In recent years, the ceramic sector has been the subject of great growth in terms of overall production and sales due to the export of Italian made products. Success on the market, together with new compositional requirements of architecture and interior design have resulted in record investment in technological innovation of industry 4.0, in favour of large porcelain tile production (no longer just simple tiles), the oversize format of the present and the future.
Created in sizes greater than 1.5x3 m and with a thickness of just a few millimetres using specific manufacturing technologies, large format tiles make new scenarios available for the contemporary project, combining lightness, versatility and technical performance and aesthetics, and revolutionising the way in which surfaces are interpreted
The Advantages of Large Format Tiles
Especially in regard to spaces dedicated to the public, the large format tiles are attractive to both designers and clients. The juxtaposition of oversize slabs enables a reduction in grouting lines between one element and the next, offering unprecedented opportunities to enhance spaces and to make the surfaces easy to clean, for which they are particularly appreciated in the food service industry. Additionally, they create an elegant optical effect due to their continuity, which suggests a larger and more homogeneous space. Thanks to their light weight, the slabs lend themselves to being used not just for cladding walls, flooring and pools, but also for other furniture items such table tops (tables, bars, kitchen countertops, etc.) and ventilated rainscreen facades.
Example of application of large porcelain floor and wall tiles in the HO.RE.CA industry. (Tesori Collection by CEDIT - Ceramiche d'Italia)
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Modern digital printing production methods have largely contributed to the success of large format tiles being able to give ceramic material the appearance of any other natural material, correcting or emphasising some of their aesthetic aspects. Thanks to the possibility of digitally decorating large format tiles, they have a graphical freedom to produce varied tones, colours, shades and effects. In the case of large, marble effect slabs, for example, the veins are continuous, something which could not be obtained with natural marble.
Marble inspiration with continual vein from I Classici di Rex collection
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Myths to Be Debunked Concerning Large Format Tiles
Large format porcelain tiles combine the quality of the aesthetic finish with the compactness of ceramic material and do not present, in spite of their large size, any critical issues with regard to handling or transport, cutting (or perforation) and installation.
1. Transport and installationIt should be noted in the first instance that its large surface area and its reduced thickness result in a low weight / m2 ratio: compared to a slab of stone or marble of the same thickness, porcelain stoneware is almost always lighter and can be moved more easily. For handling, it is advisable to use special suction cups and take a few small precautions: make sure the back of the slab has been well cleaned and apply a double adhesive coating (back + support) to avoid air gaps.
The technology used to manufacture large format tiles enables a strong and flexible product to be obtained, capable of supporting cutting and perforating being carried out with the appropriate tools after etching a guide. Additionally, in the case of sharp or irregular edges, these can be refined with sandpaper or diamond hand pads.
The 6 mm thickness of the large format tiles is the ideal solution for maintaining resistance to breakage (1350N) and to flexion (52N/mm2) similar to traditional porcelain: the reduced thickness does not make the slab more fragile, but more flexible, ensuring the typical resistance of porcelain to perforation, impacts and tractions.
Manufacturers offer training services on how to easily handle and install large format tiles in complete safety. Installers can operate professionally using the acquired techniques and by equipping themselves with the appropriate tools.
The large format tiles aids the reinterpretation of natural materials, offering a design product that is dedicated to contemporary architecture’s specific needs, constantly in search of compositional solutions that will best enhance projects and enable designers to operate with maximum freedom of expression without sacrificing the technical/functional performance of the materials.
Hotel Koncept Residence by Studio Kota (Sarajevo): porcelain tiles were used as flooring and as covering for the hotel lobby desk.