If you prefer the strength and durability of porcelain tile over ceramic but you don't want to pay the higher price, consider producing your own porcelain tile at home. To make porcelain tile, you will need access to a kiln since it gets hotter than a conventional kitchen oven. A pottery studio or community college can be contacted for information on using their kiln oven.
Porcelain is more expensive than ceramic tiles because the materials used to make porcelain tile are pressed under conditions that differ from that of ceramic tile to give it more strength. Porcelain tile uses a combination of quartz or silica rock, clay and feldspar or flint, the main component being is kaolinite, a clay mineral. One difference between ceramic and porcelain tiles is their water-absorption ability. Porcelain has a low absorption rate of less the ½ percent.
Step 1: Prepare Porcelain Tile Mix
Prepare the porcelain clay mix according to the packaging instructions. The mix can be obtained online or through a stonemason or tile and flooring store. The mixes come in a variety of colors and styles so you have a broad selection to from which to choose.
Step 2: Create Porcelain Tile Molds
Create molds for the number of tiles needed to complete the job. The tile molds will need to be arranged in order to be fed into the kiln for the first firing.
Step 3: Place Tiles in Low Fired Kiln
Once the porcelain tile molds have been arranged, place the molds into the kiln. The initial firing of the kiln heats the molds up and bonds the pieces together. The kiln should be set on a low heat temperature. Seek assistance in setting the kiln temperature if you have never worked with one in the past.
Step 4: Apply Glaze
After the initial firing, remove the tiles from the kiln and allow them to cool. When the tiles are cool to the touch, apply a glaze to the tiles. This will help to further bond the porcelain molds and help them become tiles. The glaze will be fused to the tile molds during the final firing.
Step 5: Place Tiles in Kiln for Final Firing
Place the tiles back into the kiln for a full firing. This process will seal the porcelain tile ingredients with the glaze and make the final bonded tiles. This process strengthens the tiles and makes them impenetrable to water and moisture.
When the final firing is completed, remove the tiles from the kiln and allow them to cool before handling them. When the porcelain tiles become cool to the touch you can apply paint or shellac finishes to the tiles. Use your imagination to create whatever look you want with the porcelain tiles.
Try different porcelain tile mixes and experiment with different colors to create your own porcelain tiles. You can become creative and add decorative patterns and shapes within the tile molds before the initial firing. If you are working at a pottery studio, ask the owner for tips and suggestions they may have to create a unique porcelain tile.