Technology Transforms Tile

Today’s precision-engineered ceramic tiles can go where no tile has gone before
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Sponsored by Tile of Spain USA


Many new products are also being developed at the thicker end of the gauged porcelain tile spectrum. Load-bearing porcelain pavers 20 millimeters (2 centimeters, around 34 inch) and greater can be used for a wide variety of interiors as well as exterior structural paving, such as roof decks, plazas, and pool decks.

Paver tiles are typically available in 24-by-24-inch, 16-by-32-inch, and 24-by-48-inch formats, with some cut down to 12- or 8-inch planks as well, and they offer significant advantages over conventional materials. As with the very thin-gauged porcelain tiles, the thicker products are an evolution of the physical characteristics of ceramic tile, optimizing the weight and increasing the number of versatile formats while enhancing durability, resilience, and structural strength for a group of specific intended-use cases.

Pavers Indoors and Out

Porcelain pavers are load-bearing but much lighter than competitive materials of the same size, often requiring less labor and time to transport, handle, and install. For example, in high-rise applications, porcelain pavers can easily be brought up in service elevators. Tile is also generally easier to cut precisely with minimal breakage.

In both interior and exterior applications, its nonporous surface requires low maintenance, is slip resistant where necessary, and extremely resistant to external abrasion or scratching by hard tools, equipment, and foot traffic. Many porcelain pavers can give the visual illusion of heavy stone with a fraction of the weight.

As an example, granite pavers are generally 2 inches thick, with technical characteristics comparable to a porcelain paver of 0.75 inches thick. The granite pavers have an average weight of 22.5 pounds per square feet, while their porcelain counterpart averages less than half that, at just 9 pounds per square feet.

Many contemporary tile collections are now supplied in multiple gauges, making it possible to specify a thin-mortared tile for interiors and then a seamless transition to visually identical 20- and 30-millimeter pavers for the exterior hardscape.

As mentioned earlier, the thicker material does not need to be mortared in place and can instead be set like any other paver in sand, grass, or gravel and can even be supported by adjustable pedestal systems for raised access flooring.

Photo courtesy of Tile of Spain

Porcelain pavers resist weather, scratches, and stains and can seamlessly continue the indoors into the outdoors.

Pedestal systems for less than 20-millimeter gauged pavers allow for a myriad of dry installation styles in different environments. Similar to the leveling pedestals used in cabinetry and millwork, the system can completely negate the need for expensive prep work prior to tiling. For interiors, the system allows for raised access flooring design, granting access to a plenum cavity for digital infrastructure and HVAC systems. In exteriors, it allows for premium waterproofing solutions to which traditional mortars cannot bond, and keeps all slopes and drainage from marring the surface of the installation.

Ceramic tile is closely associated with residential applications, but the strength and lightness of gauged tile, as well as new nonslip, highly durable surfaces, are the foundation of new products that meet the performance requirements of high-traffic areas, such as schools, airports, and hospitality, and of areas requiring exceptional hygiene, indoor air quality, and minimal maintenance, such as health-care facilities.

Open plans with cohesive flooring that runs through the entire space are a strong current design trend, not only in residential interiors such as master bedroom/bathroom suites and great rooms/kitchens with adjoining halls, but also in commercial spaces such as offices, flex-spaces, retail, hospitality, and large entertainment spaces, with consistent performance-based flooring selected throughout. Extensive options for color, texture, and graphics with virtually invisible grout lines provide maximum design flexibility in large, high-traffic interiors.

Photo courtesy of Tile of Spain

Gauged porcelain tiles are the foundation of a spectacular consistent theme throughout large public spaces.


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Originally published in Architectural Record
Originally published in October 2019