They are available in light blue or with a cow on them, sometimes with no frills or lavishly modeled: in his tile factory in Baden-Baden, Axel Eisenack manufactures just about everything a customer's heart desires. "There has been a real boom for a year and a half," he says. "Even before the crisis." Concerns about a secure energy supply as a result of the Russian war of aggression in Ukraine are also fueling development, as industry insiders say.
Sales increased significantly during the pandemic, says Christoph René Holler, Managing Director of the Association of the Ceramic Industry. "The time was used to invest in the home." 2022 was also a positive financial year for the manufacturers of stove tiles. The association, in which five collectively agreed stove tile manufacturers are members, does not give any figures. There are not many other manufacturers beyond that.
Robert Mülleneisen from the General Association of Furnace Construction speaks of an exponential increase in demand of 40 to 60 percent. The more far-sighted customers had already ordered when Russia invaded Ukraine, others only came after gas prices had risen significantly. "Sometimes there is panic because they now see that something is at stake," says the CEO. They all want to become as independent as possible when it comes to heating.
Only: The interest is so great that free-standing stoves will no longer be available before the summer of 2024, says Mülleneisen. "There is such a huge demand." The tile manufacturer Eisenack describes it in a similar way: "When something arrives, it is immediately ripped out of your hands." The order books are full. What is missing is staff. There are seven of them working in the manufactory.
Price per tile open at the top
As the name suggests, everything is done by hand: they make the clay themselves as well as the glazes. A draftswoman paints the tiles on request. With natural painting, a standard tile can cost around 350 euros, a smooth tile around 50. Prices have recently risen, says Eisenack. "We have to add the gas costs."
Anyone who wants larger tiles, even gold-plated ones, quickly pays several thousand euros per piece. "You can push a tile any way you want," says the owner, who has also built stoves in Versailles. "There are no limits to creativity," confirms Mülleneisen from the Stove Construction Association. A linear Bauhaus style is modern. "That's really chic now." But it can also often be very traditional: "You wouldn't believe it, but the dark green tile is currently back in fashion."
"Something traditional should usually be there"
Eisenack has also noticed that: Young people are increasingly coming to his factory. They could still build, especially in the country - and then they wanted a tiled stove, like the ones they know from their parents' house or from their grandparents. It's also about feeling good. And even if it becomes more modern, tiles in portrait format, for example: "There should usually be something traditional about it." In case of doubt, pine cones on the border at the top.
In general, stove tiles and tiled stoves have a long tradition. In recent years, archaeologists have found hundreds of fragments of stove tiles from the 16th century during excavations at Querfurt Castle in Saxony-Anhalt. In Austria, on the other hand, you can celebrate the "Day of the Tiled Stove" every year in mid-October.
Technically up to date
The industrial association for house, heating and kitchen technology advises that a stove should not only be selected based on its appearance and style of living. The heating output must also be adapted to the heat demand. "Without competent, professional advice, incorrectly dimensioned devices are often bought that overheat the room or do not provide sufficient heat output."
An exchange could also make sense: modern wood-burning stoves cause ten times fewer emissions than old systems from the 1980s and 90s. Around 600,000 wood burners of all types have already been sold this heating season, with old devices having been replaced in around two out of three cases. Four million old devices may no longer be used by regulation from 2025. Around 11.5 million devices are currently in use.
According to the association, energy-related particulate matter emissions from households in Germany have fallen by more than a third since 2010. According to a spokesman, modern combustion technology with better air supply, new materials and sophisticated designs reduce the emissions of a brand-new stove by up to 85 percent compared to an old device. "In addition, modern devices consume up to a third less fuel for the same heat output."
Eisenack and his team in Baden-Baden sometimes produce 100 to 150 components per tiled stove. The manufactory extends over several floors. The models and molds used to press the clay into shape are stored in the attic. The archive looks like a library with particularly thick books on the shelves. "Our darling," says Eisenack. And he affirms that he knows almost every form.