Grout care: cleaning and maintenance

By Mark Atkins, Director, LTP

Most grout used in domestic situations, such as bathrooms and kitchens, is water-resistant and not water proof.  This means that while your tiles may repel moisture your grout can often absorb it.  When mopping dirt off the surface of tiles it is the moisture carrying dirt particles that absorbs into the grout causing it to discolour.

In wet areas, such as showers or wet rooms, it is possible to get a build up of soaps, moisture and sebum within grouting. If not cleaned properly this will stay within the grout and encourage mould spores and mildew to grow.

Approaches to cleaning grout
There are many ways to tackle issues of mould growth, mildew and dirty grout between wall, floor and surface tiles. Household chlorine-based bleach, baking soda and vinegar are three common approaches.

While these methods can prove effective for cleaning glazed ceramic tiles, there are a number of issues that can make them inappropriate for use with natural stone and tiles.
General-purpose chlorine bleach cleaners can damage the stone or the protective sealer applied to the surface.

Do not use products that contain lemon, vinegar or other acids on acid-sensitive stones such as limestone, marble and terrazzo, as these may etch the stone surface and damage the polish or sealer.
Do not use scouring powders or creams as these products contain abrasives that may scratch the surface.  This can also apply to glazed tiles.  Hydrogen peroxide cleaners can also be mildly corrosive.  They give short-term cleaning benefits with limited effectiveness on fungal spores, making them poor at preventing re-contamination.

Baking soda is a great option with fewer disadvantages.  However, it can often prove ineffective in tackling stubborn stains and often requires excessive scrubbing to deliver results.

In all cases the use of highly abrasive cleaning tools, such as wire wool, should be avoided, as these will scratch the surface.  Always use an appropriate abrasive cleaning pad designed for natural stone.

Tips for cleaning grout between tiles
LTP has been producing natural stone cleaning sealing and maintenance products for over 25 years.  The company’s goal is to produce highly effective solutions designed specifically for natural stone and ceramic tiles.

To clean dirty grouting on floors and walls LTP recommends the use of LTP Grimex.

LTP Grimex
LTP Grimex is an intensive grease and grime cleaner suitable for intensive cleaning of grout between glazed ceramic or porcelain tiles or unglazed natural stone. LTP Grimex is also excellent for renovating old quarry tiles, terracotta, slate, stone, marble and stone fireplaces.

LTP Grimex will not damage natural stone surfaces, if used correctly.  It does, however, breakdown protective layers of sealer and waxes on the surface.

It is, therefore, recommended that the product be tested on a small inconspicuous area before general application.  Natural stone tiles should also be resealed after use.  Glazed porcelain and ceramic tiles are not affected.

Grout cleaning tips for mould growth and mildew
Grout is porous and absorbs water, especially in humid places like the bathroom.  As a result, fungi such as mildew can often be found growing between tiles, in the grout.

Removing unsightly mould growth and mildew stains can prove a difficult challenge. The LTP Research & Development Team has developed solution to this problem called LTP Mouldex.

LTP Mouldex
LTP Mouldex is formulated to cling to grout and remove mould spores, fungus, algae and moss from grouting, silicone seals and other damp places.  LTP Mouldex has antibacterial properties that help to prevent re-growth.

LTP Mouldex, a 500ml trigger spray, is ideal for use on bathroom and kitchen wall tiles but can also be used to tackle small areas of floor grout.

When grout cleaning tips don’t work
If all your grout cleaning attempts fail, it is time to remove the grout.  This doesn’t automatically mean redoing the entire grouted area.  If the stain only affects a small area, try removing just the small section affected by the mould growth or stain.

For a shallow stain, use a hand-held rotary tool or mini sander to remove just the top layer of the grout.  Take care not to damage your tiles.  Re-seal the grout to give future protection.  A deeper stain means more of the material will need removing.  Removing such a stain may need a fresh coat of grout altogether.

Most important: protect your grout
Whether tackling mould growth, mildew, stubborn stains or ingrained grime, grout cleaning is not the most pleasant housekeeping job to perform.  Most people avoid it as long as possible, which exacerbates the problem.

So the very best tip LTP provides to its customers is to make sure that grout and stone surfaces are protected when they are installed and after intensive cleaning.
LTP advises customers to maintain tile and stone surfaces regularly, and to always top up grout protection after cleaning.

LTP grout protection options
LTP offers two grout protection options.  LTP Grout Protector, which comes in 1ltr bottles, is recommend for sealing newly laid grout.  LTP Grout Protector is a colourless barrier suitable for use in kitchens and bathrooms.  It helps protect absorbent, porous grout joints from water, dirt, oil, grease, sebum and limescale.

LTP Grout Protector is ideal for use on newly laid glazed ceramic wall and floor tiles where in normal conditions unprotected grout joints quickly become dirty. This product is also ideal for sealing grout between natural stone tiles that have been sealed prior to being laid.

LTP Grout & Tile Protector, which comes as a 600ml aerosol spray, is easy to use as a top-up coat.  It helps protect natural stone and all other types of masonry surface.  It provides a colourless barrier that helps to protect porous wall and floor grout joints from penetration by water, dirt, oil, grease and limescale.  Surfaces treated with LTP Grout & Tile Protector are easier to keep clean and repel dirt and grime.  It is ideal for use in wet rooms and shower enclosures as a top up protection for grout after intensive cleaning.

The no obligation LTP Technical Helpline is available on 01823 666213.  Visit www.ltp-online.co.uk to buy from the LTP Range of products or find out more about the company.

Meeting the critical adhesive demands of adhered stone cladding installations

Michelle Costigan, Technical Product Manager, Laticrete UK, explains how the company has developed an installation system for adhered stone cladding that provides a permanent, high strength solution that is freeze/thaw stable and protected from water intrusion, while at the same time allowing for increased productivity utilising either traditional masonry veneer fixing or the ‘tile fitters’ method.

The explosive increase in popularity of adhered stone cladding has created a need for higher performance, factory-produced, materials to assure a consistently high quality installation.
Up to now, the adhered stone cladding has required the use of a site-mixed Type S or Type N mortar: materials that are subject to large variations in consistency, quality and performance and which also limit how the stone cladding is fixed, to that of traditional masonry.

Projects that have been plagued by delaminating stone, water intrusion and other performance issues have left specifiers in need of a co-ordinated solution.  This traditional method is not engineered as part of a complete wall system and therefore does not offer warranties from a reliable source willing to stand behind the installation.

The Solution
Realising these needs, and based on our globally proven technology, Laticrete has developed an installation system that provides a permanent, high strength solution that is freeze/thaw stable and protected from water intrusion.  Backed by the Laticrete 25 Year System Warranty, the Laticrete system allows for increased productivity utilising either traditional masonry veneer fixing methods or the ‘tile fitters’ method.  Help and support is offered to designers, contractors and installers to help understand the range of possible applications and appropriate products and methods which will assure long-term performance on projects of all types.

For over 60 years, Laticrete has led the industry with pioneering advancements, developing high-performance building materials for architects and construction professionals worldwide.  From time-tested to ground-breaking, our broad product portfolio provides superior quality and value.  We are fully committed to innovation, growth and a complete system component approach.  The Laticrete system keeps up with the increasing popularity of adhered stone cladding.  Trust your installations to a complete productivity-boosting system designed to deliver superior, long-term performance on masonry projects of all types including residential, commercial, and industrial applications.  Unlike traditional methods and materials, the Laticrete system is engineered to provide a permanent, high-strength installation that uses a revolutionary waterproofing membrane to protect against weather and water intrusion, and provide freeze/ thaw stability.  The system is designed for thin-brick, manufactured stone and natural stone cladding for interior and exterior applications.  Laticrete industry-leading products provide complete system solutions from the substrate up through the grout for virtually any type of tile or stone installation in commercial, industrial and residential applications. Product categories include surface preparation, waterproofing, adhesives & grouts, all designed to work together, providing a comprehensive installation.

Masonry Veneer Installation System (MVIS)
For external stone cladding installations, the Laticrete system begins with a two-coat application of MVIS Air & Water Barrier;
Laticrete MVIS Air & Water Barrier is a single component, load-bearing, vapour-permeable, liquid waterproofing and crack-isolation membrane.  It produces a seamless, monolithic elastomeric coating and bonds directly to a wide variety of substrates.  Note that if a levelling render is required prior to the application of MVIS Air & Water Barrier, Laticrete 3701 Fortified Mortar is applied first and allowed to dry.

The background substrate is now suitably prepared to receive the adhered stone cladding, for this the appropriate Laticrete MVIS adhesive is chosen.
Laticrete MVIS adhesives are the ultimate, polymer-fortified, adhesives for interior and exterior installation of adhered masonry veneer, stone, ceramic tile, pavers or thin brick.  The MVIS adhesives mix easily with water and are formulated to achieve unsurpassed workability and adhesion. Laticrete MVIS adhesives are available in rapid or standard set, to suit site conditions and the needs of the installer.

If a pointing mortar or ‘grout’ is required for the installation, Laticrete Permacolour can be used. Formulated from a blend of high strength Portland cement, graded aggregates, and colour-fast pigments, it is designed to be mixed with water only and produces a joint that is dense, hard and durable

Working in partnership with industry experts
For internal stone cladding installations Laticrete adhesive have been tested and approved for use with all the major building board companies including James Hardie Building Products.

Steve Twin, European Technical Director, James Hardie Building Products Ltd
“Regarding Laticrete: I have tested their adhesive product in conjunction with our fibre cement tile backing products and found its bond to be considerably stronger than that of regular high quality tile adhesives.  It is the only adhesive that we are comfortable with, at this time, for bonding Norstone to our boards.”

Laticrete in the UK offer technical and site support to architects, designers and contractors on all aspects of stone cladding installations and has been working closely with a number of stone cladding suppliers, one of them being Norstone UK whose cladding systems are used world-wide.

Jack Jago, Director, Norstone UK
“Laticrete has proved to be an invaluable partner to Norstone UK by providing unique warranties for our premium natural stone products.  As we deal mainly with architects, often on very substantial and prestigious projects, it is essential for all parties to have complete peace of mind and we have every confidence in Laticrete’s superb adhesives and unrivalled technical expertise.  We strongly recommend Laticrete to all our clients.”

“Our partnership with Laticrete has allowed us to not only produce bespoke systems for numerous challenging installations but also to provide dual warranties.”
“We now provide a 25 year system warranty for Norstone on brick, block or concrete using MVIS Air & Water Barrier in conjunction with the appropriate MVIS adhesive or a standard 10 year warranty when only the MVIS adhesive is used.”

“We also provide a 10 year dual warranty with James Hardie and Laticrete on internal installations for Norstone affixed with Laticrete on Hardie Backerboard.  Norstone is unique in this respect and we continue to work closely together to develop new solutions and systems.”

“As Norstone is a 100% natural stone product weighing approximately 65kg per sq. metre we were delighted when rigorous testing by Laticrete allowed us to specify and warranty aerated blockwork, giving another cost-saving option to developers.  Needless to say, it also meets stringent U-value requirements.”

“It seems no challenge is beyond Laticrete and we are delighted to work so closely with them.  It gives us and, more importantly, our clients complete confidence, peace of mind and, above all, a perfect installation.”

Protecting external tiles from damage

By Stuart Ross, Technical Advisory Service Supervisor, Building Adhesives Ltd

With space at home a premium these days, more and more people are expanding their living spaces outwards to create much needed, usable spaces.

In September 2011 a publication by the Royal Institute of British Architects entitled “The Case for Space” showed results from a survey which indicated that 49% of people moving home wanted more outdoor space. This was a larger percentage than those wanting larger internal rooms or the proximity of local services.

This trend for outdoor living has led to a growth in the domestic market for external tiles on balconies, large roof/ground floor terraces and patios.

As well as adding monetary value to a property, tiled external areas can be aesthetically pleasing, offering a wide range of colours, textures and finishes. Inside/outside tiling is preferred over cheaper alternatives due mainly to the durability, longevity, life-cost (replacement of materials etc.), and for being low maintenance i.e. easier to clean than many non-tile coverings and structures.
Outside living can also help to promote health and well-being benefits as these extra useable areas for open air living, help to soften heavily urbanised locations and steadily increase the number of green and usable spaces for leisure.

Balconies, roof terraces and patios are part of a trend which is inspired by aspirational and luxury living in suburban and rural areas alike.

When specified with the correct system assemblies for tiling, many types of tile installations are possible externally. This includes the use of finishes such as ceramics, porcelain, some natural stone and pavers.

By selecting the appropriate products and systems;  long-lasting balconies and terraces can be achieved for all year round enjoyment. External areas are important extensions of our living areas and of course should be well constructed, functional and remain as usable as the internal spaces that we occupy so frequently. To ensure this availability, the tile coverings used should be durable, hard-wearing, of suitable slip-resistance and capable of withstanding all-weather types.

Recent estimates suggest that more than 50% of all coverings on balconies and terraces are damaged in Northern Europe due mainly to poor installation and incorrect selection of systems.
The challenge historically has been that poorly constructed assemblies have resulted in visible tile/surface damage which can include, tiles cracking, efflorescence, stained or patchy tiles – all of which can be influenced by excess water residing within the assembly for long periods of time. To expand on this when water ingress and retention is combined with fluctuating temperatures; the outcome can prove destructive to both the covering and potentially the substrate/base.

As water penetrates the surface and permeates through the grout joints and then adhesive capillaries, into the lower levels of the assembly, the water  begins to pose a serious risk to the covering and also the structural integrity of the entire assembly supporting the tiles. Significantly thick screed systems will retain more water and subsequently can take longer to dry leaving the opportunity for this water to become a problem and affording more time for low temperatures to adversely affect it.

Any water that reaches the primary waterproofing has no escape. This puts more reliance upon the waterproof membrane to be functional  as no provision is made for water to drain away efficiently and the more chance it has to sit and find weak points in any primary waterproofing layer.

British Standards provide guidance on  the need for removing water away from the tiled surface and the various layers within the cement based assembly quickly and efficiently. Not only for the purpose of reducing  the risk of frost damage from freeze/thaw cycles expanding trapped water but also for the prevention of void formation, efflorescence and lime bloom. This can also materialise through grout joints and at main water exit points as described below:

BS 5385 Part 2 2014, 6.8.1.4 Balconies and roof terraces states: “The formation of soluble salts can occur when water becomes trapped for prolonged periods of time within cement-based systems.
“It is important that balconies and terraces should therefore be designed and constructed as to allow water to drain free and effectively.”

To ensure that moisture staining, frost damage and efflorescence do not become problems in the future, it is crucial to specify the right products.  It is important to remember that water sensitive tiles and slabs should not be used externally.

The correct combination of products and materials include:

  • Appropriate drainage assemblies – structures with effective falls, drainage and often with reduced thickness.
  • Suitable backgrounds – non-absorbent, rigid, fully cured and dry, unaffected by temperature fluctuations and preferably cementitious
  • Correct selection of adhesive and grout – rapid setting/low water demand i.e. white for light natural stone such as BAL Rapidset Flexible Fibre or BAL Stone & Tile PTB.
  • Tile/slab selection – with low porosity, break-proof, suitable for external use i.e. frost resistant.

Traditionally, external tiles have been fixed directly onto sand:cement screeds, into cement:sand mortar beds, thick drainage screeds, loosely laid gravel bed or by using cement based pedestal systems.

While each has their own benefits, such as ease of use and lower cost, they all fail to adequately deal with water effectively. For example while traditional sand:cement screeds, thick drainage screeds and gravel all absorb large volumes of water, and are prone to the problems highlighted above, water can also travel back up through the screed, gravel bed or adhesive pedestal causing water sensitive tiles and slabs to become stained.

The use of a drainage screed is the answer. Cavity rich, with lots of capillaries, the water drains through quickly and efficiently and also offers reduced shrinkage and deformation. When combined with a quick-setting cement for fast-track installation, drainage mortar seems to be the ideal solution, however drainage screeds alone will not solve the problems with drainage alone. The use of a complete drainage system, including drainage matting, drip/drain edge profiles, drain grates and guttering – such as BAL’s new external tiling solutions – provide rapid and immediate drainage of water.

Water is drained down through the screed and transported from the assembly by means  of a drainage mat situated below the drainage screed or over the primary waterproofing system.
BAL offers three systems, each designed to meet the height and weight requirement of varying constructions and a number of different edge finishes, depending on screed thickness, tile size and thickness and the desired look.

These new products represent a complete range of solutions from the BAL portfolio and work as a system in conjunction with current BAL preparation, adhesives, grouts and sealant products.
This means for the first time architects, designers and contractors are provided with a true ‘one-stop-shop’ for balcony, terrace and patio systems for a range of different coverings.

At BAL our Technical Advisory Service is fully equipped to provide support to contractors, architects and tilers – including NBS M40/M10/M20 specification assistance, on-site consultancy and expert technical advice on external tiling projects.
BAL Technical Advisory Service: 0845 600 1 222
Innovation and Technology Centre: 01782 591120
W: www.bal-adhesives.com

Wall and floor tile trends make a big impression at Surface Design Show

Tile & Stone Journal offers highlights from a very strong showing by ceramic tile manufacturers and distributors at the recent Surface Design Show, held at the Business Design Centre, Islington.

TheSurface Design Show 2017, incorporating Light School, took place at the Business Design Centre, London from 7th to 9th February 2017. Over 170 national and international exhibitors showcased some of the most innovative surfaces that the industry has to offer, with many of the exhibitors unveiling new surfaces designed specifically for the architectural, design and construction industries.

The show featured a packed programme of events; all designed to inspire and engage.  They included the Preview Evening Live Debate hosted by David Michon and the popular PechaKucha Evening – an informal and fun presentation of inspirational slides, which is hosted by Phil Coffey of Coffey Architects and included speakers Chris Dyson of Chris Dyson Architects and Matthew Driscoll of Threefold Architects.

The ceramic tile sector made a very strong showing at SDS, anlongside a wide range of other new surfaces.  To highlight just a few of the non-tiling highlights, Bay Gallery Home presented the world’s first Australian Aboriginal interiors collection, My Country.  The range of wallpapers, ceramic wall tiles and rugs reference the Aboriginal philosophy and creative process.

Spectral Lighting showcased IRIS L; a striking design made with dual sided LED boards, bringing the benefits of highly efficient LED lighting to a visually stunning aesthetic.

Changing the Faces of Composites showed off  Kimorra; a brand of laminate veneer sheets which transforms textiles into materials for hard surfaces. The thin and flexible sheets are strong and durable, suitable for furniture making or to be used in a panel form.  Kimorra gives the look of a textile while eliminating the practical issues related with such a material.

V4 Woodflooring returned to Surface Design Show with a new specification range, The Wild Wood.  This brings together new bespoke collections sourced from specialist mills across Europe, to sit alongside V4 Woodflooring’s high quality stocked wood flooring ranges.

Rust on a Roll by Innerspace confirmed that the industrial look is highly desirable but difficult to achieve.  It provides an authentic alternative to rusted steel sheets with real rust particles used in the manufacture of the product.  Every sheet of rust on a roll is individually hand finished meaning there are no repeats.

Evan James introduced Applicate 2.5, a new addition to the Applicate interactive 3D wall covering range that demonstrates the natural beauty of Birch Ply.

Based upon the concept of a peg board, laser cut ‘shapes’ can be moved and repositioned to slot into the specifically designed pre-cut holes, fostering limitless pattern and colour possibilities.
Among the many exhibitors launching new products at Surface Design Show 2017 were Arnold Laver, Altfield, CDUK, FINSA, ITC Natural Luxury Flooring  and Pfleider.

SilicaStone by Alusid is a sustainable surface material made in the UK from 100% locally-sourced recycled glass and vitrified porcelain.
www.alusid.com

Amarestone is one of the UK’s leading importers of French limestone for flooring, cladding, blocks and bespoke fabrication.
www.amarestone.com

Ariostea manufactures some of the largest porcelain slabs available on the market. The maximum size is 3,200 by 1,600mm, 6mm thick. These technical porcelain slabs are suitable for a wide range of applications.
www.ariostea.it

Armatile specialises in the creation and manufacture of innovative tile and mosaic surfaces for interior, commercial and residential design projects.

The Versatile Collection is created in a single geometric form that can be laid in different patterns to create a large range of contemporary surface designs.  It is available in 148 by 148, 295 by 295 and 590 by 590mm formats and a choice of colours and finishes.

Inspired by Brutalist style of architecture, with an emphasis on materials, textures and construction, Armatile’s new 3D Collection produces highly expressive forms to highlight bespoke floor and wall surfaces. The unusual shapes and heavy looking material colours combine to create depth and structure in the perfectly flat surfaces.
www.armatile.com

BAL is the market-leader in full tiling solutions.  Working with architects, designers and contractors, BAL provides innovative products and technology backed by industry-leading project and technical support.

BAL Level Max has been formulated for levelling floors of varying heights from 3mm to 80mm in a single application. Suitable for commercial or domestic projects, it is fibre-reinforced, meaning it can be used over a range of substrates, including wooden substrates, at 3mm depth.  BAL Level Max outperforms competitors in shrinkage, bond strength and flexural strength.
www.bal-adhesives.com

Bedrock Tiles are commercial tile suppliers who specialise in supplying project tiles to architects and interior designers.

Imperial is a porcelain tile that provides an immaculate replica of natural stone.  This family of residential and commercial floor and wall tiles is available in six colours, each imitating with true realism a particular type of natural stone.

With matching mosaics, shapes and wall tiles, this is a very versatile design collection.

The Hyster range of porcelain floor and wall tiles represent the finest in Italian manufacturing. Blending an industrial, worn metallic look, this range can be used across all sectors of design.
www.bedrock-tiles.com

Blueprint Ceramics is a UK market leader in the supply of porcelain and ceramic tiles for commercial projects.  The company has great experience in meeting the needs of interior designers and the architectural market.
www.blueprintceramics.com

Caroline Hough Design creates interior surfaces using Timber and Resin.  Inspiration comes from exploiting the timbers’ natural edges.

The company’s Iron Resin and Boxwood concept uses sliced boxwood cast in to a charcoal grey resin.  Sealed with a clear polished layer resin, this material can be used internally. All of Caroline Hough Design’s surfaces are hand-crafted to order, making each one unique.
carolinehough.wix.com/carolinehoughdesign

CED Stone Group is one of the UK’s leading suppliers of hard landscaping products. With extensive stocks at five nationwide depots, CED provides expert advice and excellent service.
The Tier Standard Range is an architectural range with two components; panels and quoins/corners.  The panels are all a standard size.  Tier Standard is available in six colours: Black Slate, Multicolour, Quartz, Rustic Granite, Thin Slate and Red Sandstone.

Extremely cost effective, Tier is said to be a fraction of the cost of a traditionally-built stone wall.  The large panel size means bigger and more random stone sizes can be used.
www.ced.ltd.uk

Ceramiche Caesar is synonymous with top quality porcelain stoneware.  Project Evolution, Caesar’s architectural surface project, provides extra large porcelain stoneware slabs in sizes 1,200 by 2,400 and 1,200 by 1,200mm formats. Thanks to the new collections, Project Evolution palette of colours has grown from 11 to 26 colours to cater for even more design requirements. Along with the marble, metal, travertine and concrete-effect tiles, there are three new products: Portraits, stone-effect porcelain stoneware; Layers, contemporary surfaces in line with the latest trends in design, and Tecnolito, the ideal tile for any type of project.

The 1,200 by 2,400mm and 1,200 by 1,200mm extra large sizes are ideal for tiling walls without cuts and without horizontal grouting joints. Perfect for bathrooms, they offer new opportunities for enhancing the value of floors and walls of residential and commercial spaces.

Project Evolution slabs, 9mm thick, are modular and can be combined with other products in the Caesar portfolio to multiply the synergy between materials, sizes and colours.

Layers comes in eight tones: charcoal grey, two antithetical grey colours (Cold02 and Cold03), a cotton white with pearly reflections (Blank00), a warm and welcoming beige (Warm01), a chestnut brown with a bold character (Warm02) and a deep sepia (Warm03).

Portraits is a collection of seven stone-effect porcelain tiles, each with its own distinctive features, but all sharing the same instinctive beauty and extraordinary strength of character.
www.caesar.it

Concreate floor and wall panels are an innovative alternative to conventional surfaces. Simple to install, transforming interior spaces quickly, using less material than conventional, heavy, poured and polished concrete solutions.

Concreate wall panels are only 4mm thick and weigh less than 7 kg per square metre, making them suitable for many uses other than just walls and ceilings.

Concreate floor panels are ready for installation straight out-of-the-box. They are incredibly durable and have a soft texture underfoot.  Fire- and water-resistant, Concreate also has excellent built-in acoustic and thermal properties.
www.concreateflooring.co.uk

A glass design and production studio specialising in hand-made, bespoke commissions, Daedalian collaborates with architects and interior designers to create unique luxury glass for private residencies, 5-star hotels, and super-yachts.

Typical is the Magpie Café in Whitby, once hailed as the `best fish and chips in the country` by Rick Stein.  The seafood restaurant opened in approximately 1939, but the building dates back to 1750.  Daedalian’s brief was to create a glass panel that could act as a divider within the seating area of the restaurant and yet was in keeping with the style of this iconic restaurant.

Davia Walmsley, the founder and creative director at Daedalian Glass Studios, spent the day in Whitby sketching the harbour area and creating the design.
www.daedalianglassstudios.com

Design Concrete provides a cement-based decorative surface. Unique, thin and flexible, it can be applied seamlessly to interior and exterior walls, floors, kitchens and bathrooms.

Design concrete is not well known in the UK, but is very popular in France, where it is known as Béton Ciré. It is a mixture of Portland cement, silica sand and polymer resins, with natural pigment added to provide colour.

Unlike polished concrete, which is a traditional concrete that is merely polished, design concrete is applied in the same way as plaster and is only 2mm thick. The finished product is hard-wearing, flexible, seamless, versatile, with a tactile finish and is resistant to abrasion and staining. It is waterproof and can be applied to interiors or exteriors, including swimming pools. Colours and finishes can be tailored to suit any design.
www.design-concrete.co.uk

Dural (UK) offers a comprehensive range of profiles, mattings, movement joints, linear drains and stair nosings they are engineered to be used in conjunction with ceramic tiles and other hard surfaces to provide the vital finishing touches to any successful installation.
www.dural.de

EK Colours produce playful, hand-printed glazed surfaces that are intended to create a human connection, while the material’s permanence adds value to any project, be it domestic or commercial.
www.ekcolours.com

The Contract and Specification division of Twickenham-based ESL Ceramics specialises in supplying high quality porcelain, ceramic tiles and mosaics for residential, student accommodation and hotel projects across the UK and Europe.

First previewed as a new concept at SDS 16, Chic Modular has proved a very popular contemporary 3D ceramic tile range.   It is available in matt and gloss finishes in a neutral palette.

Elements Aura is a new range of glass mosaics in a 25 by 25mm format with a circle indent on the surface.  This forms a stunning 3D effect and allows light to bounce from each individual mosaic chip. There are ten colour options.
www.eslceramics.co.uk

Fila specialises in surface care solutions for marble, natural stone, porcelain, terracotta and wood. Its products are recommended by over 220 leading manufacturers of wall and floor surfaces.
Fila focused on its growing support division – Fila Project Division – at the Surface Design Show.  Set up to provide continual assistance to manufacturers, planners, contractors and builders, the division offers services spanning from advice on daily cleaning regimes to extraordinary maintenance.

The Division delivers a turnkey service for site management. Working alongside clients, Fila treatment specialists assist in identifying the best solutions for cleaning, protection and maintenance of any surface. Support spans from feasibility study to analysis of materials through laboratory tests, and from on-site technical assistance, to management of ordinary and extraordinary maintenance.

Products from Fila’s Green Line also featured at the show, including award-winning water based sealer, Fila MP90 Eco Plus. Visitors will had a sneak preview of a new anti-etching treatment that will be launched by Fila later in the year.
www.filasolutions.com/en

Float Glass Design, who produce bespoke cast glass for architectural projects, launched a new collection of coloured cast glass in 12 colours for a range of applications.

Textured glass offers exciting possibilities as a design element in a wide range of architectural applications. It has the unique ability to perform as a decorative feature as well as a functional and structural building material.

The company’s textured glass features create obscurity/privacy with maximum light transmission.  The panels are safety toughened to meet British and European safety standards, and can be back painted or mirrored for cladding purposes.  If required, custom designs or logos can be embossed into the textured glass.

SDS saw the introduction of Spectrum, a new range of coloured textured glass.  Available in 12 bright colours this range can be applied to any of the textures in the company’s Textured Glass range.
www.floatglassdesign.co.uk

Founded in Carrara Italy, and now also operating in UK, Fontanili aims to offer the highest stone quality and advanced manufacturing for projects.

Palissandro is an exclusive variety of eight marbles (nuvolato, bluette, bronzo, oniciato, crevola fiorito, classico, bronzetto and reale) quarried in the north of Italy. This material is becoming more and more popular due to its aesthetic variety and wear resistance.  Projects featuring this material include the Hilton Hotel in Shekou, China, the Radisson Royal in Moscow and the Marriot in Baku.
www.fontanilimarbleuk.com

Glaast provides comprehensive glass services and products for designers, retailers, manufacturers and trade customers. The company’s printed glass is made to measure and offers the perfect marriage of style, function and practicality. Suitable for all interior areas, it allows architects to design a surface that is hygienic and resilient to temperatures, while still remaining visually striking.
www.glaast.co.uk

Grestec Tiles is a leading supplier of commercial floor and wall tiles to the UK’s architectural and specification market.

Grestec Tiles’ Diesel Living explores five moods, combined with aged fabrics, canvas and jute, while interpreting an urban/grunge style in line with the hard rock aesthetic of the Diesel brand. Grestec Camp is one of five ceramic tile ranges which form the Diesel Living concept.  Grestec Camp maintains the well-known military style of the Diesel brand; combining canvas, hessian and tarpaulin effects with the glossy glazed surface of ceramics, and the hard surfaces of stone.

Grestec has collaborated with Iris Ceramica to introduce, and exclusively supply, the range to the UK architectural market.
www.grestec.co.uk

Gruppo Ceramiche Ricchetti’s Cerdisa brand presented new tile design that continue the search for aesthetic appeal and functionality.

In the EC1 range, two fascinating shades of grey underline and complete the chromatic range of this technically-advanced range.  It provides neutral, refined urban tones that complete the favoured palette of contemporary domestic architecture.
www.ceramichecerdisa.it

New Image Stone is a leading supplier, manufacture and installer of natural stone products to the high end residential and commercial fit out sector.

Its portfolio includes Agora Beige, a limestone with an elegant cream vein structure;

Apuano Leathered, a white to grey marble with a tactile and warm leather finish; and Grigio Acqua, an elegant grey-veined marble.
www.newimagestone.com

Onix Concrete Tiles launched in the UK at the Surface Design Show.  Onix offers a series of concrete tiles designed to create refined, sophisticated spaces that accentuate the desirable qualities of concrete.

Kew is a large format square tile, 20mm thick, with a polished surface finish.  It is available in six colours.

Flint is a large format elongated rectangular tile, also 20mm thick and polished and also available in six colours.

Pave is a large format rectangle tile.  Once again it is 20mm thick, polished and available in six colours.
www.lowinfo.com

Porcel-Thin bills itself as the most technically advanced thin porcelain tile developed to date, combining large formats and ultra light weight.

A great example is Book Match 1,200 by 600mm; an exquisite collection of incredibly realistic book matched marble- and stone-effect porcelain tiles printed onto large format 1,200 by 600mm tiles, that combine to produce one giant continuous stone pattern
www.feet-international.com

Robel offers in-depth tile and surface expertise.  As well as supplying an extensive range of tiles, Robel produce high quality bespoke surfaces for any application, working with clients to create solutions for projects.

The portfolio includes hand-made encaustic tiles called Origin which tap into a rich tradition that goes back centuries, with the addition of unique features that sets it apart.  Entirely bespoke and given a light polish, Origin has a speckled finish.  Suitable for wall and floor use, there are over 200 patterns and 88 colours.

Beton tiles, worktops and bespoke surfaces draw on the organic minimalism and versatility of concrete; an ever-appealing material for designers.  Robel’s team of creatives and craftsmen can help architects and interior designers to create unique works of art.  The range offers 22 colours and a choice of four finishes, plus a choice of different aggregates.
www.robel.co.uk

Skarlis Marble occupies a large modern plant in Greece with an exclusive quarry on Skyros Island.
The company portfolio includes Silver Dark; a Dark grey marble with whitish veins and rare yellow details. This plain, uniform and durable material is recommended for larger projects.
Yellow Whitish has a white background with yellow and scarlet veins. It is an elegant translucent marble of stunning beauty.

Golden Sky has a blue/grey background, white veining and yellow patches. It is a really resistant marble, suitable for any project.  Its neutral colour makes it complement any kind of decoration from the simplest to the most luxurious one.
https://skyrosmarble.com

Portuguese luxury wall and floor tile supplier, Skuare79 has honed its keen instinct for style through its work as a producer, innovator and decorator, resulting in a polished and refined aesthetic while maintaining a high practical sense.
www.ideiasedetalhes.com

Solomon and Wu offer luxury surfaces designed, developed and manufactured in the U.K. Combining industrial processes and hand-crafting, the company produces commercially-focused products for the retail, hospitality contract markets.
www.solomonandwu.com

Solus Ceramics is one of the UK’s leading suppliers of commercial wall and floor tiles, offering a range of more than 60,000 porcelain, ceramic, glass, metal and natural stone products.

Nostalgia is a distinctive range of vintage inspired 100 by 200mm wall tiles. The wide range of neutral coloured plain tiles look beautifully hand-finished and are complemented by similarly authentic looking and randomly packed decor tiles.
www.solusceramics.co.uk

Stone Consultants offers expert advice on Building regulations, Codes of practice, fit for purpose, specifications, selection of material, quality control, expert witness, contract management.  The company’s ethos is to support every client to find exactly the right stone for each project.
www.stoneconsultants.co.uk

Strata Tiles delivers high quality, innovative and bespoke tile and stone products with outstanding technical support.  Strata is well-known for sourcing inspirational products from a select group of world-wide manufacturers.

This year Strata showcased a new laminated marble range.  Joined with glass and fibreglass to create strong, lightweight and transparent products for use in both external cladding and surface decoration.

Strata Tiles takes pride in the provision of high quality products  across diverse sectors including high street retail, car showrooms, private offices, residential property developers and some of the UK’s largest transport hubs.
www.stratatiles.co.uk

The Surface Design Studio specialise in custom printing for architectural and interior design projects, with an innovative approach and a commitment to pioneering digital printing methods.

The company’s tile murals offer a versatile design option for all kinds of spaces. SDS work in partnership with designers to interpret each brief.  Design flexibility means that SDS is comfortable working on contemporary or traditional projects, both small or large-scale.  All products supplied are high-fired ceramics and meet industry specifications for colour fastness and durability. The digital technology used ensures that the murals are durable, will not fade, are fully weather resistant.
www.thesurfacedesignstudio.com

Tile Merchants is a specialist importer of tiles from manufacturers throughout the world, offering an extensive range of high quality porcelain, ceramic and mosaic tiles to suit the specification market.

One of Tile Merchants best sellers is Blizzard; a 300 by 600mm porcelain tile suitable for both wall and floor.  It comes in five colours; Avorio, Grey, Mocha, Pearl and Sand.
Habitat is a ceramic wall tile range with décor and matching floor tiles.  This HD Digital 200 by 600mm wall and décor and 316 by 316mm floor tile range comes in five colours; Blanco, Cream, Grafito, Moka and Pearl.

Finally, Chester is a modular porcelain tile range in 250 by 250, 250 by 500 and 500 by 500mm formats.  This striking floor tile comes in silver and beige.
www.tile-merchants.co.uk

Tile of Spain is the voice of the Spanish tile industry, encompassing more than 100 manufacturers. Spanish tiles offer high-performance solutions to flooring, wall coverings and external paving and cladding.  For details of the Spanish factories at Surface Design Show 2017, turn to Tile & Stone Journal, February 2017, page 48.
www.tileofspain.com

Tiles 4 Architects’s T4A11 is a porcelain marble-effect tile available in three designs, polished or matt finishes, five sizes and mosaic sheets.  A beautiful traditional tile is also available in Castellon (brown marble ) and Portovenere (negro marble) colour options.

T4A68 is a natural wood wall cladding, ideal for feature walls.  This interlocking tile, 20 to 30mm thick, is available in four rows or eight rows.  The colour options are natural, white wash, erosion and random four colour.

T4A70 is an eclectic range of tiles in muted colours and fabric-effect patterns. These porcelain tiles are suitable for wall or floor applications. With large formats and unusual shapes, this tile range has a style of its own.
www.tiles4architects.co.uk

Treniq, a B2B marketplace, enables professional buyers to source luxury interior products at trade price, directly from sellers, without paying commission.

One of the current on-line portfolio’s stars is antiquity quartz which has been used to craft exquisite jewellery and other highly prized objects for millennia.  Now, Sonite’s advanced manufacturing techniques make possible the exceptionally thin Neo-Quartz mosaic collection, with a design that subtly emulates the rich earth-toned spectrum of natural quartz.
www.treniq.com

Valverdi is a range of co-ordinating 10mm indoor and 20mm outdoor porcelain tiles, designed to create flow between indoor and outdoor living spaces. Valverdi Indoor-Out creates a seamless transition from inside to the outside.

Available in a wide range of striking colours, Valverdi Indoor-Out tiles look stylish, are slip-resistant, and are completely colour-fast, ensuring that your tiles will look stunning throughout their life.  The enhanced slip resistance of the 20mm tiles make them ideal for outdoor applications from patios to swimming pool surrounds.

Strong, tough and hard-wearing, these tiles resist mould, moss and stains.  Frost proof, they are calibrated to ensure all tiles are of an even thickness.

With a rugged, textured finish and choice of three striking colours, the Quartz range gives the look of natural stone with all the benefits of Valverdi porcelain making them perfect for modern kitchen and patio installations.

The sandy colour of Jerusalem White Fossil brings a light and spiritual feel to any room, and adds a bright Mediterranean look to patios.

Glowing with warm and rustic beige tones, the Jerusalem Seashell Beige tiles would not look out of place in a relaxed country environment.

Both these ranges are offered in a 600 by 600mm format,10mm thick.
www.valverdi.co.uk or www.htw.co.uk

Waxman Ceramics’ specification division helps architects and interior designers choose high-quality surface solutions, such as mosaics and large format tiles, for various residential and commercial projects.

The Wood Collection is the ideal surface solution for those looking to incorporate classic design with modern demands. By mimicking the key features of wood in the more durable material of porcelain, with the aid of digital printing technology, homes and businesses can now benefit from surfaces that have a classic look and yet are exceptionally durable. These wood-effect tiles are perfect for use in bathrooms and kitchens due to their water resistance and anti-slip characteristics.

Concrete-effect tiles can be used both in residential homes and commercial design projects. More durable and resilient to staining and wear than the actual material itself, the latest brushed concrete-effect porcelain tiles can replicate a continuous, uninterrupted effect due to the latest extra large-format offerings.  Available in many colour and sizes, concrete-effect porcelain tiles are very versatile. The possibilities of combining larger format styles on floors with smaller counterparts on walls add texture and further depth.  The introduction of thicker, 20mm, large format tiles means that the concrete trend can meet the design trend of indoor/outdoor living.  By using a combination of sizes, colours and thicknesses, larger format concrete tiles can span floor areas both internally and externally, while facilitating open plan living. The ideal choice for most design projects.

With demand increasing for larger format tiles, for both residential and commercial projects, Waxman Ceramics’ new 75 Collection offers surface solutions to meet most tastes with porcelain tiles that mimic materials from marble to brushed concrete … diverse, robust and stylish.
www.waxmanarchitectural.co.uk

Since 1959 Zanuso Legno has produced veneer, sawn wood and lumber.   In the 1990s Zanuso Legno launched Q5; a sawn wood in thin layers.  In 2009 this was followed by Thermowood, an alternative wood treatment that enriched the range of possible colours.

This year Zanuso Legno presented StoneOak; wood extracted from the earth with a certified centenary history. The name evokes stone to communicate the colours and textures of the material.  It is a very rare wood extracted from the earth after being covered and wrapped under layers of clay for thousands of years.  It is created when logs that have slipped beneath the ground as a result of landslides and upheavals of the forest area were wrapped and protected under layers and layers of clay. The anaerobic environment inhibits the development of micro-organisms, thus preventing the inexorable process of slow degradation.

Over time the wood’s structure changes as mineral salts combine with the existing wood matrix, gradually transforming the organic state and creating a material with a unique range of colours and depth of texture.
www.zanusolegno.com

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Cutting champions

TSJ provides some additional fuel to the raging debate concerning the question of which are the best manual and electric tile cutters on the market.

nyone who has spent time reading the postings on the UK’s online tiling forums will be aware that the question of which is the best professional tile cutter, while fiercely debated, has no definitive answer.

When it comes to cutters, it seems, the UK tiling fraternity falls into many different camps, or should that be tribes.  Many stress the particular virtues of Rubi, Sigma and Bellota.  However, many less established brands also feature regularly.
The issue is complicated by the great bargains on offer at nationwide tools outlets, such a Screwfix, where heavy duty cutters can be sourced at knock down prices.

What is not in dispute is that a good cutter remains the tiler’s best friend.  And with extra large formats gaining traction, and porcelain tiles gaining market share, the demands on cutters have never been greater.  In the end the selection will come down to personal choice, which will be greatly influenced by each individual‘s physique and cutting style; as well as by type of tiling work most regularly undertaken.

This article will not answer the ‘best cutter’ question, but it will reveal the breadth of choice in the market today, and also highlight the technical features that each of the leading manufacturers believes makes their cutting machines worthy of particular consideration.

Rubi
The Rubi range of electric cutters provides professional fixers with the tools needed to make those cuts that cannot be done with a manual cutter, quickly, easily and with high quality finishes.   This range is designed to save users time and increase the efficiency of their work.

The DS-250-N Laser & Level electric cutters and mitre saws range offers highly accurate mobile heads that are ideal for mitre cuts.  Its powerful 3hp motor makes the DS-250-N Laser & Level range suitable for cutting and mitring of all types of ceramic tiles and especially porcelain tiles.  The DS-250-N are also an ideal solution for cutting natural stones such as marble, granite, slate, etc.

The DS-250-N Laser & Level has a motor assembly, mounted on precision sliding bearings, which helps obtain perfect cuts.  The aluminium structure is light yet offers high resistance to normal working conditions.

The DS-250-N Laser & Level range can hold blades of all types; continuous rim, turbo, segmented, etc, and works with 250mm diameter blades.

The system of retractable legs offers extra protection during transport and storage , while the built-in wheels facilitate handling and movement over short distances.
Maintenance is minimal, thanks to the aluminium chassis; while daily cleaning is very practical and easy due to the removable tables and trays.

The DS-250-N Laser & Level includes a 2 mW power laser tracer that facilitates cutting visibility and positioning, as well as a spirit level system for installing the electric cutters and mitre saws at the work site.

There are three models: 1000, 1300 and 1500, with cutting lengths of 1,020, 1,320 and 1,520mm respectively.

Rubi’s Star Max range of manual cutters is suitable for cutting glazed stoneware and tiles. The range features chromed steel guides with anti-corrosion treatment for greater durability.  These manual cutters have closed slides, made of POM, for greater bending strength.  They are said to offer tile fixers better and smoother sliding when scoring.
The cutters are also equipped with an aluminium mobile breaker assembly, that is robust and has great breaking power for diagonal cuts.

Rubi says that the dual guide system gives greater visibility of the scoring and cutting line.

All Star Max models include folding side arms to increase the support area in large format pieces; while a 6mm STD scoring wheel with a tungsten carbide roller guide comes as standard.  The exclusive machining and grinding of the roller guide on the Rubi STD 6mm scoring wheel is claimed to offer exceptional quality in scoring ceramic tiles for coverings (BIII type).

The range features two models; 51 and 65 for cutting pieces up to 65 cm.
Also available from Rubi is the Rubiscraper; which is billed as a ‘revolutionary’ joint remover.  As Rubi knows only too well, the renewal of tile grout is work that most tilers do not like to do.  This is because removing old grout is slow, uncomfortable and, without due care, can easily damage the tiles.

Available in 1.5, 2, 3 and 4mm thickness, the Rubiscraper’s accessories are made from high-resistance tungsten carbide.  The blades works with an impact system of the tool to make grout removal fast and easy, without dust generation or excessive noise.

Bellota
With a 100+ year history,  Bellota has built its reputation on quality and reliability.

The company has a unique approach to tile cutter design. Instead of designing the tile cutter as an assembly of different components, Bellota designed it as a single unitary piece to guarantee a tool that is precise, sturdy and durable.  The company claims to only use the best materials and a structural design that maximize rigidity and eliminates twisting and bending.  The aim is to achieve the highest scoring precision and the highest transmission of tile-breaking force.  Every Bellota tile cutter features rail supports with widened contact surfaces that improve the distribution of force along the base; while double fasteners secure each rail support to the base.

Each tile cutters’ core structure includes two solid steel chrome-plated round bars or guides to ensure maximum wear resistance, smooth gliding and scoring straightness.

As the business end, Bellota has developed its own state-of-the-art cutting tools with octagonal forged steel shafts to guarantee maximum rigidity and sturdiness for straight and precise scoring.  The company claims that it’s high-quality tungsten carbide blades last up to 25% longer than the competition.  Bellota also points out that these scoring wheels are also compatible with all of the competitors’ tile cutters due to a special adapter.

Two different types of breaking systems are available to suit a variety of tasks: mobile and fixed.

As an example, the Bellota Tech tile cutter, designed for professional tile installers, can cope with large format tiles and carries a five-year guarantee.  The reinforced base, rail holders and guiding system are designed as a single unitary piece.  Double rotating protractors provide optimal support and enhanced cutting versatility at all angles.

The Tech also has a floating base, foldable side arm extensions and a guiding system built with round rail bars made of chrome-plated solid steel and aluminium stands for maximum wear resistance, smooth gliding and precise scoring.

STS
STS is a family business, established in 1995, that aims to offer fresh solutions to everyday problems for tiling professionals across the UK.  STS distributes products to tile retailers, builders merchants and construction companies nationwide, while retaining a close relationship with the tiling trade.

When it comes to cutters, STS’s portfolio includes the VIP 290 110V electric saw, which comes with a free L15 Turbo blade.  This easily-portable, well-engineered, radial tile saw is said to offer accurate cutting of porcelain and natural stone tiles.  Collapsible legs make set-up easy and the machine offers a 40mm cutting depth and 200mm blade diameter.

STS also supplies Austrian-made Kaufmann cutters (see below).

Kaufmann
Strong, durable and accurate, Kaufmann’s Top Line has been hailed as ‘possibly the best porcelain cutter sold in the UK’ and certainly has many on-line fans.  Precision machines designed for today’s tilers, Top Line Standard cutters feature a new system which increases the breaking force, as well as multi-function angle for 90° , 45° and 350mm scale cuts.  The cutters can accommodate a maximum tile length of 630mm, with a maximum tile size, for diagonal cuts, of 440 by 440mm.  The units have a tungsten carbide wheel that is suitable for mosaic, tiles and slabs up to 16mm deep.

Other features include a solid guide bar for exact cuts, a maintenance-free, precise and durable ball bearing cutting head and a lockable breaking device with high compressive force of up to 1000 kg .  The cutter’s PVC feet with anti-slip protection, protect against scratches on finished tiles; while the lockable cutting head ensures safe transport.

Vitrex
Established in 1939, Vitrex has been at the forefront of the home improvement market for more than 70 years.  Vitrex initially developed a range of hand tools, while the first plastic DIY products sold under the Vitrex brand were launched during the 1950s.  Vitrex was acquired by QEP in 2004 and is now an integral part of this leading world-wide manufacturer and supplier of tiling equipment, flooring, tools and accessories.

The Vitrex 102400 Versatile Wall and Floor Tile Cutter is easy to use, with a simple “score and snap” cutting action.  It features a sturdy polypropylene base with steel reinforcement and integral ruler.  The unit has a 13mm tungsten carbide cutting wheel with variable height adjustment.  Vitrex also offers a replacement wheel kit.

The Vitrex 103430 Power Pro 650W Tile Cutter, as the name suggests, uses a powerful 650W motor.  This drives a 180mm diamond blade (22mm bore) that has a continuous rim for extra clean cuts.  A useful feature is the double extension table for larger format tiles.  The machine can cut tiles up to 30mm thick, and can achieve 22.5° and 45° mitre cuts for perfect corners.

The Power Pro 650W has durable steel table and frame that features rubber foot pads for stability.  Other features include an integral measuring guide and quick release rip guide for perfect straight cuts.  There is also a quick release splash guard for plunge cuts.  To simplify on-site use, there is a advanced ‘no-mess’ water containment system that reduces reservoir fill-ups and keeps the work area drier by reducing splash.

QEP
QEP’s Big Clinker 2 630mm Heavy Duty Tile Cutter can accommodate tiles up to 14mm thick.  It’s key features include 20mm dual solid chrome-plated rails, linear ball bearings and 22mm tungsten ball bearing carbide wheel.  The construction offers a die-cast aluminium base and handle, rubber pads, an extension bar and hard breaking feet.  This cutter can be purchased at a range of outlets including Screwfix.

Montolit
Brevetti Montolit is one of the world’s foremost companies in the design, production and sales of various lines of electric and manual machines for working stone and related materials.  The company’s main product lines are tile cutters, paving block cutters, diamond cutting and drilling tools and electric tile saws.

Typical of the range is the Master Montolit; a professional manual tile cutter designed for splitting thick, tenacious tiles with hard glazed surfaces.  With this machine, the maximum thickness of cut is 25mm, and the maximum length of cut is 920mm.

The Master can cut all types of tile currently on the market, whether glazed, ceramic, porcelain, single-fired or terracotta.

It features a characteristic eccentric lever-operated clamping system .  This means than an incision can be repeated, if necessary, as is sometimes required when working with materials with extra thick glaze.  The same eccentric lever is then used to split the tile. Thanks to the hardened steel blades inserted in the frame, Montolit claims that splitting is always safe and precise.

Other design features include a die-cast aluminium structure, with splitting pressure exerted on six points and a protractor square with dual numbering that is ideal for 45° cuts.   A titanium cutting wheel is supplied as standard.

Karl Dahm
Karl Dahm initially built it’s considerable reputation on the Ideal wooden tile cutter that featured a specially-reinforced wooden table. The Ideal tile cutter is noted for its double guidance, while rubber-jacketed feet mounted on each side provide a secure foothold of this tile cutter and its durability.  Every Ideal tile cutter is equipped with a tile breaking device serially integrated in the machine.

High Line represents a new generation of tile cutters that recognise that, in the last few years, large format tiles have become bigger and harder. Karl Dahm’s patented solution was a new single guidance system.  Special features of the High Line tile cutters include a solid, water-proof, 350mm wide cutting table made of phenolic resins which is mounted on a solid, warp resistant aluminium frame or an extremely robust wooden board serving as skeletal structure of the tile cutting machine.

The tried and tested side arms have been modified in order to broaden the bearing surface. The company’s aim is to design as lightweight a tile cutter as possible;  knowing that the materials to cut are becoming heavier and heavier.  The new stainless steel side arms prevent the tile cutter from tilting and offer an improved stability.

According to Karl Dahm, one problem with large format tiles and appropriate tile cutting machines has been an unstable stop angle  So, in this new generation of tile cutters, the angle has been considerably reinforced.  Cutters with an especially long cutting lengths, such as model 11495 with a cutting length of 1,850mm, now have an innovative double stop angle.

This family of tile cutters has also an additional, integrated breaking device at the end of the guide bar, in addition to the standard breaking device that is found on many of Karl Dahm‘s tile cutters.  This breaking device has been designed with the function of Karl Dahm’s Ultimate Tile Separator in mind.

High Line tile cutters come in several models with 630mm, 930mm, 1,280mm and 1,630mm cutting lengths.

Karl Dahm also manufacturers wet saws in different sizes and in different price ranges; from wet saws for large format tiles with a cutting length up to 1,500mm down to small wet tile cutters offering a cutting length of 600mm.

The key attributes set by Karl Dahm when designing a new wet saw are accurate cutting precision and easy transport.  Different wet saws are equipped with different features.

There are for example wet saws which are height-adjustable, others have a lowerable cutting head, while others can do mitre cuts.

All Karl Dahm’s wet saws have comfortable handles to make transport quick and easy.  The company mainly uses stainless materials for manufacturing purposes.

The heavy duty tile cutter, 1,550mm provides an amplified breaking force.  This durable, robust, precision machine, with a 350mm scale and 90° and 45° angle capabilities, is ideal for cutting and breaking wall and floor tiles up to 16 mm thick.  It is possible to cut and break tiles in a single step using this cutter.

Siri
Siri been in the building market since 1975.  It’s factory in Modena produces building and tiling equipment including saws, tile cutters, brushing machines, cleaning sets, spacers and a wide range of tools and accessories.

Typical is the Siriflex cutting system for large tiles.  This comes with a GWS 7 Boch grinder and a 115mm diameter blade.  Both linear and 45° cuts are possible.   The units has a tilting movement to adjust the cutting depth, and offers a maximum cutting depth 20mm. It is equipped with a dust aspiration connection.

Batipav
Nuova Battipav’s tiling portfolio includes the Super Pro 450, a professional tile cutters designed to achieve diagonal and straight cuts on single- or double-fired ceramic and porcelain tiles.  It has a carriage with nine ball-bearings and a diagonal fence included.  It offers a cutting length up to 450mm and can achieve diagonal cuts on tiles up to 310 by 310mm.

The Class Plus 1300S is an water-cooled electric tile cutter design to provide straight and 45° mitre cuts on single- and double-fired ceramic, porcelain and marble tiles.  It is equipped with a single-phase motor 230V~50Hz 1,4Kw, a sliding cutting head and tilting engine.  Safety features include thermal protection and a switch with release coil.  User features include a laser instrument, kit wheels, adjustable legs and fence.  The maximum cutting depth at 90° is 65 mm, or 53mm at 45°.

Sigma
The Sigma 60 inch Max Push Cutter features an easy grip max push handle, diamond scoring wheel with bearings, a spring loaded table and a swivelling measurement bar equipped with inches in diagonal.  It can cut angles between -45° to +45°.  The machine can handle porcelain tiles, pavers, quarry tiles, glass mosaic and certain types of marble and granite.

Aquacut: Tiler Tools
Aquacut waterjet cutters have enjoyed many long and fruitful relationships with tilers, landscape professionals, contractors and tile suppliers since they started waterjet cutting materials for the buildings finishes industry in the 1990s.
Over the years, the company has developed a unique range of added value services including bullnosing tiles and stone, so the team has a lot of hands-on experience of using good quality equipment.

Many of Aquacut’s customers have bemoaned the fact that there is a shortage of top quality, reliable and well supported equipment to enable them to cut, handle and lay tiles and natural stone in a safe and efficient manner.  So, when the opportunity arose to represent Raimondi Spa’s range of ; wet saws and bridge saws, large format tile handling equipment and all the accessories and consumables needed for the modern tiling and landscaping environment, Aquacut’s MD, Stuart Middleton, knew the time was ripe for the expansion of Aquacut’s business into the tiling and landscaping equipment supply industry.  Tilers Tools was born.

Middleton had noted the expansion by the tiling industry into the use of large format tiles up to 3,200 by 1,600mm and was delighted to see that Raimondi’s T-Move and Easy Move systems were perfectly designed for tiles and slabs up to this size.

“It’s so much easier for manoeuvring tiles on and off our water jet cutting beds that it’s now the only system we use.  It’s safer for the operatives, has reduced breakages and makes the whole process much quicker.”

Tilers Tools offers the whole of Raimondi’s range of tile handling equipment which can be seen on their website.  (A video showing the product in use is available at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Mwa9DbkQj78.)

Raimondi has also developed the Free-Cut system to enable these large tiles to be cut with ease and minimising breakages.  There are also systems which work from benches that Tilers Tools sel,l such as the Free-Flex system, that enable a mitred edge to be cut.
Another significant market development in recent months has been the use of 20mm thick porcelain in landscaping.  The displacement of natural stone with thick porcelain generated a lot of enquiries to the experts at Tilers Tools as to how to handle these thick tiles.

Landscapers were finding their traditional method of using a hand-held dry saw to cut the porcelain just did not work, with tiles chipping and breaking and, because of the hardness of the porcelain, there was a real danger that a hand-held dry saw would bounce off the material creating a health hazard.

Tilers Tools range of Raimondi wet saws such as the PIKUS and the even more industrial ZOE wet saws can cut tiles up to 1,550mm long and materials up to 120mm deep (with bevels up to 80mm deep).  Smaller machines are also available.  All the saws are designed for ease of transportation with folding legs and wheels.  The saws have superior pump blade water-cooling and a tilting movement for mitre angle cuts.

No wonder they are rapidly becoming the machines of choice for the modern tiler and professional landscaper.  Customers have told Aquacut that the machines are so reliable and efficient that the machines have paid for themselves in a single job!

Of course, if you don’t wish to buy your own tools, you can always ask Aquacut to process your materials for you.

Leaders of the outdoor revolution

Over the past five years or so, many tile manufacturers have latched on to the indoor-out living trend by adding 20mm exterior tiles to their range.  Few, however, have embraced this trend with as much focus and determination as Rocersa.  For most manufacturers, 20mm exterior tiles are an add-on; something to supplement the core wall and floor tile ranges.  For Rocersa, exterior tiling is a core product; something produced year round on a dedicated line.

The result is one of the most comprehensive portfolios on the planet, featuring a range of designs, finishes and even modular formats.  Little wonder, then, that Rocersa now manufacturers exterior 20mm tiles for many other manufacturers, as well as continuing to develop its own collections.

Founded in 1977 in Villareal with small, but cutting-edge, facilities, Rocersa rapidly moved into production of large format tiles, using single firing technology . Expansion followed with a new production plant in Nules featuring hi-tech floor tile kilns.  In 2008, ten years after the factory was first acquired, all production was transfered to Alcora, making this factory one of the most advanced in the world.

Today Rocersa group is a leading tile exporter; a success built on the customer-orientated ethos at the company.  Committed to continuing investment in innovation, technology, product quality and environmental sustainability, Rocersa has continuously improved its 20mm tile portfolio which it exports to over100 countries worldwide.

By 2014, Rocersa’s 20mm thick porcelain stoneware tiles for external use were already leading the pack.  The company’s Outdoor 20 collection provides high resistance to breaking loads and stress, as well as slip-resistance, making it an ideal tile for outdoor areas, both public and private.

Compared to natural-stone, Outdoor 20 does not absorb water, and is resistant to chemical attacks including the salt used for melting ice.  It is not affected by mould or moss; and is easy to clean.  Perfectly calibrated and its thickness is uniform in thickness, Outdoor 20 will remain unaltered over time, both in colour and technical characteristics.  And the real benefit for today’s designers is that it allows the continuity of the same flooring both inside and outside.

Weighing less than natural stone, Rocersa exterior tiles resistance, easy installation and sophisticated design mean that they can be installed in practically any exterior space: gardens, courtyards, terraces, stairs, passageways, pools, hotels, spas, industrial areas and even paved urban spaces.

The company also has extensive experience of pedestal-based installation systems that allow users to overcome all the limitations of traditional exterior tile installation methods.  These systems have many benefits, a primary one being simplified maintenance and inspection of the facilities underneath, such as water pipes, electrical cables and irrigation systems.

Other benefits include increased soundproofing and an air chamber for thermal insulation.  Due to its low weight (47kg per sq. metre), it is ideal for areas with structural weight problems, such as balconies; while the spacing between tiles (+/-3mm) facilitates water drainage.

Rocersa commitment to aesthetics in all its products shines through in the 20mm portfolio where it has developed new effects based on wood, cement, natural stone and more avant-garde inspirations.

Today’s 20mm collection provides a wide aesthetic range, multiple formats and different finishes, all with the intrinsic technical performance of advanced ceramic materials.  With this design choice, allied to a wide range of decorative elements, Rocersa’s customers can create luxurious yet practical exterior spaces that are design-rich in subtle nuances.

Rocersa’s 20mm portfolio includes Morvan and Alpena in 610 by 610mm and 600 by 600mm rectified, in fashionable colours such as grey and anthracite.

Synergy, in the same formats, plus 472 by 472mm, includes a dramatic black option, as well as sand, brown, stone, grey and pearl.

One of the stand-out designs is Bluenorte, available in 472 by 472, 610 by 610, 600 by 600 rectified, 760 by 760 and 750 by 750mm rectified.  This is a very striking design, again in fashionable grey, blue/grey and black options.

Another 20mm favourite is Ceres, available in 472 by 472, 610 by 610 and 600 by 600mm rectified.  Colour options include grey and anthracite.

20mm Zimbabwe features 610 by 610 and 600 by 600mm rectified, and the larger 760 by 760 and 750 by 750mm rectified formats.

These same formats feature in the best-selling Materia range, which is offered in blanco, marfil, grey, beige and anthracite.

Venice, in pearl, grafito and nature designs, is another range that comes in the popular 610 by 610 and 600 by 600mm rectified formats.

Rocersa’s 20mm exterior products offer potential additional sales to customers seeking kitchen or conservatory tiles.  With specifically-designed balcony systems now readily available from leading brands to sooth any technical concerns, these exterior tiles can be installed successfully on balconies and roof terraces.

These 20mm external tiles are more than a match for traditional hard landscaping alternatives, such as concrete pavers and natural stone slabs.  They have the versatility to meet the needs of homeowners wishing to transform their terraces, covered outdoor areas or gardens into a place to eat, play and socialise.

The design choice also allows these exterior spaced to be divided into different sections or they can be easily mixed and matched with other materials and decorative features, due to their wide variety of shapes, colours and patterns.

One way of giving a home a more uniform look is to use the same floor covering on terraces and indoor floors.  With ceramic tiles, a continuous indoor-out floors can be readily achieved, creating an enhanced sense of space.

And, when it comes to designing a practical, hygienic, and safe flooring for swimming pool areas, 20mm porcelain tiles are the obvious solution.  They are impervious and anti-allergenic, and hard wearing.  Non-slip surfaces are readily available, without diminishing the boundless aesthetic possibilities of ceramic tiles.

Finally, do not forget that the ceramic tile colours remain unchanged, despite exposure to UV light and the passing of time.  Rocersa’s 20mm ceramic tile collections for outdoor use are inspired by natural trends; with beige and grey porcelain tiles, terracotta tiles, and pale-coloured stone-effect tiles, combining contemporary visual appeal with demonstrable practicality.

Rocersa’s UK agent is Juan McCarthy
M: 07469 700871  E: juan@juanmccarthy.com