Let Freedom of Design & Color Ring with Sustainable Sanitary Solutions

Lindy Ausburne 07-16-2012

It is mystery to me as why health departments, as well as commercial and residential builders, place floor tile in a sanitary surfacing category.  A 10’x10’ area (mere 100 sq.ft.) of 12”x12” tile has 180 linear feet of seams (abutting joints where one meets another), along with 40 more linear feet around perimeter walls … 500 sq.ft. of 12’x12’ would add up 1020 linear feet of joints. 

Proper maintenance to assure grouts remain securely bonded to all sides of ceramic tile is seldom followed through on; bringing about an ideal habitat for the growth of mold, mildew, fungus, and general unsanitary conditions … this goes back to my initial question as to "how health department officials can consider tile sanitary." The tile itself is imperious due to factory baked in finish but the grouts surrounding are not (this is mere common sense).  Then there are the thin sets grouts below floor tile that tend to deteriorate when moisture/water and cleaning solutions migrate down between the tile joints (as the grouts/caulks between them deteriorate) … end result being the tile loosing it bond (if you have ever removed the 12”x12”x1/4” tile from a restaurant kitchen or public restroom floor your stomach will churn from the slimy, smelling, germ infested thin sets beneath; next time you do, take photos to shock your potential customer into selecting one of the seamless sanitary hardscape surface that you special in).

As a manufactured product, floor tile can’t offer freedom of color, design, patterns, or texture that that is associated with decorative concrete that is far easier and less costly to clean and maintain (saving dollars as pertaining to floor maintenance budgets and associated loss of floors productive use time)

We as an industry need to declare war on ceramic tile… especially in regards to its use in restaurant kitchens, food processing/storage/preparation areas, public restrooms/locker rooms/aquatic areas, and all those that are frequently subjected to wet/damp conditions … in doing so we can expand our market share, win the war, and reign as the supreme flooring solution; professionally doing our best to promote and assure sanitary surfaces for all.”. 

VCT tile is another issue; cheap to install, costly to maintain. Various cost analysis’s have been done that evidence annual floor maintenance costs of VCT to be $1.00 (I have a copy of one such floor maintenance cost analysis of a schools, if you want a copy I will send to you by email attachment ) … those with 5000 sq.ft. of VCT will be flushing $5,000 their money down the drain every year (waxing, buffing, burnishing, stripping, rewaxing; not even considering the need to invest in buffing/burnishing equipment, pads and special cleaners, time it take to move furniture/etc out of the area to do so and then put it all back, and energy it takes to run floor maintenance equipment. It is important to note that a great deal of VCT tile can be found in public schools across the county … their funds should be invested in the education of our children instead wasted on floors in the form of VCT care/maintenance.  As long as VCT tile is in good condition and securely bonded, you can encapsulate it with a decorative concrete surfaces “or” various decorative/resinous coatings. Start by stripping all wax, next lightly abrade to make sure you have removed remaining foreign matter; fol1owed by applying 100% solids industrial flooring epoxy over the VCT, broadcast fine sand into wet epoxy as you go create an acceptable  profile for bonding polymer modified cementious overlayments or a high performance coating (100% solids industrial epoxy, PAP, etc that can be kicked it up a notch with vinyl chips/flakes, metallic dusts for a 3D high definition image, or epoxy/colorquartz seamless floor, just to name a few. Millions of sq.ft. of VCT tile is just waiting for transformation … IMO resurfacing over VCT tile future frontier just waiting to be embarked upon.


Lindy Ausburne

Decorative Concrete Forum Contributor Writer