Sheen of Tiles is here to stay
Tiles have emerged as the highly valued choice for flooring or wall covering with myriad combination of colours and patterns, surpassing options available with every other material – Finds out Syed E. Hasan
Homeowners are vying for aesthetic impression of the interiors in their premises, wherein flooring nowadays tops the list! After all, it's for those who want to enjoy, each step along the way, walking down the floor right from the entrance to lounge, leaving room, guest room, drawing room, bathroom or even kitchen! Truly speaking, flooring has always been an important step to begin the interiors with, but has started getting attention only few years back when designer tiles gradually crept in to chart out its space out of the available diverse materials. This is closely followed by walls, canvassing the advanced digitally printed designer tiles in the form of mural or wall painting. All thanks to the changing tone of ceramic tiles, which, giving interiors a new identity.
No doubt, the age-old tiles have undergone a series of change. Digitally printed ceramic tiles encompassing natural effects of marble, wood, and stone on surfaces have helped them emerged as the latest fad. These tiles are produced with advanced digital printing technology that enables high-definition reproduction of colours and objects to provide exact impression of marble or wood bringing alive even the minutest details. Besides, being ultra-charged due to vitrifying process, these tiles can withstand any moisture, scuffs, scratches, and indentation that come with everyday life. This apart, tile manufacturers are also addressing issues like health and hygiene by adding features like anti-microbial glaze, slip-retardant, and anti-abrasion.
Earlier tiles were reserved only for the wet areas, but now they are being used to create a vertical expanse as a focal point. Today's passionate consumers are going for options like bolder digital prints, pretty mosaics, and exotic patterns as a beautiful bathroom tile can transform a plain space into a standout sanctuary irrespective of it being for a simple backsplash or an entire wall. The phase, when vitrified tiles were great as affordable and easy maintenance option over cement, mosaic or natural stone, is back. Not that the popularity of the other materials have gone down but with attributes like durability, affordability, minimal maintenance, and myriad design options have dragged ceramic tiles back in the trend.
"Consumers nowadays are looking beyond the conventional stone and marble floors while slowly accepting maintenance free ceramic tiles, which by encompassing virtually every design in high gloss polish, lapato, satin, and rustic finishes, are giving them enviable choices," says Mr. Sudhir Malesha, CEO of RAK Ceramics India. He adds that not only residential but also the non-residential sector - right from restaurants to resorts & hotels to hospitals - is switching over to tiles to add a rich and luxurious look to the ambience for it being the single largest visual element connecting various functional spaces within a premise.
A number of new concepts have crept into the country's ceramic tile industry. While for designers, it has brought in a new dimension to add aesthetics to the interiors; for users, it works as the soothing substance welcoming in their premises. Thanks to the modern techniques, developed to imbue these tiles with a bold and bright new look for the 21st century. Replicating natural themes like wood, stone, and marble, tiles now come in diverse finishes and varied textures. This lets the floor up with expanded applications as the wood and stone are relatively expensive and difficult to maintain. "Digitally printed in matt and glossy finishes mainly in vitrified and porcelain tiles are among the most popular flooring trends," informs Mr. Dharmendrabhai Maganbhai Patel, Marketing Director, Century Tiles.
When it comes to trending in tiles, uniformly patterned tiles continued to rule the roost for it helps retain those of vintage look by imitating natural stone; while porcelain tiles camouflaging wooden essence are emerging as another popular options. Emulating stone like travertine or limestone tiles in softened tones with muted colours, and tiles with glazed finish in bold colours are preferred for their warmth and welcoming atmosphere. Recent entry of big rectangular subway-style tiles and tiles in warm tones like camel and champagne are gaining popularity in residential scheme of things. Tiles with purple and blue tones and metallic like copper tiles are also making inroads, these days.
Talking of the vibrant patterns and colours, the classic shapes, honeycomb, hexagon, and stripes combined with bold patterns are among the latest attention seekers, and in few instances, are chosen over the regular tiles. At the same time, it is also noted that aesthetically driven mosaic-patterned tiles engrossing the look of those from ancient times are making a rapid comeback so much so that these tiny design guzzlers are preferred over the blandly printed tiles. Amidst all this, not to forget is the fact that the advanced digital printing technology has added feathers to the ceramic tiles which were seemingly loosing shine to their counterparts.
Meanwhile, exploring new ways to remain in focus, tile manufacturers keep on adding to their existing portfolio. The latest addition is an array of surface treatments like tiles with folded, twisted, and stretched surfaces. This apart, micro-patterns, simple geometric shapes, quilted leather, embroidered lace motifs and wallpaper-like textures are also made available for designers to play with their imagination.
Additionally, technological advance- ments have resulted in superior finishes on tiles' surfaces with health & hygienic features like antibacterial ceramic tiles, VC shield tiles, nano-polished glazed vitrified tiles, etc and are helping minimizing environmental impact, whereas slim tiles - which are comparatively thinner and lighter - can be applied directly over the existing floor tiles to refresh a gloomy surface without creating any waste.
These value-added varieties in tiles have enhanced designers' capability by providing them with innumerable contrasting designing options ranging from a simple single-colour, straight-edged border to a wide variety of patterns, to an intricately complex piece of art fixing on a floor, patio, bathroom wall, or backsplash. In fact, the endless combinations of designs in tiles have enabled specifiers to achieving client satisfaction.
Designers agree that there is so much going on in the field of tile flooring. Tiles in various formats including ceramic, porcelain, glass, or vitrified can be used to create personalized pattern or mosaic and the colour options are unlimited. Stone, wood, metal finish tiles add dramatic touch. Bamboo, grass, fabric and leather effect tiles are soft and warm up the interiors. While, specialized tiles like inlaid or encaustic and concrete bring heritage or rustic charm to the space.
However, tiles with the natural finish of marble and wood are still the most preferred ones, while tiles with metallic textures and patterns embossed in gold, silver, bronze, copper or steel add the glam and rich quotient to the ambiance.
Attests Space Practitioner Mr. Sanjeev Sinha, Principal Designer at Renaissance Designs, tiles with natural finish of marble or wood are most preferred, because these are affordable and long lasting when compared to marbles. "As far as high-end luxury homes are concerned, tiles with metallic textures and patterns embossed in gold, silver, bronze, copper, or steel are popular as these finishes add glam and rich quotient. Properly installed digital tiles outlive nearly any other product. At the same time, unlike marbles, these tiles are anti-bacterial and odour-free that help in maintaining better hygiene, besides resisting stains, dirt, and can be cleaned up with a damp mop, sponge, or common household cleaners."
Mr. Sinha, trusts that the design should always leave an environment that is interesting, artistic, and beautiful. "Flooring reflects the occupants' lifestyle, and therefore, deciding about flooring needs more of a human touch than merely considering the cost factor. There has definitely been a shift from spending to saving and consumers are now looking for materials that are easy to handle, low on maintenance, and can be quickly replaced, to which ceramic tiles have all the solutions with many other benefits including the ease of maintenance and safety."
At times when building related illnesses like, Sick Building Syndrome and Multiple Chemical Sensitivity are on the rise, ceramic tiles have reasonably become a viable flooring or wall covering choice. To which, Toronto-based designer Ms. Clara Puskas, Owner & Principal Designer, mySustainableDesignCocktail, says, "Ceramic tiles do not absorb or emit pollutants, no off-gassing is needed, inhibit the growth of mold, mildew, fungus, and viruses, letting us breathe easier. Besides, new age ceramic tiles have high stain-resistance that reduces maintenance requirement. Attributes like hygienic, hypoallergenic, and non-conductive are making these tiles a preferred flooring or wall covering substance especially for sterile environments like hospitals, research laboratories, restaurant-kitchens, and so on."
Perhaps the most attractive thing about ceramic tile is the unlimited variety of styles that is available to choose from be it refined, decorated piece, classic style, a rustic stone, or even terracotta type tiles. Imagine a style, and you will find ceramic floor tile as the answer. As a matter of fact, tiles have become a highly valued option for playing with design and feel. For instance, digitally-printed high definition tiles, carrying the popular Disney and Nick characters, are being focused at children's space, while tiles with high definition floral prints in gentle colours are gaining space in drawing room or living room.
Going forward to analyzing sizes, bigger is better has been becoming a common perception amongst young consumers. This is because larger tiles lend a more seamless and extended appearance to the interiors, adding a premium look to the overall interiors. However, this could not proliferate as a practical alternative, especially in metros due to space limitation. Nevertheless, tiles in formats larger than the usual i.e. 24x24 inches with digitally printed shades of laminate and vinyl are making a visible presence across the sectors, while inclination towards rectangular tiles of sizes 10x30-inch, 12x18-inch, and 12x24-inch with varied finishes ranging from wood, marble, slate to concrete, has also been seen creeping in around both the new constructions and renovations alike.
While large sized tiles with consistent colours and patterns bring seamless appearance of the surface, mosaic tiles are providing with the personification option to customize. "All kinds of establishments reflect the living styles, for which customization has always remained as the front-runner. The excitement begins with modular format; which empowers you to mix & merge different sizes and colours to make very interesting, imaginative, vivid, subtle, and colorful creations giving your spaces a very decorative & smart look but without changing the joint gap between the mosaics. As a result, this trend setting concept has already become a part of lifestyle in developed markets," says Mr. Pawan Poddar, Director, Italia Group.
All this clearly reflects that today, tiles specialize in various aspects addressing quite a few issues which were not of greater concerns in the past. For instance, slip-resistant tiles for wet areas such as bathrooms and swimming pool areas, tiles with anti-bacterial properties for outdoors especially in humid regions, and those with scratch-resistant properties are suitable for high traffic areas like malls. It won't be wrong to mention that due to these specific properties, ceramic tiles have become a necessity without compromising on the visual appeal.