Tiles on outside of buildings

hi all,

does anyone know why builders insist on putting heaps of little tiles on the outside wallls of buildings? to me, this seems such an odd building process. the tiles do not add anything to the looks of the buildings except make it look older and dirtier, they must be hard to keep clean (most people do not bother) and it must be a bloody hard and time consuming process to actualy put them on (if they put them on singally).

so why do the majority of tw buildings have thousands of little tiles all over the outside of them? what benefit do these tiles give?


They make the building look more expensive.

Agreed 100%. A lot of the buildings in Taiwan look like shit to me - questionable building materials are just the beginning. e.g. buildings with no windows AT ALL or scattered tiny cell block windows… and due to the lack of central air most buildings are randomly littered with AC units… its not a pretty city unless you’re in a few very specific areas.

Easier maintenance of the buildings exterior. Tiles do not need painting. But they do look tacky and pick-up grime and dirt streaks.
IMO, there is a fortune to be made in high-pressure exterior building washing here on the island.

[quote=“TainanCowboy”]Easier maintenance of the buildings exterior. Tiles do not need painting. But they do look tacky and pick-up grime and dirt streaks.
IMO, there is a fortune to be made in high-pressure exterior building washing here on the island.[/quote]

Haha. I’m not sure how good an idea that would be. I reckon about 20% of the tiles woud fall off, and about 10% of the water would leak right through to the interior. :stuck_out_tongue:

They stand up better to the weather. Bare concrete seeps water, painted walls develop that “wall cancer”, and typhoon-driven rain can do some damage to unprotected walls.

I’ve seen–not here, sadly–some well done mosaics on the sides of buildings. Done right–ha!–that might spruce up this industial lavatory.

That assumes that people would be willing to keep paying for it even though it takes about two weeks for a new building to get grubby.

1 Like

They are better than grey concrete spread that’s under them??

i would’ve thought that putting thousands of tiles on a building is much harder and much more expensive to do compared to just simply painting it. painting would be much easier i think.

i fully agree that the vast majority of buildings here are just plain ugly. the mass amountof AC units, the tiles (which are dirty and grimey) plus the cages that people insist on putting on their windows and balconies all combine to make a ugly design even uglier. Don’t get me wrong, there are some fine looking buildings here (the one that i most like is the tall building in Kaohsiung that is like a big H), but the vast majority of buildings here are ugly and the tiles do not help.

These are not individual tiles. They are sheets/strips of what appear to be individual tiles.
The sheets can be broken into pieces for detail work and to make the facade look smooth.

A good method, which I have seen in other countries but not here on Taiwan, is the addition of colored powder/pigment to the concrete to make things more colorful. I think the very low quality of cement here does not allow it’s use as sole exterior cover.

I tried to remember anything, not just buildings, that I’ve seen painted here, and I really can’t. Maybe it has something to do with how paint does in the humid / rainy / hot climate here. If you do tiles, it’s a one time thing. If you paint, it has to happen at the least once every two or three years, probably more often if what I suspect about the climate is true. Sure, they’re ugly, but jdsmith said it best:

Yes, they’re definitely to protect concrete buildings from the humid, rainy climate here, and for easy washing (when they bother to do that).

Some newer buildings use a more attractive tile that resembles brick.

Nuff’ said about the friggin tiles… What about the ugly metal jails, cages, signs 10 stories up, pipes, cables, electrical conduit, clotheslines, air conditioning units and their subsequent holes when someone moves out, etc…

Actually, I rather like the un-uniform way they do things here. Not so crazy about the grime.

what about the ground-gravel type flooring used everywhere, never saw this anywhere else

What exactly do you mean by ground-stone type flooring? Do you mean the granite that is outside some places? It’s hardly everywhere. I certainly prefer it to the alternative choice of slippery bathroom tiles.

That’s probably a good thing too, judging by how the older concrete buildings in my neighborhood look - black, covered in moss and grime, etc. If the apartment towers were also black and covered in grime I don’t think I could take it.

The grime has to be the single biggest thing that drives me crazy here. Last night I swept my room out and went directly to bed. I got up the next day, and what do I see on the floor but more assorted dust, fuzz, and grime. Makes me want to give up cleaning entirely some days.

I’ve seen at least 3 buildings in the area around my office recently do exterior renovations. Two residential buildings went for marble exteriors while the other (commercial) went for a complete re-do of the outside tiling. Just as these guys run to make their buildings more “uniform” in exterior appearance, there’s another new government-built apartment building on which the new residents are in a race to see how many different ways they can all install windows, awnings and steel cages about their balcony spaces. It’s not like there was any architectural genius involved with the creation of that building, so I suppose it doesn’t really matter what the residents do.

I’ve heard that many of the new apartment buildings going up all over Taipei have provisions in their purchase contracts that restrict residents from installing “tiger cages” or otherwise altering the exterior facade. However I bet within months after completion these apartment buildings will have all the unique features of their older neighbors.

What’s the point of tiger cages again, according to Taiwanese people? At first I thought that they were to prevent (daft) people from falling out of the windows and killing themselves, but now it seems more to me that they’re used for extended storage of all kinds of junk you wouldn’t keep in the house. Personally I can’t stand mine because they’ve got pesky green plastic on the top and sides to ruin any chance I have to see the sky or the mountains from my apartment. Seems like the person who designed them thought I should only see other apartment buildings etc, and the cage makes sure I don’t forget that I live in the city for a moment.

As for the new apartments, it also seems like a lot of the new apartments have been designed so you can’t (plate glass walls, etc) feasibly attach a cage to the outside of it.

Q: What’s the point of tiger cages again?
A: To stop thieves and keep babies in. True!

Tiles? Untiled wall is not “finished” and ugly. Also to stop Acid rain.

I walked by my former apartment the other day and noticed they put cages on all the windows now. Before they just covered the balcony and one bedroom, I loved the panoramic view (across Shida onto the 101 and the mountains behind it) due to the large window that span across the entire width of the living room. Now everything is caged in.
My new place doesn’t have any cage - none of the units actually does I think - and mine will not get any as long as I stay there, regardless if this presents a security risk or not. The building got ok looking tiles, too, and is still in a good shape (only a few years old though).

I’m not so offended by the use of bathroom tiles all over the exteriors of buildings – given how much water used to soak through the concrete on the unprotected walls in my old apartment, I can see how a bit of ceramic glaze can make a difference. What I don’t understand is how people do various other goofy things. There’s a building quite close to the Shui-Lian complex where somebody thought it was a good idea to sloppily slather black tar over half the tiles on one part of his building. What makes a guy decide that is the perfect way to fix a small leak?

My short list of building gripes:

  1. Crappy cable/phoneline and other installers whose idea of a “good” thing is to run cables right through your windows and doors so that they can’t close fully anymore.

  2. People who fill their tiger cages with everything that they don’t want visitors to their home to see – everything from cleaning supplies through old shoes.

  3. Tiger cages so cheaply made that they leak massive streaks of rust down the sides of buildings.

  4. Brand-new buildings with balconies that are immediately blocked off with windows – why bother with balconies at all since Taiwanese clearly don’t like them?