The focus on clean indoor environments in all areas, both commercial and residential, has never been as great as it is now during the COVID-19 pandemic. It’s no secret that ceramic tile (and that includes porcelain) is one of the most sanitary surfacing choices available. Specifiers for commercial environments such as healthcare and food service facilities have long gravitated towards tile surfacing for both floors and walls for this reason. However, as we continue to evolve through this pandemic, there is a heightened interest in healthy design strategies for indoor environments. Here’s a look at why tile is the right choice in a post-COVID world.
The Advantages of Tile for Health & Hygiene
With a water absorption of 0.5 percent or less, porcelain tile is categorized as impervious. This characteristic makes tile inhospitable to bacterial growth, mold, mildew, fungi, and other irritants and contaminants. It also makes tile stain- and water-resistant (liquid spills won’t hurt tile!).
Easy to Clean & Disinfect
Ceramic tile is a material that has always enjoyed hygienic advantages. While simply cleaning tile with soap and water greatly reduces the number of germs, dirt, and impurities on the surface, the CDC recommends following up with a disinfectant to kill virus germs. Click here for a list of disinfectants that meet EPA’s criteria for use against SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19. Porcelain tile is not easily harmed by disinfectants, but keep in mind some disinfectants like bleach, for example, may compromise certain grouts, so be sure to test in an inconspicuous area or consult with the manufacturer.
Tile has zero allergens, and allergens in the environment such as dust and pollen cannot penetrate porcelain tile’s nonporous surface.
When exposed to fire, tiles do not emit toxic fumes.
Volatile organic compounds are harmful gases that cause a range of health concerns. Building materials with few or no VOCs are necessary for good indoor air quality. Virtually all flooring materials except ceramic tile emit VOCs (ceramic and porcelain tile products emit zero VOCs). Choose tile to easily meet the requirements of commonly-referenced emission specifications. (For a detailed look at the green and sustainable aspects of tile, click here to download the Ceramic Tile Green Guide by the Tile Council of North America).
Formaldehyde in high levels is associated with different respiratory disorders and according to the Center for Disease Control, is particularly dangerous to the elderly and children. Ceramic tile is completely free from the formaldehyde found in many other flooring materials.
Polyvinyl chloride (PVC) is a resin used in some vinyl flooring types and installation materials that is a concern among health experts (the health effects of PVC on humans and the environment is a contentious issue). Ceramic tile and its installation materials are completely free of polyvinyl chloride.
While wellness-focused architecture and design is not new (an Interior Design survey back in 2018 revealed that 69 percent of clients were “extremely” or “very” willing to invest in a wellness-promoting space), the Coronavirus pandemic has changed everything. Its impact on global wellness has forced organizations in every industry to evolve and adapt, and there’s no doubt that interior design will play a major role in making the world a healthier place. Selecting tile for interior environments is without a doubt the healthiest choice!