What is a cement tile?
The cement tile is a material tile. Its manufacturing process is such that no machine to date has replaced know-how and manual dexterity. Therefore, even today, the manufacture of these tiles is done in a traditional way.
Cement tile manufacturing
Manufacturing always begins with the decorative part and ends with the sole of the tile. First, the color layer is spread at the bottom of the mold. This first layer, or visible layer (3 to 4 mm thick), is made of cement, white or pink marble powder as well as various synthetic pigments or dyes.
For plain tiles, the colored paste is spread evenly across the bottom of the mold. For the patterned models, a metal part formed by compartments separating the colors is inserted in the mold. It’s a divider.
With the right mixture, the craftsman then successively fills each compartment with a cone or a metal funnel. He then distributes the mixture by stirring the mold (20 Kg) over his working space so that the color layer is distributed evenly over the entire surface of the tile. At this point, a drop next to it and the tile needs to be redone.
Before the dough hardens, the divider is carefully removed so that the different tones come into contact without mixing. The colored layer is then stabilized by a dusting of white cement and dry sand. The latter absorbs moisture and avoids mixing colors in the mold.
The next step is to fill the mold with a mixture of slightly damp sand and cement. This sole gives the tile its thickness. The craftsman checks the total thickness of the material using a wooden template before closing it with a very heavy cover.
The tile is finally passed under a hydraulic press: compressed to a pressure of 100 Kg per cm2 (40 tonnes), the cement sole and the colored surface become one. The excess water is then removed by pressure without the material being ejected. This implies impeccable mold quality.
The last operation is the most sensitive: demolding. Once the mold has been dismantled, the tile is colored on the base of the mold without the slightest air trickle to avoid the suction effect. It is therefore necessary to take off the tile without breaking or veiling it.
The cement tiles are then placed face-up against a window for 24 hours. This is the take reaction. They are then immersed in large tubs filled with water for a few hours to make it more robust.
Finally, the tiles are left to dry in the open air and in the shade for 3 weeks. The longer the drying time, the stronger the tile. This harmless step guarantees the good performance of the tile over time.