Driven by consumer fashion and product innovation by manufacturers, tiling has an ever-increasing presence in our homes. Many consumers, and in particular those wishing to design and build their own homes, wish to replicate the tiled look that they have seen overseas or when leafing through home decor magazines. They also recognise the many benefits of tiling in the home – providing a long-lasting finish and being hygienic and easy to maintain.
Product trends are helping to drive the growth. Laminated wooden flooring has been popular in domestic homes for many years. Now the latest innovations in tile development mean that the aesthetic of natural wood can be combined with the hygiene and ease of maintenance offered by tiles. Currently, the concrete, or industrial, look is also in vogue. Along with metro tiles (inspired by the shape and finish of tiles from London Underground stations) and an increasingly wide range of size, shape and texture options, it means more choice and inspiration is available to the self-builder than ever before.
The latest trend in tile sizes is towards the larger format versions. Gone are the days when 4 x 4” wall tiles were the only option. Currently, the trend is towards increasingly large tiles and panels of up to 1600 x 3200mm. Use of these types of tiles reduces grout lines and maximises the impact of the tile design.
While the design opportunities in tiling are greater than ever, it is important that the technical issues associated with installing a tiled surface are fully understood and that all work is carried out to British Standards. Following the release of the latest British Standard BS 5835-1: 2018 Wall & Floor Tiling, there are particular requirements regarding the need for mechanical fixing of large-format tiles in certain installations. Other changes include the removal of plywood as a suitable background for tiling – installers should use a bespoke tile backer board instead.
This latest revision of the standard also included a clause relating to workmanship (clause 7.1.3). For the first time, the standard now recognises that the installation of ceramic or natural stone tiling should be carried out with “efficient supervision and the employment of properly trained operatives, skilled to an appropriate level of competence, certified by a recognised authoritative body, e.g. The Tile Association”.
TTA is involved in the development of both UK and international standards, through its participation in the BSI for British Standards and also ISO for international standards. Further technical information on all aspects of tile installation and British Standards is available from TTA.
With a wide range of technical documents, which members can download free-of-charge from the TTA website, TTA is an invaluable source of information for anybody involved in tiling. Registered architects are also entitled to free downloads of TTA technical documents and guidance notes. TTA also conducts training and technical seminars. It is currently running training sessions, open to all, on the subject of large-format tiles.
If things go wrong on site, TTA offers a technical inspection service, which is available to anyone who has concerns about tiling work. Under the terms of the service, one of TTA’s highly experienced technical inspectors can visit a site to inspect the workmanship of any tiling installation. The inspector will assess the workmanship against relevant British and European Standards and provide a detailed written report of the inspection with their findings and a conclusion. This report can be used in court as evidence, should any dispute go to that level. Full details of the pricing for the technical inspection service are available on TTA’s website.
To encourage and stimulate quality and achievement in the industry, TTA runs a prestigious national awards scheme. The awards are an eagerly awaited fixture in the tiling industry calendar. One of the categories is for ‘Best Domestic Project’, which in 2019 was won by Arrow Tiling for its work on a large renovated mansion house in Surrey, including the design, surface preparation, supply and installation of a wide range of tiles and tiling products. It features a 3m-long slab of 6mm porcelain, mitred and polished with down-stands to create an island worktop in the kitchen – tough, durable and practical.
Entries are currently being accepted online for the 2020 awards, which will be held in March next year. TTA encourages anyone who has been involved in an excellent tiling job to consider entering the awards.