This is NOT your Grandmother’s tile
“Whadya mean tile floors are boring? Check yoself! My tile floor is stupid fresh!”
I have news for you…
Tile no longer sucks!
….no we’re being serious
We know, we are in the flooring business and we have heard it for the last ten years; tile is just so, well, -boring. bunch of beige squares installed in your kitchen and bath only because you felt you kind of had put tile there. It is functional, but not so exciting right? and the selection? even if you went into a tile only retailer your choices basically boiled down to some version of a “beige stone look”. Even down here in Florida where tile is King, we have seen the category giving way to the more exciting hardwoods and laminates.
Those days are over gang, cuz tile is back! The premiere factories in Italy and Spain have sloughed off their design doldrums and have begun coming out with some really cool stuff. Out with the square, in with the rectangle! Out with Beige Stone look, In with radical new colors and glaze patterns. Here are some of the new and awesome things we are seeing with Tile:
Shape: Before– your size choice were limited to 16×16, 12×12, and 4×4 for the walls and back splash. Now– There has been an explosion of new sizes entering the market. There are hundreds of tile lines that are available in a wide variety of size choices. how many? how about 24×24, 20×20, 18×18, 12×12, 12×24, 6×18, 6×8, 4×4, 2×2, 1×1- well, there are lots, trust me. This is allowing our customer to get really creative with the layout pattern for their installation – subway pattern, diagonal, cobblestone- you name it. see for yourself, here is a great tool from Dal Tile: http://www.daltile.com/information/tile-patterns
Glaze: The glaze is essentially a powdery mixture of earth elements that are mixed and applied to a clay body tile and then fired in a giant kiln. the result is a very tough glassy coating – think dinner plate. Before– The tile manufacturer applied the glaze by mixing it into a slurry and then running it through a screen onto a tile, kinda like what they do to t-shirts. using multiple screens and different glazes allowed them to give it kind of a realistic appearance once fired. We emphasize “kind of”, it was an imprecise and sloppy process and there was really only so much they could do in terms of realism. Now- We have an entirely new glaze process that employs computers and an inkjet printer. The glaze is now applied by the same technology you use at home to print out perfect looking photographs, and the computers are changing the patterns as it is applied to increase the random look. The end result is a tile glaze that is incredibly crisp and realistic with no pattern repeat. You want a marble or travertine floor but don’t want the maintenance and expense of real natural stone? now that is doable. There are porcelain tile floors available that are indistinguishable from the real thing – they will last forever with zero maintenance headaches at about a third of the cost.
Pattern: Don’t want a stone look? before– you are out of luck. Now– name your poison. The new digital glazing allows the manufacture to create really dramatic and interesting new visuals, including the hottest new trend right now- wood plank tile. In addition, the contemporary looks that used to be available only from small boutique manufacturers (expensive!) are now available for the “masses” at surprisingly reasonable prices.
You want to see a few? (click to enlarge)