Ceramic tile is made of clay and shale that has been baked and hardened in a kiln. The traditional baking, or firing method, is a double-fired process called bicottura. A more modern process called monocottura bakes and glazes the tile in a single firing. The single-step process has many advantages, including producing a tile that is more economical tile, more dense and durable, and has a harder glaze. Prior to the firing process, natural clay colors are sometimes augmented with pigments.
The clay composition, in combination with the firing process, and whether the tile is or glazed or unglazed, creates one of four basic tile types:
Keep in mind:
Have a surface that provides color, design and ease of maintenance.
The higher the firing temperature, the harder the glaze.
Light-colored glazes tend to be stronger than dark ones.
Shiny glazes tend to be softer than matte or satin finishes.
Offer a greater range of colors.
Are more resistant to stains.
Have a color produced from the tile's composition and/or added pigments.
Tend to stand up better to wear.
Their natural surface makes them more slip-retardant.
How It Is Made
Laminate flooring is made of various layers that are fused together. The layers in most laminate flooring include:
Wear Layer - This is the top layer, the one you walk on. It's usually made from cellulose paper that's been saturated with melamine plastic resins that make laminate flooring so incredibly scratch-resistant.
Design Layer - This is the image you see, typically a photograph or patterned print that has been copied onto cellulose paper. Because it is below the upper melamine layer, it can't be marked, scuffed or even fade.
Core Layer - This is the backbone of all laminate flooring. The core layer is usually some form of processed particle board and comes in different strengths and thicknesses.
Stabilizing Layer - This is the bottom layer that holds everything in place. It's usually made from resin-saturated paper, just like the top layer.
In addition, some brands of laminate flooring have an underlayment attached to the bottom. The underlayment is designed to absorb sound and cushion the floor. It is usually made of cork, felt, foam or some similar material.
Laminate flooring is put together in two different ways.
Direct-pressure laminate flooring is the most common variety. All the layers are assembled at once, then heated and pressed to form a bond.
High-pressure laminate flooring is a more recent innovation and is often found in more expensive premium brands. Both the top and bottom layers of high-pressure laminate flooring are treated separately, then fused to core layer under extreme pressure.
Laminate Flooring Care
Laminate flooring was made for modern families. It requires virtually no maintenance and cleaning up spills couldn't be easier. Caring for laminate flooring is much less time consuming and labor intensive compared to other flooring types because of the material you are working with. Cleaning is usually a breeze and generally does not require the expensive cleaning products to get the job done.
Some points to keep in mind to ensure your laminate floor stays in top condition for years to come:
For major cleaning jobs, mop with ammonia or a mixture of vinegar and water.
Don't use conventional soap-based cleaners. If possible, look for citrus-based cleaners.
Never use scouring powder, steel wool or wax strippers on a laminate floor.
Never wax, sand or apply lacquer to a laminate floor surface.
If you're unsure of using any product on your laminate floor, test it in an inconspicuous area first - such as underneath your stove or fridge.