As tile dimensions continue to expand, director of Ceramique Internationale, Peter Vann, asks: “Does size matter?”
What constitutes a “standard size tile” in today’s tiles market?
It is a question that can prompt a variety of answers, however, the one thing you can guarantee is that they will all be bigger than they used to be!
There is little doubt that grander scale tiles for bathroom walls, kitchen floors and the indoor/outdoor sector are firmly established – even if the trade and consumer grasp of why bigger is better has taken a bit more time to secure traction “up north” than “down south”.
The plethora of ever bigger tiles that technology can now produce is making what were once the typically popular “large” sizes of 300x600mm oblongs and 600x600mm squares, seem increasingly less impactful.
These two formats are very over-produced, and so commanding value from them has become more difficult, especially now that those options have all but replaced tiles that were once the staple of the entry level market – 250x400mm; 250x500mm; 330x330mm; and 500x500mm.
Tile designs – whether marble, stone, slate, or concrete – are brought much more sharply into impressive focus when made in bigger pieces. I am not talking here about the thinner slabs that start at 1200x2400mm, as these still require a fixing skillset that remains largely (no pun intended) undeveloped.
What we are all becoming more used to seeing are oblongs of 400x1200mm or 450x900mm – and especially 600x1200mm. The latter will certainly be the “standard” large oblong for the foreseeable future.
With large square format tiles, the trend started with 750x750mm options, but that scale swiftly shifted upwards to 800x800mm and just as rapidly to 900x900mm.
This was a bit of a departure from UK norms where, traditionally, square tiles have not been used on walls. But the trend is definitely here to stay.
The 2022 Cersaie fair was peppered with whopping great Italian 1000x1000mm and 1200x1200mm tiles. These included external two cm thickness options to cater for the indoor/outdoor trend.
Asian and Far East producers also believe big is beautiful. They now start their range offers with the 800x800mm and 600x1200mm formats, with white marble being an easy mass appeal target for the UK consumer. The popular Calacatta and Statuario tiles, with a polished surface, are classic examples of these enormous offerings.
Deflection or bowing is a characteristic of any oblong tile, regardless of size. However, technological advances in porcelain production in recent years have facilitated the drive towards tiles which deliver on dramatic dimensions without creating added installation issues. For example, high-end Spanish and Italian factories can be relied on to produce a flatter porcelain oblong tile, which is easier to fix.
Large oblongs look much better on walls when fixed in the currently trending stacked style, as opposed to the more traditional half bonded pattern, and so the technological improvements mean the need to caution installers about lipping has been reduced – although we do still see some producers printing notifications or warnings on packs and literature.