Tiles have come a long way in recent years. Gone are the days when homeowners were restricted by limited tile colour schemes and tiles broke easily. Today, homeowners are spoilt for choice and tile quality has improved tenfold, a fact which can be attributed to a number of advances on the local tiling scene.
Arguably one of the most important developments occurred in 2008 when Johnson Tiles started manufacturing glazed porcelain tiles in a 400 x 400mm format at its state-of-the-art tile plant in Olifantsfontein. Prior to this, glazed porcelain tiles had to be imported at great cost because the technology and skill to produce them locally did not exist. And Johnson Tiles isn’t just manufacturing any old glazed tile. The company’s glazed tiles are manufactured to standards that either comply or exceed European (EN: 177) standards, a fact Johnson Tiles takes great pride in.
Glazed tiles are manufactured in much the same way as ordinary ceramic tiles; the key differences between the two lie in specific points of their manufacture. Both start life as clay to which ingredients such as sand, feldspar, quartz and water are typically added to create what’s known as a body slip. Body slips are then dried and heated which reduces them to powder or dust.
This material is placed in large presses which pushes the dust into a set size and shape which gives the tile its strength. Glazed tiles are pressed harder at this juncture, giving them additional strength. The shaped tile body is called the bisque. Pigments and/or glazes are then applied at which point the tile is considered a ‘green tile’. In the last stage of manufacturing, these green tiles are kiln fired. Glazed tiles are fired at a higher temperature, again to fortify them still further, following which they are cooled and shipped out.
Kate van Niekerk, marketing manager at Norcros - which supplies branded showers, tiles and adhesives in the UK and South Africa - explains that the fact that glazed tiles are pressed harder and fired at higher temperatures means they are imbued with added benefits like a lower water absorption rate and a higher breaking strength.
According to Van Niekerk, glazed porcelain tiles are also more frost resistant than ordinary tiles. Akin to ceramic tiles, glazed tiles are also UV, fade, fire and stain resistant, making them an excellent choice for outdoor areas. The fact that they are glazed means that they don’t need to be sealed and don’t require much maintenance unlike natural stone products. An added benefit of Johnson Tiles’ glazed tiles in particular is that they are also slightly thinner than standard ceramic tiles which translates into lower weight loading on buildings.
Johnson Tiles supplies its glazed tile products to a number of leading local tile companies including Tile Africa. Recently, Tile Africa launched an exclusive new range of ‘on trend’ glazed porcelain tiles called the Sodwana range. These sport an appealing ‘washed’ effect and are available in five different colour ranges including a contemporary grey-black, a trendy rich chocolate brown and a natural sand colour.
“To ensure that your porcelain tiles last, remember to install them using the correct adhesives, always follow the safety and tiling instructions on the packaging and do not wash your glazed porcelain or ceramic tiles with wax based products,” concludes Van Niekerk.