TILES – What makes them a Sustainable Choice?

Clara Puskas
Clara Puskas
Flooring Tiles
Choosing tiles can be one of the most fun parts of renovating. Our choices are endless, and we have the freedom to use tiles as focal points, or supporting design-puzzle element to the room we are creating. Either way, we must choose carefully, and beside the colors and patterns, we must pay attention to size and surface finish according to where they will be used.

Since I blog on sustainability, I am happy to take on TILES now, because tiles are a sustainable choice if they are carefully chosen and properly installed.

An important principle of sustainability is to build for longevity.

History has shown us how long ceramic and stone can last, we just have to look for proof in the ancient ruins of India, Egypt, Pompeii and so on. Ancient Egyptians were the first to use glazed tiles, but we owe it to the Portuguese for painting them with the most vivid imagination.

ancient egypt tiles Ancient Indian Mughal Princess Greeting Cards
Ancient Egypt Painting Tile
Persian Tiles
Persian Tile in the 10th-11th Centuries, a process that included glassy layer over the clay Ancient Indian Mughai Princess Ceramic Tile

Careful attention to performance and aesthetics, and a thorough understanding of the product's future is important to ensure our choices are good and sustainable.

Designed To Last A Long Time?
If the answer is yes, we are reducing the need for future materials usage, and as a direct result reduce waste and contributing to air and water quality.

Designed To Be Durable?
Ceramic tile has been proven to survive fire and floods. Its color-fast and non-fading. Very strong, easy to clean, non-porous, no need to polishing or sealing. Its durability is not only earth-friendly, but also cost-effective.

Tiles Go Anywhere!
We can install it on floors, walls, countertops, pools, ceiling, tubs, showers, outside walls. Tiles can even be used on moving surfaces, for example boats and motor-homes.

Production - Transportation - Installation:
While ceramic and stone have a high embodied energy (production and transportation), the durability should be considered when we compare it to other alternatives.

Sustainable Tiles
When properly installed and maintained, residential tiles have a minimum of 50 years 'lifespan'. To ensure the maximum performance possibility, the design choice should be flexible and timeless. By prolonging replacement, we can save time, money and resources spent on extracting raw materials, manufacturing, logistics, demolition, disposal and installation.

All these contribute to materials usage efficiency, air quality protection, water resources management, and energy efficiency.

Most of the tile suppliers manufacture their products in a 'closed loop' process that recycles raw materials and water wastes back into the production cycle. Any left-overs are ground up and can be recycled into cement, artistic tile mosaics, bricks, paving and road fillers. The tiles cradle to grave environmental impact in a Life-Cycle Assessment is very favorable.

Sustainable tiles include recycled glass tile that comes in gorgeous colors. Beside the aesthetics, we should aim for the highest percentage of post consumer content. They are mesh mounted for easy installation. I'd like to highlight STARGLASS GROUT, it is an eco-friendly and beautiful product. Made form recycled glass and this grout has an amazing sparkle that regular grout can never produce.

Production methods that generate no waste should always be valued more than recycled products.

Another important principle of Sustainability is health.

Tiles & Health
Building related illnesses like, Sick Building Syndrome and Multiple Chemical Sensitivity are on the rise and now that we have a better understanding of the cause, reasonably become a critical concern for us.

Ceramic Tiles

Ceramic tiles do not absorb or emit pollutants, no off-gassing is needed, inhibit the growth of mold, mildew, fungus, and viruses, letting us bread easier.

Ceramic tiles can be cleaned using warm water and pH-neutral cleaners. Ceramic tiles have a high stain resistance that reduces maintenance requirement. There is no need for chemicals, strippers, solvents, shampoos or waxes that only poison our home's indoor air quality, plus add to the level of toxic cleaning products being flushed into our ecosystem. Regular cement-based setting and grouting materials generally do not contain Volatile Organic Compounds (VOC) or other suspect chemicals. Sealers and cleaners that are water-based, also offer significant advantages for Indoor Air Quality (IAQ) during installation and for lifetime use.

Hygienic, hypoallergenic and non-conductive ceramics are preferred for sterile environments like research laboratories and operating rooms, restaurant-kitchens and so on. For residential application, ceramic tiles provide relief for those suffering with multiple chemical sensitivity. Cleanliness, easy of maintenance and safety are critical.

Ceramic tiles are fire proof, and will not emit gases. Therefore often selected for fireplaces and exit corridors. Ceramic tiles can survive fire and floods.

Tiles in the Future
The continuous Innovation in Technology is amazing and exciting.

I'd like to share 2 favorites I am following:

ACTIVE: Clean Air and Antibacterial Ceramic reduce surface contamination and clean the air through a photocatalytic process (www.active-ceramic.com).

BIOS: Provides continuous and durable protection against germs and bacteria (www.casalgrandepadana.com).
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