A single seamless surface | by Graziano Sezzi
Article published in: "Large-size Italian ceramic tiles"
Until just a few years ago a 60×60 cm or 40×80 cm tile was quite exceptional. Today more than 60% of Italian tile production can be described as “large size” with a surface area of more than 2-3 square metres per tile.
The latest technologies can produce tiles in sizes up to 1.50 x 4.50 metres, subsequently cutting them into modular submultiples ready for any application.
Given their size, it is more accurate to refer to these products as panels than tiles. And it is astonishing to compare today’s products with those of the past.
Merit for this extraordinary generation of materials lies entirely with the Italian ceramic tile and machinery industry. The production technology and product innovations are all Italian, enabling the country’s ceramic tile industry to establish itself as the unchallenged world leader.
But what advantages do large sizes offer for designers and end users?
The first benefit is the possibility of creating seamless, perfectly flat surfaces with a limited number of joints. For designers this means a wider range of solutions to choose from and for end users a finished installation with superior aesthetic results.
But the technology does not just allow for the production of large and very large sizes. In terms of decoration, digital machines can create an almost unlimited range of products, including reproductions of any kind of natural stone, parquet, plain coloured surfaces in any shade, elegant traditional and hi-tech designs, and textures that create surfaces with a warm feel.
Alongside this vast array of sizes and decorations, today’s technology can also produce ceramic panels in thicknesses ranging from 3 to 20 millimetres. The thinnest are ideal as wall coverings and for renovating existing floors; thicknesses from 6 to 12 millimetres are suitable for any residential or commercial application; and the thickest tiles can be used on outdoor surfaces where high breaking strength is needed or for creating bathroom or kitchen countertops.
Moreover, large and very large size tiles and panels are not restricted by the dimensions of the spaces in which they are used. When installed on bathroom floors and walls or in shower enclosures, ceramic panels not only have a specific technical function but also make a significant contribution to aesthetic quality.
In a residential living room, large panels enhance the sense of space and can be used with any kind of furnishing, thereby maximising liveability.
In a space open to the public like a bar or a restaurant, large-size ceramic panels are the most durable kind of floor covering while also guaranteeing exceptional hygiene and ease of cleaning.
In commercial spaces, ceramic panels enhance the functional and aesthetic qualities of the context and integrate well with the furnishings.
One final aspect that needs to be discussed is installation. Ceramic panels are a high-value material that must be installed by a highly qualified and skilled professional. The tile layer must collaborate with the designer and end user, keeping them informed about every step in the installation process and resolving any potential problems in advance.
A professional and perfectly-executed installation is essential to fulfil the potential of large-size ceramic panels and the spaces where they are installed.
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Joints perform a very important function within ceramic tiled surfaces.