Johnson Tiles South Africa Celebrates 60th Anniversary

This year marks 60 years since Johnson Tiles was founded in South Africa in 1952. Established in 1901 in the United Kingdom, Johnson Tiles has a proud history rooted in the design and manufacture of high quality wall and floor tiles, and with a presence on five continents; it is one of the largest suppliers of ceramic tiles in the world.

It was in the 1950s that the dream to build a Johnson Tiles plant in South Africa was finally realised when a pilot plant was established in Olifantsfontein. The first kilns laid down were electrical multi-passage Gottignie kilns that fired bisque and glost tiles and had an average output of about 3000m² per week.  The Gottignie kilns were later replaced with two biscuit kilns and three glost tunnel kilns.  Until 1984 production at the factory was limited to wall tiles.

“In 1984 Johnson Tiles began manufacturing floor tiles. At that time, the floor tile market was very small in South Africa. Floor tiles were seen as a luxury but slowly became popular,” says Kate van Niekerk, marketing manager at Norcros.

The introduction of locally made floor tiles was difficult as local goods were seen as inferior to imported goods. However, because local tiles were more affordable than imported tiles, the demand for them grew, especially in the contracts market.

Production of wall tiles ceased completely in the late-nineties and a decision to focus solely on the production of floor tiles was taken.  By 2006, Johnson Tiles became the first and only manufacturer in South Africa with the capability of producing glazed porcelain tiles. 

“Porcelain tiles have a slightly different body recipe to ceramic tiles. They are pressed harder and fired at a higher temperature than ceramic tiles making them frost resistant and suitable for outdoor installations,” explains van Niekerk.

For its sixtieth birthday Johnson Tiles is investing in its plant and manufacturing processes by upgrading equipment, which will see the installation of new state-of-the-art sorting machinery by the end of August 2012.

“It is essential that we keep the technology in our plant current in order to stay competitive and to continue to introduce quality, on-trend and locally manufactured products,” says van Niekerk.

Today, Johnson Tiles produces glazed ceramic and glazed porcelain floor tiles with an average output of 80 000m² per week. To complement its floor tiles a select range of wall tiles that meet its stringent quality control measures is imported.

Johnson Tiles performs quality checks at every stage of the tile manufacturing process to ensure that it upholds its reputation for product excellence. 

Once produced, its tiles undergo rigorous tests to ensure technical aspects such as water absorption; irreversible moisture expansion; scratch resistance; stain resistance and rectangularity, among a host of other aspects, comply with or exceed European (EN:177) standards.

The South African market has good growth prospects for the foreseeable future. Johnson Tiles enjoys a broad distribution network and is growing its presence with key building and home improvement retailers.

Johnson Tiles customers can look forward to continued quality and trendy and affordable products from this proudly local supplier for years to come.

For more information contact Johnson Tiles on 011 206 9700 or visit