Mark and Erin C. from central New York were researching options for their upcoming kitchen remodel. They hadn't found a tile for the range backsplash. To work with the existing brick, they desired a tile that was hardy yet radiated a handmade look.
They also knew the tile needed a sophisticated look to integrate with their newly installed granite counter tops, floor, cabinets and pulls. One evening, while leafing through Traditional Home, a design magazine, Erin exclaimed, "I want this!"
The magazine's featured home article referenced the designers and manufacturers; but, it didn't help. They discovered the cement tiles they loved were reclaimed 19th century tiles. One thing was certain. They wouldn't be going down to Lowe's to pick up a box or two of these tiles.
Trying to Find a 19th Century Tile Today
Mark and Erin explored different sources for the tile both locally and online. They investigated local options to no avail. Online searches provided different sources including reclaimed tile vendors. Some of these vendors had designs that were close; but, limiting. With reclaimed tiles, you only have the "flavor of the day." They knew what they wanted and remained steadfast and unwavering in their search. Another option they explored was replicating the design and transferring it onto porcelain tile. Marc said, "The cost was excessive and in our mind, the integrity of the product, structurally and philosophically, would forever remain suspect."
Existing Cement Tile Patterns Were Considered
Ultimately, they found Avente Tile. I discussed the additional cost, time and process for a custom design and wanted to know if any pattern we had might work. They wisely considered some of our existing patterns that can be easily customized with any color from the line's color palette. For instance, the Bayahibe Cement Tile pattern was very close. So they purchased a Heritage Color Chip Set and tried to make it work. When you know what you want, nothing else can compare. After careful deliberation, Mark made an executive decision to have custom tiles made. A good choice because they were focused on getting exactly what they wanted without compromise.
Creating a Custom Cement Tile
Creating a custom pattern takes time. There is time to work out the design of the pattern, choose the colors, and create virtual designs with options. Most importantly, you need time to decide what looks best and is right for you. Then, once the design is final, more work begins. A mold needs to be made for the pattern and a strike-off or sample tile is created using the mold. This allows you to verify the pattern, color, and design before a full-order.
How much time? About three to six months, depending on how well you know what you want. For this project, there was a clear scope of work because the magazine clipping provided the basis for the pattern, and because Mark and Erin had decided on the colors from the color chips they had purchased. Mark provided timely feedback, so changes to the pattern and virtual design were accomplished in record time. Here's an outline of the steps for a custom tile project with the time required to complete each milestone.
- 2 - 3 weeks - Pattern development in black and white with several iterations.
- 1 - 2 weeks - Color choice and placement with several iterations.
- 2 - 3 weeks - Create mold.
- 2 - 3 weeks - Create strike-offs and ship for approval.
You now have a better understanding on why it costs so much more to create a custom tile. There's a lot of time and countless decisions to be made. The end result is truly a labor of love, though. Mark and Erin loved a pattern and knew it was the right choice because it worked so well in their kitchen. They also explored other options and did their homework, so there were no surprises on the schedule or the budget. When the project was finished, they had a kitchen that was uniquely theirs. When crafting a custom design, Mark's words still resonate with me. "It was a tough pill to swallow, spending the money for custom tiles, but the end result and focal point of our vision will never be regretted. Worth every penny to get it right!" Well put, Mark!