Porcelain tiles are about as various as any one category of floor tile could possibly be. Porcelain is generally defined as a ceramic product fired at extremely high temperatures to give a very hard and tough material. Ceramics are any non metallic substances which are fired/heated/baked to form a solid. As such, the term porcelain includes a multitude of different products, with a large range of qualities.
The Langton Stone Company only ever deals with Grade A porcelains, which pass the same high standards as that of their stone counterparts and, as such, are, in no way, of inferior standard. From here on out, what we shall be discussing will be exclusively Grade A porcelain tiles.
Porcelain tiles are mass produced on production lines which can churn out hundreds a day, but each one is subject to the same rigorous screening test as the last, and all are fired at over 1200ºC.
Each tile is fired in the specific size it is required to be, and so there is no cutting required within the process. After the tile is tested and successfully passed through the quality control stages of the manufacture, it is then sent to be 'glazed'.
This is the process by which the tile is made to look like the intended material it is imitating. Layer after layer of different coloured resins are applied to the surface of the tile which builds up an image of a stone or wood grain. If the tile is not a imitation, the process is less complex, but not dissimilar. Often ranges of tiles which are imitation woods or stones will have hundreds of different wood or stone images which they recreate within a single style of tile. This is to make the imitation more true to real life.
A relatively new addition to the process is that some of the more intricate tiles are designed to have an uneven, even riven surface, so as to imitate imperfections in the finish. This is still a very tricky thing to achieve with porcelain though, and so most are still simply honed.
After all these processes are completed it is packed and shipped to the distributors for general sale in the specific formats in which it should be laid. Once the customer has purchased the porcelain tiles they need for their specific project, they are shipped to the customer ready for the fixing process.
Fixing begins by preparing the surface. Preparations for a wall are fairly minimal, but for a floor, this includes stripping of any current flooring back to the base floor, pouring a compound to level the base (or screeding), and any additional preparations that might be required (such as laying an underfloor heating system).
Once this has been done, a layer of adhesive is spread about the surface (either in one go if slow set, or bit by bit if it is rapid set) and the tiles are then placed. It is incredibly important that the process be methodical and follows lines (such as the line of the wall or, in the case of patterned work, a preset squaring), using spacers to ensure consistency. This crucial step will, ultimately, dictate how the tiled surface, and the joints between the tiles, end up looking.
After the adhesive has 'gone off' (that is to say, the adhesive has set), the joints (space between tiles) are then grouted and, assuming all is well and no corrections are required, your stunning porcelain tiling is completed and ready for use. As porcelain is required to have a water absorption index of less than 0.5%, there is no need to ever seal it, and it will never degrade under reasonable circumstances.