Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Decorative Tiles Make Great Heart-Felt Gifts

Decorative tiles make unusual and distinctive gifts. Mix or match from several designs in each line and create a coaster set with 4"x4" tiles. Use larger tiles as trivets, like 6"x6". Just add felt or cork protectors to the back of each tile.

Some tiles also look great framed or can act as stand-alone object d'art in a kitchen or garden.

This hand-glazed bird-themed tile by Eartha is a great choice for a thoughtful gift. It even comes with a built-in niche for easy hanging.

Eartha Bird Next to Egg 8x8

Friday, December 5, 2008

A Green Product: Cement Tiles

There is a big push to use "Green Building Products" and cement tiles are a product that is definitely "green." Although there is no signle universal authority that provides the "green" stamp of approval; cement tiles can be classified as green because:

  • Cement tiles are hand-made and are not kiln-fired like traditional ceramic tiles. There is very little energy used in the manufacturing process other than human energy.
  • Since they are not kiln-fired there is no combustion of fossil fuels and no green house gases are produced.
  • Cement tiles, like most cementitious products, is made of commonly found, natural occurring compounds like limestone, certain clay minerals, and gypsum. These hydraulic cement products are plentiful and not considered "harsh chemicals" that can damage the environment.
  • Since each tile is handmade, a large labor force is required distributing wealth among a large group of families in developing countries.

Consider cement tiles for the durability, and exquisite design possibilities; but, don't forget they are green product!

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

A New Trend: Cement Tiles

Encaustic tiles or cement tiles are a new and growing trend among architects and interior designers in the United States. Encaustic or cement tiles are commonly referred to as cement tile, encaustic tile, french cement tile, spanish cement tile, mosaico hidraulico, mosaiaco, and carreaux ciment. The 1960's construction boom in the USA and Western Europe demanded economical buildings materials that brought an end to the common use of this product in both residential and commercial application. Fortunately, a recent resurgence has occurred to force construction companies, architects and interior designers to consider encaustic tiles as a beautiful, durable flooring alternative. Encaustic cement tile can be customized using new molds, custom colors and by modifying the colors that are used in an existing pattern. Cement tile offers the widest range of design possibilities in both color choice and patterns of any flooring. It is extremely durable and easy to maintain.

Cement tiles are manufactured using methods similar to those used by the Arabs over ten centuries ago. Today however, cement tiles use a manufacturing process that allows them to be mass-produced. This groundbreaking technique was developed and refined in the late 19th century and eliminated the need for firing to harden the tiles. The new technique uses a hydraulic press and mold to apply the different colors of the pattern. Tiles created using the new method are hydraulic tiles. No firing is required and the tiles simply dry and cure for a few weeks after pressing. This process is similar to concrete that is poured in place. Cement tiles popularity grew because of this new "single-step" process. Traditional methods required separate color applications and repeated firings. The original process was an extremely labor and time-consuming one.

Hydraulic tiles are about 1" thick and generally consist of three layers. Each layer plays an important function in the durability and design of the tile. As you might guess, cement tiles are made of cement, sand, powdered marble and mineral pigments.

  1. The top layer measures about 1/8" thick. It consists of a mixture of white Portland cement, marble powder, fine sand and mineral base pigments. This surface is the decorative pattern you see. For each color that is required, blended pigments are placed in the corresponding section of a mold.
  2. The second layer, or middle layer, is about the same thickness as the top layer. It's made of a mixture of grey Portland cement and fine sand. The middle layer functions to absorb excess water from the top layer.
  3. The third layer is approximately ¾" thick and is a of a mixture of grey Portland cement, regular cement, sand and limestone powder. It is porous and made it easy for the tiles to adhere to the floor during installation.

Cement tiles come in a multitude of designs and existing patterns are plentiful. Typical patterns use geometrical shapes and stylized floral patterns. The most common designs used on cement tile flooring patterns are similar to a rug or carpet. The "carpet" consists of a central panel that is repeated pattern framed with a border. Usually a plain or solid color field tile is used to "fill-in" the remaining shape of the floor in a subtle, complementary color. Color choices in both the pattern and field tiles are unlimited. Most manufacturers have a stand pallet ranging from 25 – 50 colors and custom colors are usually available. The most typical or common size is 8" x 8"; but, hexagons and smaller or larger squares are readily available.

Because it is a green product, very durable and available in almost limitless colors and patterns, it's easy to understand why cement encaustic tiles are a new trend. One that will last!

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Make a Bold Statement with Hand Painted Tiles

Tiling an entire wall with decorative tiles or "deco tiles" makes a bold statement and creates a stunning, eye-catching look. Don't be afraid to use bright, decorative tiles with intricate designs and patterns in a small space to fashion a strong statement that defines character and beauty. The Barcelona tiles used here create an authentic and undeniable Mediterranean feel.

Here are a few tips to make it work:

  1. Use larger tiles with smaller tiles and trim to create an interesting border. Look at the backsplash (first slide). Notice how well the smaller La Merced 3"x3" tiles coordinate with the La Merced 6"x6". What helps tie it all together is the use of a molding and accent liner that complement the color scheme. It also add uniqueness that you can only achieve with hand-painted tile. Here the hand-painted Yucatan Cobalt trim provides a nice contrast and well-defined edge that frames the subject.
  2. Use different sizes of tile with the same pattern to create flow between adjoining spaces. Notice how effortlessly the "quarter design" tiles in the shower blend with the "complete pattern" used in the rest of the bath (last slide). The shower tiles have more "negative space" and this creates a nice contrast; but the overall style is maintained by the use of a consistent pattern in all of the tiles.

So don't be shy, make a bold statement and use hand-painted decorative tiles—even in a small space! Avente's hand-painted Barcelona collection creates a Mediterranean feel and includes large 6"x6" deco's in "complete" and "quarter" designs. Smaller 3"x3" tiles are available as well as borders and corners that work great as trim because they come with a glazed edge.

Monday, October 13, 2008

Less is More

Sometimes, less is more. Consider using just a few decorative tiles if you are on a budget or timid with bold designs.

Spanish Cadiz Medallion

Decorative tiles, grouped together in a square or diamond, create an eye-catching medallion, as shown in this application that uses only four 6" x 6" tiles framed with an accent strip. The medallion focal point draws attention to a large back splash area like that commonly found behind a sink or stove. For more decorative appeal, use a coordinating 3" x 6" border tile, as shown in the image above.

You can incorporate the customized, hand-painted look of decorative tile without breaking the bank because less can be more with hand-painted decorative tiles. Our extensive collection of simple yet elegant hand-painted tile ranges from modest to luxurious. This Cadiz pattern, inspired by centuries-old Spanish tile designs, is expertly hand painted and includes borders, corners, large decorative tiles and accent dots.

Thursday, September 25, 2008

Tile (talk), travel, art, and design . . .

This blog is all about Tile Talk. But, here's a little bit about me, why I love tile and want to talk about it.

I like many things in life; but people and the uniqueness of their culture and art fascinate me. The more I travel, the more I want to travel more. See more, experience more, and understand more. Travel lets us experience culture, find what is common, and understand what is unique. Design is finding an aesthetic that provides a balance between purpose, productivity, and prettiness. We are all different and yet we are alike in our needs: food, shelter, loved, wanted and needed. I think that is why I love tile. It has history, it has culture, and it is a creative object d'art for its creator, installer, designer and owner. It is design at its best providing form and function, practical and durable.

This blog is all about tile talk. I want to share the joy of the experience of tile. It is more than a piece of fired clay. Tile is history, culture, art, and it is design. We'll travel to see how it is made, used, and enjoyed. Design at its best: both form and function.

Thursday, September 11, 2008

Welcome to the Avente Tile Talk Blog!

We love tile so much we just can't stop talking about it!

Hand Painted Tile

Enjoy tile? Come on then, join us for the experience, the history, beauty, design and culture of tile. We'll share great design ideas, stunning installation photos, show you how to use tile, and occasionally travel to great destinations where hand crafted tile is made.

Join us as we share the experience of tile!