Scrubbing kitchen and bathroom tiles is certainly one of the more onerous of household chores—so just imagine the difficulty of cleaning exterior tiles used on building facades. And it’s not only a hassle: cleaning building exteriors is costly and energy-intensive, and can involve environmentally harmful chemical detergents.
Fortunately, the Japanese luxury-bathroom manufacturer Toto has developed a tile that essentially cleans itself. Available in Japan since 1993, Hydrotect tiles are currently used in more than 7,000 buildings, and they make their stateside debut this spring. The tiles work on the same principle as self-cleaning glass, which has been used successfully in the United States for a few years. Titanium dioxide is baked into the surface of the ceramic tiles. When exposed to the sun’s ultraviolet rays, it decomposes organic compounds, including soot, grime, and oil. The treated surface also becomes hydrophilic, meaning that a thin layer of moisture prevents dirt adhesion. As a result, mere rainwater washes away the dirt particles—no scrubbing or harmful detergents required.
Hydrotect tiles may even help reduce air pollution: the chemical reaction removes nitrous oxide and sulfuric oxide from the air. In fact, Toto claims that a 10,000-square-foot patch of the tiles reduces the same amount of air pollution as 70 medium-size deciduous trees.
Ceramic tiles with a titanium-dioxide coating
When exposed to ultraviolet radiation, the titanium-dioxide surface decomposes organic compounds and becomes hydrophilic, producing a self-cleaning effect.
Self-cleaning building facades
1155 Southern Rd.
Morrow, GA 30260