Over the past few years two major technological advances have allowed the ceramics industry to create a new generation of exterior grade porcelain tiles – tiles that Alfresco Floors are now introducing to the UK domestic market.
Firstly, the invention of industrial grade ink-jet printing technology has allowed incredibly high resolution digital designs to be ‘sprayed’ onto the 3D surface of textured tiles and then ‘baked on’ – to create beautiful, impermeable products that will never fade, never stain, never scratch, never corrode, never suffer from moulds or moss and cannot suffer frost damage.
Secondly, the introduction of incredibly powerful pneumatic presses now allows these ceramics factories to create porcelain tiles which are 20mm thick and up to 1.2 metres long. These double depth slabs are twice the size of a traditional internal tile and so strong that even when supported on a raised floor support system, each tile will take the weight of a car.
In short, these new porcelain tiles are arguably better suited to life outdoors than either natural timber or natural stone, and cost less than both of those alternatives.
This parallel partnership of technical innovation and creative opportunity has already resulted in opportunities to use the new super strong tiles as part of commercial and industrial exterior design projects across the world, while in Europe they are becoming ever more popular for domestic landscaping too. Combine their strength and design flexibilty with the eco credentials of the product (some of which are made of 80% recycled materials) and it’s clear why they have had such a large impact on the ceramic tile market in such a short time. To date, these new alfresco tiles have not made any significant impact on the UK domestic market, but given their established popularity abroad, we are confident all that is about to change.
Alfresco Floors Limited have now arranged exclusive supply deals with the two Italian manufacturers most experienced and the most imaginative in producing these tiles, and have launched a range of over 50 different products which will provide lighter, cheaper and more durable alternatives to both natural stone and hardwood decking.
In addition, Alfresco Floors will be encouraging and educating all its customers to use gravel or pedestal based installation systems that offer a free draining alternative to the cement reliant techniques that are gradually hard landscaping our countryside with the impermeable drives, paths and patios that are proving such an issue in flood susceptible areas.