At the tile thickness, a distinction has to be made between normal (8 to 11 mm), extra thick (12 mm and more for industrial and commercial areas) and thin tiles (8 mm and less). The latter has been a frequently discussed subject at special interest magazines and trade fairs again and again in the last years.
One might think that thin ceramic tiles are a modern development. But this is not the case, because large-size thin tiles have already been available since the 1970s. At that time, the “KerAion“ panels of the former Buchtal GmbH caused a sensation: formats like e.g. 60x60 cm or even 160x125 cm (= 2 m²) with a thickness of only 8 mm had been a ceramic revolution in those days, which remained the measure of all things for almost two decades.
Another remarkable development of earlier phases was MegaCeram, a tile only a few mm thin in diverse variations up to flexible “ceramic panels“ in room or storey height. In the course of the years, the product was offered by various manufacturers like Agrob or Steuler, and it was outstanding from the technological point of view. Obviously, however, the time had not yet been ripe for this innovation, whose production then was stopped for various reasons (e.g. special processing required, limitation to special applications, costly and time-consuming packaging/logistics etc.).
Ceramic panels similar in the broadest sense with dimensions of 3 x 1 m, for example, have been available again for some years. They are produced by means of state-of-the-art techniques, but the use still largely focuses on special applications such as shop and furniture construction or shipbuilding, the cladding of lifts and similar purposes at which the advantage of “ – large surface at low weight – comes in particularly useful.
The reason for the production of thin tiles today is the same as in the past: solutions of this type are aimed at the low-dust and low-dirt renovation of old coverings, i.e. for construction measures in existing buildings. Meanwhile, this sector is at least as significant or even bigger than the sector of new buildings in several countries. In this connection, the well-known laying method of “tile on tile“ of course has to be mentioned. The whole thing is getting even more interesting if other types of covering such as e.g. carpet, laminate, PVC, linoleum etc. are to be replaced by a high-quality ceramic solution. There are plenty of design, functional and ecological reasons “pro tile“.
For the reasons aforementioned, Agrob Buchtal first of all has been intensively watching and analyzing the market and the practical experience of the last years and now offers a range of tile series with a thickness of only 5mm, which are subsumed under the generic term of Flatile. It is a matter of professionalism that the marketing of these solutions exclusively focuses on walls and floors in the residential building sector or similar areas like hotel rooms, wet rooms in old people’s homes etc. In this connection, the bathroom certainly deserves particular attention, because the visually and technically modern design of this room in which every day begins and ends ranks very high among the wishes of many persons. Nevertheless, the modernization is frequently postponed again and again, as one fears dust, dirt and other trouble. In these cases, thin tiles may give the decisive impetus to the realization of measures overdue for a long time. The following aspects are convincing arguments in favour of thin tiles in the bathroom:
• ideal for the laying of tile on tile, as this requires less time and causes less dirt than the removal of old tiles
• easier handling thanks to considerably lower weight: a tile of 40x60cm weighs only 2.7 kg
• the replacement of other types of covering (PVC, linoleum) with almost the same height is possible
• ideal in combination with underfloor heating, as the radiant heat is effective even more rapidly
• easier adjustment in case of differences in height (thresholds)
• filigree cover profiles can be used
In addition, Flatile offers the following specific characteristics which are advantageous not only in the bathroom but also in kitchens, halls, bedrooms or living-rooms:
• usable for the wall and the floor
• extensive range of series, colours, decorations and formats: from the mosaic up to 40x80cm
• large formats make small rooms or surfaces appear bigger
• floor tiles with slip resistance R9
• the “HT“ coating applied in-plant lends Flatile special characteristics: they are extremely easy to clean, have an antibacterial effect and eliminate unwelcome odours or air pollutants
Dry-pressed porcelain stoneware intentionally was not chosen as material type, as this sort of tiles is unusually hard and brittle and therefore - especially in a thin version - is difficult to process. Instead of it, extruded stoneware is used, which combines high breaking strengths (1,100 N = almost twice as high as required according to the relevant standard) and easy processability. This is achieved by special mass compositions and an exactly adjusted firing process.
The last aspect makes clear that there are peculiarities in the case of thin tiles. At the…
• production, extremely close tolerances regarding length, width and height (thickness) have to be complied with. This requires high ceramic competence throughout the process chain.
• advice, the circumstances of the individual case as well as the possibilities and limits of the material have to be taken into account.
• laying, a carefully working expert is needed, whose work is decisively facilitated by the intentional use of extruded stoneware.
Apart from that, the commonly known technical rules apply: attention has to be paid to a largely cavity-free laying bed, especially in the case of floor surfaces. For this, flexible thin-bed mortars according to DIN EN 12004 are to be used by the combined “buttering-floating“ method. For floors, floating-bed mortars can also be used. In that case, the use of quickly setting products is recommended in order to ensure a uniform hardening of the mortar bed also under the “centre“ of the tile.
This series just as the large part of the entire range (as far as technically possible) is also provided with HT. This revolutionary coating lends ceramic tiles special characteristics: they are extremely easy to clean, have an antibacterial effect without using chemical products and eliminate unwelcome odours as well as air pollutants. HT saves time and money and makes an important contribution to environmental protection.