Words by Hannah Tapping
Creating a synergy between reliability and beauty, ceramic tiles bring an effortless beauty to any environment.
The way we live has certainly changed in recent years. There has been a distinct shift towards indoor-outdoor living and interior decoration has become more important than ever as we have spent more time in our homes than we ever thought we would. With that in mind, interiors have had to function as homes, schools, offices and social spaces – sometimes all at the same time! There is no part of the home more used than our floors; they are where we step when we cross the threshold, they take us from room to room and where we place our feet at the end of the day before we sink into bed. There has been an increasing tendency towards having the same flooring throughout a property, creating a seamless flow between rooms, and ceramic or porcelain tiles may just be the only flooring material that truly works in any room in the house.
Porcelain and ceramic tiles belong to the same family and although they are broadly similar and some interchange the terms, there are a few differences; the main being the rate of water they absorb. Porcelain absorbs the least at 0.5%, whilst white ceramic a little more. Both are an excellent and beautiful solution for floors, walls, and surfaces in residential, commercial, and public architecture, both indoors and out.
Porcelain tiles are not only resistant to moisture but are also scratch, stain and frost resistant, require no special maintenance and easy to clean. In a world where environmental impact is at the fore, I also learn that porcelain, as well as being durable, is an ecological flooring choice. With a production process that creates zero waste, is carried out using efficient energy and water systems, a final product being fully recyclable, porcelain has a low environmental impact at each stage of its life cycle. Porcelain is also an extremely stable and durable material, an important feature for a sustainability strategy that focuses on the reduction of maintenance and the replacement of construction elements, both indoors and out, as well as on vertical or horizontal applications. Thanks to their thermal inertia, porcelain tiles also help moderate room temperature changes, reducing heating and cooling spikes year round, with consequent energy savings.
As an allergy sufferer, beset by the pollen and dust that falls onto and is trapped by carpet fibres, it’s music to my ears to find out that porcelain is a hypoallergenic material, free of toxins and allergens. Porcelain tiles are free from any volatile organic compounds (VOCs) as prolonged firing at over 1200°C eliminates any organic residue from the product. They are also free from one of the most common pollutants in our home, formaldehyde, contain no PVC or plastics, and are naturally inert and resistant to dust and, of course, they look beautiful.
Chris Warmington, along with his business partner Maz, has made it their mission to bring beautiful tiles to Cornwall and the South West since the turn of the millennium via their business Cornwall Tile Centre. Offering a dedicated bespoke service to house builders, developers, architects and interior designers as well as serving individual clients who visit the showroom, they source their porcelain and ceramic tiles from Italian manufacturer, Atlas Concorde, which allows them to offer an extensive range which covers both interior and exterior surfaces. In light of Chris’ many years of experience in the tile industry I ask him to tell me a little about the latest trends when it comes to porcelain and ceramic tiles.
“Italian-made tiles are some of the finest in the business and Boost World has been one of the biggest trends for us, with marble also looking very popular,” he says. “The Boost World range of tiles from Italian makers Atlas Concorde reflect the trends in international architecture – with a collection of concrete-effect, stone-effect and raw earth look floor tiles and ceramic wall tiles with similar designs and colours. They are easy to mix and match, allowing designers to create tone on tone combinations or sharp contrasts between colours and textures. It appeals to those who like an elegant, contemporary style created with a palette of neutral tones and colour accents.”
“Atlas Concorde’s collection of marble-effect floor and wall tiles can create a rich, luxurious look with a timeless appeal. The Marvel collection offers a selection of whites from purest calcatta to light onyx with delicate nuances, blended with greys and deep browns. Or opt for a darkly dramatic look with black porcelain tiles – Black Atlantis, Nero Marquina or Noir St Laurent.” Chris goes on to explain that for a more rustic feel, you can select porcelain tiles that resemble flagstones, or wood-effect tiles which channel the character of oak.
Porcelain’s versatility makes it a hugely attractive material – it’s not unusual for tiles from four or five different collections to be chosen for one property. I had always thought that porcelain and ceramic tiles would only offer a set of natural, muted tones, however, some of the collections feature vivid colour palettes inspired by Italian culture. The Prism range is inspired, as its name would suggest, by the kaleidoscope of refracted light which can be mixed and matched to make colour combinations with a strong personality. Cool shades interact with brights, or warmers shades can be introduced to evoke sensations of cocooning and cosiness.
As colours make a comeback in interiors, tiles are the perfect choice, particularly when it comes to feature walls. Chris says: “There are lots of natural colours and natural, deep verdigris and aqua colours are proving popular. Or you can create a feature with tile structures – like a carved effect on tiles. You can add drama to a wall with geometric designs or consider the new 3D wall design collection, also from Atlas Concorde, which adds interest with the play of light and shadow.” While tiles come in all shapes and sizes, there is a growing preference for larger format tiles, with some sizes now measuring a staggering 120 by 240cm. These look fabulous, with fewer grout lines to worry about, although they do need specialist installation, which Corrnwall Tile Centre can facilitate.
Cornwall Tile Centre’s luxury showrooms at Pensilva, Wadebridge and the Studio One Bath and Wetroom Showroom in Plymouth, give the best possible opportunity to view their extensive and unique tile collection, and their experience when it comes to tiling means that they are sought out by homeowners, developers and businesses across Cornwall and the South West, for both interior and exterior solutions.