The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) has issued a statement that recommends outdoor ceramic tiles be avoided for the foreseeable future, according to the Associated Press.
The agency says ceramic tiles are porous and can be damaged by rain or snow, but recommends they be installed on a foundation or covered with a plastic liner to avoid further erosion.
The USDA also says ceramic tile should not be exposed to water.
In a press release issued Monday, USDA said ceramic tile could “serve as a substrate for microbial growth and a possible site for contamination by pathogens, including the bacterium MRSA.”
The agency noted the ceramic tile has been used in homes for centuries, but that the material has been replaced in recent years with other materials.
The statement said the USDA recommends the use of ceramic tile with “less porous materials, which include plastic and/or clay.”
The USDA says it has also conducted a review of ceramic tiles and found the majority of the materials are “safe and acceptable” for indoor use.
“This guidance will help ensure that ceramic tile is safely installed on outdoor terraces and other indoor surfaces, where it can serve as a structural support, providing insulation and preventing mold growth,” the agency said in a press statement.
The U of T says it recommends ceramic tile for indoor surfaces only, while other outdoor uses should be avoided.
“As an outdoor ceramic installation, it can be a source of contamination and exposure to water,” says U ofT Professor of Architecture and Landscape Architecture Eric Fries.
“So it should be used with care.”
Fries says there are many reasons why ceramic tile may not be appropriate for outdoor use.
Some people may be uncomfortable with the sound of it, while others may prefer to keep it to a minimum.
The university’s statement said it would be “wise” to consult with a qualified contractor to determine the best way to install ceramic tile on the ground or on other surfaces.
“There’s a lot of noise associated with ceramic tile,” Fries said.
“People might have concerns about the sound or the color, and it could be a concern with other types of tile as well.”
The university says it is “in the process of researching” ceramic tile options.
The Canadian government has also been studying the matter and said it has no plans to prohibit ceramic tiles.
“Ceramic tiles are a very popular building material in Canada, and as a country we are looking at the materials and their use in residential and commercial projects,” a spokesperson for the Canadian Ministry of the Environment said in an email.
“We would like to hear your thoughts about the use and use of ceramics in residential projects.”