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Professional tile adhesives: 50 years of BAL leadership

Building Adhesives Limited celebrates its 50th anniversary in 2013, marking an unbroken half-century of leadership in professional tile adhesives and grouts. Building Adhesives Limited was formed in 1963 when the tile manufacturers within the British Ceramic Tile Council – increasingly concerned over adhesive technology developments – decided to form a company to develop a range of high-quality ‘new technology’ adhesives, backed by comprehensive technical advice.

Prior to this, four-fifths of fixers were still using a sand-and-cement mix that would have been familiar to their Victorian predecessors. Some proprietary adhesives had been around since the 1950s, but minimal technical support had hindered fixer confidence at a time when a new tile body and manufacturing methods were also developing. BAL’s innovation extended beyond introducing a high-quality range of adhesives and grouts: it backed the product with comprehensive technical advice. This was the birth of the industry-leading BAL Technical Advisory Service, which today satisfies around 50,000 queries annually.

The 21st century new product ethos was born at the same time, based on the principle of rigorous scientific research informed by input from professional tilers. In BAL’s first years, fixers welcomed the arrival of BAL TAD – its first ready-mixed adhesive – along with more powdered adhesives: BAL CTF1, BAL CTF2 and BAL CTF Flooring, among others, as well as the first BAL Grout. By 1970, BAL offered more than a dozen high-quality products and only around 5% of wall tiles were still being fixed with traditional sand-and-cement.

Milestone has followed milestone: the first epoxy grout, first adhesive using rubber crumb, first variable-setting adhesive, first anti-bacterial grout. Alongside research and development, BAL broke new ground by submitting products for independent evaluation by the BCRA (now CERAM). It set a standard for all future BAL products: rigorous pre-launch testing, then quality testing throughout production.

Quality products are important, but so is quality of workmanship. BAL was, naturally, the first manufacturer to offer industry training for professional tilers – and the first to open a training centre. Now, a wide range of general and specialist courses are held regularly via BAL’s national network of training centres and approved colleges. Many, many thousands of professionals have now undertaken BAL training.

The importance of architects and specifiers was always recognised. BAL was the first manufacturer to deliver seminars to RIBA; it now has a growing range of RIBA-approved CPD seminars. When The Tile Association formed in 2000, BAL was there from the outset. It has been, and remains, a key player within standards bodies: BS 5385, EN 12004 and more have all benefited from the input of the Stoke-based industry leader.

Now, Building Adhesives Limited, with 50 years of industry leadership, is already working on the next 50 years.

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