The intended uses of ceramic tiling | by Alfredo Zappa

The vast numbers of installations successfully completed in residential, public and industrial spaces demonstrate that ceramic tiling is ideal for many different areas of use. To achieve the highest levels of quality, it is essential for tiling to be designed and executed in accordance with standards. In particular, this means fulfilling requirements relating to Areas of use and the specific characteristics of the Substrate.

The key players

The designer: he is responsible for ensuring that the areas of use and the substrate are consistent with the general objectives of the project (choice of tiles, adhesive or mortar installation system, grout, installation layout, pattern of joints, slopes, etc.)

The client: he must indicate aesthetic requirements and provide the most accurate information possible on the real intended use of the spaces and the stresses the tiling is likely to be subjected to.

The tile layer: he is responsible for installing the tiles in accordance with the requirements of the project and the specifications of the works management. He checks the quality of the materials to be used and the conditions of the substrate. He protects and looks after his work through to the moment of handover.

In detail

To predict the level of stresses and safety requirements (hygiene, slip resistance, etc.) and thereby establish the specific system of requirements to be agreed on by the client and the designer, the applicable Italian standard (UNI 11493) identifies Areas of use according to a precise classification that takes account of: position of the tiling (P floor; R wall; S ceiling); its location (interior or exterior); type of space (residential, public); use (civil, commercial, industrial); the activities performed in the spaces. Further factors that must be taken into account include: climate (especially in the case of exteriors); exposure to sunlight; type of area (urban, industrial, etc.); type and intensity of traffic (pedestrian, vehicular, etc.); static or dynamic stresses; temporary presence of water or other liquids on the surface; immersion in water or other liquids; presence of aggressive agents deposited on the surfaces.

The second key point identified by the standard concerns the Substrate, although it is important to remember that correctly designed ceramic tiling is suitable for installation on both floors and walls and on any kind of substrate. Highly detailed tables are used to classify and identify the main kinds of substrate according to the intended use of the tiling, whether for floor, wall or ceiling installation. In particular, the main types of new and existing substrates are listed in detail. The standard also specifies the requirements and characteristics of the substrate and its conformity at the time of installation with respect to: curing, integrity, surface strength, dimensional regularity, surface finish, humidity and absence of contaminants. It looks at these requirements individually and specifies evaluation and verification methods, indicating for each of them the remedial action that must be taken by the tile layer in all cases of non-conformity.