Porcelain tiles are the most familiar type of bathroom wall covering. Like ceramic tiles, they're made from natural clay that's been baked in a kiln. The clay used to make ceramic tiles, however, is often mixed with sand and other binders.
Porcelain tiles are made from particularly dense clay that's kiln-baked at exceedingly high temperatures for very long periods of time. The inside of a porcelain kiln can easily reach temperatures of 2,500 degrees Fahrenheit. Before they are kiln-baked, porcelain tiles are glazed. Porcelain glazes are typically a very light coating of glass-like materials.
A History of Porcelain
Porcelain was first made in China. Archeologists have found porcelain relics dating back to the 2nd century B.C. By the 14th century A.D., porcelain was one of the staples of China's trade with the West, prized almost as greatly as silk.
The first porcelain reached Europe over the Silk Road. In the 16th century, after the Portuguese established a sea route to China, so much porcelain was being exported that European artisans decided to try making it themselves. Porcelain workshops sprang up in the German cities of Dresden and Meissen. The "china" produced there became greatly valued.
Porcelain has been used as a building material for room interiors since the late 17th century. Several grand residences in Europe, including the Royal Palace in Madrid, feature rooms whose walls are entirely inlaid with decorative porcelain tiles.
The Advantages and Disadvantages of Porcelain Tile
Porcelain tile is affordably priced and relatively durable. It also comes in a wide assortment of colors. Porcelain, though, has extremely low porosity, which means that it can't be set into place with most grouts. If you work with porcelain, you will need a special setting compound to keep it in place.