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Nine Random Facts About Tiles & Ceramics To Blow your Mind


When you consider the term ‘ceramic’ or ‘ceramic tile’, what images spring to mind? – Kitchen Flooring? Dining Plates? What characteristics are evoked when you think of tiles? – Beauty? Cost-effectiveness? Durability? Water-Resistance?

Whatever comes to mind, there are more uses of ceramics and tiles than you might image. To provide just a glimpse into the enormous contribution that ceramics and ceramic tiles have made - and continue to make - to human and societal evolution across history, we’ve brought together a few facts below. We hope this will help you to truly appreciate the wonder behind the deceptively humble ceramic tile.

1. More than One Million Tiles make up the Domes of the Sydney Opera House

The exterior of the iconic Sydney Opera House is covered with more than one million ceramic tiles, which even today are known as the “Sydney tile”. If you want a closer look, the Sydney tile can be procured in any half-decent tile store anywhere in the world today.

Sydney Opera House

Photo credit: Anthony Winning

2. Rocket Scientists Love Ceramic Tiles

Ceramic technology and tiling holds a significant place in ultramodern, cutting-edge rocket engineering technology. Ceramic insulating tiles are used to insulate the space shuttle from the phenomenal temperatures generated on re-entry into the earth’s atmosphere. Engineered ceramics are also utilised in thermal protection systems in the exhaust cones of rockets.

3. Ceramics Save Lives – Literally

Armoured jackets, as used by SWOT teams, the military, and bodyguards, that are designed to protect against high calibre rifle fire, often contain ceramic materials. 

4. Modern Electronics Work Because of Ceramics

Almost all modern day electronic equipment relies on ceramic technology for their functioning. The computer or tablet on which you’re reading this article requires a network of ceramic components such as insulators, resistors, and capacitors. Ceramics are also applied as insulators to protect outdoor electrical equipment. Quite simply, if it wasn’t for ceramic technology, you wouldn’t be reading this article.

5. A Ceramic Tile Can Withstand the Weight of Several Elephants

Everyone knows that ceramic tiles are famed for their strength and durability. However, we may not know just how impressive their compressive strength is. A ceramic tile can easily withstand a compressive pressure of 500MPa. This statistic may not appear to be particularly inspiring. So let’s rephrase it terms of EpT, or Elephants per Tile. A ceramic tile could easily withstand the weight of over 10 elephants without perishing. Now that’s an impressive circus act!.

6. Ceramic Technology is over 25,000 Years Old

We often date ceramics back to the era of the Egyptians around 6,000 years ago. But, the oldest ceramic, the Venus of Dolní Věstonice, discovered in Moravia (in today’s Czech Republic), dates back to 25,000 BC. Now that’s a technology with incredible historical pedigree.

7. A Ceramic Knife Stays Sharper than a Stainless Steel Knife

The incredible hardness of ceramic means that the edge of a ceramic knife remains razor sharp for a considerably longer period than that of a steel knife. So why don’t we all use ceramic knives in our kitchens and operating theatres? The downside is that ceramic is more brittle than steel. Ceramic knives are susceptible to fracture upon impact with hard surfaces – and who hasn’t dropped a knife in the kitchen? 

8. Ceramic Technology Assists People to Walk and Eat

Ceramic materials, which have been bio-engineered to fuse with bone and other body tissue with minimal risk of rejection or inflammation, are used in bone grafts, orthopaedic implants, and orthopaedic replacements. Even dental crowns are made of ceramic material.  

9. Ceramic Tile Fairs Bring the Crowds

Believe it or not, people are nuts about ceramic tiles. Every year millions of people flock to an enormous range of tile conventions, exhibitions, and expos globally. In February this year, over 90,000 industry professionals from more than 65 countries attended Cevisama, the International Fair for Ceramic Tiles in Spain. That’s more than the crowd that witnessed Joshua v Parker, the Manchester derby, or the England v Ireland 6 Nations Rugby Championship finale in Twickenham. 


So how about that? Ceramics and ceramic tiles are ubiquitous and omnipresent. Without them, life as we know it would be quite different.


By The Tile Monk.

About The Author

The Tile Monk lives a simple life devoted completely to tile worship. He meditates on tiles, about tiles. He no longer lays tiles; that’s for his younger apprentices. You cannot follow him on Twitter or Facebook, as his time on this earth is dedicated solely to the contemplation of tiles, and occasional blogposts.

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