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Article is courtesy of INFOTILE.COM an Australian based site

Cottoforte & Majolica

Glazed double fired tiles (i.e. tiles that have undergone two separate firings, the first the biscuit alone, the second the biscuit complete with glaze) with a porous, coloured biscuit, shaped by pressing.

Whilst these two products can be described collectively, we should point out that Majolica remains a typically Italian product that has been available for many decades. It has been used extensively worldwide, almost always as a decorative wall tile. It is always fired twice (bicottura); popular sizes range from 15x15cms to 20x20cms.

Normally these tiles are embellished by the inclusion of a wide range of decorative listellos, insets, strip, edge pieces, inserts and other decorative tile.

Cottoforte on the other hand is a tougher tile, often used in domestic floors where tiles are not subjected to excessive foot traffic.

Technical Characteristics

Despite high water absorption (15%-25%), these products boast good mechanical strength. Intense technological research has granted manufacturers the ability to produce highly decorative wall and floor tiles.


Primarily floor and wall in domestic environments.   These traditional Italian clays can be fired and decorated to produce a wide variety of decorative floor and wall tiles.

White Body Tile

White Body Earthenware & Monocottura Chiara   White Body Earthenware is a tile that has been glazed and double fired, with a porous white biscuit (body) shaped by pressing. This material is ideal for subtle colour decoration. It is widely available in sizes ranging from 15x15cms to 25x20cms. Predominately used as an interior wall tile or for bathroom floors.   White Body Monocottura Chiara is a relatively new material that is single fired, i.e. glaze and biscuit are fired simultaneously. This format boasts low water resistance and is available in numerous sizes up to 60x60cms. Ideal for interior or exterior usage. Extremely durable.   A fine example of highly durable `Monocottura Chiara', from Italian giant Cisa.   Like all ceramic products, White Body (Earthenware) has undergone radical change in recent years. Tiles are tiles, I hear you say, true enough, but in addition to the typical types illustrated in this guide, there are many other variations and special decorative effects that offer consumers an opportunity to mix'n match different styles, finishes and formats to create a truly individual design.   Many of the recent changes in tile are the result of improvements and refinements made to the strength of the tile body (bisque) and the all important glaze, which is inevitably tougher. This has resulted in the appearance of a new floor tile grade. Grade V (refer to table on facing page). Nowadays White Body tile may also be referred to as Monocottura Chiara, or single fired White Body tile. These tiles are produced worldwide, with the centre of production and development based in Italy. Typically produced from iron-free clays, imported from France or Germany, the bisque (body) varies in colour from light grey to beige.   Predominently produced as floor tiles, the finished product has low water absorption (less than 3%) and is widely used for both interior and exterior applications. Normal sizes are 30x30cms or 40x40cms. They may also be produced as large as 60x60cms for special projects (i.e. ventilated walls).   Technical Characteristics Double fired, typical White Body Earthenware tile contains a wide variety of materials, principally kaolinite, the finished product exhibits high abrasion resistance; whilst Monocottura Chiara offers high frost, weather and chemical resistance. Monocottura & Monoporosa    

Monocottura & Monoporosa

In the mid to late 1970s Italian manufacturers like Floor Gres revolutionised the world of tile by producing Monocottura tile. This innovative product was the first ceramic tile produced by a single firing operation. At the time, decorative finish options were strictly limited. The Italian producers had hit upon a process that would forever change ceramic tile production processes. The refinements to that process have been long and evolutionary. Nowadays there are single fired red body and white body tiles available in a plethora of eye catching designs and finishes. Rustic exhibits the same toughness and durability but advances in glaze technology and application, have produced a glazed tile which may be used extensively in a wide variety of domestic and commercial situations.

Water absorption values may vary from 0-20%, but are normally between 3-6%. The common feature of all Monocottura tile is the use of clays containing iron oxides in the preparation of the body.

Available in a wide variety of sizes from 10x10cms to 40x40cms, Monocottura is perfect for interior or exterior wall or floor application.

Monoporosa Tile - Large body format that may look like marble, granite or other natural stones. Perfect for wall and floor tile combinations where it is desirable to achieve symmetrical co-ordination of wall and floor grout joints.   Technical Characteristics High tech material that has good mechanical, physical and chemical properties.

Monoporosa a product developed in Spain, exhibits high fluxural strength, permitting the production of tiles that are very large, yet may be decorated with a wealth of delicate patterns and reliefs, creating a tile format (40x25cms, 30x30cms).


Porcelain Stoneware

(Gres Porcelanato) Visitors to this year's Cersaie, the world's leading ceramic tile exhibition, would have been astounded at the huge increase in presentation of Porcelain tile.

What exactly is Porcelain? Well it consists of a spray dried body of selected clays, kaolinitic minerals, quartz and feldspar, shaped by dry pressing to form a ceramic material that is then fire at temperatures up to 1250oC.

A key element is water absorption that is below 0.5%. Modern Porcelain tile is produced in sizes that range from 10x10cms through to 40x40cms and large 60x60cms and 60x120cms formats that are used to clad exteriors of commercial facades.

New chromatic and decorative effects have been created by experimenting with innovative processes that embellish the expressive potential of Porcelain Stoneware. As a result the new `Porcelain' bears a striking resemblance to natural stones, marble, granite and porphyry. Like mosaic, Porcelain is a product of the moment.

Porcelain is perfect for embellishment by use of feature strips. It's an ideal material for creation of dynamic waterjet technology designs.

Technical Characteristics Resistant to wear, deep abrasion, chemical attack and frost. A non-absorbent material with great fluxural strength. Quality Porcelain will remain constant over time; it is ideal for interior and exterior floors and walls and facades of buildings. It is available in natural, smooth, polished and structured finishes.


A truly ancient and spectacular material that because of its shape and flexibility can be applied to curved or radiused surfaces. Perfect for the interior of pools or any interior floor or wall situation. In its most original forms it was formed by literally combining small pebbles or stones (terrerae) that were used to tile ancient squares, streets, yards, gardens, villas and arcades.

The art of decorative Mosaic tiling is carried on by modern mosaicists who are inspired by the product and its true potential. A key element of this year's Cersaie exhibition, Mosaic is making a comeback.

Manufacturers of ceramic and porcelain tile are producing 20x20mm and 30x30mm floor and wall tiles that resemble mosaic in the ancient pebble format (Fig.1) and in the regular 50mm squares. If you feel suitably inspired and really want to create something totally unique, then turn to ceramic or glass Mosaic available on 300x300mm sheets that can be cut to blend together to create a stunning mural or geometric design.


Mosaic look alike tiles, Ceramic or Porcelain (Fig.1 left) can be used to engender the beauty of a mosaic floor or wall finish. A great innovative development, but remember real mosaic is just as dependable and far more flexible.(Fig.2 right)

(COTTO) Known the world over, this durable material has played a key role in architecture, particularly in Italy where Tuscan and Florentine Cotto is still perceived as one of the truly elegant floor finishes.

Cotto is a ceramic material composed from a selection of clays shaped and fired at temperatures up to 1100o C. The tiles are generally variable in colour, quite porous and usually available in light pink to deep red tones. The material in unglazed.

There are a number of Australian manufacturers of Terracotta and it has to be said that our product is of a very high quality.
Poolside: A natural location for installation of one of the most proven and durable ceramic tiles.
Terracotta is available in a host of different sizes and formats, including hexagonal, octagonal and provencale. The traditional square tile is normally 30x30cms. A modern trend is to combine say an octagonal Terracotta with a 10cm tozzetti of glazed ceramic, marble or even granite, that will provide a durable eye catching highlight amongst the field of Terracotta tiles. Terracotta provides a natural finish which is often utilised on entry steps and pool surrounds because of the number of special bullnose, coping tiles and step treads that are available from virtually every manufacturer. Technological advances have witnessed the advent of presealed tiles, however most Cotto is produced in its natural form. It is advisable to seek professional advice about sealing and maintenance.   Technical Characteristics Terracotta is now regarded as a thoroughly modern material that exhibits low permeability, good compression, resistance to abrasion, weathers well. IIf properly sealed, installed and finished, few materials can compare in terms of aesthetics.      

Natural Stone

Interest in all the Natural Stone continues to escalate, e.g. marble, granite and sandstone. This family of natural materials requires thorough understanding, laying by a professional tiler and an adequate care and maintenance program. Having said that, it is no exaggeration to say that ceramic tile manufacturers worldwide have become passionate about replicating the look of Natural Stone.   There are ceramic tiles that look like timber, slate, marble, granite and in some cases the effect is so realistic you have to bend down and actually feel the material. That's interesting, because no matter which way you look at it, nobody really spends a lot of time feeling carpet or vinyl, but tile, in whatever form, invites consumers to touch it - as if that will impart a better understanding of its aesthetic possibilities or true potential.

Natural stone is perfect for bathroom vanity tops.

  Natural Stone cannot be truly imitated. No two pieces are really the same and it's important to recognise that one must exhibit as much care in material selection at the installation stage as at the point of purchase.

Once again cleaning and maintenance is a key issue, but in spite of potential difficulties, the Natural Stone family offers magnificent potential for creation of a floor or wall finish that will remain durable and aesthetically pleasing for a lifetime.

Article is coutesy of INFOTILE.COM

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