Launch Slideshow

Finding New Life

11 recycled-content tiles

Finding New Life

11 recycled-content tiles

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    Stardust Glass. These glass mosaic tiles are handcrafted from reject windows and doors from a local factory, bumping the recycled content to 97%. The tiles are kiln-fired, which reduces energy costs, says the company. Available in a variety of shapes and sizes, the products are made to order and come in 36 colors. 503.928.3076. www.stardustglasstile.com.

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    Walker Zanger. The Skyline collection includes a variety of glass field tiles and mosaic tiles with linear geometric designs made from 20% post-consumer recycled glass, the company says. The tiles are available in gloss and matte finishes as well as the company’s new Metro Finish. The producer recommends the tile for modern as well as transitional kitchen and bathroom styles. Sizes range from 8-inch-by-10-inch field tiles to a ½-inch-by-1-foot style; they come in a variety of solid and blended colors. 818.252.4000. www.walkerzanger.com.

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    Daltile. San Michele glazed porcelain tile contains more than 50% pre-consumer recycled content and features an antimicrobial protection layer within the glaze. Ideal for floors, walls, countertops, and backsplashes, the tile incorporates a new graphic technology to make travertine veins and clefts look rich, realistic, and distinctive. It comes in a 2-inch-by-4-inch mosaic size as well as a variety of larger cuts from 12 inches to 24 inches. 214.398.1411. www.daltile.com.

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    EcoDomo. Made from leather luxury car seat scraps, Rainforest leather tiles contain 60% pre-consumer recycled content and snap together to create re-usable designs without glue. The 15-inch-by-15-inch tiles, available in 12 colors and three textures, have a resistance equivalent to cork or linoleum, says the company. 301.424.7717. www.ecodomo.com.

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    Fireclay Tile. The Debris series is a ceramic tile made from local factory dust and California clay, giving it a recycled content of more than 60%, says the firm. The series features 112 glaze colors and is available in sizes ranging from 1 inch by 2 inches to 12 inches by 12 inches. 408.275.1182. www.fireclaytile.com.

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    Trikeenan. Reclamation Tile is a ceramic product made from 20% recycled clay and 100% post-industrial glaze waste from a factory that reclaims all glaze leftovers, the company says. Available in 16 sizes, the tile comes in 3-inch-by-3-inch to 9-inch-by-12-inch sizes, 6-inch hexagons, and the classic Ebb and Flow shape. The tiles are 3/8 inch thick and are available in 12 colors. Custom colors are available upon request. 603.355.2961. www.trikeenan.com.

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    Habitus. Made from wine bottle cork stoppers collected from factories in Spain and Portugal, Cork Mosaic tiles are mounted the same as standard glass or ceramic tiles, and their waterproof quality makes them ideal for bathrooms and kitchens, says the firm. The cork chips come in two sizes: 1-inch diameter on a 12-inch-by-24-inch sheet, and 1?3/8-inch diameter on a 24-inch-by-24-inch sheet. The cork is 1/4 inch thick. 212.426.5500. www.habitusnyc.com.

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    Saint-Gaudens. The Envi bronze tile collection is made from 75% to 100% recycled metal refined from car radiators, copper pipes, and wires, says the company. The designer tiles are available in four finishes and sizes ranging from the 1?5/16-inch prism to the 3-inch square tile. Tile liners and frames also are available for accenting glass and ceramic tile layouts. 760.891.0300. www.vsgmetalarts.com.

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    Hakatai. The Ashland-e series of glass mosaic tile, made from glass bottles and waste glass headed for landfills, has a recycled content of up to 70%, says the firm. The tiles come in a variety of colors and blends ranging from a 1-inch-by-1-inch size to 2-inch mini-bricks. 888.667.2429. www.hakatai.com.

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    Oceanside Glasstile. The company partners with local curbside recycling programs to collect more than 2 million pounds of glass annually for the Muse collection of handcrafted mosaic glass tiles, which contain up to 86% recycled content. The tiles come in more than 40 colors and four finishes for limitless color scheme options. Freeze/thaw resistant, the tiles are shaped like diamonds, mini-bricks, and mini-sticks in addition to the 7/8-inch-by-7/8-inch square-mosaic pattern. 877.648.8222. www.glasstile.com.

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    Thomas Burke

    Viridian 1-inch mosaic tiles are made with 98% pre-consumer recycled glass, including waste derived from window and windshield manufacturing. The line includes Viridian Pearl tiles, which boast a soft, iridescent sheen for walls and low-traffic floors, and Viridian Industrial tiles, which have a non-slip matte finish for walls and floors, including high-traffic areas. Both can be used indoors and outdoors. 877.439.9734. www.modwalls.com.

A granite quarry in San Jose, Calif., struck an unusual business agreement with the Fireclay Tile factory next door. The quarry gives its rock dust to the tile company, which uses it to create its Debris series—a name that unabashedly markets the product’s 60% recycled content.

Small and large manufacturers all over the country have caught on to the trend of re-using discarded window glass, porcelain toilets, and leather seat scraps from nearby manufacturers, turning factory trash into high-end tile treasure. 

“They didn’t know what to do with all the dust they were making,” says Fireclay spokesperson Teresa Cooney, “so the owner of Fireclay, Paul Burns, who is also a scientist, figured out how to incorporate this into a tile for a sustainable cause.”

Recycled bottles go into the glass mosaic tiles made by Hakatai, scraps from leather belts turn into EcoDomo leather tiles, and old soda cans make Alumillenium’s decorative metal tile backsplashes a novelty. These are just a few of the tile companies striking deals with local landfills and industrial plants to re-use and reduce waste.   

“I can’t tell you how many e-mails I get a day where people want to unload their recycled bottles,” says Megan Coleman of Stardust Glass, which receives enough refuse from window and door factories near Portland, Ore., to manufacture glass tiles with recycled content as high as 97%.

IN DEMAND 
Demand for recycled-content tile is on the rise because pros and homeowners who want sustainable interior tile find it looks the same (or even better) and behaves the same as traditional ceramic products.

“The level of recycled content is pretty important in terms of how we determine what materials we pick for our projects,” says San Francisco architect William Duff Jr. “[Recycled tile] has a much better story and everyone will feel better about it. In some instances, a recycled tile may be the right tile just from its look and feel.”

The recycled content ranges anywhere from 10% to 100%, and manufacturers offer a variety of materials, including glass, ceramic, aluminum, brass, wood, bamboo, porcelain, cork, and terrazzo. Some companies produce hundreds of color choices and glaze options. 

“Any time you have an attractive product, it sells itself,” says Minneapolis architect Greg Kraus, “but then you can add in that component of saying, ‘This is a product that has a significant amount of recycled content in it.’” Kraus uses recycled products from Crossville, which recently carved out a place in its expansive line for the recycled-ceramic EcoCycle series.

“The product itself is at a good price point, but I think it helps to save cost in terms of manufacturing,” says Kraus.

But free dust, door glass, and debris do not necessarily lead to a lower-priced product. Says Duff, “some recycled tiles are going to be less expensive than a conventional tile and some are going to be more.”

Tucson, Ariz., interior designer Lori Carroll tells her clients the cost can range from 20% to 25% higher than its un-recycled counterpart.

The price is the same for traditional high-end porcelain tile as it is for Mosaic Tile’s Italy-imported recycled porcelain tile, says that company, and cost is comparable as long as you evaluate the recycled tile within its sphere of quality, material, and function. 
  
FINDING A HOME 
Thanks to the growing popularity of the green movement, recycled tile is on the rise from obscurity, finding a home on bathroom walls, kitchen countertops, and interior floors. 

“It used to be the universe of green materials was fairly small,” says Duff, “but that’s growing larger and larger. Where we are today is a very different place than where we were five years ago; there are enough options available that you can pretty much achieve anything that you want.”

But like with all new products, questions linger. While Kraus says the recycled tile he uses has no maintenance, durability, or installation issues that are different than standard tile, Carroll raises the question of how long the sustainable product will last because its presence is fresh to the market.

Still, the future for recycled tile looks bright, according to pros and manufacturers, who predict a wider variety of styles to hit the market as more recycled-tile companies set up shop in the U.S.

This article originally appeared in Building Products magazine.