Sustainability is a hot topic nowadays; even people who ordinarily don’t care about recycling or composting can be heard bragging about their hybrid car, or solar powered cell phone charger. Having a sustainable mindset is akin to great design for many reasons: for businesses it’s smart to use less new material and reuse what they have, the quality of product is equal, if not better when it’s produced from recycled materials, manufacturers who save money on materials can often offer more creative styles and shapes of tile, and the environment benefits from less mining, deforestation and water wastage.
Tiles in particular are an item that most people don’t consider when designing sustainably. Unlike wood products which we know come from logging, tiles can be made from many natural, yet inert mineral materials. The mining of these materials can be harmful to the surrounding ecosystem, and often causes a lot of pollution during the refining processes. Using tile or any hard surface material that is made with some recycled content, limits that amount of destruction and emissions associated with your purchase. Tiles themselves are a great design tool as they come in a variety of colors, shapes and finishes, and can be used in a variety of areas such as: bathrooms and kitchens, dining rooms, as flooring throughout, around fireplaces, on stair risers, as a focal point on any wall, and for exterior use on patios, fountains and stairs.
When looking for sustainable tile, recycled content is a key component, but it’s also important to consider other factors. The distance that a tile has to travel from its origin to your door, and the fuels expended for the journey, take away from the benefits of using a recycled content product. It is important that you do a little research to make sure your tiles will be coming from a local source, as close as possible to your home.
You should also consider the materials used to make your tiles. Some hazardous products such as lead are still used in the manufacture of tiles, in the finishes or within the tile itself. Even if these toxins are trapped inside the tile while in your home, and do not pose a threat to you, they are hazardous to the environment and to human health both during their manufacture and when they need to be broken and removed by others.
In looking at recycled content tiles one great supplier, for those in the area, is Fireclay Tiles. They offer a wide range of tile shapes, materials (clay, brick and glass), sizes, finishes (gloss, matte, gloss with englobe and hand painted), colors (150 in their standard color line), and even custom shapes and colors on request. Their clay-based line of tiles uses over 70% recycled content, their glass tiles 100%, and their thin brick tiles are made from100% post-consumer reclaimed earth. All of the materials they use are also sourced from the locality of their factory in Northern California. And their glazes are lead free which protects both your family and the air quality for their workers.
Fireclay products are made to last generations with tile shapes and color palettes chosen to stay current, and they don’t need to be replaced along with the changing of trends. In general, it’s a good idea when choosing tiles, to think about how long you will live in your home and choose colors and shapes that reflect your present and future design plans. Adding tile is a long-term commitment and tile removal can be an involved process, that can cause damage to the walls beneath. Most tile suppliers offer free or reduced cost samples to homeowners and designers, so that they can check colors and finishes in every situation. Fireclay tile offers up to five free samples to give you an idea of the different colors, materials and finishes they have to offer. Please enjoy the tile gallery below.