Cersaie 2013 had everything that any architect or interior designer could desire.
With the accent on larger-format tiles, intricate and textured patterns, floors and wall tiles that match or complement each other, together with ‘specialist’ products and the use of long, narrow tiles, as well as playing all the options such as textured finishes, flowered designs, art deco representations, and glass – Cersaie 2013 had everything that any architect or interior designer could desire.
The wood look
Without a doubt the wood look took centre stage at Cersaie 2013, displaying the gamut of natural wood effects – square ceramic tiles in parquet patterns that look so beautiful as a floor; the rich, tactile feel of the faux wood textures; narrow strip tiles and large planks and boards that enable designers to run riot in combining them; and finishes that replicate the distressed wood effects so popular with architects – were in abundance.
The cement look
The rugged, elementary beauty of cement with the performance and resistance of ceramics was a feature on many stands, with colour ranges comprising anthracite, beige, brown, taupe and cement grey with both classic cement shading and warmer varieties which enhance the aesthetic possibilities associated with the series.
The cement look was emphasised on many stands with the introduction of black and white, gold, bronze geometric and 3D effects for wall tiles, with the floor acting as a perfect foil for the overall design where these are used.
Several manufacturers went back to the intricate and almost art deco floor patterns to provide feature floors that really attract attention with patterned and printed tiles in both classic and contemporary designs.
Prominent amongst these were the new collections from British Ceramic Tile and the Frame-up range by Refin – amongst others. This trend attracted many manufacturers to highlight their digital design capabilities for matching floors and walls.
Other unique designs included floral and geometric patterns that featured strongly in the 2012 expo, and even tiles designed for specific applications such as children’s hospitals and nurseries.
Innovations and hi-tech processes
New installation techniques One very interesting innovation this year was the plastic ‘cages’ for 25x50cm tiles (indoor or outdoor) that hold the tiles firmly and create an empty space above the substrate that can be filled with cement for applications that need extra strength.
University tests have shown that this simple and innovative laying system, set in mortar, guarantees flexion strength for the flooring that is five times higher than for floors installed with the traditional method of bonding.
Similarly, for raised installation on flat roofs, Ceramic Rondine has a floating pavement can be built on fixed supports with adjustable spacing made of recycled and recyclable plastic material that can be adjusted manually or with a height adjuster.
The raised supports can provide gaps at different heights allowing ventilation to the lower layers, thus preventing mould and residual moisture, and enabling the pavement systems to be arranged, maintained and modified with ease.
Artificial grass as a grout
This is an innovative outdoor flooring system with a high degree of functionality, from Tagina. Easy to install, it involves laying a specially prepared artificial grass that then accommodates the normal installation of outdoor tiles, but with extra spacing between them to allow the artificial grass to act as a grout. Some very interesting patterns can be achieved and… no more weed problems with the paving!
A clean air and antibacterial ceramic tile range from Ariostea is achieved through the application at a high temperature of micrometric particles of titanium dioxide (TiO2) which, by exploiting the photo-catalysis process, allows the creation of superior porcelain slabs for floors and walls that are anti-pollution and antibacterial, thus effectively helping to improve the quality of life.
These slabs can significantly reduce the harmful effects of the main atmospheric pollutants and can almost completely eliminate some of the most dangerous bacteria that threaten human health.
Spray drying and pressing
Metco Tiling has established a firm reputation for the quality of its printing on tiles, but is also a leading exponent of spray drying and pressing.
The spray drying phase of the ceramic powder indirectly affects the colour yield of the soluble-salts-based colouring solutions because it influences the evenness of the mixture and thus the evenness of the pressed body. It is important to maintain an even distribution of the sprayed product and avoid excessive quantities of the fine fractions. A sprayed product which is excessively rich in fine fractions may show uneven penetration because, during pressing, the finest particles tend to move to the sides, causing the formation of more or less compact zones in the tile.
The introduction of isostatic punches has significantly improved the uniformity of the pressing operation. At the same, this phase of processing remains the most critical of the whole production process regarding the influence of developing the colouring of organo-metal complex solutions.
The first and main critical factor is represented by the evenness of the tile thickness. Soluble-salts-based colouring solutions are capable of penetrating deep inside the ceramic mass but they use large quantities of material thus increasing the cost. For this reason, minute differences of thickness between one tile and another, or in different points of the same tile, are above the acceptable limit to obtain constant production at a low cost. All the outputs of the press thus have to produce tiles whose size differences are within a very small range of values (three-tenths of a mm as an indication).
A second critical factor is the pressing pressure, which affects the density of the tile and thus the penetration of the colouring solutions in the material being decorated.