Tuesday, 9 December 2014

From now to next year!

It's almost the end of the year again so here's a quick rundown of our office openings and closings.
We're having our annual office party this Friday 12th so we won't be in the office on Friday afternoon but we will be back on Monday.
Tuesday 16th is a public holiday.
We'll be closing for year end around noon on Wednesday 24th.
We'll be back in the office on Monday 5th of January for the start of a brand new 2015.
All the best for the festive season
the Link International team.

Wednesday, 3 December 2014

What do you know about Thin Porcelain Tile?

This year, tile professionals agreed on a name for the new type of ultra-thin, large-format porcelain tile. This product is now to be known as ‘Thin Porcelain Tile’ or TPT. this distinctive product has been steadily rising in popularity because of its unique format and mechanical properties.

The material, which has been referred to as “thin tile,” “thin tile panels,” “thin porcelain tile,” among many other things, before finally being called TPT, is characterized by its minimal thickness of between 3 and 6 mm and generally larger, rectangular dimensions. The TPT we supply at present, for example measures 60 x 120cm.

There are no industry standards for the manufacturing or installation of the tile yet as they are still being developed but certified tile contractors that have experience using TPT have recommended some installation guidelines. The National Tile Contractors Association (NTCA), the Tile Contractors’ Association of America (TCAA) and The International Union of Bricklayers & Allied Craftworkers (IUBAC) came together to provide the recommendation that tile contractors not install thin porcelain tile panels in any thickness less than 5.5 mm for floor installations.

TPT is produced using a high-pressure, high-temperature kiln sintering process. See my earlier blog on sintering here. A point to mention is that the kiln temperature for TPT is significantly higher than even porcelain, in the region of 1800O. This creates one of the most resilient surfaces; resistant to scratching by sharp objects, extreme heat or cold, moisture and harsh chemicals. Since many TPT designs use full body colour the tiles are completely resistant to fading when exposed to UV. But the big advantage of TPT is that it’s very lightweight for the area covered.

TPT can be used in residential and commercial applications providing unique wall and vertical surface cover for retail environments, cafeterias, coffee shops and hospitality areas to residential bathrooms.

When thin tiles first became available around five years ago, they were hard to find and in very limited neutral colors. Now, there’s a full spectrum of wood, stone and artistic looks. At that time many installers were quoting prices that were double, even triple, the price of a typical installation because of their inexperience with the product but the fact is that once an installer learns the installation method it is faster to install. A contractor can cover a lot of area with this product in a very short amount of time. Thin porcelain panels are competitive in terms of pricing because of the expansive dimensions of the panels, fewer pieces can cover much surface area.

One of the advantages and benefits of TPT is its mechanical properties. Most brands that companies have created are easy to clean, scratch- and fire-resistant, waterproof, and 100% natural and recyclable. There are numerous green benefits to TPT. It can be laid over existing floors if they’re perfectly smooth and level, reducing the material that goes into landfills. Their durability also means they’ll last longer, which is another form of sustainability. Their light weight means less fuel is required to transport them and the material itself is considered green.

For any other inquiries about TPT, other tiles, taps, sanitaryware, laminate & vinyl flooring please send us an email.
Download our laminate & vinyl brochures here
Download our Digital ink-jet KREM and TESSCERA tile brochures here.

Wednesday, 26 November 2014

How to sell laminate & vinyl to your customer.

There are a number of ways a customer might approach floor choices but for the sake of this exercise lets assume a fairly common occurrence; the homeowner wants “wooden floors”. Now there are several ways you as an in-store consultant could handle this. For a start you should point out that the customer is not limited to so-called hardwood flooring i.e. natural cut wood. The trouble with natural wood though is that it is expensive and requires substantial maintenance which often need sanding and resurfacing after five or six years of use. Another big problem with natural hardwood is that it  stains.

For an almost impervious floor there are wood-look ceramic or porcelain tiles. The new ink-jet produced tiles are particularly impressive but a fairly expensive option.

More likely the customer will be interested in laminate or vinyl flooring. Unlike hardwood floors, laminate floors are resistant to stains and damage.

In general laminate and vinyl floors are more durable and longer-lasting than many of the materials they imitate, and higher-end designs can be used anywhere in the home. Because they have a durable coating on top, they don't scratch or gouge as easily as hardwoods do.

However, if a laminate floor isn't properly maintained, for example, if you let water collect between the planks, edge swelling can result. This isn't typically covered under the warranty. Many budget-brand laminate floors can't be used in bathrooms or kitchens because of moisture issues. If you're installing laminate flooring in a high-traffic area, choosing a budget brand may mean that the wear layer will fade after a few years. This also isn't covered by the warranty.

Both flooring types are made of layers laminated together. The difference is in what those layers are made of and what that implies for performance. There's no point is asking "What's best?", as always it's really a matter of fitness for purpose.

Traditional laminate wood flooring is made of; a transparent wear layer, a printed paper decor layer, high density fiberboard (HDF) and a thin backing layer for stability. Laminate comes in various thicknesses from 7 mm (light domestic) to 12mm (commercial grade) and is fairly rigid.

Luxury Vinyl Tile or LVT, is made of a thick wear layer then a Poly Vinyl Chloride (PVC) layer onto which the design is printed directly. A sound-proofing EVA foam layer is mounted to the bottom. LVT is somewhat flexible.

The big difference between them is that Vinyl is waterproof whereas Laminate is only water resistant; flooding may well cause swelling and warping so laminate cannot be installed in bathrooms and other wet areas.

Laminate is cheaper than composite or vinyl, but it does require more surface preparation as it has a tendency to reflect any imperfections in the underfloor over time.

Underlayer. Composite and Luxury Vinyl generally have an integrated foam rubber (EVA) layer that cushions the floor and adds to thermal and sound insulation whereas Laminate requires a separate underlayer and thus more complex pre-installation preparation.

Both laminate and vinyl are generally supplied with a modern glueless locking systems like our licensed and patented 1Lock system which make it very easy to install and prevents slippage in both directions.

In summary; traditional laminate is cheaper but more difficult to install. It is inclined to separate if exposed to water. Vinyl is somewhat more expensive but waterproof and easier to install. Luxury Vinyl in particular is very forgiving of imperfections in the base floor.

In addition both laminate and vinyl floors have the following advantages:
  • They are an eco-friendly choice because they are largely made from recycled material.
  • They are hygienic and allergen free and do not easily harbor house mites the way that carpets do.
  • They don’t need special cleaning machinery like polishers or special products like oils and polishes.
  • They are highly impact resistant yet will not easily crack.
  • They are stain resistant, especially from simple water spills that would mark hardwood flooring.
  • They are burn resistant and will not ignite.
  • They are fade resistant and colour stable even to UV light.
  • They are scratch resistant and will not splinter.
  • They are easy to clean and maintain with simple cleaning materials and basic cleaners.
  • Lastly they are easy to install or deinstall. Laminate or vinyl can be undertaken as a DIY project if the instructions are followed carefully.

Download our laminate & vinyl brochures here

Thursday, 20 November 2014

The 5 top reasons to sell your customer ink-jet printed tiles.

When a customer comes in to select tiles they may well notice that some of your stock is "digital ink-jet". What do you say when they ask whether this is a good choice?

Firstly point out that until fairly recently most tiles were produced using a screen or roller print system but that inkjet is now becoming more and more popular. Today 35% of all tiles are ink-jet printed. Digital ink-jet tiles are a better choice.
These are the reasons why...

1. Resolution. Inkjet tiles are typically printed at about the same resolution as a quality magazine; around 300 dpi (dots per inch) but may be as high as 1000 dpi. In other words, your naked eye cannot resolve the dots that make up the image and it looks smooth and natural, this especially true of intricate designs.

2. Colour consistency. Because ink-jet tiles are produced from digital computer images they are controlled by what's called a Digital Colour Profile. This means that each time the tile is reprinted the colour is computer controlled to be exactly the same, in other words the design is reproducable. This is a big advantage if the customer wants a new batch of the same tiles for say a new room extension.

3. Accuracy. Ink-jet tiles are generally designed based on a high resolution photograph or scan of real natural stone or wood or even the patina on metal. Because the process is digital, even design adjustments will look just like the real thing!

4. Variation. The digital process means that multiple faces of a tile design can be produced during the same production run because the computer controlling the printing just feeds the ceramic printer a different instruction stream.

5. Texture, relief and edge. Accurate textures and in-register relief (such as for wood grain) can be produced because unlike roller and screen printing, ink-jet printing is a non-contact process so the ceramic printer can jet patterns onto on a textured tile surface. The textture  or structure is added to the ceramic tile ‘biscuit’ earlier during the pressing process. The printhead is then able to jet ink into the recesses that screen and roller printing cannot reach. Unlike traditional decoration, digital inkjet printers can also decorate right to the edge of the tiles, eliminating white edges and creating seamless expanses of tile.

Ink-jet is the future and it's available now!
Download our Digital ink-jet KREM and TESSCERA tile brochures here.
For any other inquiries about tiles, taps, sanitaryware, laminate & vinyl flooring please send us an email.

Tuesday, 11 November 2014

Dealing with tile complaints: Hollow-sounding tiles can mean poor installation.

Test for hollowness.
When you receive a tile failure complaint like cracking and lifting, one of the first and most easily conducted tests you should perform is to check whether the tiles sound hollow. This can be a indication that the tiles were poorly laid, in which case the so-called failure is not the responsibility of the tile supplier or manufacturer but of the installer. In general hollow-sounding tiles are an indication that the adhesive does not have a good bond between the tiles and the substrate or that there are hollow voids of missing adhesive under the tiles. As the floor was used and subjected to foot traffic, the tiles that were nor correctly laid may have cracked or even lifted off the floor (debonded).

What bad tillers do.
The number one way for a bad tiler to cut corners and keep materials costs down is to use the bare minimum of tile adhesive. Typically this is done by putting a blob of adhesive under the corner of each tile and one in the center. This is called spot-bonding and is completely contrary to all local and international standards. The tile thus has an empty void underneath and is un-supported.

One problem leads to another.
Spot-bonding does not meet industry standards for the 80% coverage required for residential floors or the 95% coverage required for commercial floors, exterior applications and interior wet applications. Spot-bonding also reduces the bond strength of the tile and its attachment to the substrate, making it more susceptible to stress and causing debonding under certain conditions. Voids that occur with spot-bonding become pockets for water and moisture to collect, which could lead to efflorescence and other moisture-related problems. The lack of support beneath the voids also make the tile more vulnerable to cracking damage from live loads such as falling heavy objects, heavy equipment, rolling vehicles, loaded dollies, carts and even normal foot traffic.

How to check.
A simple way to check for the sound in question is to tap on the tiles with a hard object such as a thick coin or a steel ball bearing. Chains or special sounding devices can be used for larger areas. If the tile is well bonded (i.e. attached to the concrete substrate), it will have a high-pitched sound. If you hear a lower-pitched or a hollow sound, this indicates that  tiles have either debonded or were never bonded to the substrate.

A low tone is not an absolute indicator of debonding however. A low-pitched sound can also occur if the tile is installed over a less-dense substrate like wood, a sound-control mat or other membrane. Notice if the hollow-sounding tiles are grouped together or are the spread out randomly. If an entire tile installation sounds hollow it may be a result of the type of substrate that was used and not an indication of a problem. Generally there are other symptoms like loose or cracked tile and grout. Consider the solid-sounding tiles: do they have the same problem but haven’t debonded yet and might at a later date?

Tuesday, 4 November 2014

Transitions: From tiles to wooden floors.

How to use transitions between tile and wooden floors.

Wooden floors, whether natural hardwood, laminate or luxury vinyl have become very popular for many home owners in recent years. So what's the big issue with floor transitions? The answer is simple. Because modern glueless click systems are well engineered and reliable most DIY flooring projects normally turn out well except for one detail, the transitions between two floor types look terrible. Whether you’re installing solid hardwood, engineered hardwood, laminate, or tile the issue is the same. You need to plan the floor transitions before you start any flooring installation. Advise your customers on transitions and sell them the appropriate strips.

There are several basic issues that arise at floor transitions.

Elevation – The final floor elevation of each type of material is a major issue that needs proper attention in order for your new floor to look great and not become a maintenance issue. Elevation changes are fairly common in remodeling projects when sub-floors can’t easily be adjusted for different flooring thicknesses. Using a reducer is the easiest way to take care of this problem. This can occur if you install a hardwood or laminate floor over an existing floor adjacent to a flooring material that will not be changing.

Location of Transition - The actual location that you stop one flooring type and start another within a door opening, cased opening or room separation is a very important aesthetic consideration.

Special Transitions – Stairways can pose some interesting transitions that need special attention and transition pieces. We'll discuss staircases in more detail another time.

There are two main types of transitions pieces:

Reducer T-mould

Reducers also called overlap reducers are used to create a smooth transition between floors of different height. Typically the reducer is wood or MDF and is matched to the wooden floor. Reducers also protect the edge of the wood from foot traffic. An overlap squarenose is similar but with square ends rather than curves.

T-moulds are used to bridge two areas of flooring that are the exact same height. The T-moulding overlaps the exposed edges and is secured to the sub floor, often in an aluminium channel but never to the floor itself. Generally this piece is used as the transition between rooms or as an expansion gap in the same wooden floor.

Make yourself familiar with the various flooring accessories and their uses and advise customers accordingly, after all it's increasing your sales

Download our KREM and TESSCERA tile brochures here.
Download our LAMADEIRA laminate and vinyl brochures here.
For any other inquiries about tiles or laminate & vinyl flooring please send us an email.

The Link International team.

Friday, 24 October 2014

Why Floors Fail: When and how to screed

Laminate & vinyl flooring can fail if the surface onto which it is laid is not level. Screeds are used to form a flat and level surface, with adequate strength and resistance to indentation, on which other flooring is laid.Traditionally, screed is laid around 65mm thick onto a concrete subfloor. It’s a skilled job, usually undertaken by plasterers when the walls and ceiling are plastered. A screed mix is relatively strong but not intended as a wearing surface, the screeds primary purpose, using one part cement to three parts sharp sand, and when done well it gives a smooth and level floor on which to lay your chosen floor finish. A screed is also the preferred medium when laying underfloor heating pipes.

When laying tiles or laminated or vinyl flooring it is necessary to use a screed if the structural floor in not level. As a general rule the floor surface should not vary by more than 3mm per metre.

There’s nothing structural about screeds and some designs do away with one altogether. However, the floor beneath the screed is usually not laid to nearly such a high standard. Also, suspended precast concrete flooring systems, which are now increasingly being used instead of solid concrete slabs, have a noticeable camber which causes problems when it comes to laying most floor finishes. So although a screed can be expensive most builders will lay one when a top floor is planned.

The traditional way to lay screed is to mix the sand and cement on site with a mixer. Screeders are always looking for the perfect mix. This is pretty dry, almost powdery, when compared to brick and render mortars. The trouble is that mixing this by shovelling sand and cement into a mixer, and delivering to the screeders, keeps a labourer fully occupied — in itself expensive. So there has been a marked shift towards using ready-mixed screeds, delivered by lorry at the beginning of the day. Ready-mixed screeds come with added retardants to delay the set, so that you can be working all day with one load.

To standardise the process, there is a new trend towards pumped screeds, supplied and fixed by specialist crews. These pumped screeds use gypsum as a binder; they are also known as calcium sulphate or anhydrite screeds. They cost about 50% more per cubic metre than a cement mix, but they are much faster to lay and can be successfully laid at 50mm, or even 35mm depths where there are no underfloor heating pipes to cover, whereas a conventional screed needs to be at least 65mm deep.

The process of laying is very different to what we have grown used to with cement screeds. The biggest variable is the volume of screed used due to increased depths, especially on irregular sub-bases. It is not uncommon to for the depth of the screed to vary from 40mm to 80mm across a floor. Typical costs for, say, 100m² with an average depth of 50mm depth would be between $2800 and $4800.

The actual pumping process is very quick. The screed has to be carefully separated (via a polythene sheet) from any insulation sheeting placed below, because chemical reactions can take place although this is very rare.

Whichever system you use, ensure ample time for drying out. The rule of thumb is to allow a day for every millimetre depth, so that 70 days is the standard time recommended. If you have underfloor heating pipes buried in the screed, you can speed the process up but only very carefully: experts recommend doing nothing for a month, then putting the heating on at its lowest setting, turning it up by 3°C per day until the working temperature is reached.

Finally, there is the issue of underfloor heating. Best practice recommends that, to avoid movement issues, screeds should not cover an area of more than 40m2 or a distance in any one direction longer than 8m. Expansion joints should subdivide larger screed areas. Alternatively, you can place an anti-crack mesh in the screed or add fibres to the mix itself.

Levelling screeds can provide sufficient depth to incorporate ducts to contain services such as electrical power and telephone cables. Increasingly levelling screeds are being installed on Underfloor Heating Systems as they provide a thermal mass for the heating to dissipate into giving a consistent temperature across an area with a gradual rise and fall over time.

The thickness of the screed allows it to take up normal variations in flatness and levelness of the base on which it is laid. The common types of flooring laid over levelling screeds include carpet and carpet tiles, linoleum, laminate and vinyl flooring and tiles, wooden blocks, and ceramic tiles. Levelling screeds are not intended to act as a wearing surface and should always be covered with a final floor finish.

Download our laminate and vinyl brochures or browse our website. Scroll down to "Lamadeira" here.
For any other inquiries about laminate & vinyl flooring please send us an email.

Monday, 20 October 2014

Why Floors Fail: The Missing Step - Acclimation of Flooring

Part 2

Acclimation (or acclimatisation) of laminate or vinyl flooring is the vital conditioning of the flooring material to the humidity and temperature that it will experience during occupancy. Most manufacturers require the cartons of flooring to be acclimated for 48 to 72 hours prior to installation. OK but why?

Here's an extreme case but it makes the point. A 40 story tower was being constructed in Dubai. It was August, average daily temperature was 40 degrees C and humidity was over 56%. The building was nearing completion when they installed laminated flooring throughout. A week later as the finishing touches were being done they turned on the air conditioning. Within a matter of days every floor failed! As t
he temperature dropped to a comfortable 20 degrees and the humidity plunged to 27% the planks shrank, creating gaps, becoming loose and warping. The flooring in the entire tower had to be replaced.

The why?
Flooring material needs to be acclimated in the area of installation at the humidity and temperature it will normally experience. This takes time. If the laminate or vinyl is to be installed in a lounge, acclimation of the flooring should take place in the lounge. Storing the laminate flooring in the garage is not acclimation even if the garage is attached. 

When a floor acclimates the product is adjusting to the humidity of the area of installation.
All wet work in the area of installation such as plastering and painting should be completed prior to the start of acclimation.  All windows and doors must be installed prior to the start of acclimation. The heating and air conditioning system must be operational at or near occupancy levels. If installing over concrete the concrete should be tested for acceptable humidity levels for the installation of the laminate.
When a floor is not acclimated prior to installation it can be hard to click together chipping or damaging the edges of the planks. A floor that is not acclimated to its environment is more likely to experience problems such as expansion, tenting, squeaking and buckling after installation. 
All wood, including HDF, is porous on a microscopic level, even though it may look quite solid. These tiny openings allow air inside the core, carrying with it whatever humidity there may be. The more humid the air, the more likelihood that planks will swell; the less humid the air, the more likelihood the planks will shrink. While this swelling or shrinking may be very slight, it could be just enough to cause otherwise snug locking systems to buckle or gap across the floor.
Acclimating allows the planks to become unified in the temperature and humidity that is identical to the conditions found in the room in which they will be installed. Once acclimated, the planks will be uniformly conditioned and the locking system will not be compromised. So you can see why acclimation is so important. In fact, skipping the proper acclimation process will void your guarantee.

The how.
Place the cartons in the middle of the floor, laying each box flat, side-by-side or across each other like a logs on a campfire in the room in which they will be installed. Keep them away from the exterior walls. Allow them to sit a minimum of 48 hours before installation. When the humidity in the room exceeds 60 percent, laminate boards expand and push against each other. This may cause noticeable ridges along the seams, called cupping, or bulges in the middles of the boards, called crowning. When the humidity falls below 30 percent, on the other hand, the boards shrink and the joints may separate, leaving gaps between them. 
In Part 3 Why Floors Fail: When to screed

Download our laminate and vinyl brochures or browse our website. Scroll down to "Lamadeira" here.
For any other inquiries about laminate & vinyl flooring please send us an email.

Thursday, 16 October 2014

Why Floors Fail: Everything You Need to Know About Expansion Joints for Flooring

Part 1 

The most common reason for glueless click-system laminate & vinyl floating flooring failure is inadequate expansion joints.
Vinyl body is less hygroscopic but PVC is definitely more heat conscious. Variation in temperature and humidity will lead to expansion or contraction which can lead to gaps appearing between planks or tenting. So for safety sake we recommend in our installation instructions that panel size should not exceed 8m in direction of the panel width and 10m in direction of the panel length without an additional expansion gap. This is obviously in addition to the 10mm gap around walls. Different manufacturers use slightly different measures but all approximate the rule above.

Kaindl, one of the worlds leading laminate manufactures recommends:
Bigger areas must be separated with an expansion gap of at least 15mm.
Laminate flooring consists of wood. Wood is a hygroscopic material and adapts to the ambient humidity levels and as a result, its dimensions are subject to slight changes. The expansion can be 2mm/m length. Keep this physical property of wood in mind when laying down your laminate flooring. 
A minimum expansion gap from 1.5mm/lm room length on both sides should be considered e.g.: Length of the room 10m x 1.5mm/lm = 15mm distance The must be expansion gaps of min. 1.5mm/m between rooms. Those gaps can be masked by using a special profile. When fitting near solid elements e.g. heating pipes make sure there is a distance of 1.5mm/m.

From timberfloors.co.za: Leave an expansion gap all around the perimeter of the room, usually between 8 and 10mm. This will allow the wood floor product to expand when the humidity in the air rises. This expansion gap will later be covered by the skirting. Laminate flooring is known to expand 3mm per meter, if allowance for this expansion is not made the floor will ultimately fail when it needs to expand.
Laminate flooring is also normally not laid more than 8m in length without breaking the length with an expansion joint profile. Most manufacturers have profiles available that look similar to the flooring decor or it can be made from aluminium. It is also strongly recommended that one breaks the laminate floor with an expansion profile at every room entrance. In other words do not take your flooring into different rooms all in one piece, an expansion profile should be fitted under the door entering each room. Remember to also allow for an expansion gap around door frames. This gap around door frames is usually filled with a colour sealant to compliment the floor decor.

For Luxury Vinyl Flooring (LVT) the expansion joints can be slightly smaller but remain just as important. IVC US, a prominent American company recommends the following: "Maintain a 1/4” (1/2 cm) expansion space around all walls, cabinets, pipes, toilet flanges and any obstacle in the floor."
And lastly a compact guide published by The Southern Africa Wood and Laminate Flooring Association: A Simple Guide to Laminate Flooring Installation, which also recommends a 10mm gap and room sizes no larger than 8x10m without expansion gaps. Pdf download here

In Part 2 Why Floors Fail: The missing step - Acclimatisation

Download our laminate and vinyl brochures or browse our website. Scroll down to "Lamadeira" here.
For any other inquiries about laminate & vinyl flooring please send us an email.

Wednesday, 8 October 2014

What is Ceramic Sintering?

What is Ceramic Sintering?

Sintering is the process of forming a solid mass of material by heat and/or pressure without actually melting it. Sintering is part of the firing process used in the manufacture of ceramic and porcelain tiles as well as other manufactured objectsSintering also happens naturally in mineral deposits. The atoms in the materials diffuse across the boundaries of the particles, fusing the particles together and creating one solid piece. A common example of sintering is when ice cubes in a glass of water adhere to each other.
The word "sinter" comes an old form of the word "cinder".
Sintering is effective in the firing of ceramic tiles because the process reduces the porosity and enhances properties such as density, strength and translucency. As the diagram below shows, the process eliminates the small pores between each particle and fuses them together.

Control of temperature and the consistency of the size of particles is very important to the sintering process. Some ceramic raw materials have a lower affinity for water and have a lower plasticity than clay, requiring organic additives in the stages before sintering. The general procedure of creating ceramic objects via sintering of powders includes:
  • Mixing water, binder, deflocculant, binder and unfired ceramic powder to form a slurry;
  • Spray drying the slurry;
  • Putting the spray dried powder into a mold and pressing it to form a green body (an unsintered ceramic item);
  • Heating the green body at low temperature to burn off the binder;
  • Sintering at a high temperature to fuse the ceramic particles together.
Download our ceramic tile brochures or browse our website here.
For any other inquiries about Porcelain or Ceramic tiles please drop us an email.
The Link International team.

Monday, 29 September 2014

12 benefits of ceramic tile.

If your customer is uncertain about what flooring type to specify for their project, ceramic tile is just about the easiest choice to motivate.
·        1. Low maintenance – Ceramic tiles are easy to maintain, from simple cleaning to optional sealing over time. Beside cleaning, there is no special maintenance involved.
·        2. Easy to clean – Sweep and wash! It doesn’t get simpler and cleaner than that. Ceramic floors make excellent kitchen floors as they can be easily wiped and disinfected from spills. If the grout gets dirtier than you like, you can use a specially formulated grout cleaner to help get the dirt off.
·        3. Cost – Ceramic tiles are cost effective. As with all tiles, the more high end the tile you choose, the higher the cost of the project; the more detailed the design, the more you’ll pay.
·        4. Repairable – Got a crack? Make sure to keep a few extra tiles around in the event of a crack. You can attempt to replace the tile yourself or find a handyman or tile contractor to do it for you.
·        5. Vast style and design options – There are literally thousands of different ceramic tiles around the world. The shapes, colors, styles and designs are vast.
·        6. Increase your home value – Ceramic tiled homes have greater resale value and homes with ceramic floors have a higher general home value when appraised.
·        7. Scratch resistant – Class 3 and Class 4 ceramic tiles (tiles which are made for moderate to heavy floor traffic) don’t scratch.
·        8. Reduces household allergens – Unlike carpets and rugs, ceramic tile does not attract dust and dust mites. Homes with ceramic floor tiles have less dust in the air, making the air in your home much healthier by reducing the amount of household allergens. This is a fantastic benefit, especially for those who suffer from dust-related allergies.
·        9. Environmentally friendly – Ceramic tiles are made from raw materials, including clay, sand and glass. These materials are combined with other recycled materials to form ceramic tile. Many ceramic tiles are made from recyclable content. Ceramic tile can also help to reduce your energy use by keeping your house cooler in the summer. They also add some insulating qualities to your home for the winter.
·        10. Moisture resistant – You won’t have to worry about accumulation of moisture in ceramic tiles. You can also wash the floor with lots of water if desired. Unlike wood floors, water will not damage ceramic tiles.
·        11. Fireproof - No more need be said.
·        12. Fadeproof - Because tiles colour and pattern is fired in a kiln, the colour is chemically fixed and impervious to UV fading.

Ceramic tiles? Sold!
Download our ceramic tile brochures or browse our website here.
For any other inquiries about Porcelain or Ceramic tiles please drop us an email.

The Link International team.

Thursday, 18 September 2014

7 Ways to Tell Porcelain Tiles from Ceramic.

Both porcelain and ceramic tiles are made from a mixture of clay and other materials which are pressed into a dense mass then kiln-fired at over 1000 degrees C. Although both porcelain and ceramic tiles are called “ceramic tile”, porcelain is by definition harder, denser and absorbs less water which is why it is less prone to cracking when exposed to cold. Specifically porcelain should absorb less than 0,5% of its volume in water. But how do you tell whether a tile is porcelain or ordinary ceramic?

1. Check the packaging. Look for the word “Porcelain”, a water absorption of <0,5% or a Mohs hardness rating of 7 or above. Ceramic tiles generally only have a water absorption of <3% at best. If the tile is marked ‘Polished’ it is likely to be porcelain.

2. Check the price. Porcelain tiles usually cost around 40% more than ordinary ceramic tiles and could be even higher depending on other technical factors.

3. Try the spit test for water absorption. Turn the tile on it’s side. Apply a little spittle to the edge. If it is absorbed into the tile within a minute or less it’s ceramic. On a porcelain tile the liquid will remain on the surface in a shiny meniscus for many minutes or even until it evaporates

Porcelain tiles are generally made by the dust pressed method from porcelain clay like kaolin, which result in a tile that is denser and more durable than ceramic tile. The finish is a finer grained and smoother with sharply formed faces. Glazed porcelain tiles are much harder and are more wear and damage resistant than non-porcelain ceramic tiles.

4. Take a close look. Full body porcelain tiles carry the color and pattern through the entire thickness of the tile making them virtually impervious to wear and are suitable for any application. If the colour on the surdace is the same through the cross section it is a good but not infallible indication that you are looking at a porcelain tile.

5. Compare the hardness. Ceramic tiles are softer and easier to cut than porcelain so if you are comparing two tiles the one that is easier to cut is probably ceramic.

6. Test the hardness. A more accurate way would be to actually test the hardness using a reference material. Hardness is measured using the Mohs scale which rates hardness from 1 (talc) to 10 (diamond). Ordinary ceramic tiles will have a hardness of 5-6 whereas porcelain will have a hardness of 7 or better. You can use the following commonly available materials to firmly scratch the tile. If the material leaves a distinct mark the tile has a hardness less than the test material
· Penny (a bronze coin) - 3.0
· Knife blade (a good straight edged kitchen knife or penknife) - 5.0
· Glass (a broken piece of window glass) - 5.5
· Quartz (a sharp piece, available at new age lifestyle shops or a mineral scratch patch) - 7.0

...and lastly
7. Contact the manufacturer and request a laboratory test report. Porcelain is classed B1a.

Download our brochures or browse our website here.
For any other inquiries about Porcelain or Ceramic tiles please drop us an email.

The Link International team.

Thursday, 4 September 2014

What Exactly is Resilient Flooring?

What Exactly is Resilient Flooring?

Unlike brittle tiles made of minerals, resilient flooring is made of material that has some elasticity, giving the flooring a degree of flexibility called resilience. Resilient flooring is available in large sheets or pre-cut tiles or planks. It either comes with pre-applied adhesive for peel-and-stick installation or requires adhesive to be troweled on to the substrate or in the case of most planks, is made with an integrated glueless click and lock mechanism along the edges. Resilient flooring includes many different manufactured products including old fashioned linoleum, sheet vinylvinyl composition tile (VCT)cork (sheet or tile), rubber and ultimately Luxury Vinyl Tile (LVT). Performance surfaces used for dance or athletics are usually made of wood or resilient flooring. Hospitals, schools and pre-school children's centres often use sheet vinyl. Increasingly both commercial and residential spaces are using LVT for its resilience, texture waterproofing and sound absorbing qualities.

We currently supply Luxury vinyl tile (LVT) in planks 1,2m x 186mm in 12 different colours under our own Lamadeira brand. We are planning on dramatically expanding our range to include Vinyl performance surfaces and sheet vinyl soon.
Download our brochure comparing Laminate, Composite and Vinyl flooring here.
Download our LVT brochure here.
For any enquiries please drop us an email.
The Link International team.

Wednesday, 20 August 2014

Top 5 new ink-jet tile styles.

Recently we held a workshop with some of our customers. In preparation we did some research with our partners throughout the world and in particular in the U.S., all this really leading up to the Coverings'15 expo in Orlando next year.

We plan to have several new ranges of Ink-jet tiles that will appeal to the U.S. market and hopefully also have overlap to other international markets. We decided to select five new "looks". When the brainstorm was over we had the 10m wall in our showroom area literally covered with colour printouts, torn-out catalogue pages, our own posters and samples. The final winning categories turned out to be:

New Cement  looks including a textured cement for non-slip outdoor applications.

Rapolano Stone look with more contrast and more colour variation. Beautiful!

Distressed Wood look in multi-colour variations.

Slate, a classic but again with more variation in colour and contrast.

Travertine; making the most of high-definition ink-jet technology - The detail, the detail!

Our own variations of the ideas and looks above are now in design development in Italy to be ready for production by the end of September.
Meanwhile download our existing brochures or browse our website here.
For any other inquiries please drop us an email.

The Link International team.

Wednesday, 9 July 2014

What's the Difference Between Laminate, Composite & Vinyl Flooring?

All three flooring types are made of layers laminated together. The difference is in what those layers are made of and what that implies for performance. There's no point is asking "What's best?", as always it's really a matter of fitness for purpose.

Traditional laminate wood flooring is made of; a transparent wear layer, a printed paper decor layer, high density fiberboard (HDF) and a thin backing layer for stability. Laminate comes in various thicknesses from 7 mm (light domestic) to 12mm (commercial grade) and is fairly rigid.

Composite Flooring is made of a urethane wear layer, a printed paper layer and a Wood-Plastic Composite (WPC) body. In some cases the WPC is in fact a mineral-plastic composite of calcium carbonate. An Ethylene Vinyl Acetate (EVA) foam backing is sometimes added. Composite tends to be very rigid.

Luxury Vinyl (LVT) is made of a thick wear layer then a Poly Vinyl Chloride (PVC) layer onto which the design is printed directly. A sound-proofing EVA foam layer is mounted to the bottom. LVT is somewhat flexible.

The big difference between the three types is that Composite and Vinyl are waterproof whereas Laminate is is only water resistant; flooding may well cause swelling and warping so laminate cannot be installed in bathrooms and other wet areas.

Laminate is cheaper than composite or vinyl, but it does require more surface preparation as it has a tendency to reflect any imperfections in the underfloor.

Underlayer. Composite and Luxury Vinyl generally have an integrated foam rubber (EVA) layer that cushions the floor and adds to thermal and sound insulation whereas Laminate requires a separate underlayer and thus more complex pre-installation preparation.

Vinyl and Composite tend to be supplied with more modern glueless locking systems like our licensed and patented 1Lock system which make it very easy to install and prevents slippage in both directions.

In summary; traditional laminate is cheaper but more difficult to install. It is inclined to separate if exposed to water. Composite and Vinyl are both somewhat more expensive but waterproof and easier to install. Luxury Vinyl in particular is very forgiving of imperfections in the base floor.

Contact us for Laminate, Composite or Luxury Vinyl flooring to suit your market needs.
Download our LAMADEIRA FLOORING brochures here.