HISTORY-OF-TILE - Tile and stone by Villagio

Tile History

Part 1: From the beginning of recorded history

The story of ceramics first began in Anatolia, a land which has been home to countless civilizations over the millennia; and where modern Turkey comes into being; in whose fertile soil different cultures have flourished; and which has witnessed the most important turning points in human history.

Part 2: Early uses of clay

Ceramic tile is made from similar clays found in pottery, statues and objects of art and religion. Clay objects have been found in many archaeological discoveries. The earliest pottery was primarily functional in character, in the form of vessels to hold the grain and other foodstuffs, which they produced, but clay was also used to make objects of religious significance. In time people learned to control the firing process better, and so produce ceramics of finer quality.

Invention of the potter’s wheel

While potters experimented with new forms, a new style of decoration consisting of the basic geometric motifs that were to be used for hundreds of years evolved. The discovery of the potter’s wheel in Mesopotamia and its introduction into Anatolia around 3000 BC opened a new era in ceramics production.

Early uses of tile

The use of tiles for wall and floor coverings existed in Egypt as long ago as 4000 BC and by 900 AD decorative tiles had become widely used in Persia, Syria and Turkey. As transport and communication developed, the use and manufacture of tiles spread across Italy and Spain and exports were made into the rest of Europe by the end of the 12th century.

Modern processes

Gradually the industry developed into a modem, highly mechanized process, becoming more concentrated in the Staffordshire Potteries (England) area where the established skills and processes of the traditional potters greatly fostered the development of the present ceramic tile. Tunnel kiln firing cycles were measured in days.

The turn round time of a tile bottle oven was at least ten days. In the latter half of the 19th century the forerunners of the present tile manufacturers began to patent a number of different processes for producing ceramic tiles. By the end of the century it was said that no home, public building, hotel or institution was complete without ceramic tiles.

During World War ll many companies were closed and a very different industry emerged. The market- place in the 50’s and 60’s demanded near- perfect quality, sizing and shading.

Tile manufacturing today

A technology known as “roller hearth” now provides the latest generation of kilns. Tiles are conveyed through the kiln as a single layer on a bed of rotating rollers. Only the tiles need to be heated, there are no kiln cars and no supports. Clean natural gas enables burning to take place immediately adjacent to the ware, both above and below, with very precise temperature control. This precise control, together with powerful hydraulic presses, has made possible the manufacture of a new product: the “homogeneous” or “porcelain” fully vitrified tile. Homogeneous tile is impervious, very strong and suitable for very heavy-duty purposes. Roller hearth single layer technology necessitates much shorter firing cycles to achieve required output. One hour, or less, is now typical. Today’s products are mostly mass-produced, to extremely high standards of design and quality.

Types of Tile - Tile and Stone by Villagio

Types of Tile

Glaze is “liquid glass” that has been sprayed or poured onto the surface of the tile. Extreme heat causes the tile to be fused together and harden. Glazed tile must meet the same criteria as unglazed tiles, with two additional tests: thermal shock and crazing.

Common sizes
1″x 1″, 12″x 12″ and larger.

First quality tiles are manufactured with up to 5% visible facial defects. However, the installer is allowed 0% defects. It’s important for the installer to discard the defective product or use the tile for cuts.

– Standards: Glazed tiles have ANSI standards for determining facial defects, sizing, warping, wedging, etc.
– Function: The following factors may affect the hardness, strength and wear resistance of glazed ceramic tile:
– Temperature: Higher kiln (oven) temperatures typically produce a harder glaze.
– Color: Dark colors (such as blacks or blues) are typically more prone to scratch than lighter colors.
– Gloss levels: Shiny glazes are not usually as abrasive resistant as matte finish glazes.

When specifying or installing glazed floor tile, consider these characteristics
– Slip resistance
– Wear resistance
– Maintenance requirements
– Chemical and stain resistance

Be sure to determine the function, limitations, and suitability of the product. Do not make your selection based solely on color, style or appearance.

Shade Variations - Tile and Stone by Villagio

Shade Variations

1. Environmental variation

Color IS light. The color that you “perceive” consists of both the surface of the tile, and the reflection off the tile of its environment (lighting, furniture, large fixtures, cabinets, wall color or furniture). This is why it is so important for the customer to either see the tile in their environment or for them to understand that their tile will look different than it did in your showroom. If they paint their wall dark blue, their tile will look different. If they have incandescent or natural light, the tile will look different than under those cool blue fluorescents in your showroom.

2. Variation from shade to shade (die-lot)

This is the toughest shade variation to anticipate. This variation is the “die-lot” or “shade” variation is inherent in producing a “unique” product. The best way to handle this type of variation is to keep a range of “acceptable” shades of tile in a bin. As each new shipment is received, the new tile is compared against these “key” tiles. If it is distinctly similar, the tile goes into stock. If new colors have been added or deleted or if the tile is questionable at all – it goes to the sales manager for approval. If the difference is significant – the sales manager should have all showroom samples changed out, including all customer samples on display.

3. Variation from tile to tile

“Ceramic tile bodies and glazes are created from elements of the earth – clay, water, sand, minerals. Just as these materials vary in the natural world, the end result of their combination will also produce variations in the surface color and texture of ceramic tile. These natural color variations and markings enhance the individuality of each tile and result in a sophisticated but understated design sensibility that characterizes each tile and is designed to provide maximum performance and classic good looks.”