Stone origins: Porcelain
White, translucent, smooth. We can only be describing one thing: Porcelain.
Porcelain has been around for centuries, and is often associated with China – not only the country, but the type of stoneware. Just about anyone has eaten off a porcelain plate, taken a gander at a porcelain tea set in a museum or at the very least walked across porcelain tiles at some point in their lives.
What you might not know is that porcelain, while normally difficult for water to penetrate, is vulnerable to staining and water ingress when polished. This makes surface protection of porcelain essential, particularly if using it for flooring, or anywhere in the bathroom.
The pedigree of porcelain
Like terracotta, porcelain is a man-made material. It is a type of vitrified, or glass-like, pottery, created from the firing of disparate ingredients at incredibly high temperatures, resulting in the unique, non-porous and translucent surface texture of porcelain.
The ingredients which make up porcelain are key to the nature of the finished product. There are a number of products that have a superficial resemblance to porcelain, both in terms of appearance and the way they’re created.
For instance, bone china – a material made from cow bone that has been ground into ash and mixed with kaolin, quartz, feldspar and more – is often confused with porcelain, though many would dispute that it is ‘true’ porcelain, because it is fired at lower temperatures.
The chief elements of porcelain are small particles of clay, silica, and feldspar or flint. These components will be mixed at different proportions, affecting the final composition of the material.
The porcelain process
The manufacturing process of porcelain is typically as such:
- The raw materials are crushed and cleaned and purified
- They are mixed together and formed.
- They are bisque-fired (heated at a relatively low temperature to remove impurities) and glazed.
- They are fired in a kiln at high temperatures.
Clay vitrifies at extremely high temperatures, but also tends to maintain its shape when heated. This results in the glass-like, yet firm and set shape of porcelain products.
Unpolished porcelain tends to be more non-porous, though it’s important to note even it can be damaged by water if the surrounding grout is not sealed. So be sure to make good use of Dry-Treat’s STAIN-PROOF Original™ on or around your porcelain tiles.
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