As it celebrated its 45th year in business, Palace Chemicals has been able to demonstrate how the accumulated expertise of its people and the technical competence of its products could rise to the challenges posed by a large and demanding tiling project.
There are few types of commercial project which are required to withstand higher levels of footfall than a motorway service station. These are very high traffic environments, required to be open 24/7, where any floorcovering needs to cope with high footfall, as well as likely spillages and other tough knocks.
This is why tile showroom and tiling contractor Balderton Tile Centre called on Palace Chemicals to assist on a major project at the new Welcome Break services in Fernwood, just off the A1 to the south of Newark, Nottinghamshire. This is one of the UK’s largest motorway service operations and in total it boasts more than 400sqm of assorted tiling.
Palace Chemicals promptly delivered its ever-popular MULTI-FLEX Tile Adhesive, to enable Balderton to carry out the project.
There were 190sqm of communal retail flooring to complete, along with 150sqm of bathroom wall tiling and 70sqm of bathroom floor tiling – and the two tilers and one apprentice on the job had less than two weeks to complete the huge task.
The tiling craftsmanship of the Balderton staff impressed the owners of the on-site Pret A Manger and Burger King establishments so much that those retailers overlooked their usual contractors in favour of using Balderton instead.
This added around 50 extra square metres of floor tiling to the job for the Newark-based family-run firm, as well as two, more complex, feature walls in Pret and a tile splashback in the Burger King kitchen area.
Matt Ingram, showroom manager for Balderton Tile Centre, said: “We were initially asked by Welcome Break to do the communal areas, but both Pret and Burger King saw what we had done and asked us to do their retail areas too.
“It’s extremely gratifying to know that your work is judged so highly as to have redirected these major food operators away from their tried-and-tested suppliers. We were very pleased to have won this extra business on the back of our quality craftsmanship”.
Around 150sqm of 1200x600mm porcelain tiles were used throughout the public bathroom areas, with around 70sqm of a corresponding 600x600mm light grey tile on the floors. Bathroom areas included four wet-rooms for truckers.
Another unusual aspect of the Welcome Break project was that Balderton was asked to ensure all the vertical grouting lines in the bathroom walls lined up perfectly with the grouting in the floor tiles.
Ingram was impressed with the look of the end-result, even though he had admitted it was not a standard request in large commercial projects like this.
“Developers generally want us to get the tiles laid as quickly as we can, with the least waste possible and, while it didn’t take much longer than normal to place the tiles, it took a lot more planning beforehand to make sure the tiles all lined up perfectly. It looks a lot better when it all matches up, and Welcome Break clearly has high standards, though I’m not sure many of the truckers will notice!”
The 190sqm of communal retail floors were laid with 600x600mm porcelain tiles, in a slightly darker shade of grey than the bathrooms.
Pret’s feature walls were laid with various 75x300mm tiles specific to the style of their typical store interiors, while both Pret and Burger King supplied 450x450mm standard contract porcelain tiles for around 25sqm of flooring in each of the retail spaces.
Ingram’s secret ingredient to ensure the finish in every public area had longevity and was robust enough to bear the constant passing-through of thousands of motorists on this busy route, was of course MULTI-FLEX Tile Adhesive from Palace Chemicals.
MULTI-FLEX is a cement-based, highly polymer-modified, thin-bed ceramic tile adhesive that boasts a rapid-setting, high early strength. It’s recommended for fixing all types of ceramic and porcelain floor and wall tiles, providing improved flexural strength and water-resistance and is advised for applications over sub-floor heating.
Ingram said: “MULTI-FLEX is a great product and was perfect for the Welcome Break project. We’ve never had any issues with it and it ‘goes off’ much quicker than any other product we’ve used. The price is also good and Palace never fails to deliver when we need it”.
Steve Ball, Palace Chemicals’ commercial director, said: “Service stations are put to the test, given the sheer volume of people that use them. It’s imperative, therefore, that the wall and floor tiling is set up to withstand the pressure they are put under.
“We’re delighted that Balderton Tile Centre has once again turned to Palace Chemicals to provide that extra strength and reassurance. The project was a perfect example of how speed and high quality can be achieved at the same time.”
The icing on the cake for this project came in May 2023, when it won a Highly Commended Award in the Best Commercial Project (Large) category at TTA Awards, providing recognition of how Palace Chemicals had worked with its customer and the client to produce a really excellent result.