Glazed Brick Wall Tile
from Iranian Palace.
Dated 518 B.C.
THE HISTORY OF TILE
Since the dawn of time, the Egyptians used Ceramic Tiles to transform homes and tombs of the rich & famous, from ordinary to extraordinary. It was discovered that stone & clay were used to masterfully create tiles for the enhancement of architecture, flooring and pathways from as far back as 4000 B.C. This decorative craft was soon adopted by neighboring empires in the middle east, and by the 13th century, almost every European church boasted tiled works of art for flooring and mosaic wall murals. As time went on, eccentric tastes evolved and the aristocrats requested glazed tiles adorned with lavish designs. In the 16th century, Spain stepped it up even further to create some of the most extravagant hand crafted tile art of the era for those wealthy enough to afford it. Finally, the wide-spread demand for tile among the lower classes was made affordable due to England’s industrial revolution in the 1800’s .
Since the middle ages, Italy has taken the methods and designs of tile production from other cultures, made innovating adjustments to formulas & production techniques which put them in the forefront of the tile industry.
The tradition of using tile for decorative uses evolved and expanded into practical ones as well. Today these uses continue to provide our kitchens, bathrooms, floors, walls, fireplaces, patios & walkways with long-lasting, hygienic and artistic décor throughout the world.
WHAT THIS MEANS FOR THE CONSUMER
With today’s advancements in technology and formulation techniques, tile has never been more affordable. This is due to larger factories with minimal manpower that can put out over 30 million sq.ft. of tile per kiln, per year. Tile is now available in a vast selection of styles, sizes, materials, designs, textures and colors. Due to a digital ink-jet process, ceramic tiles can now be created to emulate any type of natural look. Wood, Bamboo, Marble and Natural Stone are just a few of the possibilities that can be imitated with ceramic tile. Properties such as tile strength, shape, texture, slip-resistance, size tolerance, color & shading are much more consistent thanks to the machinery used today. Currently, tile sizes have expanded to 2’ x 4’ and technology is still moving forward.
The enormous selection of ceramic tile on the market today is simply mind-boggling compared to the times of ancient civilization. They are not only beautiful, they are durable, waterproof, stain , impact & abrasion resistant, easy to clean, not affected by oxygen, resistant to almost all acids, alkalis & organic solvents and do not conduct electricity.
Ceramic tiles include porcelain stoneware or earthenware, more commonly known as terracotta. Due to the high density of porcelain stoneware, it is heavier to handle but more suitable for flooring due to its low water absorption and Impact resistance. The downside to polished porcelain tile, is that it may need sealing, whereas ordinary glazed ceramic tiles do not. Untreated porcelain attracts stubborn stains and becomes brittle when in contact with chlorine and acidic cleaners.
NATURAL STONE TILES
Natural stone tiles can be beautiful but as a natural
product, they are less uniform in color and pattern, and the installation
requires more planning. Always try to
order your tiles from one batch only. This will eliminate a noticeable difference in color and pattern when 2
different batches are laid out side by side. Stone floor tiles tend to be heavier than
ceramic tile and more prone to breakage during shipping, so be sure to order
plenty of extra tile to eliminate the risk of receiving another order from a
The density of natural stone tiles vary so do not consider using a softer stone, such as Limestone for heavy-traffic areas. Softer stones are great for walls, tub & shower surrounds. Some stone tiles such as polished Granite, Marble and Travertine are very slippery when wet. Stone tiles with an uneven surface such as Slate, or stones with a sand-blasted surface are more slip-resistant and better suited for bathrooms and other areas near water. Natural Stone must be sealed and periodically resealed to protect against stains from spilled liquids. This is not a requirement for ceramic tiles although you may want to seal the grout lines to protect against mold and dirt.