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WIDE HORIZONS Cameron Fraser, Commercial Director of Ceramique Internationale, discusses the


benefits brought about by the blurring of lines between the domestic and commercial tile markets in recent years.


commercial projects that are also widely used in the domestic arena.


Manufacturers are no longer pigeonholed and can meet the demands of both commercial and domestic projects with the same ranges. Those who wish to enhance their appeal to architects and designers are honing their commercial credentials by being far more active with their technical data back up and test certification – ensuring the products are suitable and easily identifiable for any use.


The advent of larger formats and advanced printing and glazing technology means porcelain tiles are available to suit whichever look is wanted, with finishes such as wood or stone looking exactly like the real thing whilst also meeting the most exacting standards of underfoot safety and durability.


Take the example of French limestone. In its natural form this material may bring a historic, beautifully weathered touch to any setting, but comes with porous surfaces which require significant care to protect against dirt and staining.


By contrast, natural stone-effect porcelain tiles provide the look and feel of real stone but with a raft of added benefits in a commercial setting, not only in effort-saving cleaning and protection.


Walk into any high-end hotel, luxury spa or executive office space today and you can guarantee the tiles will be a key feature of its exclusive ambiance.


Modern tile manufacturing technology means that in today’s commercial market there’s virtually no limit to the variations in pattern, finish or scale available to architects and designers. However, this wasn’t always the case.


There was a time when, with very rare exception, tile manufacturers fell into strictly divided domestic or commercial camps. And while the domestic market offered variety and choice, the ‘options’ available in the commercial setting were limited to just a handful of ranges – and, it has to be said, pretty unimaginative ones at that. Basic format speckled finish porcelain tiles in 200x200cm or 300x300cm, or extruded tiles in 240x115cm, were the bread and butter of commercial projects. Add to that 200x100cm or 200x200cm coloured tiles for walls and that was pretty much it.


Skip forward several decades and the tile sector could not be more different. The crossover between the two markets is complete and architects now routinely specify tiles for


22 | TILES


They are resistant to stains, chips and scratches, meaning they’ll stay looking good for years. They are also efficient heat conductors and work well with underfloor heating systems. The hardness and density of porcelain tiles mean they are durable and hardwearing, as well as being frost and algae resistant, making them ideal for high-traffic areas and providing the perfect flooring for seamlessly integrated indoor to outdoor areas – as current a trend in restaurants and wine bars as it is in domestic conservatories and patios.


The classic French limestone aesthetic is just one porcelain tile that is suited to domestic and commercial applications, with manufacturers now adding 2cm thick versions to their collections for outdoor use.


Marazzi’s Gris Fleury from the MYSTONE collection is a great example, combining resilience with a highly natural look and using digital printing to introduce tiny details and a non- repeating pattern for intense realism. With large rectified slab formats of 750x750cm, 600x1200cm or 600x600cm it can be suited to any project, indoor or outdoor, as it is resistant to thermal shock, loads and stresses and comes with an R11 A+B anti-slip rating.


Add to this the fact that the colour of porcelain tiles will never fade whatever footfall they withstand, and it’s easy to see why they have broken the boundaries of the domestic market to become a staple of architects and designers in the commercial sector.


www.tilesandmosaics.co.uk www.tomorrowscontractfloors.co.uk


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