Outdoor ceramic tiles – the new trend in outdoor paving
Ceramic tiles are known from ancient times. The Egyptians, Babylonians and Assyrians knew the ancient production technology and there are also relics that certify their use in Egypt, 2600 years before our era. Later, ceramic tiles were manufactured in highly developed European countries and the USA. The invention of the tunnel kiln around the year 1910 marked the advance of tile production. At the end of the twentieth century and the beginning of our century statistics placed Italy as a world leader with approximately 25% market share, followed by Spain (13%), Brazil and Germany (about 11%), while USA produced 5% from the total volume, translated to 2.5 trillion U.S. dollars in the 90’s. Since ceramic tile production is closely related to the real estate market, with residential developers as their main clients, spectacular production increases can not be predicted, the few percentages being easily covered by manufacturers. Jeopardized by the over-production crisis, they have invested in developing new types of ceramic tiles, for satisfying the market segment of other building materials.
1. Exterior Ceramic Tiles – General features
Clay is the raw material for tile manufacturing. There were also used natural minerals (feldspar) and a number of additives. Basically, the process remains the same today and for the initial stage, raw materials should be grinded to a smaller grain. Some technologies claimed to be moistening with water, followed by extracting the resulted mixture and later going through the fine grinding stage, the ball mills being intensely used. Basically, the production includes dosage, mixing, grinding, first drying, forming, second drying, glazing and baking. The current technology comprises many automatic operations. Coating with glaze (glass material that melts during combustion and adheres to tile surface during cooling period) developed an extended durability against moisture. The intensive research for this answered a question: is it recommended the use of ceramic tiles for the exterior?
photo source: httpdicimo.com
The current features makes the answer rather affirmative because ceramic tiles are highlighted by durability, low aftercare expenses, affordable price compared to its lifetime, superior versatility, water & fire durability and safe for your health.
2. Exterior tiles – requirements, technical data
An exterior cladding will respond to distinct requests, regardless of its raw material. That's why ceramic tiles for outdoor use will be:
• Hard – according to Mohs scale ceramic tiles will have to conform to hardness levels from medium to harsh, with at least 3-4 degrees on the respective scale. The natural stone used for the exterior is rated at 3-4 on the Mohs scale (travertine, marble, limestone), reaching a value of 6-7 for granite, slate or sandstone.
• Slip resistance – implies the static friction coefficient measured on the surface in dry and wet condition. Lately, tests indicated the need for a coefficient of over 42% for specific surface.
photo source: supergres.com
• Durability to abrasive agents – this classification (PEI rating, from 0 to 5) takes into account surface behavior when subjected to traffic. According to this rating ceramic tiles of class lV or V are suitable for external traffic, commercial applications (supermarkets, restaurants, hotels, exhibitions) or in difficult traffic environments (airports, malls)
• Durability against cold and freeze-thaw cycles – this is one of the drawbacks of natural stone claddings. This requirement raises problems starting with the temperate area where it gets significantly cold. The formed ice produces surface slipping, quite difficult to deal with.
These requirements create new technical problems, while solutions for this problems will increases the prices. And this happens when stone responds to every demand for thousand of years.
However and is precisely because of this, ceramic tiles manufacturers tend to produce spectacular alternatives to natural stone exterior paving. Sooner or later this will create a contradiction between the ecological feature and authenticity of natural stone and the invading pragmatism of manufactured item. Until then, the domination of natural stone in the field will endure. Exterior cladding for pedestrian or auto traffic, whether heavy or low, all made from natural stone, hard and durable are everywhere.
photo source: refin-ceramic-tiles.com
Here are the types of natural stone exterior cladding:
• Cobblestone exterior paving – granite and sandstone are the most popular choices for paving that include car and heavy pedestrian traffic, while marble is recommended for lower pedestrian traffic. The kerbstone on the edges of the roads complement the natural stone product range.
• Natural stone exterior cladding are used for terraces, coping around swimming pool, low pedestrian traffic access roads, exterior stairs etc. Materials include granite, slate, limestone, marble and travertine.
All these natural stone exterior cladding are still trending and there is no prospect of changing. In spite of the fact that ceramic tile manufacturers are always developing complete product ranges for exterior installation, there is still a long road until becoming as popular as natural stone for decoration projects.
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