Ceramic surfaces in moist and humid environments – such as bathrooms, kitchens and laundry rooms – are prone to the rapid growth of harmful microbes, including bacteria. This is largely because they are used in locations where there are plenty of sources of microbes.
These surfaces – and the grouting and sealant between tiles – provide an anchoring point for microbes, leading to staining, odours and degradation. Kimberley Cherrington, senior manager, global brand & marketing communications, explains one way to combat these microbes.
The challenge of microbial growth
Routine cleaning helps to keep microbial loads down, but often to little avail, as the limited residual activity of conventional disinfectants allows surfaces to become contaminated again very quickly. With microbes capable of doubling every 20 minutes, it’s near impossible for users to wipe surfaces frequently enough to maintain cleanliness. In addition, harsh cleaning chemicals and excessive scrubbing can also impact the integrity and aesthetic of tiled surfaces. Combined with the staining, odours and degradation from microbial growth, this reduces the usable lifetime of ceramics and increases user frustration, often resulting in the premature disposal of products. It is therefore unsurprising that ceramic materials constitute the largest volume of construction waste during the refurbishment of residential buildings, as they are regularly replaced. This is driving the demand for antimicrobial solutions that can keep surfaces cleaner for longer, promoting more durable and sustainable choices.
Built-in antimicrobial solutions can be integrated into ceramic glazes during the manufacture of tiles, where they can interact with microbes to disrupt their metabolism, inhibiting their growth and survival. Once incorporated, the technology becomes an integral part of the material that does not wash off or wear away. This provides around-the-clock product protection against the growth of microorganisms, and works with existing cleaning routines to help prevent staining, odours and early product deterioration. Users can therefore feel reassured that surfaces are not only cleaner, but will also last longer, extending the time to the next refurbishment and reducing construction waste. More durable products such as this are helping to reduce the mountains of discarded waste that pollute our landfills and oceans for a more sustainable future.
The topic of sustainability is also shaping the future of the antimicrobial industry, as leaders in the field are shifting toward more environmentally friendly options. Microban International recently launched a series of innovative, non-heavy-metal antimicrobial and odour-control solutions, reflecting its corporate focus on developing more sustainable technologies.
Consumers and manufacturers alike are more concerned about sustainability than ever before. Waste management is an area that needs a significant amount of attention in the construction industry, and more durable, long-lasting products can help to reduce our impact on the planet. Working with knowledgeable antimicrobial suppliers that have a wealth of in-house ceramics expertise – together with years of industry experience – is the key to delivering a product offering enhanced cleanliness and sustainability.