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There are still those individuals who hear the words porcelain tiles and they immediately think of those highly glazed tiles that were once used in bathrooms years ago. Or maybe they think about those decorative tiles that were used for dressing up a plain tile installation. What people don't realize is that ceramic or porcelain refers to just about every clay tile product manufactured in the industry.
In addition to the standardized 4¼" bathroom tiles and colored deco tiles, there are also monocottura, or floor tiles that are single-fired. Then there are the larger porcelain floor tiles (and wall tiles). These are the ones that are normally used for redoing floors and walls.
In North America, the sale of porcelain floor tiles has doubled in the past decade, and in just over 20 years, the industry has progressed from the original knob-back floor tiles (manufactured from terracotta-like clays) to the variety of porcelain tiles used today. Porcelain floor tiles are available in all shapes, sizes and types. There are hand-painted porcelain tiles, porcelain hex tiles and polished porcelain tiles, and they all serve a different purpose.
Porcelain is merely a form of ceramic clay. Of all the ceramic tiles on the market, porcelain tiles normally have the lowest absorption rate. In other words, to be classified as a porcelain tile, a single tile cannot absorb over 0.5 percent of its entire mass in water. Some porcelain tiles absorb as little as 0.1 percent of their total mass in water. Porcelain tiles are dense, dust-pressed and virtually indestructible. They are categorized as impervious in the tile industry.
Installers within the tile industry refer to themselves as ceramic tile setters rather than porcelain tile setters. Most floor tiles installed today are made from porcelain because they are high-quality tiles, they are extremely versatile, and they afford the homeowner with the largest number of options as far as color and design are concerned.
Within the past 25 years, porcelain tile has become very popular with the consumer. Its features combined with its durability have made it the floor and wall tile of choice among consumers and contractors alike.