What is Porcelain?
Porcelain is a type of ceramic material, mainly made of kaolin clay material. It is fired at high temperatures around 1,400°C which causes vitrification to its mineral composition, allowing for increased toughness, strength and a level of translucency. The origins of porcelain can be traced back to ancient China, and the use of specific white Chinese clays is what gives its characteristic white finished colour, and name.
European imitations of this fine China porcelain brought about the invention of softer porcelain, made with clay and glass, and cooked at slightly lower temperatures of 1,200°C. This production method expanded throughout Europe and glass was eventually replaced by feldspar mineral, lowering production costs and increasing durability.
The English further improved upon the production method by adding bone ash to the mix. Allowing for easier production, less chipping, and increased strength which allowed this type of porcelain to grow rapidly within the Western marketplace. This methodology created the type of porcelain widely known as Bone China. These porcelains are then glazed to add colour and decorative elements to the surface.
Porcelain is a very durable and impermeable material. These characteristics make it a great material for sculptural décor and kitchenware, but also a durable solution for architectural and design applications in tile and plumbing accessories. Porcelain tile is fired and pressed at very high temperatures to achieve its strength and varies in colour based on the clay compositions used in manufacturing.
Surface glazings add colour and décor elements and with today’s technology even digital printing on these porcelain surfaces is possible, allowing for infinite pattern possibilities. The surface of these tiles can also be finished in several ways, allowing for rough textures, smooth and matte, or highly polished and glossy. Each of these surfaces present their own set of advantages and disadvantages depending on the intended application.