Today, tiles play a major role in defining the look of interior and exterior spaces in India. Janaki Krishnamoorthi speaks to industry professionals to get the big picture.
Be it external wall cladding or internal applications for flooring, walls or roofs, tiles play a major role in the construction industry today. Apart from the conventional features, new technologies and out-of-the-box thinking have also led to the creation of numerous exciting designs, textures, and shades in tiles. This combination of utility and beauty has made tiles a much sought-after solution for residential, retail, hospitality and commercial spaces.
Today, ceramics, granite and marble are not the only tile options available. There are many more to choose from - natural stone, slate, mosaic, quartz, soapstone, sandstone and limestone. The finish/texture options are also ample from tiles with the natural finish of marble and wood, tiles with metallic textures, patterns embossed in gold and silver that offer an opulent look, to butterfly and seahorse shaped tiles, mineral fibre tiles (a popular choice for office spaces, due to their aesthetics and acoustic performance), to name a few. In addition, there is a whole range of digitally printed tiles with immense design possibilities, not to forget the eco-friendly range.
Some hitherto less used materials like slate stone are also gaining ground. The major reasons for its popularity are its rustic yet contemporary look and its high resistance to heat, moisture, spills and scratches. The market also has tiles with specific properties like anti-skid, germ-free, stain-resistant, anti-static tiles, tac-tile etc.
Apart from the appearance, tiles definitely have an edge over other materials due to their multiple user-friendly properties. They are more durable, and easy to maintain at negligible cost. They are non-porous and thus prevent leakages in the walls. Stone slabs and stone tile designs are highly resistant to heat, moisture, spills and scratches too. Ceramic tiles are also more hygienic.
There are several indigenous manufacturers in the market today catering to the exploding demand for tiles. These include market leaders like H&R Johnson, Nitco, HSIL, Kajaria, Somany Ceramics, Asian Granito, Rak Ceramics etc. Heating up the competition are several imported brands, largely from Europe, available either directly or through tie-ups with Indian companies. Together, these players have opened up a whole world of new tile options for Indian consumers, enabling them to create stylish, individualised spaces.
With so much rapid innovation going on in the tile industry and technology aiding the manufacturer in producing superior products at reasonable cost, the ground under our feet is all set to get more and more beautiful with time!
Chief Operating Officer, Asian Granito India
The usage of tiles for exteriors and interiors differs markedly. For exterior walls and floors, tiles with a rustic look, subtle colours and smaller sizes are used. Here, it is necessary to ensure that the tiles can withstand the climatic conditions they are directly exposed to. In interior tiles, appearance is the most important element, besides quality. Depending on space availability, larger formats are in vogue, with various finishes like wooden, metallic etc. Highlighters and decor tiles that enhance the aesthetic value are also popular.
With advances in technology, manufacturers are moving from four colours to six colours and more recently to even eight colours with customised tile designs and printing technologies. Larger formats like 800 x 800 mm, 1000 x 1000 mm or 600 x 1200 mm are now possible. One may expect more and more specialty products to enter the market in the future, like slim tiles in larger formats.
Asian Granito offers a wide product range including digital micro crystal tiles, porcellanto digital tiles, digital glazed vitrified tiles, digital ceramic wall and floor tiles, ceramic wall and floor tiles etc. Our company has taken a leap on the technology front to become the first company in India to indigenously manufacture the high-tech ´Micro Crystal´ collection of floor tiles for the luxury segment. We have recently launched Hi-Tech TuffGUARD digital tiles on a vitrified body in 800 x 800 mm size for heavy traffic floors and ´Carrara White´ in the double charged vitrified category, which is the world´s whitest tile collection in the unglazed larger format. It is innovative, and one of the rarest products in the world with ´L´ value greater than 90.
Chief Executive Officer, Nitco
With evolving times, tiles have lost their ´only functionality´ aspect and have gained art and dTcor value. The functionality aspect too has widened, with people expecting the tile flooring to be strong, stain resistant, scratch resistant, bacteria free, fire proof, anti-skid and easy to wash.
Checking the technical aspect of various products on offer is a crucial factor while purchasing tiles. Different products have different technical and durability/ strength specifications based on the application. One should select a technically fitting product as per the desired application area and also check for water absorption, stain and scratch resistant properties. For bathroom flooring, one should go for anti-skid tiles and for heavy traffic areas like lobbies, scratch resistant and durable tiles with load bearing capacity are ideal.
Apart from floor and wall tiles, Nitco offers an exhaustive range of imported marbles and exclusively crafted mosaic tiles. Our HD digital tiles- TRULIFE - give a perfect blend of natural beauty and contemporary style with plethora of surface textures. We are one of the very few players in India using six-colour prism printing technology. Our Naturoc line has a wide range of rustic and earthy looking tiles that offer a perfect natural look. Our latest launch is the digitally printed wall tiles called Royale Treasure. They are sub-categorised into five sections based on the source of inspiration. For instance, we have the Marvellous Marble tiles inspired by natural marble, Stunning Stone tiles inspired by stones, Tempting Textiles tiles based on textile patterns, Gorgeous Geometry tiles based on geometrical patterns and Lavish Leather tiles based on the leather feel. These tiles come in different sizes like 300 x 600 mm, 300 x 900 mm, 300 x 450 mm, etc.
President RAK Ceramics India
For residences, offices, restaurants, hotels, resorts and even hospitals, tiles are the preferred floor covering. The conventional size of 600 x 600 mm is slowly giving way to larger size of 800 X 800 mm and 1000 X 1000 mm. Wall tiles in stone and wood finish are increasingly gaining acceptance.
High definition digital printing technology is the latest breakthrough in the international and also in the Indian tile market, which enables a variety of colour shades and designs on any tile surface. High definition digital printing technology enables 300 dpi resolutions resulting in finer and realistic natural textual patterns. Digital printing ensures high-resolution, multi-layer printing as fine as nanometre grade on flat as well as curved or textured tile surfaces. The technology also ensures uniform, edge-to-edge printing on tile surface thus creating a seamless look for the floors. We are currently using this technology for both vitrified and ceramic based tiles in our brands Nanopix and Venezia DG Pix respectively. Digital printed tiles are going to be the future of this industry.
RAK Ceramics is the only company to offer 10 variants of vitrified tiles. We also offers tiles in a variety of finishes such as polished, semi polished, lapato, sealer glaze, natural, rustic, etc. Recently, we launched RAK Slim, a collection of ultra-thin tiles, with its thickness measuring to less than one-fifth of an inch (4.8 mm) and offered in size of 600 X 1200 mm, which is not available with any other player in India. We also recently added rustic finish tiles to our portfolio of RAK Nanopix digitally printed vitrified slabs in size 1000 X 1000 mm, which is a first in this industry.
Chairman & Managing Director,
For both interior and exterior applications, Glazed Vitrified Tiles (GVT) are ideal, as they have several advantages over the traditional Polished Vitrified Tiles (PVT). GVTs are multifunctional, easy to maintain having the least porosity and are totally stain resistant with higher abrasion resistance and functionality. Being digitally designed, they are available in a wide range of finishes like metallics, stones, polished, satins, matts, woods, wood strips and lapato for wall and floors. Eco-friendly tiles, which are still a small market segment, generally mean that in the manufacturing process, the raw material or other inputs have been recycled or sourced locally without any deterioration in the overall quality criteria of the output and surroundings.
Mirage Ceramics manufactures GVTs, wood-finish vitrified planks in vitrified body and commercial tiles for various sectors. We have more than 300 designs with various finishes. We have recently launched wooden strips in glazed vitrified tiles. They are available in seven variants and in a size of 200 x 900 mm.
Joint Managing Director, HSIL
The basic difference between tiles used in an interior space as opposed to an exterior space is the tiles´ aesthetic appeal. For indoor usage, design and looks hold importance+ followed by other aspects like durability, abrasiveness and breaking strength. For exterior tiles that need to undergo heavy wear and tear, technology is of primary importance. Ceramic is usually not durable enough for exterior use because it absorbs too much water. Vitrified tiles are denser and thus less porous than ceramic tiles. This makes vitrified tile harder and more impervious to moisture than ceramic tile. Across the world, the emerging trend in tile usage is as follows: there is a movement towards slim tiles with three to 5 mm thickness, which reduces the consumption of raw material, energy and other resources; eco-friendly tiles are garnering popularity in the government and institutional segment; 3D structured surface with digital printing technology and nano-technology to make the surface stain-free and glossy are very popular.
In 2013-14, the total tile industry size was around ?20,000 crore and HSIL´s share was around 40 per cent of the market.
Vice President - Marketing - Kajaria Ceramics
Tiles are now one of the most sought-after options in defining the look and feel of homes. In terms of material, vitrified tiles, comprising nearly 50 percent of the ceramic tiles market, have witnessed robust growth in the last five years. They are smoother and glossier, though matte-finish variants are available as well. A lesser known advantage of these is that they can be manually cut to create intricate patterns on the floor or even on the walls.
Kajaria´s latest offerings are the 25 x 75cm digital ceramic wall tiles collection with trendy designs, motif and graphics with a unique elongated size; the ´E-Shield´ Digital Glazed Vitrified Tiles collection, with highest abrasion rating; the Sandune Collection, where the sensual, flowing and organic beauty of sand is emulated.
Interior Designer, Aamir and Hameeda Associates
Today, a fantastic variety of tiles, mostly imported, are available in India in diverse textures, colours, sizes and finishes. Most tiles are easy to install and maintain. Tiles are replacing stones in outdoor areas too because of the variety of stone textures that are coming in. Further, they are lighter and much easier to work with than real stones. Labour costs are higher when working with natural stone.
Roof tiles were popular in the eighties and nineties, but they died down due to the contemporary minimal design trend that took over. But now, a decade later, they are back in trend with neo classical and Balinese designs.
Joint Managing Director, Somany Ceramics
The tile industry is witnessing an upsurge, in India and globally. Today, Indian tiles are even being marketed abroad, largely in the Middle East, Europe, UK, USSR and East Africa. Indian tiles are popular in Europe mainly as a more reasonable option to the high-priced Italian and Spanish tiles, and because of contraction in local manufacturing and the anti-dumping duty on Chinese products. For East Africa and the Middle East, the attractions are low transit cost and reasonable prices as compared to Chinese and European products.
In keeping with the current international trend, Indian buyers are preferring elegant and classy tiles with natural finish of wood and marble. The VC Shield technology tiles with a wide range of colours, finishes, durability and requiring low maintenance, are very popular, while 3D tiles and digital tiles are the latest rage. Anti-bacterial tiles are an ideal choice for exteriors; metallic tiles are often used as decorative embellishments. With the availability of larger size tiles, consumers are warming up to their use for producing large continuous surfaces with minimum joints.
Somany manufactures a broad range of tiles from ceramic tiles, polished vitrified tiles to glazed vitrified tiles and digital tiles. Our wall tiles have a very soft glaze and porous body and are available in 250x350 mm, 300x450 mm, 300x600 mm sizes and plethora of finishes like marble, wooden, stone, denim, Swarovski studded etc. Our full body glazed vitrified tiles under Duragres brand with Veil Craft (VC) shield technology are India´s most durable tiles; our Durastone (Heavy Duty Vitrified tiles) are India´s toughest tiles, best suited for outdoors because of their high-load bearing capacity, abrasion resistance and anti-skid features. One of our latest innovations is ´Slip Shield´ tiles with a coating that keeps the co-efficient of friction high even when the surface is wet and soapy. Our Glosstra range, created using Ultra Gloss technology is available in fabric texture, undulated surfaces and stone finishes, with motifs and floral patterns.
Founder, Studio Afroditi Krassa, London
Internationally, there has been considerable exploration of raw and rougher textures such as encaustic tiles, floor brick slips, cement tiles, ceramics in ultra matt finishes and very classic monochrome ranges. At the same time, we have had new advances in digitally printed patterns and light textures, which result in really interesting and versatile porcelain ranges.
Reuse of waste marble dust and slur for floor tiles are the innovations happening in the tile industry today. If I were a tile manufacturer, I would definitely be investing in this type of research. Some of the most beautiful and classic finishes such as terrazzo and mosaics were created out of manufacturing waste.
Tiles are differentiated on the basis of body density and open porosity, generally referred to as `water absorption'. The tiles with the least water absorption are defined as Vitrified or Porcelain tiles.
Ceramic tiles have three finishes - smooth and very reflective surface (mirror finish polished and glossy finish), matt or rustic finish (hard, often granular and honed non-reflective matt finish surface) and satin finish that falls between the first two finishes.
The Porcelain Enamel Institute, Norcross, Georgia has defined ratings for tiles depending on their suitability in various applications/spaces: PEI 0 - No foot traffic (like tiles for walls of bathrooms and exteriors) PEI 1 - Very light traffic (bathroom floors), PEI 2 - Light traffic (bedrooms and study rooms), PEI 3 - Light to moderate traffic (domestic floor with no movement of heavy appliances) PEI 4 - Moderate to heavy traffic (Entrance, passages, external public kitchens and offices) PEI 5 - Heavy traffic ( malls, churches, industrial floors, etc). For residential flooring tiles from PEI-3 to PEI-4 are ideal.
All sets of tiles cannot be applied to all spaces. There are different considerations for bathroom floors versus a living room or even a parking lot. For example, using a glossy tile for your bathroom flooring can be disastrous, so select the tiles depending on space usage. Try building a harmony between your tiles and other parts of your interiors like overall colour scheme, furnishings, lighting plan etc. Buy what fits your overall budget and check their quality rating before buying. Tiles pass through certain quality checks to get a grading.
Tiles which pass through most of the norms are segregated as first Quality/Premium; tiles with minor or major defects are segregated as second quality/Commercial/Economy/Utility/Reject. When you buy a good brand, the boxes are properly stamped with a quality index that carries the necessary warranties.
How does one arrive at the right number of tiles for a space? Calculate the area of surface by multiplying its length and width. Add quantity required for skirting while doing it for flooring. Normally 3" to 4" skirting of flooring tile is applied on the wall, at sides of the room. Tiles are sold in predefined packages, containing definite and declared number of tiles of mentioned size (generally in millimetre or centimetre). You need to suitably convert all the measurement in the same unit (for example: room area as well as area covered using all the tiles in a box - in square feet). Always add approximately 10 per cent additional quantity depending upon the shape and size of the room, because tiles will be subjected to cutting, variations and some cut pieces may not be used. In addition keep few extra tiles for the future, in case tiles break due to unforeseen accidents, when you may not get the same chosen design or shade. Source : These tips have been extracted from H&R Johnson´s The Johnson Tile Guide booklet.
Asian Granito India, Ahmedabad
Mirage Ceramics, Mumbai
Tel: 022 3373 7777
Nitco Limited Mumbai
Tel: 022-6752 1555
RAK Ceramics India Pvt. Ltd.,
Mumbai. Tel: 022-2660 5704/06
HSIL Limited Gurgaon
Tel: 0124 477 9200
Kajaria Ceramics, New Delhi
Tel: +91-11-2694 6409/2694 9544;
Somany Ceramics, Noida
Tel: 0120-462 7900
Aamir & Hameeda Associates,
Hyderabad. Tel: 040-6678 4993
E-mail: design_ah @yahoo.co.in/
Studio Afroditi Krassa, London
Tel: +44 (0)20 3214 3120
Text: Janaki Krishnamoorthi