Remodeling the Outdoors: Ceramic Tiles Survive the Test of Time and Nature
With the barrage of technology from every direction - cell phones, talking refrigerators and cars that email the owner - it's no wonder we are constantly looking for an escape with family and friends. Americans are rediscovering their homes and finding that they have an escape right in our own backyard.
Homeowners are taking their passion for remodeling outside and turning patios into retreats, virtual mini resorts with spas, kitchens and living rooms. While homeowners simply want to enjoy family, friends and the warm weather in their outdoor paradise - architects, designers and contractors have to proactively think about the products' durability during the days of summer and long afterwards.
The products specified for such outdoor remodeling projects should enhance the aesthetics but must also be practical. Tile of Spain branded ceramic tiles are a beautiful covering for outdoor living spaces and pools that can last a lifetime. Ceramic tile has certain inherent qualities that make it an ideal solution for outdoor use. It can withstand the sun's ultraviolet rays, which may cause other surfaces to fade; ceramic tile colors are permanent. They are a fire resistant, all natural product that is chemically inert and inhibits the growth of mildew, mold and fungus.
While many tiles used indoors can also be applied to exterior surfaces, it is important to take into account water absorption and frost resistance. These two key factors must be considered to ensure an outdoor ceramic setting that reaches its maximum lifetime.
Water Absorption for Outdoor TileAn indicator of a tile's porosity, water absorption is measured by the percentage of weight gained due to water absorption. The less water a tile absorbs, the more vitreous it is and the more difficult for water to penetrate into the tile. There are four classifications of water absorption: 1)Non-vitreous, more than 7% water absorption; 2) Semi-vitreous, greater than 3% up to 7% absorption; 3) Vitreous, greater than 0.5% up to 3%; and 4) Impervious, 0% up to 0.5%. For outdoor use, less is better, only vitreous or impervious tiles should be used.
The higher the porosity, the higher the level of absorption will be for the tile. Porosity refers to the density of the body of the tile. Thus, lower levels of absorption indicate a stronger more compact structure that offers increased strength, mechanical resistance, deep abrasion resistance. Tile with lower water absorption rates are better suited for areas of heavy traffic, high mechanical stress or frost.
Water absorption rates are also important when there is a concern for staining. If a tile does not easily absorb water, such as the case with vitreous or imperious tile, then it is highly resistant to staining. However, all unglazed tile should be tested to determine if a sealer is required in individual environments. Absorption and frost resistance go hand in hand. If a tile absorbs enough water and then freezes, the water inside the tile will expand and over time can crack the tile.
To ensure you are using the proper tile solution, the Water Absorption percentage (WA) can be found on the tile data sheet for each product.
For areas subjected to occasional moisture such as patios, outdoor benches, countertops and exterior walls, an absorption rate of 0.5% = 3% will suffice. Of course, waterproofing membranes and minimum sloping on flat surfaces are required. Tile that has an absorption rate above 3% is usually not recommended for exterior use.
Cristal offers the Rapolano Series, part of the Porcelanicos Collection. This product complies with UNE-EN ISO 10545. A water absorption level of 0.1% makes this tile suitable for extreme weather situations. The porcelain stoneware is available in three formats, 6-by-6-, 13-by-13- and 17.75-by-17.75-inch formats, and five colors, Blanco, Oro, Ocre, Noce and Marengo. The Series offers cut and glazed decorative pieces in 1-by-1-, 1-by-2-, 2-by-2-, 3-by-6-, 4-by-4-inch formats, listelos and borders; all in the same colors. The Rapolano Series combines with the Regina Series which is available in the same colors but in a 10-by-15.75-inch format with borders, inserts and decorative pieces. Cristal, a Tile of Spain branded manufacturer, is ISO 14001 certified.
Tiles To Make A SplashFor areas that will be submerged in water such as swimming pools, fountains and ponds, a very low water absorption rate is required. A range of 0% = 0.5% indicates very low water absorption and includes all unglazed porcelain tile and quality glazed porcelain tile. Tiles will require a proper waterproofing membrane and should be installed with a minimum slope on all horizontal surfaces where required.
Onix Ceramica specializes in mosaic tiles perfect for adding a personal touch to pools or outdoor areas. Individual colors and combinations are ideal for building custom mosaics or the Roseton Collection features mosaics on mesh, ready to install. Onix mosaics absorb no water and pass ISO 10545-12 standards for frost resistance.
The "hard" fired terracotta Cadí Series by Ceramicas Calaf presents the finest decorative characteristics of fired clay, but is fired to flintware to achieve a very high standard of stain and wear resistance. The tiles are available in Naranja and Naranja Rústico with a water absorption rate of = 0.5% and are resistant to sea water and chlorinated water from pools. The Cadí Series is available in accent pieces for stair and handrails as well as 10-by-10-inch tiles.
Frost ResistanceIn some geographic areas, such as the Northeast, ceramic tiles used for patios and pools will need to tolerate cold winter temperatures. After ensuring that the correct selection has been made regarding water absorption, specifications can be made to address frost resistance.
According to Tile of Spain Consultant Patti Fasan, who is CTC certified by CTIOA, ceramic tile is either frost resistant or it isn't. Tile that is suitable for high humidity and low temperature environments will be tested by the manufacturer and identified as frost resistant on the tile data sheet.
Tile of Spain branded manufacturers who produce tiles for outdoor use will perform frost resistance tests in order to warranty their tile for external freeze thaw environments. Frost resistant tests expose tile to the pressure exerted within the tile structure when water freezes and expands. Manufacturers will list the testing methods used to measure frost resistance using either "passed" or "resistant" to certify acceptance. Three of the most widely used standardized tests for determining a tile's frost resistance are provided by the International Organization for Standardization (ISO) For more information about ISO, visit their website at www.iso.org.; ASTM International (For ASTM standards, visit the ASTM website, www.astm.org, or contact ASTM Customer Service at firstname.lastname@example.org); or the European Standard BS 6431 (EN) For more information visit their website at www.cenorm.org. In all tests the tile must remain unchanged, unharmed and unscathed through several cycles of freezing and thawing to be considered frost resistant.
Ceracasa offers the Alameda Series, part of the Cottos Collection. It is a porcelain stoneware suitable for interior or exterior floor and wall installations. It is available in three colors, Terra, Marron and Caldera, and three finishes, natural (matte), satin and anti-slip. It is a 12.5-by-12.5-inch format tile. Steps, skiring boards, step treads, drainage tiles and other decorative pieces are available.
The Spanish Ceramic Tile Manufacturer's Association (ASCER) is the private organization whose primary objective is to support Spain's ceramic tile manufacturers and the industry as a whole by stewarding and promoting the Tile of Spain brand worldwide. ASCER collaborates with The Spanish Foreign Trade Institute (ICEX) for campaigns abroad in support of Spain's ceramic tiles, Tile of Spain. A strong global leader in the industry, the Tile of Spain brand comprises 220 manufacturers concentrated primarily in the province of Castellon.
For more about tile produced in Spain, contact Tile of Spain Center at the Trade Commission of Spain, 2655 Le Jeune Road, Suite 1114, Coral Gables, FL 33134. Call 305-446-4387 or visit www.spaintiles.info.