Share: Large Format Porcelain – A Designer’s New BFF

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I’ve tonnes of great tips to share from recent interior design work but this product makes me particularly giddy with joy, both at the finished effect and the sheer practical perfection of the installation. When good products work well, there’s really nothing better for a designer / builder.

Well, a happy client is just as good but let’s just pretend that’s a given shall we? 😉

I admit, the phrase “large format porcelain” isn’t exactly the sexiest phrase I’ve ever heard. Had Mr M whispered it in my ear a couple of months ago, it might not have made my knees quiver. Now though, now I know what they can do, my heart flutters at the very thought. Take a look at the image above, at the desk top designed and built for a recent Moregeous client.

Lovely piece of marble eh? Very glam.

Er, nope….. it’s porcelain!

IMG_5155This is the actual piece we used, all wet ‘n’ mucky and being stored outside ready for the installation. Whereas marble would have balked at being treated so disrespectfully, porcelain is hardy enough not to care a jolt.

It doesn’t stain or scratch, it isn’t absorbent so doesn’t suffer water marking, and is a dream to clean. And most importantly, it was huge enough to cover the whole desk with no grout lines.

For this particular client, the desk is in constant use for floral arrangements, transactions and workshop demos, so marble would have been beautiful but utterly impractical. Porcelain however, with all the advantages of recent advances in photographic technology, provides the look without the problems. The sheet was simply lifted into place and lowered into the pre-made space. On this job for me it’s a desk, but imagine it as a kitchen island, a vanity top, a display area or just an actual table top. The world is your DIY design oyster.

These large format porcelains’s don’t just come in marble effect either, oh no. Whatever you heart may desire now pretty much comes in massive sizes.

Verdigris Porcelain (6).JPGWhat about an amazing verdigris to mimic the effect of oxidised copper, in sizes of almost 1200mm x 1200mm. Talk about the wow factor. Inside or out this is just spectacular, I love it.

Porcelanosa-Grupo_MosBuild2014_Urbatek_XLight_Concrete-Black-Nature_1449Deep dark hues are covered too, with timber veneer look porcelain creating easy maintenance and wipe wall cladding. Imagine this in a shower area. No more mouldy grout – cleaning heaven!

Now, you might think that all these huge tiles would be simply impossible to even lift, never mind move around your project, but here’s the clever bit. Instead of being as thick as traditional tiles, and therefore prohibitively heavy when it comes to sizes of at least 1 metre square and even up to 3m long by 1m wide (no I’m not kidding!), they’re now extra-thin at anything from 3-9mm sheets.

If you’d wanted marble or limestone at huge sizes until recently, the slabs would have had to be actually marble or limestone and in order for that to be stable, it had to be at a certain thickness, which made it very heavy. There have been such advances in porcelain tile manufacturing recently, that porcelain now looks pretty much exactly like whatever the manufacturer wants it to look like – whether that be stone, ceramic, wood or quartz. And because porcelain is so very strong, large sheets of it are super stable at thin depths, yet mimic luxury finishes.

These large sheets can thus be more cost effectively shipped and delivered. The  end result is now that large formats are available to us mere mortals and not just to Russian oligarchs and large corporate fit outs.

The glamorous, seamless look feels like mega bucks but no longer costs it. Of course as the verdigris finish shows, the finish doesn’t have to be a copy of a natural stone, but can be much more industrial in feel, with metallics, concretes and woods looking like strong contenders for popular future finishes.
U.AMB.000196 - PORCELANICO XLIGHT EMOTIONSome of these extra thin sheets, like the ones below from Porcelanosa, are so thin that they can even be used as cladding over existing ceramic, thereby reducing install costs.

And how about fitted over doors to create an invisible look for an access area? The guys at Casa Ceramica have done this to doors in their showroom, it’s very clever.

Urbatek-Porcelanosa-revestimiento-xlight-Travertino-Beige-Nature-300On The Tiles Blog posted these two super pictures below which not only give you an idea of the size of the porcelain sheets but also the excellent advice that you’ll need telescopic rails for the really large sizes. A good tiling contractor will know to use these, there’re a little like the ones you see on Grand Designs carrying massive sheets of glass. Same principle: to keep the material sheet flat or it might crack.

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Large-format-porcelain-handling-frames.jpgPrice wise, when you’ve actually weighted up the meterage cost of regular tiles as well as grout and a tiler’s charge to fit regular small format tiles, I don’t think there’s much in it. But …..you’ll now want to tile areas which you’ve never thought of tiling, so there is that cost of course 😉

Design wise, would you use small format tiles on a hallway or bedroom wall, or on a door?  No, probably not. Unless you were a bit weird.

Could you chose small format tiles to create a maintenance free surface? No

Do small format tiles have anywhere near the same visual impact at these beauties? In my opinion, no, but then, I am a bit sold on these new giant slabs!

I have no doubt that you creative lot will have a million and one uses for these new products to the market. I’d love to see what you create, so let me know if you choose to use some large formats in your house or on a project x

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Tile credits:

White marble effect : I bought this at Casa Ceramica in Manchester, but they supply all over the UK and are just fabulous. Speak to Duncan or Matt.

Verdigris Oxidies Copper : Available at Mandarin Stone, another fav of mine.

Middle three images : Porcelanosa’s X-Light Premium by Urbatek

Last two images : The On The Tiles Blog from an installation these professional tilers did in London

 

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