Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Eco-Friendly Tile for the Eco-Conscious

by Stephanie Duerden, Brand Experience Coordinator
Oceanside Glasstile, ASID Industry Partner

Ready to pair up with Mother Earth on your next home makeover? Recycled tile has gone above and beyond the grip of imagination. There is no longer a cookie cutter market for ceramic and porcelain tile (although the options are still available). Tile is now being created from a number of different resources. Consider the look you are going for and then consider the product that best fits your design:

Aluminum: A sustainable flooring option that's beginning to gain momentum is the use of recycled metal flooring tiles. Most often made of aluminum, these tiles are extremely durable, heat resistant up to 300F and don't hold fingerprint marks like stainless steel is prone to. The manufacturing process in creating these tiles is much the same as all other aluminum recycling. The metal is ground into small pieces then melted down and checked for impurities. Once the recycled material has been cleared, it's molded into large ingots, or castings, that are then flattened to the desired thickness. When made into flooring tiles, the finish doesn't have to be a shiny metallic. Depending on your styling tastes, you can also select tiles that have a matte or sandblasted finish.  Companies to consider: Natural Built Home, Eco Friendly Flooring, Elements of Green.

Glass: Glass is gorgeous to say the least. Its translucent nature and ability to provide an extensive color palette and multiple surface finishes make it a fit for just about anyone. Glass is also durable; it is one of the few materials that do not lose their strength or purity through recycling processes. Another wonderful quality of glass tile is that, in most cases, it is impervious and is acceptable for installation from floor to ceiling and everything in between. It also makes an exceptional pool project. Looking to add a bling in your house? Then glass is the way to go! Companies to consider: Oceanside Glasstile, Modwalls, Hakatai. . . there are many in the market, don’t be shy to do your research.

Bamboo: The environmental balance for bamboo is certainly positive due to the ways in which it is grown and harvested. Every year the parent bamboo plant develops new stems, so the stems can be harvested after 5 years in a mature plantation without decreasing the size of the forest. Bamboo is a very durable material; the hardness of the wood is deemed to be just a bit harder than American Oak. Thus, the floor can be sanded a number of times over the years with little wear. There is also the ability to choose a finish just like any wood, so the versatility of this material is another great attribute. Companies to consider: Moso-Bamboo, Cali-Bamboo, Kirei . . . this product is a little newer to the market so finding manufactures gets more tricky.

Cork: When cork comes to mind, durability seems questionable; however, it’s just the opposite. Cork is a very durable material that has a lot of give and holds heat very well. The tiles are waterproof and can be used in wet locations like bathrooms or around a swimming pool. Cork is a softer material, so some find it terrifying to see an impression left behind as they walk across the floor; however, like a sponge or foam, the cork returns to its original volume once pressure is removed. When it comes to design, the versatility is endless; you can maintain its natural coloring or add a dye element that provides opportunities for intricate detailing or full monochromatic fields.  Companies to consider: Habitus, Yemm & Hart Green Materials, Capri Cork