Quarry tile is made from clay extruded, or pushed, through a mold called a die. The extrusion process results in a very dense tile with low porosity. These dense tiles are then dried and kiln fired to make them extremely durable. Quarry tiles are usually not glazed and retain their natural, reddish clay color.
Choosing the type of tile for a project can be tough. Aesthetics, durability and function are all important issues to consider during the decision making process. Quarry tile is an extremely durable tile and is well suited to many applications. As with any product, it does have some drawbacks.
Quarry Tile Production
Water Absorbtion and Porosity
Compared to other ceramic tiles, quarry tiles have a low rate of water absorption. Most ceramic tiles can absorb moisture at between 7 and 20 percent. Quarry tiles only absorb 5 percent. A low rate of water absorption is good, it means quarry tile is less prone to cracking. Although quarry tile doesn't absorb much water, it isn't impervious. It is typically left unglazed, giving it a porous surface that can absorb small amounts of water and other liquids. According to tile maker Metropolitan Ceramics, you may want to seal your quarry tile with a penetrating sealer if it is in a very wet area or an area prone to messy spills. Sealing the tile will help avoid stains.
Because they don't absorb much moisture, quarry tiles are ideal for outdoor installation. Ceramic tiles may crack under freezing temperatures due to water absorption and expansion. Quarry tiles are less likely to crack when exposed to temperature extremes as long as they are installed correctly. They are durable, but not indestructible; waterproof backing is required for successful outdoor installation.
Grout is the weakest point of any tiled surface. No matter how strong your tile is, bad grout allows water to leak behind it, compromising the adhesive, weakening the bond and causing cracking. Mix grout carefully and according to the manufacturer's instructions. Consider using stronger, less porous grout like latex modified thinset or epoxy. Seal the grout every one to three years with a silicone based sealant.
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