Making a meal of it

Flooring in kitchens and food production areas must be able to withstand spills and frequent intense cleaning

TILE supplier Solus Ceramics says it’s brought a sense of style and individuality to a new and unique sour dough pizzeria in Crystal Palace, southeast London.

Designed by Richardson Studio, Four Hundred Rabbits is a restaurant with an eclectic Aztec twist. Wanting to capture the mood of this unique combination, the designers created an environment that was fun, simple, inventive and a destination that was far from traditional.

Featured in the 2016 Restaurant and Bar Design Awards, the design of Four Hundred Rabbits was kept simple using standard timbers and pegboard to create a layered backdrop to the colour and artwork.

Instead of using conventional Italian colours for the aesthetic, the designers specified Solus Ceramics Bright and Modular ranges and opted for a modern approach by transforming red and white into pink and jade.

These colours can be seen in the tile and grout selection, with pink tiles and pink grout applied to the bar front and counter and the jade tiles used in the bathroom.

The Bright range is a simple collection of energetic porcelain tiles suitable for use on floors and walls. Characterised by a wide selection of plain and uniform colours, Bright treads the path of regularity. With more than 40 colours available, the range is said to be suitable for all types of interior design, lending what is said to be a contemporary and realistic feel to any space.

The Modular range boasts a range of tile sizes to create ‘standout’ designs, whether it’s a checkerboard effect, diagonal stripes or a triple colour mix.

As used in Four Hundred Rabbits design aesthetic, all the tiles within the range can be paired with different coloured grouts, ensuring the tiles offer ‘unique and completely individual’ facades. Modular is available in more than 40 colours, ranging from pearly greys, vivid electric blues and deep shades of burgundy.

Celia Richardson, design director of Richardson Studio, said: ‘The brief set out by Dan and Duncan Edwards, the two brothers who own Four Hundred Rabbits, was to create an atmosphere that was an exciting contemporary space, splashed with playful pastels.

‘The tiles we used can be seen on the bar front and counter. All the tiles used were 100x100mm in size that allowed us to maintain a fluid sense of continuity throughout the restaurant.

‘We specified Solus Ceramics’ Bright range not only for its aesthetic appeal, but also because of its durability, helping to meet all our client’s requirements. To ensure the restaurant had its own identity, we needed to ensure we had a selection of colours available to choose from that offers a unique individual style.

‘The overall result of the project is something we’re incredibly pleased with. It’s been great to see our ideas come to life and allow other people to share something we created. Working closely with Solus Ceramics has allowed us to be imaginative and create a design aesthetic that will stay unique forever.’

John Rose, area sales manager at Solus Ceramics, said: ‘A fantastically eclectic project, Four Hundred Rabbits showcases the versatility of tiles and particularly how a relatively simple, neutral product can be utilised to create something rather enchanting.

‘The regular ‘grid’ style layout of the tiles, along with the interesting grout choices, creates a memorable eye-catching feature that perfectly conveys the versatility of the brand.’

Solus Ceramics says it’s an established porcelain, ceramic, glass, metal and natural stone tile supplier, offering a huge range of more than 100,000 products, directly sourced from manufacturing partners.

Tapping into strong manufacturer relationships and the company’s wealth of experience, Solus Ceramics consistently remain at the forefront of the latest developments and trends in the tiling industry.

Working with architects, interior designers and other professional specifiers, the company delivers technical and aesthetic solutions into various tiling projects across Europe.
0121 7530777
STOPGAP 1200 Pro, F Ball and Co’s minimum preparation, maximum performance smoothing underlayment, has been used in the recent refurbishment of a contemporary leisure centre café, in Winchester.
The smoothing underlayment is said to have provided the ideal solution for contractors who faced a challenging subfloor that was contaminated with adhesive residue.

The product allowed for a new luxury floor to be installed at River Park Leisure Centre café with what is described as ‘unrivalled speed and ease’.

To begin the installation, the Flooring Division at Hampshire Interiors conducted a moisture test to investigate the damp and moisture levels present in the subfloor. The results revealed the floor was suitably dry to continue without the need to install a waterproof surface membrane, therefore, a 3mm application of Stopgap 1200 Pro was installed directly onto the existing subfloor.

Utilising the latest cement technology, Stopgap 1200 Pro has been designed for use directly over old adhesive residues, including bitumen and carpet tile tackifiers, to provide flooring contractors with ‘a professional, cost-effective solution to challenging floors, without the need for mechanical removal or priming’.

The latex-free, no ammonia smoothing underlayment achieves fast-setting and drying times for preparing sound internal subfloors, according to F Ball. Stopgap 1200 Pro has a working time of 20 minutes, a walk-on time of 60 minutes and as it is ready to receive new floorcoverings from four hours, an entire flooring installation can be completed in the same day.

Andy Rogers, manager of the Flooring Division of Hampshire Interiors, said: ‘We use a lot of F Ball products, particularly the adhesives. The technical representatives have such a good knowledge of how to use the products and are really straightforward to deal with, so we know that we’ll always get the backup that we need to guarantee a great job.’

The smoothing underlayment is claimed to offer superior flow characteristics and can be used over a wide range of subfloor types including sand/cement screeds, concrete, granolithic paving and ceramic tiles, as well as under and over Stopgap waterproof surface membranes.

It is also suitable for patch filling timber floors prior to overlaying with plywood. Furthermore, Stopgap 1200 Pro is low odour and protein-free making it suited for use in clinical and biologically sensitive environments including hospitals, schools and laboratories, says F Ball.

Founded in 1886, F Ball and Co says it’s the UK’s leading manufacturer of flooring adhesives and floor preparation products for the contract flooring industry.

With a broad product portfolio including floor smoothing underlayments, repair compounds, waterproof surfaces membranes, flooring adhesives and primers, F Ball claims to deliver superior customer service through its network of more than 120 wholesalers throughout the UK and Ireland. In addition, the company’s ‘recommended adhesives guide’ (RAG) matches adhesives to more than 5,500 brand name floorcoverings from over 200 international manufacturers.

Extensive in-house testing facilities and research and development laboratories at the company headquarters in Cheddleton, Staffordshire, enable F Ball to continuously enhance the technology and quality of its product range.
01538 361633

FOOD that’s being prepared in any commercial kitchen environment must meet rigorous standards of health and hygiene control. It’s common sense the food we eat is safe and healthy to consume.

This isn’t an easy task for the facilities operators who must constantly meet these high standards that the industry and government regulations require. It’s an area where international flooring and interiors specialist Gerflor say they can really make a difference.

With more than 70 years’ experience, Gerflor says its expertise in safety flooring is unrivalled. The Tarasafe vinyl safety flooring range is available in more than 80 finishes and is reinforced with a glass fibre grid, suitable for use in all areas of heavy traffic where slip-resistance, durability and hygienic conditions are required.

Using mineral crystal particles, rather than the industry standard carborundum, Tarasafe, with what is described as its improved performance, is easier to install, lighter and more flexible to handle.

The range has a maximum hygiene rating meeting the EN Standard 22196 for antibacterial activity (E coli - S aureus - MRSA) (3) returning >99% levels of growth inhibition and comes with a 12-year warranty.

Tarasafem is stain- and chemical-resistant and comes with the SparClean surface treatment which means no polish for life, according to Gerflor.

The company points out that Tarasafe Super is suitable for any commercial kitchen or food production facility. Tarasafe Super is a slip resistant flooring constructed from vinyl with deeply inlaid mineral crystal particles and coloured chips for a decorative design.

It contains no carborundum and meets with HSE guidelines. Reinforced with a glass fibre grid, it’s suitable for use in all areas of heavy traffic where slip-resistance, durability and hygienic conditions are required. The joints are hot-welded to ensure water-tightness.

The dense concentration of deep inlaid anti slip particles throughout the wear layer provides an enhanced slip performance to R12. It’s also said to be easier to handle and install.

Tarasafe Super is also treated with an antibacterial and fungicidal treatment and has its design within the whole thickness of the wearlayer, providing durability of the colours and design throughout the product’s lifetime. It’s also said to be completely recyclable.

In the continuing battle to maintain standards, Taralay Impression Control from Gerflor is a multipurpose floorcovering available in 2m sheet format with a Group T wear rating and is said to be suitable for a host of heavy traffic environments where slip resistance is a must.

Available as a dual collection: ‘Safety in Wood’ and ‘Safety in Design’, the range includes realistic woods in contemporary colours and modern all over designs.

Taralay Impression Control also has a Pendulum Test value +36, meets HSE guidelines (BS 7976-2), a surface roughness of >20 RTM-RZ and R11 ramp test value (DIN 51130), together with providing 24 design-led colourways and is suitable for healthcare, education, retail, public spaces, offices and other commercial interiors.

Taralay Impression Control also offers a hygienic solution thanks to a UV-cured PUR surface treatment for cleaning and maintenance.

With the Protecsol Control surface treatment it’s easy to clean, is completely recyclable, offering a state-of-the-art flooring solution for a myriad of applications.

At the Streetly Academy in Sutton Coalfield they offer a full and varied curriculum enriched by their sports college status to enable every child’s learning to be adapted to their specific needs.

The academy is a large co-educational secondary school in Streetly, West Midlands, on the border of Birmingham and Walsall local authorities. It was established in 1961
When it came to refurbishment of the academy’s flooring needs, choosing the right products would be crucial.

They specified Taralay Impression Control from Gerflor for a range of areas which included their back of house dining hall and food preparation facilities.

Lee Morgan, director from the appointed installer, Advanced Flooring Solutions said, ‘Taralay Impression Control from Gerflor was chosen as a better alternative to other products because of its design and performance.’

He went on to add, ‘Working with Taralay Impression Control is good for us as installers. It’s trouble-free and provides great performance. We’ve worked with Gerflor products many times before and find them extremely easy to lay.’
01926 622600
ALTRO says the proven combination of Altro Whiterock hygienic wall cladding and Altro Stronghold 30 safety flooring is said to be delivering a tough and hygienic solution in the kitchen and canteen in the £10m refurbished campus at North Hertfordshire College, in Hitchin.

The new-look Hitchin Campus, an award-winning design by architect Scott Brownrigg, is a modern, practical space, with a strong entrepreneurial theme.

Clark Barton, Associate at Scott Brownrigg, explains why he chose the Altro package for the new kitchen and canteen. ‘These products are a proven combination for hygiene and robustness,’ explained Clark.

‘Altro Stronghold is the ideal slip-resistant tough flooring for busy catering areas, where potential for spills and safety is a major factor. It has some great colour choices, too, so again we can use it within projects that require aesthetic appeal, as well as a practical solution.

‘The seamless, grout free Altro Whiterock provides the ultimate, practical, wipe clean surface, and it’s quick to install, and that’s very important when build timescales are tight.

‘Together, these two Altro products are superb at creating the ultimate safe, practical, hygienic, yet visual appealing environment.’

Altro Stronghold 30 achieves Altro’s highest rating for slip resistance and is designed to minimise risk in wet and greasy conditions for the lifetime of the flooring.

As well as helping to keep staff safe from slips, it’s also said to help reduce their fatigue, thanks to its 3mm thickness which provides noise reduction and comfort underfoot.

Altro Whiterock Premier Installer, Blagbrough Contracts, fitted Altro Whiterock wall-cladding and Altro Stronghold 30 safety flooring in the kitchen and canteen.

MD John Blagbrough said: ‘The Altro Stronghold 30 in the kitchen went down on an existing floor where there was water ingress. So, to overcome this we put down AltroProof Solo DPM. We created a coved skirting on the flooring, which we took up the walls by 150mm for a neat finish.’

Brian Sapsed, head of estates & facilities for the college, said: ‘The combination of Altro Stronghold safety flooring and Altro Whiterock hygienic wall-cladding in the kitchen and canteen is perfect for this environment, and exactly what we wanted to achieve. It’s not only hygienic and safe, but it looks superb as well — crisp, clean and very professional.’

Altro says it’s been at the forefront of innovation for almost 100 years. Today, working closely with architects, end customers, engineers, designers and contractors around the world, it says its insight and expertise help them transform everyday spaces into environments that can improve the wellbeing of everyone that uses them.

And by consistently turning creative thinking into practical, real-world solutions – that maintain the highest standards of safety and durability – Altro says it’s become synonymous with quality.

As a family-founded business, it says it has a strong sense of what it values and a way of thinking inspired by The Bauhaus – a balance of quality, form and design-led function – that puts people’s needs at the heart of everything it does. ‘Ours is a human-centred approach to designing for the demands of 21st century life.

‘It’s a history that means we value the bold, the brave and the new. From focusing on how the different sectors we serve need their spaces to perform, to the call for more environmentally sustainable materials, Altro is constantly challenging what’s possible and seeking new ways of inspiring our customers and answering their biggest challenges.

‘With offices across Europe, the Americas, Asia Pacific and the Middle East, we remain committed to developing solutions that stand the test of time. We combine the best in contemporary style with the functionality required to improve the way we all live and work, wherever in the world that may be.’
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FILA’s surface care range includes various treatments offered with ‘food safe’ certification for use in kitchen and food preparation areas.

Designed to clean and protect natural surface materials – without compromising safety or natural characteristics – the range includes sealers, maintenance solutions and restorers.

New surface protectors include solvent-free, stain-proofing sealer – FILAMP90 ECO PLUS. Part of Fila’s award-winning Green Line, the one-coat treatment is LEED-approved, GEV-EMICODE EC1PLUS certified and suitable for natural stone and polished porcelain floors.

Unlike solvent-based protectors, the water-based sealer can be applied over residual moisture, cutting application time by up to 80%.

Recent specifications include London’s Devonshire Club, where the protector was applied to granite surfaces within bar areas by Stone & Ceramic, London.

Other Green Line treatments include FILAW68, which protects porous natural floors from oil and dirt, and protective surface cleaner, FILAREFRESH. Fila also offers two solvent-based food safe protectors – FILAFOB and colour-enhancing sealer, FILASTONE PLUS.
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IMPLEMENTING an effective hazard analysis and critical control point (HACCP) food safety management system is a central priority for today’s food and beverage producers, as it’s critical to complying with the standards of domestic and international regulatory authorities, governments and consumers.

Flowcrete UK has produced a white paper entitled What is a HACCP Food Safety Management System and How Does it Relate to Flooring? to help food and beverage businesses learn about this preventive risk assessment tool and ensure all facilities comply with its guidelines.

Flowcrete UK’s md, Kevin Potter, said: ‘We’ve worked with some of the world’s largest food producers at their most challenging plants and we’ve always ensured that the knowledge, experience and skills we’ve built up have been put to use creating floors that effectively meet the industry’s multifaceted demands.

‘This white paper has been produced as part of our commitment to advise the food industry on best practice flooring, as it’s essential to follow HACCP’s rules to ensure the finish underfoot will provide the necessary properties for a food facility.’

As the white paper explains, being HACCP compliant is vital to fulfilling the increasingly strict requirements of industry regulators. This is exemplified by the Food Safety & Hygiene (England) Regulations 2013 which reiterates Article 5 (1) of Regulation 852/2004 of the European Parliament: ‘Food business operators put in place, implement and maintain a permanent procedure or procedures based on the HACCP principles.’ Parallel legislation is also in force in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland.

When combined with the fact many nations will require food to have been produced according to the same or similar principles, this means failing to meet the HACCP benchmark can stop businesses from trading domestically and internationally.

The HACCP process involves analysing food safety hazards and putting in place appropriate controls to eliminate or reduce contamination. Getting the floor area right is central to this, as failing to do so could put the facility at risk from unwanted and difficult to eradicate bacteria build-up which could easily infiltrate and spoil produce onsite.

In the white paper readers will be able to find out what flooring characteristics and certifications they need to look out for in order to ensure that floors within production, processing and storage areas live up to the HACCP standard.

The white paper also examines how HACCP came to be created, the role it plays in the UK’s regulations as well as the product certification scheme HACCP International, which evaluates materials, equipment and services used within the food industry.

Getting ahead with HACCP is not an option, as the future of the food industry is towards ever more regulated use of due diligence programs. For example, the FSA’s Foodborne Disease Strategy, a compliance and enforcement plan, aims to secure major improvements in public protection and health through an overall better and more efficient risk-based regulatory system.

To discuss specifying a HACCP International certified floor for a specific food and beverage facility then get in touch with Flowcrete UK’s expert team.
01270 753000

MAPEI’s fast-track resilient system solutions are said to allow the safe installation of flooring in kitchens and food preparation areas in one day under normal conditions.

Mapeproof 1K Turbo, the one-component solvent free damp-proof membrane has a working time of between 30-40 minutes, and is characterised by its short set to light foot traffic, allowing the potential for flooring to be laid within two hours.

After applying the DPM, Mapei’s Primer Eco Prim T is said to be another sustainable choice, emitting very low VOCs while proving to be an all-purpose primer for interiors to improve the adhesion of levelling compounds such as Latexplan Trade Fast, according to Mapei.

Latexplan Trade Fast is a two-part rapid curing smoothing and levelling compound from Mapei’s fast-track range which can be used to level substrates with differences in thicknesses of 3-10mm.

With a pot-life of 15 minutes, the floor will be walkable in 60 minutes and floorcoverings installed within 1.5 and 3 hours, making it suitable for new-build and refurbishment projects.

Mapei’s resilient product manager, John Monaghan said, ‘This complete fast-track system is safe to use in areas of food preparation owing to low VOC and solvent-free properties.

‘Use an adhesive like Ultrabond Eco VS90 Plus – which is suitable for domestic and commercial installations – to install resilient floorcoverings to complete the job, safe in the knowledge it’ll be dry in 24 hours.’
Founded in 1937, Mapei says it’s the world-leading manufacturer of adhesives and chemical building products - and a specialist in the production of adhesives and preparation products for the installation of wall and floorcoverings.

Its product range includes products for the preparation of all types of substrates used in construction: surface membranes, levelling compounds, primers, waterproofing, ready mixed mortars, special products for the repair of concrete, admixtures for mortar and concrete, adhesives for floor and wall coverings including, ceramic tiles, natural stone, resilient flooring and wood.

In addition, it provides grouts and flexible sealants, mortars and binders for the restoration of period buildings, resin flooring, soundproofing systems, protective finishes for exterior walls and special hydraulic binders for screeds.
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HIGH-DESIGN commercial sheet vinyl flooring from UK manufacturer Polyflor’s Expona Flow PUR collection was recently used to create a new restaurant area at University Hospital Wales in Cardiff.
Formerly known as the Heathfields restaurant, this hospital canteen has undergone a transformation and is now called Y Gegin, which means ‘The Kitchen’ in Welsh.

About 600sq m of Polyflor flooring was installed throughout the restaurant by Swansea-based contractors Artisan Flooring.

The grey-toned Silver Oak and Smoked Oak wood effect designs from Polyflor’s Expona Flow flooring collection were installed alongside each other throughout the servery stations, cashier desks, dining areas and around vending machines.

The Expona Flow PUR collection of heterogeneous vinyl flooring features 50 wood, stone and abstract designs in a 2m-wide sheet format with a 2mm gauge and 0.7mm wear layer, making it suitable for heavy commercial environments including the healthcare sector.

Jonathan Aver from the hospital’s capital planning and estate management department commented, ‘Since Y Gegin was opened in October 2016 we’ve had fantastic feedback from visitors and staff who use the restaurant about its modern new look and our offering of healthy and affordable freshly cooked food. The flooring performs well, looks great and is easy to maintain.’

Polysafe Arena PUR safety flooring in the textile effect Chambray design was also installed behind the servery stations to provide sustainable wet slip resistance in areas where spillages may occur. This design-led safety flooring range incorporates clear aluminium oxide safety particles through the performance layer of the vinyl which are virtually invisible to the naked eye, ensuring what’s described as an attractive yet safe floor finish.

‘Like all Polysafe ranges, Arena meets stringent slip resistance requirements, achieving 36+ on the Pendulum Wet Test with full conformance to HSE Guidelines and EN 13845,’ the company says.

Both the Expona Flow and Polysafe Arena ranges are enhanced with polyurethane reinforcement which is cross-linked and UV-cured so these floorcoverings can be easily maintained with a simple cleaning regime, providing optimum appearance levels and reduced lifecycle maintenance cost savings.

Product samples can be ordered free on the Polyflor website or by calling the Polyflor samples direct hotline on 0161 7672551.

Manufactured in the UK, the Expona Flow and Polysafe Arena ranges are said by the company to have impressive environmental credentials and like many Polyflor ranges achieve an individually certified BRE Global A+ rating (ENP 415) for major use areas in the healthcare sector as well as being certified to Indoor Air Comfort Gold, assuring VOC emissions are below globally determined levels.

This is supported by both products being awarded the BES 6001 Responsible Sourcing Standard, says Polyflor. These products contain recycled material and are 100% recyclable via the Recofloor vinyl take back scheme.
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ULTRATILE has helped Bella Italia create what it describes as a bold new Mediterranean design.

This colourful, quirky new Italian-style dining experience was created by commercial wall and floor tiling contractors, The Great Northern Tiling Company (GNTC), using UltraTile adhesives.

A TTA member and esteemed UltraTile partner, GNTC secured the commercial contract for the Beckton restaurant’s makeover.

The contract included kitchen, front-of-house, toilet and bar areas, all of which had their own distinctive type of tile from 400mm squared to brick slips and mosaics. GNTC choose to use its preferred adhesives UltraTile ProFlex SP and ProFlex SP+ES throughout the project.

Both adhesives are S1 classified, can be laid at depths up to 20mm and are available in a choice of white or grey. ProFlex SP has a pot-life of an hour and is said to be rapid-setting, allowing grouting to commence after two-and-a-half hours.

ProFlex SP+ES its sister product boasts all the same great qualities with an extended pot-life, suitable, says UltraTile, for intricate work of two hours and a set-time of 16 hours.

The adhesives are suitable for fixing porcelain, glass, mosaic and natural stone tiles. They can be used on walls or floors, internally or externally and with underfloor heating or on swimming pool installations.

Billy Lockwood of GNTC states: ‘We use UltraTile products because of its competitive prices and high quality performance.’ Several other Bella Italia restaurant makeovers were also completed last year by GNTC using UltraTile materials.  

The new-look restaurant is now open and is a main attraction of the Gallions Reach Retail Park. Diners are said to be impressed by the vibrant atmosphere created by the new interiors.
01827 871871

SIKA provided a hygienic, resilient floor built to withstand the long-term rigours of an industrial, state-of-the-art food production plant.

Contractors Ultrasyntec, in conjunction with Sikafloor, were tasked with installing a new surface at the Cardium Products food processing facility in Halifax.

For the clients, a smooth, hard-wearing floor, capable of resisting heavy loading, abrasion and chemical exposure was of the highest-priority. Sikafloor 20 PurCem more than met the requirements.

Sikafloor 20 PurCem, a polyurethane modified-screed, was required to cover a 1,562sq m floor-space. The three-part, resin-rich material was applied to a 9mm thickness across the entire area. Sikafloor 20 PurCem features a textured, aggregate, non-slip surface, making it suitable for an environment such as a food production plant where the presence of heavy machinery, high-footfall and hot substances present a substantial health and safety risk.

William Hoyle, director at Ultrasyntec, said: ‘Sikafloor 20 PurCem does what it says on the tin. It creates a hygiene-yet-resilient floor which stands-up to daily wear-and-tear, and everything a heavy-industrialised area has to offer.

‘It’s also quick-and-easy to apply, which is why we were able to supply, a smooth, hard-wearing, smart-looking floor for Cardium Products in just three weeks.’

Stainless-steel drainage was installed at intervals throughout the plant to collect excess water used during its daily ‘clean-down’; a simple and time-effective operation, it’s said, owing to Sikafloor 20 PurCem’s easy-to-wipe surface.

The addition of polyurethane coved skirting provided an aesthetically-pleasing detail to the floor system.

To ensure the floor was completed prior to other trades commencing, Ultrasyntec’s installation teams were presented with a strict, three-week timeframe.

Much to the client’s delight, Sikafloor 20 PurCem is said to have provided Cardium Products with a tough, smart, slip-resistant surface floor well within the agreed deadline.

Sika says it’s a specialty chemicals company with a leading position in the development and production of systems and products for bonding, sealing, damping, reinforcing and protecting in the building sector and automotive industry.

It has subsidiaries in 97 countries around the world and manufactures in more than 190 factories. Its more than 17,000 employees generated annual sales of CHF 5.75 billion in 2016, it reports.

‘In the UK and Ireland, we provide market-leading solutions for concrete, waterproofing, roofing, flooring, refurbishment, sealing and bonding, and industry, and have manufacturing sites in Welwyn Garden City, Preston, Leeds and Dublin with more than 700 employees and a turnover of more than £220m,’ the company says.
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THE Tile Association is promoting the hygiene advantages of correctly installed tiled surfaces, especially in commercial kitchens and food preparation environments. Tiled surfaces are entirely safe to install and use in hygiene sensitive installations, particularly if large format porcelain tiles are used with epoxy grouts, the TTA says.

Sometimes it’s claimed a tiled surface has a level of porosity which can harbour bacteria and that the grout lines are a particular weak point owing to the fact they’re not impervious.

Brian G Newell, chair of the TTA’s technical committee, points out that porcelain tiles are in fact to all intents and purposes impervious, with less than 0.5% porosity and that epoxy grouts are also impervious, to the extent that they can have an approval for use in nuclear power stations, since they are not porous to radioactivity.

‘If British Standards are followed, there’s absolutely nothing unsafe about tiled surfaces,’ says Brian. The relevant standards are BS EN 14411:2012, which covers the specification of ceramic wall and floor tiles, including their water absorption characteristics and chemical properties. BS 5385-4:2015 includes a code of practice for the design and installation of ceramic and mosaic tiling in specific conditions.

This gives recommendations on design considerations and on the installation of ceramic wall and floor tiling and mosaics in situations where there are specific environmental or functional requirements, eg sterile conditions, wet areas, and conditions that are potentially detrimental to either or both the installation or the background, eg chemical attack.

BS 5385-4:2015 states that: ‘Epoxide-resin based materials are superior to cementitious mixtures by virtue of their impermeability and smooth surface texture whereby the degree of contamination is reduced and cleaning facilitated.’

Grouts used should conform to BS 13888, which covers the specification, conformity and evaluation of all types of tile grout.

As Stuart Ross, technical service supervisor at BAL, states: ‘Fully vitrified tiles and epoxy resin-based grouts are not porous and have been recommended in hygienic applications such as commercial kitchens for many years. The use of tiles and epoxy grout is consistent with CCFRA Guidelines.’

He also cites research by the Campden & Chorleywood Food Research Association, published in the Journal of Applied Bacteriology, which concluded that ‘the grouted joints and texture didn’t compromise the cleanabilities of tiled surfaces’. The research also states that the cleanability of tiled surfaces with grouted joints isn’t compromised over that of tiles alone.

He also points out that grout areas in a tiled surface will normally only amount to about 3% of the total area and that if epoxy grouts are used, this surface will be totally impervious and won’t harbour bacteria, provided an appropriate cleaning regime is employed.

It’s also the case that any type of flooring can be damaged if a sufficiently large or sharp item is dropped on it, although damage is much less likely to occur with a tiled floor surface than with other floor types.
Furthermore, if a tile is broken it can be replaced. A tear in any kind of sheet flooring would probably mean replacing the whole section of the material – or more likely leaving it, to become a hygiene problem in its own right.

Tiled surfaces can also safely be cleaned at temperatures in excess of 60deg C, since they’re fired to temperatures far above that during the manufacturing process. This means tiles are a good solution in an environment where boiling liquids might get spilt on them.

Even if it’s suggested the grouts are the weak link in a tiled surface, the grout manufacturers have an answer. ‘For hygiene, critical surfaces we would only ever recommend an epoxy grout,’ says Mandy Searle, head of technical services at Norcros Adhesives. ‘This is because these are impervious grouts which are easy to keep clean and maintain and do not transfer taints to foodstuffs.’
Once fully cured, epoxy-based grouts are totally impervious to the passage of water, are resistant to a wide range of chemicals and providing that the grout surface is finished with a smooth texture, are easily cleanable and maintained.

Colin Stanyard, technical manager at Mapei, points out that the argument about hygiene-critical surfaces needs to be carefully considered. The main area where hygiene is extremely important is on food preparation surfaces, where tiles are perfectly suited when used together with an epoxy resin grout.

Such hardwearing and impervious finishes provide an ideal solution. Mapei offers a large range of epoxy grouts for food environments and factories, which can even be jet washed and bleached.

Wet areas
In wet areas or where an aggressive cleaning regime is required, Stuart Ross of BAL points out a further benefit of tiled surfaces: ‘Waterproofing for tiled surfaces is installed behind the tiles as a tanking system. However, in a vinyl flooring system, the vinyl often provides the tanking itself.

‘Therefore, any failure or damage to the covering or poor sealing techniques at the drain interface could have serious consequences for water sensitive backgrounds and subsequent bacteria colonisation. Whereas if a tile is damaged then the background, when tanked, remains fully protected and the waterproofing element is maintained.’

Another area the TTA has been working on is that of slip resistance of tiled surfaces, and a specialist working group of the Association’s Technical Committee has reviewed and updated its technical publication on slip resistance.

The coefficient of friction of a tiled surface is also fully able to equal or exceed that of other flooring types and specialist non-slip tiles are available.

Ceramic tiles aren’t inherently slippery when clean and dry, but the slip resistance of any type of floorcovering can significantly reduce if it becomes contaminated by any form of lubricant, such as water or dust, depending upon the floor’s surface texture and footwear used.

The TTA says it’s keen to support further research into this area and will be a co-sponsor of Slips, Trips & Falls 2016 – a two-day conference held in London in October.

Tiles can be made with corundum, and these have a very high slip resistance, while also being very hard. Corundum is second hardest to diamond in hardness.

David Talbot, technical manager at Craven Dunnill, explains that one of the problems is that there is a wide range of test methods and apparatus in use to measure slip resistance but, because the values obtained from the different tests do not correlate to each other, it’s important to choose the right test for the application concerned.

The view of the tiling industry therefore is that a tiled surface, with the use of epoxy grouts and the implementation of an appropriate cleaning regime, will provide the best solution for a hygienic working environment.
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