Concrete look tiles have risen to prominence in the last 10 years in conjunction with advances in digital and ink jet printing technology. Prior to the high quality realistic concrete patterns
we see on tiles today, the best you could have hope for was a plain coloured porcelain tile in the largest format possible. Now that digital and ink jet printing are widely used in tile production, there are literally
thousands of shades and styles of concrete prints available to choose from.
Concrete look tiles are typically made of a porcelain body with the digital concrete print applied prior to baking of the tile. The typical manufacturing process is as follows:
1. Raw ingredients including clay and water are mixed together in a tumbler together with grinding beads to help create the right consistency of base material.
2. The mix is then passed through a dryer. Removing water from the mix creates a harder and therefore more durable tile
3. The ingredients are then pressed into a template (the eventual tile shape). The extreme pressure solidifies the tile and gives it the strength that it's known for.
4. The tiles are dried again in drying racks to remove more water. Tiles made with small amounts of water are less likely to crack in freezing temperatures
5. Next, the concrete look is printed on, giving the tile its concrete look and colouring. Typically, a glaze is also applied at this stage for stain resistance. However, not all tile is finished or glazed – some
remain the appearance of their raw materials.
6. Finally, the tile is baked at 1,370 C to set the glaze and remove more water.
The most prominent uses for concrete look tiles throughout the home are in areas where you would typically find concrete – naturally on floors. These include:
· Hallways and circulation spaces
· Living areas
In addition to the traditional use, there has also been a strong trend towards concrete look tiles in wet areas. Previously the look and feel of concrete was not practical in wet areas due to the cost
of creating off-form concrete that is suitable as a finished surface plus the practicality of using it in rooms which require many services to be run in the walls prior to the concrete being poured. Now that the
look is achievable through the use of concrete
look tiles over typical stud wall construction, it is appearing in bathrooms and wet areas like never before.
Concrete look tiles are essentially porcelain tiles and as such, should be treated in the same was as any other porcelain tile. The concrete is easy to clean and maintain due to its dense, typically
smooth surface however some concrete look tiles do have light surface textures to emulate that of ground or weathered concrete. Concrete look floor and wall tiles should be cleaned of any lose dirt or debris before applying warm
water and a mild detergent either with a cloth or mop.
Concrete look tiles are only suitable for applications where you would typically find a concrete floor right? Wrong. Concrete look tiles, due to their light weight when compared with real concrete can be used in
many applications on walls, stairs, benchtops and even ceilings where traditional concrete is too heavy or expensive to install.