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Handmade tiles - Rooms with soft values

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A handmade tile is a bit like it sounds, a tile made by hand. From the tile's starting point in the form of clay, to the final touch with stylish glaze and decor. We tell you more about how handmade tiles are made, what differences there are to machine-made tiles and what alternatives there are.

Tile is a ceramic product, which means it is made from clay that is then hardened. And behind the tile hides a long and rich tradition worldwide. Today, the tiles have a wide range of uses and are a given building material when renovating, for example, the home's kitchen and bathroom. Most of the tiles sold on our Swedish market are machine-made, but the solid craftsmanship lives on and for those who want a handmade tile, tiles are available from both Swedish and foreign manufacturers.


There are many reasons to choose a handmade tile over a machine-made one. As with most handicrafts, however, most of the advantages land precisely around the special feeling a hand-made product gives. In addition to the traditional and cultural craftsmanship tradition that the plate tells, there are many who appreciate the aesthetic where no plate is the same. A bit like a work of art, you give your home a personal touch and a rich history with many soft values.


There are, of course, lots of techniques for making handmade tiles. And asking for the right way is kind of like asking how to bake a good Black Forest. The German confectioner naturally responds to a chocolate base with cherry liqueur, the Swedish one has a completely different variant on the meringue base with nuts. But which technique you use in the manufacture of tiles naturally depends on what type of slab you wish to manufacture, just like when choosing a cake base.


Generally speaking, two methods are used in tile production, extrusion and dry pressing. In extrusion, you simply work with a moistened clay, which works excellently if, for example, you want to produce relief tiles but also classic smooth tiles. In dry pressing, clay is used instead which is almost free of water and where the "powder" is pressed together under high pressure and heat between two metal plates. Dry pressing is the most common method for factory-made tiles.


In other words, when manufacturing tiles, clay is always the starting point and is the material that makes up the tile itself. Clays are usually used that are more coarse-grained and porous than for clinker or granite ceramics.

A common approach for hand-made tiles is to string a large mass of moistened clay in thin layers with steel wire. The dough is then rolled out to a smooth and fine surface with a thin cloth underneath. With the clay in the desired thickness and smooth, the tiles are cut or punched out.

If it is instead a relief tile that you are making, you press out the clay into a shape that gives the tile its beautiful motif. In the case of hand-made tiles, it is common that the mold is also made by hand as a first step in production.

With the tiles cut and shaped, the tile maker smoothes the edges of the tile with damp fingers or a sponge, or sands them after drying. The plates must then be glazed and then fired. Which temperature is used partly depends on which types of clay are used. For tiles, it is usually a temperature between 700 and 1,200 degrees.


A popular product when it comes to handmade tiles is that which has been painted by hand with beautiful motifs. The hand-painted tile is available in many different styles and gives a warm and cozy feel to the home's kitchen, bathroom, laundry room or hall. Examples of traditional styles of hand-painted tiles are the Portuguese Azulejo, white tiles with rich blue motifs, or oriental tiles with detailed patterns in lovely color combinations.


Plain tiles and clinker tiles with patterns are usually produced by dry pressing. If we take a trip to the Middle East, we will find beautiful handmade tiles with soft swaying patterns or rich geometric shapes. Here we can also find genuine craftsmanship where the manufacturer has created his own shapes that characterize the tile series on his own, just like for the relief tile.

The starting point for the patterned tile when dry pressing is precisely the pattern. Using a pattern mold in metal, the manufacturer fills in different compartments with paint, which happens directly against the plate where it is then pressed. With the paint in place, the dry clay is sprinkled over, the mold is removed and then the paint and clay are pressed together into a plate.


The price of a handmade tile, on the other hand, is a different amount compared to the machine-made one, which is not particularly strange. Also, it's not as accessible as when you shop for tile at your local retailer. Tile series that become machine-made are usually produced in larger volumes and in efficient stages. The tiles will be almost identical to each other and without "beauty flaws". In other words, apart from the price, it is a matter of taste which one prefers between the two.


For those who appreciate the look of raw tiles but are looking for a cheaper or more readily available alternative, there are machine-made tiles with a handmade feel. It can be plates designed with, for example, a wavy surface structure, thick glaze and slightly uneven edges. Yorkshire is one such example and is a tile range with all three of these qualities. And for those who want tiles in hand-painted style is series Corti an interesting alternative. The tile is Mediterranean-inspired and comes in many exciting variations. Feel free to ask your Stenbolaget store if you would like more options from our range with a handmade feel.

Another option is to combine hand-made tiles with machine-made tiles. It can give a vibrant and unique look to your walls without breaking the bank.

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