Help: Can you use Crackle Glaze Tile in Shower?

beth_w737March 3, 2010

Hi all,

My mom is renovating our bathroom (one my brother and I use, we're grown but living at home at the moment). My mom keeps going back and forth on tile, our house is c1930 and I wanted to keep a traditional/old look and liked the crackled look. However, we looked at some walker zanger brand tiles and the ones with crackled glazes, they've been telling us we can't use in a shower area, but other companies have not said anything. Is this specific only to them, or can you not use crackle glazed tiles in a shower on the walls? I know they need to b e sealed, that's not a problem. Does anyone have any experience?

Thank you

Sincerely,

Beth

PS - does anyone have or use the walker zanger gramercy park or tiberon line? Or Horus Art cristalli line?

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bill_vincent

You can use anything you want, but if it were me, I sure wouldn't. That's a whole lot of trouble waiting to happen. You'd have to make sure you stayed on top of the tile being sealed, and because there's limited areas where moisture can permeate thru the face of the tile, it'd be real easy for water to get trapped in the tile and start to mold from the inside of the tile out to the surface, and then it's time to throw it all out. Alot of wasted money for my pocketbook.

    Bookmark   March 3, 2010 at 8:26PM
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brendog

I just thought I'd chime in on this one, we're in the midst of renovating our shower and tub surround and we've just purchased Sonoma tile in the Stellar line, 3x6 subway tile in Crackle finish. On the website, they give explicit instructions on sealing the tile, in fact the manufacturer recommends submerging the tile in sealant for 5 minutes prior to installation. They also say that any time you have to cut a tile to re-seal it prior to installation. This obviously means more work for me and the tile installer, but I'm hopeful that if we follow the sealing and installation instructions, we'll have a beautiful result. I'd be curious to know if anyone else has Sonoma Stellar tile in crackle finish and how it came out.

    Bookmark   March 4, 2010 at 10:07AM
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andreadeg

I had no idea that crackle tile isn't as water tight as even surface tile. visually speaking crackle tile appears to have a smooth water-tight surface. Does this apply to ceramic tile too? If I wanted to use a ceramice tile in the shower that has a slight crackle finish it's not a good idea from a maintenance perspective?

    Bookmark   March 4, 2010 at 12:18PM
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bill_vincent

We're getting into a discussion about this right now in John Bridge's forum, but with reference to stone, and I'll say the same thing here that I did there-- no way in hell I'd ever seal the back of the tile. Thinset will still stick to it, but not nearly as well. If someone handed me sealed tile like that to install, the only way I'd do it is without a warranty of any kind.

    Bookmark   March 4, 2010 at 2:13PM
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brendog

Thanks for the heads-up Bill on not sealing the back of the tile. I'm sure I'm not alone in saying that I had no idea the sealant can affect the adhesion of thinset to the tile.

As for our "pre-install sealing soak", I think we'll submerge the tiles finished side down in a thin tray of sealer, just deep enough to cover the tiles all the up the sides, but not over the back of the tile.

    Bookmark   March 4, 2010 at 2:35PM
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ceilidhbec

Well this is all annoying, isn't it? I originally intended to use a Walker Zanger tile (Vibe Blue Shadow glass crackle 3x4 field tile) with a crackle finish for a tub surround. They didn't say one word about it not being appropriate for that application, nor did the tile installer. In the end I didn't buy it because Walker Zanger gave me some additional samples that were a horrifying splotchy baby blue instead of the beautiful blue green of the field tiles I loved. I just didn't want to risk it. Subsequently I looked at Ann Sacks tile. They told me flat out I couldn't use crackle glazed tiles for a tub surround. I surely love the look of them though. I'm in a remodeling holding pattern now until I have the time and energy to pick out other tile and fixtures. Good luck! If you go ahead with crackle tiles, let us know how it works out, please.

    Bookmark   March 5, 2010 at 3:52PM
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nutherokie_gw

What? I thought you could use crackle glaze as long as it was kept sealed! Rats. I thought I had that decision taken care of.

    Bookmark   March 5, 2010 at 9:10PM
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beth_w737

Can the people using the sonoma crackle glaze give me an update, have you sealed it since posting and how did it work? We're a little nervous but don't have the energy/time to look for something else. We thought as long as we sealed it properly, it would be fine - I don't know why tilemakers would keep making and offering crackle tiles for sale if it's such a problem?

Beth

    Bookmark   March 20, 2010 at 8:00PM
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bill_vincent

Because there are plenty of other areas where crackle glaze tile can be used, other than wet areas such as a shower.

    Bookmark   March 20, 2010 at 10:15PM
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toolbabe

Hi Beth,

When I was in the planning stage of our shower, my first choice of tiles had incorporated the Sonoma chicklets, which have that deep crackle finish. They are so beautiful. I contacted the Sonoma representative who strongly suggested I pick something else. These tiles are not rated for shower use. They have a rate of moisture absorption way over 10% which means it is not designed for wet areas. Ideally, for a shower, you want something that has a moisture absorption rate of less than 0.7%. Another issue with crackle is their ability to retain dirt which you will not be able to clean. The rep regaled in telling me all sorts of horror stories about showers and even pool surrounds done with crackle tiles that had gone snap crackle pop... so to speak.

I ended up using little squares of granite instead. Less trouble in the long run.

    Bookmark   March 20, 2010 at 10:21PM
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happy2b…gw

I would like to know Mr. Vincent's opinion. Can crackle ceramic tile be used in shower? Thanks

    Bookmark   March 21, 2010 at 12:12PM
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beth_w737

toolbabe: Im confused you were told not to use the chicklets, unless it's something else, as the sonoma tantrum line, the technical info says under usage that it's suitable for pools, so I wouldn't expect a shower to be a problem.

Beth

    Bookmark   March 21, 2010 at 4:15PM
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toolbabe

That's right, beth,

I was told by the Sonoma tile representative to reconsider my choice of Sonoma "Mosuprema" chicklets for a shower floor because it is near to impossible to ensure a good seal on a crackle glaze and I would not be happy with my choice in the long run.

This really surprised me since many of the showers shown in their brochures are tiles with crackle finish tiles.

There was no problem using the tiles elsewhere in the bathroom, and she was suggesting I use the chicklets as accent tiles in my windmill floor tile layout.

    Bookmark   March 21, 2010 at 4:49PM
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bill_vincent

Can crackle ceramic tile be used in shower? Thanks

You can put any tile anywhere you wish. But a shower would not be the best place to use crackle glaze tiles, no. You'll run into problems you'd wish you'd never seen if you let the sealer wear off even just a little bit.

Think about mold growing on the INSIDE of the body of the tiles.

    Bookmark   March 21, 2010 at 11:15PM
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semi

Here's a good reason why not to use it!

This picture is of a bathroom in my 1920 home, it may be original tile. You can see the tiles have cracked and moisture has gotten into the tiles and discolored them.

As I prepare to redo this bathroom I laugh at how current it still looks! Subways, baseketweave floor. What is old is clearly new. That said, learn from this old mistake. No crackle in the bath! This isn't even in the shower or tub, rather on the bath walls.

    Bookmark   March 22, 2010 at 10:37AM
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bill_vincent

Semi-- thank you very much for posting that.

    Bookmark   March 22, 2010 at 9:10PM
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Beth_W_ix_netcom_com

To use the tiles from a almost 90 year old house as an example of whether or not to use crackle seems silly, as the tiles are made differently today, and I doubt they were sealed back then, and even if they did have sealer then, I'm sure it's made very differently today. Not to say crackle wouldn't have problems, but it's comparing apples and oranges, unless the tile was installed in the last 5-10 years and sealed. Good luck with your redo though.

    Bookmark   March 26, 2010 at 12:16PM
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bill_vincent

To use the tiles from a almost 90 year old house as an example of whether or not to use crackle seems silly, as the tiles are made differently today,

No they're not. Not crackle glaze.

As for the sealer, that has nothing to do with it. The problem is that sealer will not wear perfectly evenly across the whole tile surface. You'll have areas that will wear faster, whether due to abrasion (no matter how soft), or soap alkalis eating away at it, or whatever. Doesn't matter if it's one of the silicone sealers they used years ago, or the more modern solvent based sealers we use today. The problem would be exactly the same, so it IS apples to apples.

    Bookmark   March 26, 2010 at 4:26PM
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flseadog

Would there be a problem using a crackle glaze tile in a kitchen backsplash behind a sink? We have been looking for the right tile for nearly a year and finally decided on a crackle glaze tile. Now I'm worried that we need to find something else. Any thoughts are appreciated. Thanks.

    Bookmark   May 22, 2010 at 9:06PM
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bill_vincent

No problem at all. In fact, that' the umber one use for crackle glaze subway tile, is kitchen backsplashes.

    Bookmark   May 22, 2010 at 10:28PM
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flseadog

Thank you, Bill. Even on my messiest days at the sink I don't splash as much water at the kitchen sink as a tub surround could get. Nevertheless, after a year of searching for tile, coming across this potential glitch had my hair standing on end at the thought of having to start again. Your help is always invaluable.

    Bookmark   May 23, 2010 at 7:49PM
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shaughnn

Danger! Danger!!! Danger!!!!
To Brendog, regarding the Sonoma Tilemakers Stellar Crazed tiles. This is a type-o. The tile body is super-absorbant and needs to be soaked in WATER prior to installation to prevent the moisture from the setting mortar from being wicked out and arresting hydration. The tiles should be "saturated" with penetrating sealer for 5 minutes in preparation before grouting. Were you to soak these tiles in penetrating sealer, you would spend an insane amount of money on sealer and ruin the bond (as already explained by Bill Vincent). I've installed quite a bit of Sonoma Tilemakers stock and it's a beautiful material. I'll call them tomorrow and confirm that this is really the instruction that they want on their website.
Shaughnn

    Bookmark   May 25, 2010 at 12:19AM
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shaughnn

As a follow up to my post above, when installing a average-sized shower with Stellar ceramics, with just a normal glaze, I pre-soak my tiles in water and then allow them to drain before installing with thinset. 6 gallons of water easily absorbed by that tile. Were you to follow those instructions about pre-soaking in a penetrating sealer you could expect to spend about $500 extra.
Shaughnn

    Bookmark   May 25, 2010 at 12:32AM
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hapahaole76

I was told the same thing at our high end tile store... on the walker zanger crackle finish...not to use it in the shower. No other crackle finish tile companies have any comment on that issue but sounds like it's a no go in the shower area. Thanks for the reminder!

    Bookmark   May 25, 2010 at 1:52AM
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shaughnn

Wow! I am dumb-founded by this but, after checking with Dawn at Sonoma Tilemakers, I've confirmed that these REALLY are their instructions for installing their crazed product in a wet enviroment. BUT, even after spending hundreds of dollars on the extra sealer and paying even more hundreds of dollars to have someone soak and towel-polish these tiles to prevent streaking, you will STILL have to keep a regular maintenance schedule to re-seal them every 6 months or so!!!
I'll admit when I'm wrong, and I was wrong here. This manufacturer really does insist on a 5-minute soak in sealer for it's crazed tiles. Who would'a thunk?
So, it would appear to me that this precaution is solely intended to give the manufacturer some legal "cover" as it does not extend any more lasting protection than a thorough sealing prior to and following the application of grout.
Shaughnn

    Bookmark   May 26, 2010 at 2:28AM
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bill_vincent

So, it would appear to me that this precaution is solely intended to give the manufacturer some legal "cover" as it does not extend any more lasting protection than a thorough sealing prior to and following the application of grout.

Seems to me it'd go a long way toward weakening the bond from the thinset on the back of the tile, as well. But what do we know-- we're just dumb installers. :-)

    Bookmark   May 26, 2010 at 6:30AM
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