Quarry tile production has its "roots" in the brick making industry and uses raw material very similar to that used in the manufacture of brick products. "Natural" and "durable" are the words best used to describe hard-fired - high quality - quarry tiles.
These low absorption tiles are manufactured then hard fired in kilns at temperatures exceeding 2,000 degrees Fahrenheit. Not all quarry tile is manufactured to such high quality standards as to be considered "vitreous" or low absorption.
Metropolitan quarry tile meets this standard. They are suitable for the most demanding installations and are often the tile of choice for areas such as commercial kitchens.
Quarry tiles are not produced in a quarry as might be suggested by the name. They are manufactured. High quality quarry tiles are made from a mixture of natural ingredients including clays, shales and feldspar.
They are extruded through a die and cut. This extrusion process creates a much tighter/denser body than can be achieved through other processes. The die also creates a ribbed back on the tile to improve mortar adhesion. Once extruded, the tiles are sent through a drier and fired in a kiln.
Because high quality quarry tiles are extruded and unglazed, they are both naturally appealing and very practical. These tiles are slip resisting and are an excellent choice for areas subject to heavy spills and moisture. They also perform well in outdoor applications - even in extreme climates.
High quality quarry tiles also have a tight die skin surface making them resistant to soiling*.
Quarry tiles get their color from the choice of natural raw materials put into the "mix" to create the tile. Quarry tiles with a base of shale generally have a red or brown color. Tiles with a base of clay generally have a gray or beige color.
Some quarry tile is produced with a shade variation from tile to tile. This classic architectural look (sometimes known as flashing) is achieved through controlling the flow of oxygen and gases in the kiln. Whether monotone or with color variation, all quarry tile colors have a natural look that matches well with other design elements.
This combination of features, along with the thickness of the tiles - most quality quarry tiles are 1/2" thick - makes them the right choice for demanding commercial and residential applications indoors and out.
*For areas susceptible to heavy spills and moisture you may choose to seal the tile with a penetrating sealer