Tile and stone at DesignEX Sydney

By Alice Richard
Friday, 30 May, 2014

Bare feet, bonding and decks: not a beach party, but a day at the Tile & Stone sector of DesignEX, Australia’s longest-running design and architecture event.

Richard Bowman of Intertile Research and the Australian Tile Council had show attendees walking barefoot all in the name of research. Part of a larger research project into the psychophysical aspects of slip resistance conducted with Victoria University in Melbourne, Bowman had delegates rate the slip resistance of tiles when dry and then when wet - with some surprising results.

Slip resistance was first rated by hand with both dry and wet tiles, and then by walking across wet tiles with shoes on and off. The difference in slip resistance when barefoot compared with wearing shoes was most interesting - and, as Bowman pointed out, when specifying tiles it’s important to recognise that people will use them both barefoot and in shoes as the slip resistance will vary. Certainly food for thought for those specifying tiles for commercial pool surrounds.

Bowman hopes his research will eventually be used to develop a more accurate slip resistance rating for tiles. He will soon be conducting further research using virtual reality gait testing to test how people react to various changes in floor condition, but in a safe environment.

The Tile & Stone theatre was packed with presentations from experts of the tile and stone world. Colin Cass of Techtile Consulting kicked off proceedings with a presentation on avoiding or resolving installation problems such as latex leaching, reverse staining and cryptoefflorescence.

Mapei’s Joe Ceravolo outlined some considerations for cladding facades and feature walls, including substrate choice and preparation, waterproofing and efflorescence barriers and adhesive choice. Mike Marciniak of RLA Polymers clarified definitions of slippage, slumping and shrinkage.

Laticrete’s Fred Gray delivered a presentation on spot bonding - a technique with a poor reputation when using conventional adhesives, but which has been made possible with the use of specially designed epoxy adhesives. While there is currently no Australian Standard addressing spot bonding, Gray says it will be a case of innovation driving Standard reform.

Barry Schafer covered critical issues when waterproofing lightweight decks, and to finish the day, a panel from the Australian Tile Council NSW and Sydney TAFE discussed tiling education and workforce planning.

Today will be another busy day in the Tile & Stone Theatre, with a number of special panel sessions featuring a number of yesterday’s speakers plus a few more.

First up, Gray, Ceravolo and Marciniak will discuss adhesive selection and field questions from the audience. Greg Foulds from CDK Stone and Dry Treat’s Gabriel Chapman will outline current practices and new technologies in the sealing and maintenance of tile and stone. To finish the day, Bowman will join Carl Strautins of Safe Environments to discuss ways to empower architects and merchants to make appropriate slip-resistance decisions.

DesignEX is free to attend for trade visitors if you register online beforehand, or $20 at the door. For more information, visit www.designex.info.

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