Whether they are for aesthetics, protection or durability, ceramic tiles have been for used in cherished abodes for centuries. The versatility of ceramics has made them as popular and widely used today as ever before. Ceratec has been providing Canadian homes with ceramic tiles for over 50 years, and the company’s intimacy and experience with the product has earned them the reputation of being one of the leading Canadian providers of ceramic tiles.
A Canadian legacy
Ceratec was founded in 1949 by controlling partners Villeroy and Boch; shortly after the start of the company, ceramic tiles became the sole focus. Being in business for several decades means Ceratec has seen itself evolve. In the 1970s, for example, inhibitive material and labour costs ceased domestic ceramic manufacturing. Ceratec became a family business in the 1980s, belonging to the Raiche family, where Paul Raiche is now CEO. Ceratec then parlayed their decades of expertise into the ceramic tile distributer it is today.
“We import ceramic tile and we distribute it to the retailer. Our clients are full-flooring dealers and ceramic instalment specialists, as well as big box stores,” says Raiche. “We’re the only distributor for ceramic tile in Canada, so we’re a specialist, and our aim is to offer the best service to our customers.” Customers range from the architectural and design community, contract and retailers, to the do-it-yourself client. That speciality niche means Ceratec’s dedication is to providing the most choice, variety of product and most competitive prices. Raiche’s motto is “The right product at the right price”.
The Ceratec of today uses a sophisticated warehouse management system (WMS), with wireless technology to stay ahead. This program was implemented to provide information to their logistic and customer service agents and to augment their delivery system. Raiche stresses, however, that software can only be useful if there is a great team in place to manage it, which they have at Ceratec. “What gets us through any challenge is our team and knowledge. We have great internal people whose skills and commitment reflect the image and character of the company,” he says.
As more retailers and customers are drawn to ceramic tiles, the industry is growing. “There is increased competition. We are trying to brand ourselves to better indentify the company for our clients and in the public eye,” says Raiche.
A part of that branding is seen online. Ceratec’s website features the state-of-the-art I-Tile Project Assistant, which guides customers through the process of choosing the appropriate colour, size and shape, and tile use to find the product best suited towards their specific needs. This saves customers time and money from the onset of their Ceratec experience.
In an effort to meet the needs of customers who wish to reduce their daily negative impact on the environment, Ceratec is working with its partners to offer sustainable green building supplies that will help customers qualify for The Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design—known as LEED—Green building rating system.
Ceratec has also created a complimentary company called PROFIX, a tile and stone installation system that specializes in everything related to ceramic tile and stone installations. PROFIX offers a line of products for specialized projects for customers that coordinate with the Ceratec line.
With already seven centres across Canada— in Calgary, Dartmouth, Montreal, Ottawa, Quebec, Toronto and Winnipeg—Ceratec hopes to expand into Vancouver and Edmonton soon. Because of the “great management team,” Raiche says Ceratec is “constantly improving and building momentum”, and plans to be one of only a few national distributors in Canada. The Raiche family can expect to carry on as leaders in the Canadian ceramic industry.
A few tips to keep in mind
A very soft or porous stone such as sandstone or limestone is not suitable for high-traffic areas. Stones with honed finishes (smoothed by sandblasting) are a better choice for these applications, also yielding slip-resistance qualities. On the other hand, polished finishes are better suited for accent pieces on floors or walls.
The density of the stone plays a role in its function. The denser a stone, the better it will resist wear.
Natural stone is available in different finishes such as polished, honed, and sandblasted or can also be left in its natural state.
Slate has a natural cleft face making it an excellent flooring material due to its slip resistance. It is very porous and should therefore be sealed to reduce water absorption. It is most often used for interior applications but can be used outdoors if the stone is sufficiently dense. Due to the technical aspect of slate it is normal, when buying slate, to find broken pieces in the boxes. Therefore, it is suggested that the quantity required be increased by 10% to 20% to ensure a sufficient amount of material. It is also suggested to mix pieces from several cartons since a specific color can be composed of different shades and sizes. This will give the finished floor a more balanced color and size configuration.
Quartzite is very similar to granite in its advantages. It is quite resistant to abrasion and because of its low water absorption, is ideal for use in wet conditions.
Marble comes in a wide variety of colors and is therefore used mostly as decorative stone for interior applications. It is highly absorbent and porous and therefore stains and scratches quite easily. It is not recommended to install marble in areas such as dining rooms or kitchens. It is recommended to apply a sealer to this stone.
Limestone is suitable for wet climates when treated with sealers. It is long-lasting and stands up well to exposure. It has shown high resistance in freeze/thaw conditions, which indicates that it can be used in any environment condition without being affected. It has a very high compressive strength compared to other stones and can therefore carry a substantial load. Limestone offers a non-slippery surface that is suitable for flooring applications.
Granite is one of the most widely used stones, accommodating many different applications. There are endless patterns and colors available and each piece is unique. The hardness of its minerals makes granite very resistant to scratching and its low water absorption makes it resistant to damage caused by repetitive freeze/thaw cycles. It resists corrosion, our cities’ polluted air and acid rain. It also can provide a natural acoustic barrier. When used for countertops, it will not burn when pots are placed on it and stains can be easily removed. These features make it highly versatile so that it can even be used in high foot traffic areas or for exterior use. Its capacity to take a wide variety of finishes offers both aesthetic and performance freedom.
Sandstone is available in a wide range of colors and combinations to serve different purposes. It is mostly used for flooring and wall applications. It can be used in light to medium traffic commercial areas, for indoor or outdoor applications. Manufacturers’ specifications should always be consulted before installing outdoors. Some stones may be resistant to frost while others may not. Sandstone is fast cleaning and fast drying. Being slip resistant, it is also widely used in and around swimming pools.
Travertine is dense and durable making it suitable in adverse environmental and climatic conditions. The great variety of colors, patterns, and veining allow for a wide spectrum of design options. It is therefore used for many exterior and interior applications, but should first be properly sealed. The travertine stone contains cavities that are often filled by the manufacturer to avoid dirt accumulation once installed.