, the other less plastic, rich in kaolinite. The clay included in the composition is similar in composition to the raw material for porcelain production, so the finished product has high mechanical strength and practically does not allow moisture to pass through. Initially, porcelain tiles appeared as tiles for technical use (for the installation of floors in rooms with significant loads, for example in public places and in buildings of industrial enterprises). Over the past 15 years, new types of tiles have been added. Often, the base mixture is colored by introducing coloring oxides into it, which disperse well when fired in a semi-molten mass.
Thanks to the production technology, porcelain tile has the following technical characteristics:
low water absorption (<0.05% whereas natural granite 0.5%) and, as a result, frost resistance. However, low water absorption of porcelain stoneware leads to the fact that in the cold, tiles laid on a cement mixture can peel off. Therefore, the laying of tiles from porcelain stoneware on a cement pad is carried out only indoors, and outside of them porcelain stoneware is used only with metal structures.
• resistance to chemicals;
• depth of color and pattern;
• hard surface, resistant to abrasion (hardness of a matte surface 8 on the Mohs scale)
• impact strength and bending strength;
• resistance to "thermal shock" (temperature difference);
• color consistency under the influence of external factors;
• the possibility of producing a solid structural surface with anti-slip properties (use outdoors).
In the process of laying, natural stone and porcelain tile behave a little differently. When the adhesive solution sets with natural stone, the adhesive, penetrating into the pores and microcracks, can cause through penetration of spots on the surface of the material, which will be practically impossible to get rid of. Porcelain tile lacks such a drawback. It is worth noting that any natural stones, including precious ones, have microcracks. Therefore, here porcelain tile surpasses natural stone.
TYPES OF PORCELAIN TILES
Porcelain tile is made from clay, which is known as a material for creativity. Indeed, the designer has plenty to choose from when it comes to porcelain tiles. By types of porcelain tiles are divided into the following groups:
• Technical porcelain tile imitating natural raw granite. It is relatively inexpensive due to the lack of additional processing after firing.
• Glazed porcelain stoneware - decorative tiles. After baking, glaze is applied to the granite sheets and sent back to the oven. It is more reliable than ordinary tiles, but it is nevertheless installed where mechanical impacts on it will be minimal, since elegant glaze erases and fades over time.
• Matte porcelain stoneware - not polished tile surface.
• Polished porcelain stoneware - polished to a mirror shine and, accordingly, more expensive than matte, decorative porcelain stoneware. It should not be laid on the floor, as polishing coarsens over time, and polished porcelain stoneware does not look much different from matte.
• Structured porcelain stoneware - decorative tiles with embossed surfaces that reproduce the structure and appearance of natural stone, leather, fabrics with patterns. There are as many methods for processing structured porcelain tiles as there are design solutions: sometimes it is even covered with gold leaf.
• Satin porcelain tile - tiles on which a layer of mineral salts is applied before firing, which gives the surface a light shine. This decorative porcelain tile is also called processed wax. It glides much less than polished porcelain stoneware, but not its beauty does not have great resistance to stress.
DIMENSIONS AND THICKNESS
The most popular sizes of porcelain stoneware are 30x30 cm, 45x45 cm and 60x60 cm. Currently, there are a huge number of sizes for any purpose (15x15, 20x20, 15x30, 30x45, 30x60, 120x40, 120x15, 120x30, 40x40).
The largest size used for cladding building facades is 120x180 cm. The smallest standard size is 5x5 cm. Any size can be obtained using waterjet cutting. For a porcelain tile flooring, the thickness of the tiles does not matter. Correctly laid tiles of porcelain stoneware of the minimum thickness (3 mm) are no different in strength from the coating of tiles with a thickness of 30 mm. Porcelain stoneware with a thickness of 8.6 mm can withstand a load of 200 kg / cm2. The maximum thickness for porcelain tiles is considered to be 3 cm.
AREAS OF USE
Porcelain stoneware is used practically for finishing floors and walls both inside and outside. It is considered an ideal floor covering for rooms with high traffic - shopping malls, shops, subways, cinemas, train stations, airports. Porcelain tiles are used in private interiors for decorating halls, hallways, kitchens, corridors, as well as for lining bathrooms and pools, floors and walls in the working areas of cafes and restaurants, in car washes, in workshops, garages, and chemical laboratories.