Australia’s vast variety of climates suits tiles, but they have to be of good quality and be installed properly. In this short article we describe some of the aspects of making tiles and some of the characteristics they gain in that process that make them so useful throughout Australia and particularly in the sub-tropical Tweed Valley area. In future articles we will look at aspects of installation and other special requirements for the local climate, with its large humidity and temperature variations.
Ceramic tiles are time-honoured and used extensively today – not just internally in buildings but externally as well, and accordingly these days there are many different kinds of tiles available to suit any style or taste.
The thickness of the tiles also varies, from 3mm to 25mm. Tiles are manufactured by mixing clay, sand and a variety of other natural substances which are then baked at an extreme temperature – often exceeding 1200°C. For reference the surface of the Sun is about 5,600°C. The raw materials, their blending and the temperature they are baked at are responsible for determining the nature of the tile and its best use.
Firing is a process which produces rigidity and delicacy, so that when the tiles are correctly installed they can withstand heavy pressure. This is also the point at which tiles become resistant to abrasion and impact.
Pressing is the last stage of the firing process in which the hardness of the product is determined. If the temperature is high and maintained equally then the production process results in a surface finish which is extremely easy to clean and maintain for long periods of time. Additionally tiles can be easily attached to any internal or external, horizontal, diagonal or vertical dry or wet surface that has been prepared correctly.
Some Interesting Properties of Tiles:
- Life-cycle analysis studies on tiles show that if the tiles are chosen wisely and installed correctly they can last as long as the building in which they are being installed.
- Tiles are very easily maintained. They give any area a clean and neat look. One can easily wipe away dust from tiles.
- Tiles are hygienic. How? Well, the answer is very simple yet interesting – tiles’ non-porous surface prevents different kind of bacterial colonisation occurring via dirt, dust-mites or other potential contaminant.
- Tiles are fire- and heat-resistant, so those who are still smokers can smoke more comfortably and enjoy their cigarettes without worrying about causing floor damage.
- Kingery, W.D. (ND), Introduction to Ceramics (USA), N pub, P. 23.