BS EN 14411
British Ceramic Tile strive to be faultless in our approach to meeting the strictest of technical standards. We produce 20,000m2 of tiles every day and we do so within internationally recognised standards. This is a difficult technical challenge yet we do not compromise on any of these standards.
It is only by manufacturing in such volume, with such consistent technical precision, that we can be sure that we are able to pass on the benefits of our modern manufacturing capability downstream to our retailers and end users in the form of better value for money in our product.
As with most construction products, the main technical characteristics of ceramic tiles are classified by international standards. For ceramic tiles, the relevant harmonised European standard is BS EN 14411. This standard encompasses the BS EN ISO 10545 suite of ceramic tile test methods.
Within EN 14411, ceramic tiles are classified into various groups to reflect the range of production processes and product characteristics. The products manufactured in our factory in Devon are classified as group BIII and are covered by Annex L of the standard. We manufacture to strict levels of quality control throughout the entire production process to ensure all products meet or exceed these requirements. We periodically have the tiles independently assessed by an accredited ceramic test laboratory.
Our tiles are modular metric. This means that the tile sizes have been designed to accommodate the grout gap in the module size. This makes it easy to calculate the area that will be covered by the tiles after they have been fixed. Following the recommendations given in BS 5385, our wall and floor tiles have been designed for 2mm and 3mm grout joints respectively. As an example, our equivalent of a 20 × 25cm wall tile actually measures 198 x 248 mm and one box of twenty tiles will produce 1 m2 of tiled wall when fixed using 2mm spacers.
There is a duty of care upon stakeholders involved in specifying flooring products (manufacturers, architects, distributors, installers etc.) to ensure that the surfaces are fit for purpose and do not pose a safety risk. One of the key considerations is defining its slip resistance. The latest version of EN14411 does not define a single test protocol for assessing slip resistance. Instead several tests have been deemed to be acceptable and it has been left to individual EU member states to determine their favoured test. For the UK, the only slip test recognised by the Health and Safety Laboratory is the pendulum test. Other slip tests e.g. DIN 51130 Ramp or Tortus are not recognised.
For ceramic tiles, the use of the pendulum is covered by BS 7976-2. The test is designed to simulate the action of a slipping foot and uses a weighted swinging arm which contacts the test surface via a standard rubber heel (slider). The slip resistance is calculated by measuring the upswing - the greater the upswing, the lower the slip resistance. Further details on measuring slip resistance can be found in the following links
The HSE has also developed a freely downloadable software package (Slip Assessment Tool – SAT) that allows users to assess the slip potential of pedestrian walkway surfaces using surface microroughness data and other relevant information. The SAT software can be downloaded free from the following link.
Tile Fixing Recommendation
All floor coverings are exposed to wear due to the abrasive action of dirt particles contained on the soles of the user’s footwear. Over prolonged periods this causes the appearance of the tile to change. For glazed ceramic floor tiles, surface abrasion is assessed by BS EN ISO 10545-7. The test results are classified into one of six wear resistance classes ranging from class 0 (unsuitable for floors) to class 5 (suitable for intensive pedestrian traffic). Annex N of EN14411 provides informative guidance on suitable end uses for each wear class; a summary of which can be found here. To avoid the risk of premature wear, tiles with a wear resistance classification that meets (or exceeds) that required for the particular application should be used.
The fixing of tiles to walls and floors is governed by several British Standards, notably the BS 5385 series and BS 8000-11. A list of the individual standards is given here.
The nature of the background should always be a primary consideration, since it determines the type of adhesive to be used and whether any intermediate substrate or other preparatory treatment is required before tiling can commence. Factors relating to the background to be considered are numerous and include the type of material, condition, straightness, porosity, presence of soluble salts etc. Early consideration should also be given to the provision of movement joints in order to allow stresses that result from movement of the background, e.g. drying shrinkage, thermal changes and moisture changes to be dissipated. We also recommend that tiles are separated with minimum tile joints of 2mm for wall tiles and 3mm for floor tiles.
Ceramic tiles can be fixed using cementitious, dispersion or reaction resin adhesives that are suitable for the required application and the type of tile type to be fixed (BIII, BIa etc.). The fixing method to be used varies depending to the type of background, the nature of the adhesive and the anticipated service conditions of the installation. Therefore, the recommendations of the relevant British Standard and the specific instructions of the adhesive manufacturers should be followed. The performance requirements of adhesives are specified in BS EN 12004:2007.
The performance requirements of grouts are specified in BS EN 13888:2009. It should be noted that some coloured grouts can cause staining on certain glazed tiles. Following the recommendations given in BS 5385, we recommend that when using coloured grouts, a loose sample should first be tested to ensure the tile does not absorb pigment into its surface.
NCS Colour Notation
When specifying ceramic wall and floor tiles, the main consideration relating to the Disability Discrimination Act 2005 is colour contrast. Having visual contrast between adjacent elements of a building (e.g. doors, walls, stair edging) allows partially sighted people to differentiate between these elements. Compliance with this Act can be achieved by following the guidance in either the Building Regulations 2004 Part M or BS 8300. The Part M building regulations can be downloaded free from the following link.
Both of these documents refer to Light Reflectance Values (LRV) to denote colour contrast. LRV is a measure of the total quantity of visible light reflected by a surface. It is measured on a scale of 0 to 100, with 0 being a perfect absorbing black and 100 being a perfect reflecting white. In practice a typical black matt tile would have a score of around 5, while a pure white gloss tile would typically score around 90. All other tile colours fit in between these two extremes. The larger the difference between the LRVs of adjacent surfaces the greater the visual contrast is and the easier it is for someone with impaired vision to perceive the difference.
In order to ensure buildings meet the DDA requirements, Part M: 2004 requires an LRV difference between adjacent surfaces of at least 30 points. The latest BS 8300 guidance (incorporating Amendment 1 June 2005) states that there is research-based evidence that a difference of about 20 points may be an acceptable minimum for large areas. For wall and floors tiles, we recommend an LRV difference of 20 points (minimum) and where possible at least 30 points.
Our Country Colours range offers a wide range of colours which can provide sufficient contrast against other interior products. A table of the LRV values for this range can be found here.
Cleaning and Maintenance
Tiles from our Colour Compendium range are regularly used in commercial interiors, alongside other interior construction products (e.g. paint, carpet, wall paper, decorative laminates). To assist in the co ordination and specification of materials from different industries, we have subscribed to the internationally recognised Natural Colour System (NCS) system for denoting colour. The NCS system is a visually organised colour collection which can allocate a colour code to any colour. With the help of this colour code system, it is simple to unambiguously specify and communicate colour. In total, the 2nd edition (2004) NCS range consists of 1,950 standardised colours. Notating our colours against this system means we make life a little bit easier for our clients!
To view our NCS / NRV for colour compendium click here
With proper care and attention, a correctly installed, good quality ceramic tile should give many years of trouble-free service. The Tile Association "Large Format Tiles in internal tiling" publication recommends:
Hard water deposits, soap, sum and body oils build up and, therefore thorough and frequent cleaning is essential.
The best way to prevent build up of soap, scum and body oil deposits is to use a plastic scouring pad with the appropriate cleaner when cleaning. Acidic based proprietary cleaning materials should not be used with ceramics, porcelain or natural stone.
Wet rooms with inadequate ventilation to remove excess moisture may have fungal growth on the tiles or grout. This can be controlled by wiping with a dilute solution of bleach and leaving it for five minutes before cleaning off. If the fungal growth is not completely removed the bleach may be re-applied and scrubbed with a brush to loosen. The surface should always be rinsed thoroughly with clean water. Bleach should always be used with caution and never mixed with other chemicals. Adequate ventilation should be provided when using these materials.
Further information may be found on the following link:
Cleaning Ceramic Tiles
Our technical team has many years of combined experience in the ceramic tile industry and are on hand to answer your queries on tile production and the associated standards. Do not hesitate to contact our Customer Service helpline should you have any queries, we are happy to help!