Whether it’s apparel or architectural touches around the home, consumer hunger to get the latest look has a huge bearing on what sells and what doesn’t.
And as we all know, consumer tastes change fast.
Cement and ceramic product manufacturers face constant pressure to stay ahead of the curve with new innovations and new looks. One of the most effective ways to do this is by using surface coatings to create new colours, styles and effects that catch the consumer’s eye.
Constantly churning out entirely new product ranges from the bottom up is laborious, costly and not very realistic - not when there is so much time pressure on releasing new lines. Surface coatings allow manufacturers to riff on existing concepts and still offer something fresh and exciting.
Plus, what ultimately matters to consumers when choosing ceramics for their home is how it looks. Appearances are literally all about the surface.
At Norkem, we manufacture a growing range of surface coatings and colourants. We’ve seen interest in these products from clients across the UK and Europe steadily build in recent years, as ceramics manufacturers look for flexible, efficient solutions to achieve visually impressive effects.
Our surface coating products fall into three main categories:
Most ceramic surface stains are a blend of metal and ceramic oxides. They can be used as liquids or powders. Powder stains are mixed, kiln fired or dried then ground to a fine powder. We supply a wide array of coloured powder surface stains for dry application but can also supply these as liquid suspensions for direct application or even as water dispersible powders to be mixed with water, or another suitable solvent, on site before they are applied.
The most common way to apply a ceramic surface stain is by spraying. The benefit of this is that it leaves a smooth, even finish. Another advantage is that multiple colours can be used in a spray booth at once to create a limitless range of colours, shades, patterns and effects.
Sand/stain mixes are exactly what the name suggests - a mix of sand and a coloured stain. Premixing a stain with sand helps to give a uniform shade to the finish, while using different grades of sand creates different textures.
Stains can be pre-bonded onto the sand to prevent separation and further increase uniformity. This also means any overspill from sand/stain mixtures can be fully or partially recycle and reused. If stain and sand are not bonded prior to use, any mixture that doesn’t stick to the brick column will separate and cannot be used again.
Ceramic glazes and engobes are more resistant to wear and tear than stains and can prolong the life of the product. Both of these are typically used on roof tiles and special feature bricks where there is a need to counter weathering and surface damage.
An engobe is a coloured slip or liquified clay slurry. It is applied to the ceramic product before firing, so the density of the clay suspension has to be carefully calculated to match the item’s shrinkage in order to avoid cracking and deformation.
As well as finished glazes, we also manufacture and sell frits in various sizes for black spot effects to further enhance the appearance and give an impression of age.
Across all of our surface coatings, we are able to offer a bespoke service to help clients get the exact colour and finish they want to order. Our Product Development team provides rapid turnaround of samples and full technical specification of all coatings supplied.
To find out more, get in touch with us today.