Contemporary tiling

Interest in tiling as a stylish, hygienic and durable finish for domestic walls and floors has never been stronger. Here the Tile Association (TTA) outlines some of the issues which housebuilders and developers need to be aware of.

Driven by consumer fashion and product innovation by manufacturers, tiling has an ever-increasing presence in our homes. Many consumers wish to replicate the tiled look that they have seen overseas or when leafing through home décor magazines. They also recognise the many benefits of tiling in the home – providing a long lasting finish and being hygienic and easy to maintain.

Product trends are helping to drive the growth. Laminated wooden flooring has been popular in domestic homes for many years, but the latest innovations in tile development mean that the aesthetic of natural wood can be combined with the hygiene and ease of maintenance offered by tiles. Currently the concrete, or industrial, look is also in vogue. Along with metro tiles (inspired by the shape and finish of tiles from London Underground stations) and an increasingly wide range of size, shape and texture options, it means more choice and inspiration is available to the consumer and the housebuilder than ever before.

The latest trend in tile sizes is towards the larger format versions – gone are the days when 4in x 4in wall tiles were the only option. Currently, the trend is towards increasingly large tiles and panels of up to 1600mm x 3200mm – use of these types of tiles reduces grout lines and maximises the impact of the tile design.

While the design opportunities in tiling are greater than ever, it is important that the technical issues associated with installing a tiled surface are fully understood and that all work is carried out to British Standards. Following the release of the latest British Standard BS5835-1: 2018 Wall & Floor Tiling, there are particular requirements regarding the need for mechanical fixing of large format tiles in certain installations. Other changes include the removal of plywood as a suitable background for tiling – installers should use a bespoke tile backer board instead.

This latest revision of the Standard also included a clause relating to workmanship (Clause 7.1.3). For the first time the Standard now recognises that the installation of ceramic or natural stone tiling should be carried out with “efficient supervision and the employment of properly trained operatives, skilled to an appropriate level of competence, certified by a recognised authoritative body, e.g. The Tile Association”.

TTA is involved in the development of both UK and international Standards, through its participation in the BSI for British Standards and also ISO for international Standards. Further technical information on all aspects of tile installation and British Standards is available from TTA.

With a wide range of technical documents, which members can download free-of-charge from the TTA website, TTA is an invaluable source of information for anybody involved in tiling. TTA also conducts training and technical seminars.

Another technical service offered is slip resistance testing of tiles. This is a very important area with obvious health & safety implications where tiles are used in bathrooms and wetrooms. The TTA service, which is provided for manufacturers and distributors, uses the pendulum test method, as favoured by the HSE.

For when things go wrong on site, TTA offers a Technical Inspection Service, which is available to anyone who has concerns about tiling work. Under the terms of the service one of TTA’s experienced technical inspectors can visit a site to inspect the workmanship of any tiling installation. The inspector will assess the workmanship against relevant British and European Standards and provide a detailed written report of the inspection with their findings and a conclusion. This report can be used in court as evidence, should any dispute go to that level.

To encourage and stimulate quality and achievement in the industry TTA runs a national Awards scheme. These have 16 categories, covering individual achievement, best new products and company initiatives. Entries are currently being accepted at for the 2020 Awards, which will be held in March next year.

The Tile Association represents the entire UK and Irish tiling industry.