Monocottura and Bicottura � How Ceramic Tile is Made
A major and important phase of a ceramic tile manufacturing process is the firing step.
In this process, the greenware (unfired clay) is placed in a roller hearth kiln for firing. The
firing consists of high temperatures, high pressures, and firing cycles. Time in the kiln is
varied (depending on the process) and temperature often reache 2100 degree F. In this
method, the tile shrinks up to 15%.
Generally, either of the two processes is applied for the phase of firing i.e., Monocottura
and Bicottura. A description of both is given below to enable an understanding about the
MONOCOTTURA: This is an Italian word meaning "single-fired". It is the newest method
used to produce ceramic tile. In this process, individual tiles are shaped, glazed and fired
in one step, at the same time. The production time of ceramic tile can be reduced to a few
hours collectively by this process. �Monocottura� is an important term to know because many
building contractors who buy and install ceramic tile associate this process with quality
product. Monocottura is a favorable method for producing durable tiles for flooring. The
development of this technology has revolutionized the tile industry, improving the quality of
the finished product and making the production more efficient.
Monocottura tiles are much more durable for use as flooring tile, producing a dense
body and a hard glaze for ceramic tile.
This process significantly speeds up production, resulting in cost savings for the
manufacturers down to the buyers.
Previously, tiles were baked in the kiln (oven) for days. Today, with the Monocottura
method, these tiles can be produced in less than one hour.
Single fired products are produced with a flat back, which makes installation much
easier than the old fashion button-backed or lug-backed tiles.
BICOTTURA: This is an Italian word meaning "double-fired", a similar procedure that
breaks the firing process in two phases. The clay body is baked in the first step, and the
glaze is applied in the second. In reality, Bicottura tiles may go through the kiln as many as
four times. This double-fired method of production has been replaced by the Monocottura
method for making floor tiles. The pros and cons of Bicottura tile are as follows:
The Bicottura method is still considered as the best method when decorative wall tiles
with multiple colors are required.
Bicottura tiles are only recommended for indoor locations, mostly as wall tiles and
backsplashes because of their softer body and weaker glaze. They are also produced
with lugs on the back making installation difficult for use as a flooring tile.