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FEATURE LINE OF DEFENCE With hygiene and cleanliness are at the forefront of consumers’ minds, manufacturers


are turning to built-in antimicrobial technologies. We hear from Darrell Taylor, EMEA Key Account Manager, Microban International, and Alex Underwood, Head of Marketing, BAL on how a partnership between the two companies has spurred the development of grout and sealant products that provide optimum protection and durability.


Tiled surfaces in places such as bathrooms and kitchens are constantly exposed to wet and humid conditions, and undoubtedly create the ideal environment for the growth of microbes in homes and public spaces. This not only contributes to low levels of cleanliness, but also to poor indoor air quality, the development of stains and odours, and the growth of mould that can lead to premature degradation. A partnership between a UK leader for tiling installation systems and a leading global manufacturer of innovative antimicrobial technologies has tackled this challenge head on, developing a range of products treated with antimicrobial protection. Advanced antimicrobial chemistries are efficiently incorporated into the products at the point of manufacture to provide an additional 24/7 level of protection against the growth of microbes, improving levels of durability.


Prior to the COVID-19 pandemic, the average consumer considering a tiling project may have focused largely on aesthetics, quality, and the question of whether the tiles harmonise with the ‘look and feel’ that they have in mind. The ability to fight bacteria was not always considered. COVID-19 has made everyone more acutely aware than ever of the role that microorganisms play, and how easy it is to unwittingly transfer them between surfaces.


We are now living in a microbe-conscious world, where antimicrobial protection is far higher up in a consumer’s tick list of must-have features, and the ability to reassure users of cleanliness and care has never been more important. However, traditional disinfectants can only offer limited residual activity against microbes once sprayed onto a surface, allowing microbial communities to bounce back after a single touch. Harsh cleaning formulas can also contribute to regular wear and tear and early product degradation. To tackle this, some manufacturers have turned to built-in antimicrobial technologies for all kinds of building and decorating materials, to provide enhanced surface cleanliness and defence against product-damaging microbes. These products are increasingly being resourced by architects and building specifiers seeking built-in antimicrobial properties, largely because they protect materials from an increase in the growth of microbes, which can lead to stains, odours and degradation and, ultimately, damaging, long- term consequences. Built-in antimicrobial technology has


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the power to provide a cleaning strategy that combats this and complements regular disinfection practices.


Tiles are an obvious target for this technology, but installation materials, particularly finishing products such as grouts and silicone sealants, also have an important role to play and can benefit from antimicrobial capabilities. This is especially true because products such as sealants and grouts often contain substances such as starches, organic adhesives and cellulose sugars that can serve as nutrients and encourage the growth of bacteria, mould and mildew. Adding antimicrobial action can help target these troublesome microorganisms, preventing the need for frequent repair or replacement.


However, the formulation of grouts and sealants is a fine-tuned process, and manufacturers need to ensure that the addition of antimicrobial technologies does not compromise key product features such as the texture, finish and durability. This is where partnering with a trusted antimicrobial additive company comes to the fore. Combining an in-depth knowledge of adhesive, grout and sealant formulations with an intricate understanding of antimicrobial chemistries is the perfect balance. Efficiently incorporating advanced antimicrobial chemistries into products during manufacture offers long-lasting and proactive protection against the growth of microbes to improve levels of durability, enabling the ongoing manufacture of high quality, regulatory- compliant products with optimum antimicrobial efficacy.


www.microban.com www.tomorrowstileandstone.co.uk


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