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Towards a unified theory of tile. (Many pics)

Posted by Angie_DIY (My Page) on
Fri, Jun 8, 12 at 13:11

Okay, grandiose title for a thread. What I am actually trying to figure out is what are some of the "tells" (or markers) of upscale ceramic tile (useful to me as I try to select my backsplash). I have a few thoughts, but hope you can check my ideas and lend your own.

By the way, I am only talking about ceramic field tiles. I am not trying to cover glass or natural stone. I also am excluding trim, decos, and tiles that are meant to look like other substances (wood, natural stone, etc.).

What strikes me (a bit) odd is that the lowliest ceramic tile is the familiar, perfect, glossy, white 4.25"x4.25" tile, like this:

It is so perfect, what could be wrong with it? But perfection is boring… My theory is that a number of steps away from this "perfect" tile in several different dimensions results in a move upscale. (However, I believe too many steps away from this ideal starts to bring you back downmarket.)

The first dimension we will change is color. Colored tiles seem richer than white. Agree?

Another attribute is color uniformity (i.e., shade variation). For some reason, it seems that completely uniform tiles are at the base, and tiles with color variation are more desirable. Although I feel that way, too, this strikes me a bit funny. I imagine it stems from favoring handmade or vintage goods over machine-made or modern goods:

There is actually an ANSI standard for shade variation in ceramic tile, ranging from V0 (Very Uniform Appearance) to V4 (Substantial Variation). I think either V2 (Slight Variation) or V3 (Moderate Variation) looks the most rich.

Another dimension is sheen. This one does not seem as absolute to me, but matte or eggshell glazes seem like a move upmarket, other things being equal:

Closely related to the sheen is a crackled finish.

This does not appeal to me personally, but I think it looks richer than uncrackled.

Also, it seems to me that not just the shininess matters, but also how "wavy" the surface is. I have 1929 subways in my bathroom; they are quite glossy, but somewhat wavy, so reflections are not mirror-like. This also seems like a richer look to me. I think you can see what I mean in this picture of Circuspeanut's lovely tile (mid-construction shot):

This is closely related to uniformity of the tile's shape, i.e., hand-molded vs. machine molded. It seems to me that a little shape non-uniformity makes a tile look richer:

Of course, how much is "too much" is a matter of taste. These next two still seem on the correct side of tasteful to me, but getting near the edge of my comfort zone:

It seems to me that this is the dimension where it is easy to get to the wrong side of the curve, and go downmarket as you get more nonuniform, heading towards rustic and then on to sloppy.

Next, there is size and shape of the tile to be considered. Size is a tough one. I have opined elsewhere that smaller tile sizes look richer to me, as I think about the labor of installing them. However, I also understand that there is beauty and richness in larger tile formats, too.

Shape matters, I believe. It seems to me that many deviations from simple square or rectangular represent a move upmarket. Here is a nice harlequin pattern:

Bee's famous and lovely arabesque:

Fish scale:

You can also have multiple shapes in the same installation:

Perhaps the apotheosis of richly shaped tile is an installation with multiple custom shapes, such as this favorite of mine:

Of course, these dimensions interact and compete. A handmade, multiple-shaped, wavy tile with variegated matte colors and crackle finish may be unattractive. (Or, it just may set you back $140/sq. ft. at Ann Sacks! ;-) Obviously, context matters, too. You likely wouldn't want to install handmade tiles in an ultra-modern loft kitchen.

If you have made it this far, I would like to know your thoughts. What makes a tile look richer to you? What do you attribute that to? (I.e., do you agree with me that we may be reacting against machine-made goods?) Where is the best bang for one's buck in choosing "perfectly imperfect" tile?

Thanks! A_D.


Follow-Up Postings:

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RE: Towards a unified theory of tile. (Many pics)

Interesting topic. I'm not sure why I think certain tiles look richer. These are my 3 current obsessions, however at prices at or above $100 sq/ foot, they remain a dream. They are made of mixed materials and are water jet cut.

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Not a word people. I don't even want to hear how lovely any one of them might look with my counters.....shush.


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RE: Towards a unified theory of tile. (Many pics)

Bee - duct tape over my keyboard. my finger and mouth!


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RE: Towards a unified theory of tile. (Many pics)

When I was shopping for tiles, I noticed that in many cases, the pattern is obviously printed on the tile. One tile place explained that if the tile has a pattern, even just color variation (not crackle, but actually multiple colors) it's most likely only on the surface. But in some tiles, if you look closely you can actually see the little dots from the printing process, sometimes there is poor registration, and sometimes the pattern doesn't even make it all the way to the edge. So I think another thing that makes tile looks rich is if you can't tell that the image is printed on.


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RE: Towards a unified theory of tile. (Many pics)

Cliches look cheap. According to Wikipedia,

A cliche is an expression, idea, or element of an artistic work which has been overused to the point of losing its original meaning or effect

Plain 4 x 4's became a cliche several decades ago because they had been used everywhere. Worse, some of the deco details that used to tart them up fell out of fashion, leaving them the center of attention. And then they met the worst possible fate: All the original installations became old. And as we know, old is just another word for the dread "dated." And off we went, in search of something fresh.

I think that's part of it.

I'm struggling with this myself. I'd prefer 4x4s in my '20s kitchen. But I keep getting pushback saying, "It looks like a high school bathroom." Really old vintage tile seems to combine two qualities I have not yet been able to find: Variation in color with tight rectilinear edges. Today you can find plenty of handmade tile with beautifully variegated glazing, but the edges are usually quite wonky and require very thick grout lines.


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RE: Towards a unified theory of tile. (Many pics)

I have no answers for you...but thanks for posting the vintage bathroom tile :)

Bee- Why not start a new thread with those tiles and a picture of your countertop...so we can have a vote! LOL


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RE: Towards a unified theory of tile. (Many pics)

I just started this past week looking at tile, so this is VERY interesting to me. I consider myself to have an artist's eye, so, for me, I think that ULTIMATELY it is how the tile is used on the "canvas" within the room/setting that ultimately determines its beauty and richness. I think the 4.25x4.25 are GORGEOUS in the picture you posted. Aesthetically pleasing to the eye and they have their place in the whole picture and grand scheme. I think a beautiful tile like the ones bee posted, while pleasing to the eye as a stand alone piece, could easily be DISpleasing if surrounded on the canvas with contrasting colors, shapes, and textures.
As for viewing a tile simply on its own accord as what makes it rich vs "plain"-has to be the same 3 elements I posted before-color, shape and texture. A matte red square is less "rich" than an irridescent red arabesque. But a less rich tile can be made to be worth its weight in gold if it has a cast of supporting characters that bring out its best performance.


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RE: Towards a unified theory of tile. (Many pics)

Bahacca stated quite eloquently what it was that I felt, but couldn't put into words, as I looked at the very first picture. It's not the medium - it's the picture.


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RE: Towards a unified theory of tile. (Many pics)

Marcolo,

I thought Subway Ceramics was the tight rectilinaer purveyor (sounds offensive). That was why I used them in three of the baths that I tiled ... but I am not convinced anyone but me can tell.

I used 4" white sq in my pool bath to make it look like a high school lockerroom. I interspersed it with commercial depth markers. I think that tile was from home depot; it actually has a bit of waviness to it.


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RE: Towards a unified theory of tile. (Many pics)

Subway Ceramics has a very limited color palette. It's been a while since I saw them up close but I wasn't particularly struck with the depth or richness of the glazes. They were fine but not what I was looking for.

Rectified tile is still very much available. I just can't find it with the right variation in color.


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RE: Towards a unified theory of tile. (Many pics)

LL- shhhsh


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RE: Towards a unified theory of tile. (Many pics)

To think, you came within a few hundred dollars of having a perfect kitchen. Maybe just a little more, but still. Oh well.

Oops. Did I say that out loud?


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RE: Towards a unified theory of tile. (Many pics)

Our kitchen is all white, with white 4" tiles. I am a country girl and need colors from the earth. I looked at tiles for weeks and finally came to the conclusion that I do not like square and/or absolutely identical. I found this great tile at $22 sq/ft and thought it would be perfect if I just made a few accent tiles to go with it. Then I decided that I would just make all of our tiles - kind of a modified fish scale. I have not decided on their final color(s) but some of them are plain and some have leaves and flowers from around our yard. I have a few test tiles coming out of the kiln this weekend, I hope I have something that screams "pick me!"


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RE: Towards a unified theory of tile. (Many pics)

Really old vintage tile seems to combine two qualities I have not yet been able to find: Variation in color with tight rectilinear edges. Today you can find plenty of handmade tile with beautifully variegated glazing, but the edges are usually quite wonky and require very thick grout lines.

Ding ding ding! Exactly! This hit me like a ton of bricks a little while after I made this post. Making the post helped me get a lot of my thoughts together, so I went out shopping for tile. I stopped by our local bargain-basement builder's supply store, and they had nicely variegated 4x4 tiles in 5 colors for $1.17 per sq. ft!. However, the edges of the tiles are quite wavy. (Purposely, no doubt.)

I grabbed four of each color (total cost of $2.75) before heading to the tile stores. One was a Dal-Tile showroom, and the clerk basically scoffed/eyerolled at me when I asked if they had any with shade variations. ("Each tile is exactly the same as the others!") At the independent, upmarket place, they seemed to have either handmade with uneven edges or rectilinear with no color variation. (Not entirely sure, because I did not have an appointment.)

While driving home, I forcefully realized that what I wanted was what I came home to find that Marcolo had perfectly described. This is a picture of my actual bathroom.
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The clustering of like-colored tiles in the lower-right is unfortunate, but this is the amount of color variation I would like. But, I would also like the straight edges.

I began to speculate if this is an accident of time. Was it just that during that period (early 20th century?) we had figured out how to make rectilinear tiles, but had not yet mastered uniform glazing?

I will have to take another look at Pratt and Larson Craftsman matte. Pretty $pendy, if I remember correctly.


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RE: Towards a unified theory of tile. (Many pics)

Nicely put into words. I can tell what I like and don't like, but not always identify exactly why.

Bee posted two of my current favorite tiles, but they are way too upscale for the current house. I find myself building two kitchens, a significant reno of the current one based in current reality, and my dream kitchen for the unknown future house.


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RE: Towards a unified theory of tile. (Many pics)

Angie, I think it would be worth venturing onto the Baths forum and asking for Mongo or some other pro to dig through their memories for any tile like the one we're looking for. I think even Pratt and Larson has funky edges.

You can buy actual vintage tile, you know, if you have the patience and gumption.

Stunner bathroom, btw.


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RE: Towards a unified theory of tile. (Many pics)

Ooh Angie - your bathroom is lovely! What are you going for here?

Hilarious title by the way! "Towards a" usually means something similar to "Limits on..." like "Towards a global orbital solution for Neptune's ring arcs" and "Upper limits on the detectibility of Neptune's ring arcs." In other words, "we have no solution for Neptune's ring arcs but we have excluded some, and we think we know where Neptune's ring arcs are, because when we looked for them elsewhere, we didn't find them."


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RE: Towards a unified theory of tile. (Many pics)

Wow Angie_DIY! Great write-up! you need a blog ;-)

A couple of additional points:
- large expanses of the tile make it look more expensive.
- iridescent tile (?). I'm thinking of the 1X1 (or 2X2?) mosaic tiles that have a few iridescent ones interspersed.


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RE: Towards a unified theory of tile. (Many pics)

In addition to what marcolo said about things becoming so widespread that they are cliches, I think there is another element that may just be snobbery. Once something has been copied down market far enough, taste makers see it as available to people with less money, and they want something more "unique," which also means "expensive," and conveys the expense.


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RE: Towards a unified theory of tile. (Many pics)

LovesPurple: that sounds like quite the project. I am not that DIY!

Thanks, all for the kind words on my bathroom. There are many original touches in my house for which I am grateful, but the tilework is definitely one of them!

Dr. Beanie (who asked What are you going for here?), I am going for the look in this picture, which, ironically, was provided to me by pawa, who just posted in the meantime! I want this look, but without the tile countertops and with some variation in the shading of the tiles:

Also, I intend to run my 4x4 tiles in a brick pattern, which I arrived at with the help of GW in the thread linked below.

Here is a link that might be useful: Offbeat, vintagey backsplash thread.


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RE: Towards a unified theory of tile. (Many pics)

Oh, I see that you are restricting your discussion to ceramic field tiles! (I love the minutia we're getting into in this thread :-))

In that case...I guess if the field tile is matte, it will look more expensive if it is a clean, non-porours, non-wavy matte.


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RE: Towards a unified theory of tile. (Many pics)

> apotheosis of richly shaped tile

Only on Gardenweb! :-)

Seriously, great post. I agree with almost everything you said. That last pattern with the gentle curved grout lines is wonderful.

Laura


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RE: Towards a unified theory of tile. (Many pics)

Have you looked at Heath Ceramics? They definitely have variation in color, and I don't see waviness. Of course I've never priced them, so that could be a negative. Here are a couple pics from their web site:


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RE: Towards a unified theory of tile. (Many pics)

Mpagmom, the latter picture is one of my all time favorite backsplashes in kitchen! The first time I saw it I swooned and wore out my fingers banging the keyboard trying to find out more info. There is enough variation to engage a second/third/fourth look, but not enough to overwhelm!


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RE: Towards a unified theory of tile. (Many pics)

Bee,

Yes of course those tiles are things of beauty. But to me they look very urban and very formal, and also like something Id rather see in small doses, eg in a powder room.

I think your old tile is far superior. Your old tile is beautiful but also kind of hip, kind of dwell. It's the rendering of a fussy shape in such a simple material. And the beauty is in the dimensionality. It sort of Moroccan meets MCM, to me.

That said, I can understand if you don't want to repeat it, I am not sure I would. But I think you can find something better than those swirly sexpots above. Maybe even just the Anne Sacks glace ice (they are in Peacock's kitchen and I used them in a girls bath).

Marcolo - I think i was an early 1900s irish maid in an earlier life, I only like white bathrooms. So the Subway's lack of colorways was not an issue.


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RE: Towards a unified theory of tile. (Many pics)

Angie, I think we need to connect on our tile search, and put our heads together. You have way more energy and ingenuity than I, although I may have a hair more cash. Let's team up.


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RE: Towards a unified theory of tile. (Many pics)

LOL. I just reread this:

a hair more cash

I just meant because I haven't started my reno yet!


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RE: Towards a unified theory of tile. (Many pics)

Laura: LOL. Sheepishly, apotheosis was not the most recondite word I posted yesterday!.

mpag:Thanks! I will look into Heath tout de suite.

You have way more energy and ingenuity than I,

Not sure that is true, but flattery will get you everywhere, Marcolo ;^) Sure, putting our heads together sounds great. I did post in bathrooms, as you suggested. (I didn't have the temerity to call out Mongoct or Bill V. by name, although it seems that may be the custom there?) I'll certainly keep you posted on anything I find that looks promising.

Marcolo and everyone else: There are actually two kinds of color variation, if you think about it. How do you feel about tile-to-tile variation (with each tile being uniform) vs. intratile shade variation (as you get with hand-painted glazes)? I prefer having some of the latter, but I think I am okay with merely the former.


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RE: Towards a unified theory of tile. (Many pics)

I've struggled with this as well. We did a bath in our last house with Daltile 4 x 4's that were completely uniform in color, but we did our best to make it look like the original bath (1942 house) - the contrasting pencil liner and 2 x 6 bullnose, etc. Came out really well, although our fly-by-night contractor installed it with the most ridiculously thick grout lines:

For my current kitchen, I am looking for a 2 x 8 with similar features - I want some variation and a tight grout line. I'm currently leaning towards Fireclay tile...it seems like the best option for me.

You may want to check them out. Cheaper than Heath, which is just too $$$ for me.

Deb


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RE: Towards a unified theory of tile. (Many pics)

Youngdeb: Wellll, I think you nailed the look, color variation or no! It looks really great! It is exciting to see another 4.25x4.25 in a brick pattern, too. (Personally, I don't think your grout detracts from that installation. It is still nice, straight lines, i.e., does not look like an Arts and Crafts bath, for example.) Thank you for sharing it.

I will look at Fireclay, too. I had looked only briefly at them, but thought that they were likely too expensive. Will check it out, thanks.


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RE: Towards a unified theory of tile. (Many pics)

Deb-do you have any price point ideas on the Fireclay tile. I was going to stick to Daltile since I can get a discount, but that stuff is GORGEOUS!


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RE: Towards a unified theory of tile. (Many pics)

Website says to expect around $24/sqft. Not cheap, but it's also made here, not in china. So there's that.


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RE: Towards a unified theory of tile. (Many pics)

Definitely call around on the Fireclay. I got mine at Bluegrass Green in Louisville. The 2x6 subways were $20 sq ft. The local tile store was going to charge me $28 sq ft.

The store is awesome - maybe they can ship to you? :)


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RE: Towards a unified theory of tile. (Many pics)

I'm in CA, so I'd find it anti-enviro if I had them ship tile made in CA from CA to KY to CA!LOL I'll need to go to a showroom and see it in person before I decide I want to spend that much more than my connection at Daltile. If the colors at Daltile are just WRONG, I'll look elsewhere, though. I'll keep them in mind for bathrooms, definately. And I haven't even MEASURED my backsplash to see how much this would set me back. I have like $400 left in my original budget for stools, lighting AND backsplash. Fortunately I found stools at IKEA and lighting at IKEA that I really like! May save my butt from going too much over budget!


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RE: Towards a unified theory of tile. (Many pics)

Well - they can actually have the company ship directly. I just meant that they could do the ordering if their prices were the best. :) But, since you're in the area, I hope you can find even better prices!

Good luck - picking the right tile can be frustrating. I went through about 6 choices over a year. But you'll know when you see the one you love!


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RE: Towards a unified theory of tile. (Many pics)

Hey, everyone: How about Vermeere (from Complete Tile Collection, http://www.completetile.com). Does anyone have experience with them?

From their website, they indicate that they have two lines of tile body: one flat (square), and one handmade ( a bit wonky). Both lines are hand-painted. This sounds like what I was looking for! Here is how they describe it:


Produced in one of the finest ceramic factories in the world, the Vermeere Collection is noted for its soft, subtle colors. All of the ceramic glazes are sprayed by hand, which produces slight color variation on the surface of the tile and gentle pooling on the edges.

The clay body is available in Manhattan Series (for a flat yet crafted look) and Hand Made (for a more traditional look). All colors are available in a wide array of sizes, shapes, mosaic, molding, deco panels and trim. The Vermeere Ceramics Collection is available in 316 elegant colors.

They estimated $13/sq. ft. for these. (Well, $13 "net trade cost" -- what exactly does this mean for me?) This is quite a bit less than the numbers I was getting for Heath, Fireclay, Pratt and Larson, Walker Zanger, etc. Anyone have experience with them?
Thanks! A_D


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RE: Towards a unified theory of tile. (Many pics)

Oh my word. I just looked at the pics of the showroom. I WANT TO GO TO THERE!


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RE: Towards a unified theory of tile. (Many pics)

I've been keeping my eyes on the middle tile that Bee had posted. (Bee--where is that first one from?) I think that a backsplash needs to draw you in -- for me it usually means marble or glass. Tami


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RE: Towards a unified theory of tile. (Many pics)

Glad you've discovered the Vermeere tiles. I've been admiring them online and was going to post about them but you already have, so that's great. They do look beautiful and have the qualities I've been looking for, too. I have a little 1947 cape cottage and need tile for both my bathroom and kitchen; I want to go with something in keeping with the house vintage. I spoke with a sales person named Graham this morning and he let me know they provide one Vermeere tile sample for free; additional tiles are $5, which is alright. They have quite a range of greens, Angie, that might work nicely for your backsplash.

This is a great thread; thanks everyone for posting. I'm in school and it's finals week so I'm pretty busy and being judicious about how I spend my break time. Yesterday evening reading this thread beat out sitting on my front steps and eating a chocolate Haagen-Daz bar.


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RE: Towards a unified theory of tile. (Many pics)

A possibility, but to me the color variation isn't that wide. Worth a few samples, perhaps.


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RE: Towards a unified theory of tile. (Many pics)

You might also contact B&W tile which claims to reproduce tile from the '20s to the '50s. Bad website, so you can't see the colors. If you look closely, you'll see they also make patterned deco liners like the ones in your bath.

Mission Tile West also has a revival classics line, and their colors seem to vary. They give no info online regarding allowable grout lines, though, so you'd have to email or call.


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RE: Towards a unified theory of tile. (Many pics)

At a different point in the spectrum from proper variation is

Fully rectified edges.

For me, the availability of any appropriate trim piece I can think of for the installation. I am kind of annoyed that there isn't a standard 3x3 with a bullnose edge offered with most 3x6 because fully half of the end tiles in a running bond are going to be 3x3 and I Hate looking at that cut edge on the inner grout joint.

You couldn't give me $300 a sq. tile if it didn't have trim pieces that would work for how I wanted to use it.

Last,-- apropos of both nothing and everything in this discussion-- is suitability. Some houses are just 4x4 tile houses. If the house doesn't have other $150 per whatever finishes, that one pricey finish is likely to make everything else look a bit cheaper, and neither will benefit from the other. There are exceptions to this of course, but Phila is a tile crazy city and I have seen some pretty ordinary real estate with some pretty price tile installations and when the rest of the house doesn't measure up it just looks kind of ostentatious or something.


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RE: Towards a unified theory of tile. (Many pics)

OMG..............BEE....................I didn't say a word, just picking my self back up and trying to locate a pulse......................WOWSERS...............!!!


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Just want to add a thought ...

I just discovered this very interesting, slightly older thread and just wanted to add a thought to Angie's original "theory"--if you don't mind me resurrecting an old topic. Angie's thoughts on what makes a tile look "upscale", and wanting variation in the glaze color, but with a perfectly rectilinear shape reminded me of something I learned about determining what makes a valuable piece of American Indian hand-painted pottery:

Years ago, my husband bought a hand-painted pot from an older American Indian woman in Taos, New Mexico. My hubby thought that it looked very authentic, and not made in some souvenir factory, because the lines were not painted quite perfectly straight or with an even thickness, and the design wasn't quite perfect around the pot,and the pot itself wasn't quite perfectly symmetrical, etc. However, when he later proudly showed that pot to his brother, who happens to be an avid collector of Indian artifacts, he learned that his pot was not a good or valuable example of Indian pottery after all! In fact, what makes Indian pottery so special and sought after in the first place, he explained, is the (usually) high level of precision and craftsmanship shown by perfectly painted lines and designs, and the perfectly symmetrical overall shape of the piece, etc.

Ever since then, I have had a better understanding of what good, handmade craftsmanship should entail. And some of the very wavy edges of machine made tiles, designed to look "handcrafted", now just look like "sloppy craftsmanship" or "fake handmade" to me! There is a diference between handmade by a good craftsman, and handmade by a poor or inexperienced craftsman!

By the way--another thought--one kind of tile that definitely says "downscale" imho is fake stone tile--especially on a backsplash, since it is viewed, of course, up close and at eye level, where you can really get a good look at it. As one poster above commented--sometimes you can even see the pixels from the "photo" engraving (or whatever they call it in the tile world). Some fakes are better than others of course... and if I can't find a tile or natural stone that is just the right color, I may resort to checking out the myriads of "stone-look" ceramic tiles out there!
Just thought I'd share my 2 cents, fwiw.


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RE: Towards a unified theory of tile. (Many pics)

Just one small data point: I did contact B&W, but there colors are not variegated. (There are three exceptions: You can get "kiwi" and "root beer" variegated, and "cobalt" slightly variegated.)

They also sell bisque (unglazed) tiles for about $5/sq. ft. I could glaze them myself and be SURE to have color variations!

Fun2learn: I agree, wavy edges on machine-made tile screams "FAKE" to me now.


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RE: Towards a unified theory of tile. (Many pics)

Here are my samples of the Vermeere tiles by Complete Tile Collection, which run about $13/sq. ft. I am favorably impressed with them.

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And again in different lighting (and slightly different order, sorry):
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The edges are straight and look like they could withstand a pretty tight grout line. Maybe 1/16" but I think that would be pushing it. Probably settle for 1/8" if I go with these. They are available in many sizes, including the 4.25x4.25 that I want.

The color variation has not been ANSI-rated, but my contact there estimates about a V2 for the glazes I am interested in. They have so many glazes available that I am somewhat tempted to try to "roll my own" by ordering, say, 1/3 each of 3 different glazes. I don't think I trust my eye enough on the tones to do that, though, and then there is the knotty problem of distributing them quasi-randomly.

Any thoughts? Which color do like?


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RE: Towards a unified theory of tile. (Many pics)

Thought if might be helpful for folks to see your whole kitchen and put the tile options in the larger context of the colors and textures you've selected so far. Plus give us all a chance to admire your kitchen again. :~)

My first take is that the white tile is too white, and if it where up to me I probably would eliminate that one. I think it's lovely on its own, but the lack of color stands out. So is seems it does not play well with your warm/colorful wall, floor, cabinet and stained glass elements.

Not sure about the rest. I'm really surprised at the hue differences between the tiles in natural light versus artificial (undercabinet?) light. Need to ponder some more...


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RE: Towards a unified theory of tile. (Many pics)

Finally came up with tiles that we both like, and that look really nice with our green soapstone and cherry cabinets. I made each one myself. We wanted something special that would compliment the new kitchen and reflect our personalities. It will be a few weeks before I can get them up on the wall, but here is what they look like.


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RE: Towards a unified theory of tile. (Many pics)

Holy Moley, Loves, you made those? Awesome!

Angie, I can't tell colors from those pix. Everything looks so different from one to the other.

Did you try Mission Tile West? The color varies on each tile, deeper around the perimeter, and the edges are very straight.

The Vermeeres are very nice too but I don't think the thickness will work with the deco liners I want.


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RE: Towards a unified theory of tile. (Many pics)

Let me just second that Holy Moley on LovesPurple's tiles! Those are amazing!


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RE: Towards a unified theory of tile. (Many pics)

You made those? Beautiful! Love the fir needles and blue flower ones especially. Such talent...


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RE: Towards a unified theory of tile. (Many pics)

marcolo, cawaps & deedles - thanks so much! They have been a lot of fun to make. I pressed leaves and flowers from our yard into the tan ones. And, no, that is not a real butterfly that gave it's life for my tile! I used a 6" end cap (air duct) for the cutter - really not that hard. I just bought a used (and cheap) kiln in May and started throwing clay around. Have been "practicing" by making square ones like this one.

If you are having a hard time finding the perfect tile, you can buy bisque tiles and glaze (color) them yourself! There are ceramics shops all over that will fire them for you....just sayin'.


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RE: Towards a unified theory of tile. (Many pics)

Bee---I think these would look TERRIBLE with your counters. Mine, however, would look spectacular with them. ;-)...... Where do you find these works of art??


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RE: Towards a unified theory of tile. (Many pics)

Bee---I think these would look TERRIBLE with your counters. Mine, however, would look spectacular with them. ;-)...... Where do you find these works of art??


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RE: Towards a unified theory of tile. (Many pics)

BeekeepersWife - I recently (duh, since I am in the middle of a remodel) saw those white/black/gray tiles you love up close, and in person, at a place called Stones Unlimited here in the San Diego area. They absolutely take your breath away! Actually, their entire showroom is like nothing you have ever seen..... I just don't remember that tile being $100 sq ft. - seems it was much lower than that.

Floor & Decor also has a huge selection of that type of tile. They have a pretty incredible showroom also...and their prices are good.

Here is a link that might be useful: Floor&Decor


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RE: Towards a unified theory of tile. (Many pics)

Angie - I love this thread. I had to look up recondite. My definition of a good thread is one in which I have to look up at least one word. Downscale, I know....

So much fascinating thinking going on here; I've nothing to add except (1) I agree context matters hugely to that certain je ne sais pas about what works, and (2) some practical shouting-out. Mission Tile West is my "local" store (actually, one of its outlets is, but a good friend of some 20 years ago used to live literally next door to the real store itself and that's how I learned of it.) While I imagine everyone's good there, I have to say Chris C just walks-on-water for me. He's also nice, definitely no way-no how of royalty, knowledgeable and not at all snobby (and my tolerance for pretentiousness happens to be zilch) -- I can't say enough good things about this guy. I highly recommend just phoning him: 310-434-9697x112 You're welcome to say 'it's that person who loves Gardenweb', though I don't think it will matter much. I'm sure he does his best with everyone regardless.


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RE: Towards a unified theory of tile. (Many pics)

Amazing thread. Loved your photo examples to go with your text. It made this topic more cohesive in my mind. I read about a third, will ponder it and read some more tomorrow. As you may know, I am in the "everything but back splash" camp. That white primed wall stares me down every time I wash dishes. Here's hoping to inspiration. Or at least a decision.


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RE: Towards a unified theory of tile. (Many pics)

At long last, I have sample tiles in hand from Mission Tile West. There is a lot to like about them, and a couple of cons. The person I spoke to told me that they are machine made, but the glaze is hand-sprayed. This will generally lead to the color variations I desire, but allow a tight grout line. Here is an overview of the three colors I ordered samples of. (These are 2"x4", but I am interested in 4.25x4.25.)
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The edges are very straight. (I only now see that Marcolo already said this above.) This is the most demanding arrangement I could think of to show the straightness and rectitude of the edges. (That odd background pattern is my cutting board.)
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Note that there is "pooling" in the glaze, where the edges are darker than the center of the tile. There is likely tile-to-tile variation, too, although they have not been ANSI rated for variation.

So, I claim these tiles meet my criteria, but they do have two downsides. First, they are moderately spendy, at about $20/sq. ft. Second, they do not have a very extensive color selection to offer. Here is their selection; the tiles in the pictures above are green wash, olive, and blue wash. I suppose one of them would work, but am not yet convinced.
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RE: Towards a unified theory of tile. (Many pics)

Angie - I have been enjoying this thread as I too am looking for a tile with good glaze variation and straight edges. What did you think of the Vermeere tiles?


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RE: Towards a unified theory of tile. (Many pics)

So many lovely tiles!
When I was looking, Heath tiles were so beautiful and I just loved the feel of them! I could never get the right color but if I lived in ca, I am betting that I would have been successful. They do run ~$30 per sq foot!

I wanted to go local- so went to Motowi and drooled at the tiles. Them my eyes popped at the prices-over $100 per sq foot! Fortunately, I could not get these tiles to talk to my kitchen either!

I did end up ordering tile from California. When I started- I didn't want white/cream subway tiles as I didn't want grout lines. I also didn't want crackle tile...

Fast forward a couple of months and guess what talked to my kitchen. Not quite subway but 5x5 cream cracke tiles...

Sometimes you have to listen to your kitchen!

Note the accent tiles will be just over the cooktop but the accent band does go all the way around the kitchen.

Gracia rixi crema - they also make tiles with more variation.

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RE: Towards a unified theory of tile. (Many pics)

This is such a wonderful thread and discusses exactly what I'm hoping to achieve, but could not really put into words.
A few of you have opined on my prior posts about backsplash. Well, I'm still stuck.

I'm thinking a white or gray/greige glossy hand-made type of tile. I prefer an interesting shape (DH nixed the lantern shape like Bee's).

Before I say too much - can any of you tell me what you think my kitchen is asking for? there are some tiles in the background, most have been eliminated.

Thanks again GWers.


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RE: Towards a unified theory of tile. (Many pics)

DMckee,

I did not trawl the seas and traipse the continent in search of the perfect subway, but I did look at three or four NYC metro tile places. I liked Subway Ceramics the best, as to me they seemed the truest and flattest. I did look at actual vintage NY subway tile, but could not find enough (I made three of 3 of the full bathrooms white subway).

I do think you need to see a sample board.

As per your request, here is a photo of DH's bathroom. It is a wet room so floor to ceiling tile on 3 of 4 walls. I don't have photos of the 2 other baths where we used Subway Ceramics. Personally, I like them. But I think very few people would notice the differences between subways, other than those designed to look handmade. Note, as you've no doubt heard, the smaller the groutlines the better.

 photo file-6.jpg


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RE: Towards a unified theory of tile. (Many pics)

It has been so long I almost forgot that I promised to post the final pictures of the tile. We are getting close to finishing the kitchen remodel and I will post all the before and after pictures once we finish. We need to get the outlets switched out for brown ones, and I need to finish the switch plates......wow, this has taken twice as long as we expected.


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RE: Towards a unified theory of tile. (Many pics)

Wow!


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RE: Towards a unified theory of tile. (Many pics)

I chanced upon this interesting thread quite late in its run. I love your tiles lovespurple--the sheen, the variation and depth of color and the sense of movement. I tend to focus on size and shape first. I tend not to like square tiles (though my bathrooms are all white square tiles) because they lack the sense of movement (and gentle curves) that so appeal to me. 4x4s placed on the diagonal, however, do create a sense of movement. The Ann Sacks tile you picked Bee, create the movement I so love, though they are quite pricey.

I am drawn to pearlized or iridescent tiles as the light plays on them and creates subtle variation and depth, matte and gloss. But after very prolonged study (all but backsplash four years later), I find I dislike mosaic which is the most common pearlized size as I find it too choppy and small compared to cabinet and counter expanses. What I love now is Ann Sacks 6x9 Haiku in iridized white. I don't know how to post a picture of it.


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RE: Towards a unified theory of tile. (Many pics)

I chanced upon this interesting thread quite late in its run. I love your tiles lovespurple--the sheen, the variation and depth of color and the sense of movement. I tend to focus on size and shape first. I tend not to like square tiles (though my bathrooms are all white square tiles) because they lack the sense of movement (and gentle curves) that so appeal to me. 4x4s placed on the diagonal, however, do create a sense of movement. The Ann Sacks tile you picked Bee, create the movement I so love, though they are quite pricey.

I am drawn to pearlized or iridescent tiles as the light plays on them and creates subtle variation and depth, matte and gloss. But after very prolonged study (all but backsplash four years later), I find I dislike mosaic which is the most common pearlized size as I find it too choppy and small compared to cabinet and counter expanses. What I love now is Ann Sacks 6x9 Haiku in iridized white. I don't know how to post a picture of it.


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RE: Towards a unified theory of tile. (Many pics)

LovesPurple, that is amazing! I cannot believe you made those $37-per-sq-foot-tiles by yourself!! That is fantastic!

I priced out a kiln to glaze my own bisque tiles, but got discouraged by the large number of batches I would have had to have baked to cover 33 sq. ft. I had forgotten you suggested that I could find a ceramic shop to do the actual firing. Any suggestions on what to look for? I am not even sure how to go about finding one.


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RE: Towards a unified theory of tile. (Many pics)

Thanks everybody, I am glad you like the tiles.

Angie_DIY - Here is a close-up of the tiles. The ones that are shiny with the leaves in them are actually glass. I have been having LOADS of fun with the little kiln I got and have been trying all kinds of interesting things. You can get bisque tiles from someplace like New Mexico Clay (nmclay.com) pretty cheap. You probably have a potters guild or ceramic supply around you. Call them and ask if they know of anyone who can fire your tiles. Most ceramics shops (not those ones in the mall) have classes, rent studio space, and will file your stuff. You need to find out what cone they fire to and use a glaze for that temperature. My tiles were all done with an 06 glaze, and I fired them to 06. Cone 06 is different than cone 6 - confused me at first! I have always found that the ceramic supply places are really good about helping you match the correct clay/bisque with the correct glazes. So just find out what cone the person firing your tiles fires to, and then get the bisque and glaze for the same cone. Let me know if you need help. :)


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RE: Towards a unified theory of tile. (Many pics)

LovesPurple-I love the tile you made for your backsplash. It is beautiful and unique. I can't wait for your full ''reveal''.

And Angie-I know that whatever you end up doing/making will be lovely as well. Just keep us all in the loop, please.


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RE: Towards a unified theory of tile. (Many pics)

Leela and Purple, thanks for the encouragement. Don't worry, you will be the first to know!! I was looking at bisque (unglazed) tiles, glaze colors, and local ceramic shops today! Maybe Purple will have inspired me!


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RE: Towards a unified theory of tile. (Many pics)

Leela4-Thanks!

Angie_DIY- Careful, it is addictive! :) But, the cool part is you can make switchplates to match! Here is the one I have done. This glaze has sparkly copper and blotches of teal/green. The brown leaves on the bottom trim tiles has the same sparkly copper. You can get the bisque switchplates at the same places you can get the glazes and tiles! Here is another tip: For the tiles I had to custom fit, like around the outlets and along the edges, I trimmed them to size before I glazed them. And you don't need a tile saw, I just used my dremel or hacksaw depending on what I was cutting. Then I just used my glass grinder to smooth it and make fine adjustments (you can also use a dremel for that).


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RE: Towards a unified theory of tile. (Many pics)

LovesPurple, holy carp, your tiles are amazing! I once considered getting my own kiln, back when I was interested in silver clay jewelry, but that hobby phase has passed. I would love to experiment with switchplates. I really miss the creative process and joy of discovery.


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RE: Towards a unified theory of tile. (Many pics)

Another "Holy Carp"

I vaguely recall reading this thread last summer. Catching up on LovesPurple loveliness is so awesome! Great job! Thanks for my big smile for the day.

Angie_DIY - Can I be more like you when I grow up? You have some mad skills sister!


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RE: Towards a unified theory of tile. (Many pics)

Oh, looking at a real estate listing enthralled me! Check out this tile!


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RE: Towards a unified theory of tile. (Many pics)

Angie_DIY - That tile looks really "old school"! But, I think the wallpaper totally trashes the tile.

In case anyone is keeping track, I now own 4 kilns. I have promised my husband I will reduce it to 2! :) Anyone want a cheap kiln to make their own tile?

We are almost done with the kitchen. I have never been so relieved to start painting a kitchen in my life! Wow, we have worked on this a whole year. The worst part of the whole project is behind us - grinding down the concrete so we can put down the bamboo flooring. Here is a tip. If you take tile off of concrete, which is messy enough, you will also need to use a grinder to make the floor completely flat again. In hindsight we should have done it when we pulled up the tile. Anyway, I found that wrapping my cabinets in that plastic they use to wrap pallets with (comes in a roll) keeps the dust from sucking in through the cracks and getting all over the dishes and silverware.


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RE: Towards a unified theory of tile. (Many pics)

Lovespurple: The tile backsplash looks awesome! I love that it's unique... just think, only YOU have that!
What is your cab wood, BTW?


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RE: Towards a unified theory of tile. (Many pics)

deedles - our cabinets are cherry. We just have clear coats on them, and the deep richness of the cherry is starting to mature. We made the cabinets, but got all the doors and drawer fronts from Scherr's Cabinets and Doors. Love those guys! They are super easy to work with, everything has arrived perfect, and the prices are incredible. We got their lowest grade Cherry and ordered the doors as we finished sections of the kitchen. After you get above a certain amount they toss in a 25% discount!


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RE: Towards a unified theory of tile. (Many pics)

So, what did Angie end up choosing for her tile??? And thanks for all this great information!


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RE: Towards a unified theory of tile. (Many pics)

Alas and alack, I am still stalled on my choice.... Thanks for asking!


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