Invisible protection

Invisible protection

May 2019

TSJ looks at the growing range of antibacterial and self-cleaning tiles and installation systems that are taking the fight to Staphylococcus aureus, Escherichia coli, Pseudomonas aeruginosa, and Enterococcus faecalis.

While ceramic tile is naturally hygienic and contains no VOCs that release gas prior to, during, or after installation, manufacturers continue to innovate and partner with biotech companies to offer products that actively contribute to good health and well being.

The many antibacterial, antipollution, and self-cleaning ceramic tile options now available include Crossville’s Hydrotect.  This is an optional invisible coating with antimicrobial, self-cleaning, and air-purifying effects that is now available for most of Crossville’s porcelain collections.  It is fired on separately from the glaze and so it will not wash or wear off.

Fincibec has developed Antibact, a proprietary antibacterial technology that can be applied to all its ceramic products, producing significant sanitising effects without the necessity of sunlight.  Technica was the first Fincibec line to feature the new technology.

Casalgrande Padana has adapted nanotechnology by Toto to create a self-cleaning, anti-bacterial, pollution-reducing photocatalytic tile treatment called Bios.  This can be applied to all the company’s products, including those for exterior applications. Created by Toto and used worldwide on their waterless urinals, Hydrotect technology has been proven to kill 99.9% of bacteria.  This patented technology is now marketed under the Bios Self Cleaning and Bios Anti-Bacterial names.  It uses silver ions, titanium dioxide, and other noble metals, to not only prevent the spread of bacteria, but to kill them as well.  Unlike other anti-bacterial tiles in the market, those equipped with Bios, such as products from Casalgrande Padana, offer 24/7 protection with or without the presence of sunlight.   They are suitable for wall or floor applications.

Anti-bacterial tiles are often confused with anti-microbial tiles.  Anti-microbial tiles do not eliminate bacteria, but simply prevent bacterial growth on the surface of the tile.  They, therefore, do not provide the same level of protection.  Anti-bacterial tiles are engineered to kill the four most common strains of bacteria and the main cause of hospital related infections: Staphylococcus aureus, Escherichia coli, Pseudomonas aeruginosa, and Enterococcus faecalis.

With Bios Anti-Bacterial and Bios Self Cleaning tiles, high bacteria elimination occurs with the presence of light.  The UV intensity required for the reaction to take place is 0.25 mW/cm2; the equivalent to daylight passing through a window.  The required intensity is just 0.001 mW/cm2 with artificial fluorescent light.

When there is no light, the noble metals remain reactive, maintaining protection.   This is because Bios Anti-Bacterial is not only equipped with Titanium Dioxide (which requires sunlight), but also active noble metals that do not require sunlight.  However, when natural or artificial light is introduced, the rate of bacterial elimination is increased.

Another option is provided by Irish technology firm Kastus.  Their product, Log4+, is a coating that can be used on any ceramic or glass surface to protect against superbugs. This effective antimicrobial solution is said to kill harmful antibiotic-resistant bacteria and micro-organisms such as MRSA and E. Coli.

John Browne, CEO and founder of Kastus, stated: “We are currently collaborating with a number of multinationals who are manufacturing ceramics and sanitaryware. There has been an unbelievable response from this industry and I firmly believe that superbug-free toilets and bathrooms are going to be the next big thing.”

Using nanotechnology, Kastus’s new water-based solution can be applied to surfaces during the production process, rendering the surface 99.9% resistant to superbugs like MRSA, and E. coli.

“Toilets, sinks, floor and wall tiles, shower spaces, bathrooms and wet rooms, as well as all the taps and faucets; all of these can be treated with our antimicrobial solution,” explains Browne, “ which means that you could have rooms which would be completely superbug resistant and in which no bacteria or bugs could survive.”

Building Adhesives offers protection against mould, mildew and microbes with its Microban range.  Microban technology helps keep bathrooms, showers, and all tiled environments cleaner and fresher.  BAL’s range of grouts and sealants, with Microban, offer protection against black mould and potentially harmful microbes and bacteria.  Because the Microban technology is in-built to BAL formulations, it provides continuous anti-bacterial and anti-fungal protection for the lifetime of the products.

Alex Underwood, Head of Marketing at BAL, says: “When microbes and bacteria come in contact with the product surface, Microban protection penetrates the cell wall of the microorganism and disrupts the cell, making the microorganism unable to grow and reproduce.”

BioCote - - antimicrobial protection is a globally-recognised treatment suitable for a range of ceramics.  BioCote’s antimicrobial protection range includes antimicrobial additives for ceramics.  These additives can be introduced into a ceramic surface during the manufacturing process to provide lasting protection from microbes. These additives are suitable for a range of different ceramics, including porcelain.  Resistant to the high temperatures experienced during firing, they provide antimicrobial performance against a wide variety of microbes for the functional lifetime of the ceramic product.  Global brands who benefit from a range of BioCote protected products include Akzo Nobel, Formica, Rehau, and Deb.

Solus Ceramics offer an antibacterial porcelain tile range that can achieve a 99,9% reduction of the four main bacteria families: Staphylococcus aureus, Enterococcus faecalis, Escherichia coli, and Pseudomonas aeruginosa.  The antibacterial material is present throughout the body of the tile and lasts indefinitely, creating the ideal floor and wall tiles for hospitals, research labs, crèches, schools, swimming pools, sports facilities, wellness centres, locker rooms, toilets, kitchens and other food preparation areas.

As well as Graniti Fiandre Active and other products from Iris Group - and - and Casalgrande Padana’s Bios Self-Cleaning ceramics - - one of the global leaders in this field is Laminam - - available from various UK suppliers, including Casa Ceramica.  Laminam and Hydrotect have collaborated to deliver anti-pollution, self-cleaning, anti-bacterial, anti-odour surfaces.  These have excellent hydrophilic properties. When it rains, a film of water is produced to lift up and wash away dirt.

When the sun shines on the material, it responds by creating activated oxygen on the surface. When the pollutants come into contact with the activated oxygen at the surface, they are changed into harmless material.

A Hydrotect coated house (approx. 150 sq. metres) purifies the same amount of air as 1,000 sq. metres of forest.  It also decomposes the volume of NOx produced by 11 cars driving approximately 30 km in 24 hours.

Hydrotect has an antibacterial feature when used indoors, as bacteria are eliminated when they come into contact with the slabs.  Hydrotect also helps to eliminate unpleasant odours deriving from the spread of bacteria and germs, even in the complete absence of light.

Keeping a building’s surface clean applies a considerable amount of environmental and financial challenges. These include the high consumption of water, energy, and the use of harmful chemical detergents. On the basis of photocatalysis, Hydrotect lowers maintenance costs.

Lea Ceramiche - Panaria Group offer the Protect brand -  For instance, Slimtech high performance antimicrobial floor and wall tiles.

Villeroy & Boch’s antibacterial brand is Antibac: an innovative hygiene solution for busy commercial areas featuring a glaze that contains silver ions proven to reduce the growth of bacteria on ceramic surfaces and WC seats by more than 99.9%.  In combination with CeramicPlus and the rimless DirectFlush WCs, AntiBac ensures maximum cleanliness and hygiene for the lifetime of the product.

This anti-bacterial effect has been tested by the Federal Institute for Material Testing (BAM), Berlin and the independent BOKEN Quality Evaluation Institute.

Another German leader in the field is Agrob Buchtal.  It is currently developing a new range of antibacterial tiles, but has long been one of the pioneers in the field with HT; a system based on the principle of photocatalysis.  Light activates the oxygen molecules, which decompose bacteria and germs that are in contact with the tile surface.

Agrob Buchtal HT tiles are available in a range of colours, shapes, and textures.   They are commonly used in public bathroom spaces, such as shopping centres, leisure centres, hospitals, or retirement villages.  HT tiles are recommended in areas where hygiene is of the upmost importance. The tile finish decomposes bacteria, fungi and germs and prevents the development of new pathogens.

Cotto use cutting-edge technology to merge the Nano-silver and Zn-Ag composites into Hygienic Tiles.  This technology guarantees long lasting protection that stops the growth and spread of bacteria.  

Rosa Gres’s Biostop is a collection of porcelain ceramic tile flooring and cladding with BactiBloc, a product that releases silver ions that prevent the growth of bacteria and other micro-organisms.  BactiBloc is integrated in the glaze during the manufacturing process, making the self-protection action of Biostop permanent. Biostop is non-toxic, prevents odours produced by the deposit of micro-organisms on the tile surface and doesn't require light for activation, working with natural light, artificial light or in the dark.

For joints Rosa Gres offers Bio-Juntatec, a cement-based grout and Bio-Crepoxi, an epoxy grout, that prevent the growth of micro-organisms and complete the formation of a complete floor and wall cladding protected against bacteria.  

Grespania’s H&C Tiles are another brand to offer the Hydrotect technology: a titanium dioxide coating that helps reduce environmental pollution and endows the ceramic material with self-cleaning, antibacterial and odour-elimination properties.

Exposing the titanium dioxide to ultraviolet radiation produces a photocatalytic reaction generating active oxygen and breaking down the dirt into smaller, less adhesive particles.  Due to the hydrophilic properties of H&C TILES, water spreads uniformly over the surface, thereby facilitating drag and removal of dirt particles.

Other similar options on the market include FEET’s Porcel-Thin antibacterial tile, Margres’s Microban tiles; VitrA Hygiene (which can be applied on the tiles of Arkitekt Color and Pool series); and Norcros Anti Bacterial Wall & Floor Tile Grout.

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