Jonathan Clapp, international senior technical manager at Microban International, discusses the different ways antimicrobial technologies should be used in different situations
The growth of microorganisms is a significant worry for many consumers, with 72 % of people concerned about exposure to bacteria in their everyday lives. It’s therefore not surprising that manufacturers are switching on to the fact that the ability to keep products truly clean is a major selling point. This is certainly the case for tile and stone surfaces, which can be some of the worst affected areas in terms of bacterial load, as their properties mean that they are commonly used in warm and damp environments, such as kitchens and bathrooms.
One solution that is coming to the fore is built-in antimicrobial technologies, which can be easily incorporated into tile and stone materials. These chemistries can be added into the substance or applied as a coating, providing an additional layer of product protection against the growth of microorganisms that helps to overcome the limited residual activity of spray disinfectants, preventing the accumulation of odours, staining and early product deterioration. The technology binds synergistically with ceramic glaze or stone products, so doesn’t wash off or wear away, creating surface protection that lasts the usable lifetime of the product.
Tiled flooring is also a perfect candidate for antimicrobial innovation, as it is constantly exposed to a multitude of microbial sources from pets, guests, dirt and debris. In particular, bathroom flooring – which is subject to humid conditions as well as contamination from toilet plume, deposits of skin and residues from cosmetics products – can allow microbes to flourish. This is often a grave concern in crowded public bathrooms, leaving visitors with feelings of anxiety or disgust and, ultimately, preventing them from returning.
The glazes used for flooring tiles tend to be thicker than other types of ceramic products, in order to withstand a greater load and wear. It is therefore important to adapt antimicrobial additive rates to suit the thickness of the glaze, without altering the aesthetics of the tile. It is also critical to ensure that the technology has the optimal dispersal across the surface of the tile, depending on the tile’s thickness and glaze viscosity.
These versatile antimicrobial technologies can be applied to various products, but each application area has its own needs and nuances that need to be considered. For example, food-contact surfaces in kitchens are prime locations where bacteria can grow, as fresh produce – such as meat, fruit and vegetables, as well as the packaging that it comes in – often transmits high numbers of microbes. Leftover food residues on surfaces can then act as nutrient-rich energy sources for further growth and proliferation, which is a particular concern in commercial kitchens that must adhere to a high standard of cleanliness. Antimicrobial technologies can be used in these instances to complement regular disinfection practices and keep surfaces cleaner between cleans.
An antimicrobial solution for every application
Partnering with a leading antimicrobial company is the only way to find the right technology for your application, so that you can provide your customers with the best-in-class innovation. Microban offers a portfolio of over 25 technologies, and its technical engineers provide guidance and support to find the optimal formulation for each application.
The scope of applications for antimicrobial tile and stone products is more diverse than ever, but partnering with an expert that understands your application needs is vital to find the correct technology and application method for your end-user requirements. In doing so, you can provide innovative and attractive product ranges that help to reassure customers of cleanliness, and give them back peace of mind.