Self-Cleaning Tiles

Japanese manufacturer Toto’s Hydrotect dirt-repellent tiles keep building facades—and the environment—clean.

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

Toto USA
1155 Southern Rd.
Morrow, GA 30260
(770) 282-8686

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