The phenomenon of thin tile is only a few years old, but this all-new tile category has captured the worldwide attention of retailers, designers and customers—commercial, industrial and consumer. Translation: OPPORTUNITY for our industry.
First, it is important to know what “thin tile” really is. It is not merely a thin version of existing ceramic or porcelain tile. It is a new category altogether. When we say “thin tile,” we are referring to large format, thinner-than-traditional porcelain tile. The category is called large format because these thin tile pieces, planks or panels can be produced singly and in pieces often larger than 1 by 3 meters.
According to the Tile Council of North America (TCNA), standard tile thicknesses average between eight and 12 millimeters. Until the appearance of this new large format thin tile, anything under 7.5mm could not be used for flooring with confidence.
TCNA has ultimately defined thin tile as 6mm or less. Though thin tile has not yet been endorsed for floors in the U.S. by the installation community, millions of square feet of large format thin tile have been successfully installed on floors and walls worldwide. In fact, one can find stunning installations in places such as the Milan, Italy airport. So thin tile has been extensively vetted and proven to perform for both floor and wall installations, for indoor and outdoor use.
Thin tile differs from traditional tile in a variety of respects. To be thin, yet retain structural integrity, requires true engineering if a 3mm-thick porcelain tile product is to deliver virtually the same performance characteristics as standard-thickness porcelain. (The thinnest of this product produced by Florida Tile is 3 millimeters, about 30 to 40 percent the thickness of traditional tile.)
Our unique manufacturing process compresses each tile to greater than 15,000 tons psi. This creates a very dense, strong, thin tile with increased flexibility and breaking strength. Further, a 0.5mm fiberglass mesh backing is adhered to each panel, providing additional strength and allowing for ease of drilling, cutting and handling. This process allows us to create a single 3.5mm thick panel strong enough to accommodate structural integrity in sizes up to 1m x 3m (39” x 118”).
Compared to standard tile of the same size, it is important to know that all thin tile has a lower breaking strength when unsupported. This is a key point: to ensure durability, correct installation is critical. The Florida Tile website (www.floridatile.com) offers detailed installation videos which illustrate how proper application of adhesive, especially at the edges and corners, functions as part of a system to reinforce the functional integrity of thin tile. Therefore, with correct installation, there is no reason thin tile should not perform virtually with the same capability as standard tile indoors or out. (Editor’s note: See the November/December issue of Floor Covering Installer for thin tile installation techniques.)
Setting aside the technical aspects of large format thin tile there are numerous, significant benefits. For example, because thin tile is manufactured with far less material than traditional porcelain, 40 to 60 percent less raw material is needed to cover the same square footage as standard tile of any kind.
That obviously not only saves on raw material, but on production time and energy use as well as shipping costs. It is a tile category that is incredibly lightweight, durable, flexible, and easy to cut and handle, offering enormous potential for installation options—only a fraction of which we have explored.
Florida Tile’s Thinner Line
Florida Tile’s thin tile line is called Thinner. Keeping large-scale commercial and residential installations in mind, sizes already available are 1m x 3m (39” x 118”), 1m x 1m (39” x 39”) and .05m x 1m (19.5” x 39”), all rectified.
All Thinner products have been third-party tested at the TCNA laboratory. 3plus (3.5mm) is suitable for interior and exterior, wall, floor and countertop applications in residential and light commercial construction. 5plus (5.5mm) carries an “extra heavy”-duty service rating and is ideal for commercial floor, wall and exterior applications as well as all residential floors, walls, countertops and stairs.
The core of the product range is Time/2.0 which offers six colors comprised of a solid body pigment that sets the overall tone of each tile. The smooth rich body is then decorated with slightly contrasting shades, created by individual granules of color that vary in dimension depth, thickness and pattern.
Time/2.0 is very consistent with the current trend of earthy neutral colors. It is available in 50cm x 100cm (19.5” x 39”), 100cm x 100cm (39” x 39”), 100cm x 300cm (39” x 118”) in 3plus (3.5mm) thickness, all rectified. Time/2.0 is Greenguard certified and suitable for all light commercial and residential floor, wall and countertop applications.
The Aventis line is inspired by gritty urban landscapes. Offering the look of concrete, each of the six colors is a unique blending of base color with a stain that adds contrast by using an application that allows the slightest shimmer of reflection. Sizes available are 1m x 3m (39” x 118”), 1m x 1m (39” x 39”) and .50m x 1m (19.5” x 39”), all rectified.
Aventis 3plus is suitable for interior and exterior, wall, floor and countertop applications in residential and light commercial construction. It is Greenguard certified and will contribute to USGBC registered LEED projects. It will also contribute to the ANSI approved NAHB Green Building Standard ICC 70.
Newly added to Thinner is RestoreHDP (High Definition Porcelain). RestoreHDP takes on the look and format of antique barn planks duplicated from 150-200 year-old rustic barn woods in a 5.5mm porcelain tile. Aesthetically, RestoreHDP uses high-definition digital printing to achieve its look.
Warranty details, extensive product images, descriptions and sample room and exterior installations for the full Thinner portfolio can be found at www.floridatile.com/thinner.
Design and application opportunities for thin tile products are just about limitless. Think about counters and backsplashes, pools, spas and bathhouses—even furniture and fireplace surrounds in thin tile.
Thin tile could be another way to fatten up that bottom line.