Thick is smart

by Alfredo Zappa


Italian ceramic for architecture is a product globally reknown for its high quality and importance. Research in the field has recently moved towards the development of a new generation of thick porcelain slabs. These products have been tested for high mechanical stress, for deep wear resistance, and are suitable for heavy loads; they are mainly used for outdoor solutions, both in residential and industrial construction: swimming pools, gardens, and urban settings. The aesthetics, the finest materials, the diversity in shapes and finishes, and their certified features make these products of outstanding.

The range is wide: a rich and diverse selection of porcelain slabs, perfectly squared (from the standard 30×30 up to 90×90 and over); rectangular tiles (60×120, 40×80 etc.); and panel tiles (30×120). All with thicknesses varying from 14 till 20 millimetres. The 20mm size is a favourite among big manufacturers, so that it has become a trendy feature. The majority of slabs are made by pressing aggregates into a single layer. But there also exist 20mm slabs made by a porcelain slab attached to a ceramic support by means of thermosetting resins adhesive materials, thus creating a single block product.

Porcelain grès is time resistant (both as far as colour and physical properties are concerned), water resistant, and frost resistant; it is also resistant to thermal shock and easy to clean, resistant to stains, chemicals, moulds and much more. Porcelain grès is a wonderful product whose recognized mechanical and resistance qualities are further enhanced in the thickened version (with average breaking load values between 1000 and 1300 Kg/sqm (ISO 10545-4).

Thanks to this feature and to the weight of the slabs themselves, installation is easy and can be carried out in many ways, according to the ideas and views of installation professionals. Dry surface systems in particular enable full speed as well as reversibility and retrieval of the single tile elements. Among them: direct installation of paved areas or pathways on grassland after putting a layer of gravel; installation on sand or gravel; raised floor installation, by means of plastic devices, adjustable both in height and inclination – the last one especially appreciated for terraces, walkable roofing or to hide electrical and piping systems in easily inspected outdoor areas. The more traditional adhesive tile installation (where adhesive is to be put on the tile as well as on the surface it is covering) is generally used for the installation of thickened slabs on roofing or screeds – these appropriately layered and equipped according to the loads envisaged in the architectural project.

Finally, a wide list of customizable special parts to finish details in the utmost manner: steps, surfaces, copings, angles, fittings and coating bases, grates, cable ducts, up to outdoor pieces of furniture.

Hence thickening not only as a dimension, but as a value.