Setting tiles onto a surface, such as a wall or floor can transform a dull and uninteresting room into something that is colourful, bright  and attractive, whilst at the same time providing surfaces that are waterproof, hard wearing, maintenance free  and easy to clean.

Tiles can brighten up any area and are equally well suited for both indoor and outdoor use. If  laid correctly, tiles provide a wonderful protection to  floors and walls, even in extreme weather conditions, as they are totally waterproof, frost proof and UV resistant and so suited for both freezing conditions and full sun applications. Tiled surfaces have always been the first choice where hygene is a major factor, such as in operating theatres, butcher’s shops and public toilets. But great cathedrals, mosques  and palaces have been embellished with large areas of strikingly tiled floors and walls, bringing light and sparkle to areas that might otherwise have been dark, uninteresting and gloomy. Part of the attraction of tiling is that we can always find new ways to use tiles and need not be bound by convention or accustomed usage.

Jerusalem 2007-8 105


Photo – Stella Geel

There are a host of different tile types available that can be selected for any specific application, with an almost infinite range of colors, sizes, shapes, glazes and textures. The choice of tiles that are available is truly bewildering. Amongst the most common are the traditional varieties of ceramic tiles, porcelain tiles, glass tiles, mirror tiles, terazzo tiles, terracotta tiles and then of course all of the natural materials with attractive selections of marble tiles, granite tiles, slates and several varieties of cut sandstones tiles. But modern plastics, resins and other designer engineered materials have opened up an almost limitless universe of resources from which tiles can be now be manufactured.  Space-age properties such as enhanced thermal and acoustic insulation, light polarization, light emission and  radiation screening are already being developed for specialised tile applications. Inevitably it will not be long before many of these hi-tech tiles will be available for domestic use as well.

However, the essential process of laying tiles onto a flat surface is a very ancient craft that has remained little changed over the centuries. Although there are now a number of tools and  items of equipment that facilitate the cutting and trimming of the tiles and the rapid setting time and ease of use of modern tiling adhesives and grouts can make the tiler’s work somewhat quicker and less tedious –  the techniques still in use for laying tiles are still essentially traditional.