The delicate porcelain clay used to make porcelain tiles are created at extremely high temperatures. Different porcelain tiles are made to fit various purposes and patterns, depending on subtle changes in production techniques.
Porcelain Tiles: Differences Between Glazed & Unglazed
Porcelain tiles can often be divided into two groups: glazed and unglazed. Clay and feldspar are two common raw materials used to make porcelain tiles, which when heated, form the body of the tile from top to bottom. The result is a tile that lacks any surface glazes and has the appearance of natural stone, hence the name “unglazed porcelain tiles”. While simple, producing something like this can be expensive and challenging, especially when more complex designs are involved.
The term “glazed porcelain tiles” refers to porcelain tiles that have a surface glaze placed before burning to add colour or design, such as white marble or wood. These tiles can reduce costs associated with the underlying body because only the top layer needs to be adorned, making them more cost-effective and appealing to buyers.
All the different tile bodies that we are familiar with—homogeneous body, full-coloured body, double-loaded body, and off-white body—fall under these two categories of porcelain tiles. For additional information on each of these porcelain tile bodies, continue reading.
Porcelain Tiles: Homogeneous Body
Homogeneous body tiles, sometimes referred to as full-body tiles or through-body tiles, are tiles with a surface pattern and colour that extend through the tile’s body’s cross-section thickness. For use in domestic spaces with medium to high foot traffic, such as kitchens, hallways, patios, countertops and bathroom floors, homogeneous body tile is perfect. Homogeneous body tiles are advantageous in high foot traffic areas in commercial, public, and industrial locations, such as retail stores, shops, public walkways, schools, airports, public transportation platforms, etc. where high durability and high wear-resistance are required.
Even when compared to other ceramic and porcelain tiles, homogeneous tiles are one of the most durable flooring options since they typically grade 7 or 8 on the Mohs scale, which measures material hardness and puts them twice as hard as natural granite. Homogeneous tiles also have the advantage of consistency, since they have the same material composition throughout the entire tile, which results in highly predictable technical performance, including durability, water absorption, and density in addition to colour.
Porcelain Tiles: Full Colour Body
Full coloured, also known as speckled or coloured body porcelain tiles, are made of materials that are the same colour throughout the tile’s full cross-section thickness, closely matching the tile’s surface hue. To ensure that the tile’s body matches the colour of the surface, fine speckled colour mixtures or colour pigments are added to the tile-making mixture. As with terrazzo tiles like Terra-Arte by Niro Granite, the speckled colour combination for speckled body porcelain tiles also fits the style of the tile surface.
Porcelain tiles with a full colour body and a speckled body both have aesthetic appeal and strength. The extra effort used throughout the production process to precisely match the tile’s surface ensures that, even in the unlikely event that the hard surface chips, the difference would not be obvious because the colour of the underlying body and glaze are so similar. Full quality coloured porcelain tiles are thus appropriate for locations with moderate to high foot traffic, such as domestic kitchen counters, hallways, as well as light commercial spaces, such as offices and interior walls.
Porcelain Tiles: Double Loaded
Double loaded (or double layer) porcelain tiles have two unique layers in the tile body: the surface design, which comprises the top 3mm of the tile, and the base layer, which is typically a different colour than the surface. The top layer shields the base layer from surface damage, resulting in premium designs and durability at low pricing. The two layers are fused together under intense pressure and heat to form a single solid tile.
In this technique, double-loaded porcelain tiles are one of the best tile options as they are less expensive than entirely homogeneous tiles, but most shallow scratches won’t reveal a layer with a distinct colour. This makes double-loaded porcelain tiles a particularly good choice for big spaces with moderate to high foot traffic, like lobbies, malls, waiting rooms for public transportation, or even bridges.
Porcelain Tiles: Off-White Body
Off-White Body is porcelain tile with off-white colour materials making up the entire cross-section thickness of the tile body, just the surface of the tile having the surface pattern and colour. An off-white body porcelain tile, also known as glazed porcelain tile, may create distinctive and lovely designs that are coated by a coating of glaze that protects its endurance through abrasion resistance. The PEI (Porcelain Enamel Institute) grading can be used to gauge performance.
Off-white body porcelain tiles are just as durable as other body porcelain tile body types, but they are best suited for installation in places where there will be light to moderate foot traffic, where people will typically wear casual footwear, and where there will only be a minimal amount of abrasive dirt. Off-white body porcelain tiles, for instance, can be used in domestic spaces including kitchens, bedrooms, corridors, balconies, backsplashes, tabletops, and bathroom floors. They can also be used in low-traffic business spaces, such office reception areas, and interior walls, but not in high-traffic spaces like commercial entryways.