Step 1 - Wall and Floor tiles - Five Steps to Designing a Sustainable Luxury Bathroom!
As a London-based interior design firm, we are creating homes with an emphasis on the health and wellness of families, individuals, and our planet, by using design principles, products, and materials that help reduce the use of chemicals.
We have recently designed 7 bathrooms for one property in a rather lovely part of London, we, of course, looked at a lot of tiling companies. Choosing a tile that is sustainable is not immediately obvious and one has to make a lot of inquiries as to whether the tile product is sustainable or not.
This is true for the residential interior design sector, the commercial design sector is a bit ahead of us (residential) and has already adopted and sought out the use of sustainable design products in their interior design schemes. We like to consider ourselves sustainable luxury interior designers.
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PRODUCTS AND MATERIALS.
When it comes to purchasing materials and products for our residential interior designed properties, my first reference point is to look at 🇬🇧UK designers and manufacturers. If they are based in the UK the carbon footprint for delivering your purchases will be low due to less distance traveled with no airfreight involved, the company (should) be using local materials, as an added bonus they might have sustainability commitments in place too, which many do and are listed in this guide. It's a good thing to support local businesses. However, a tile is more than likely to be European than English if it's a sustainable 'green' interior product.
LET'S LOOK AT WALL AND FLOOR TILING -
ceramic and porcelain as sustainable interior products.
✅ Ceramic and porcelain tiles are some of the longest-lasting floor and wall covering products on the market today. Unlike carpet, vinyl, or laminate flooring which have to be replaced periodically, properly installed tiles will last a lifetime. This longevity reduces time, money, and resources spent on extracting raw material, manufacturing, transportation, installation, demolition, and disposal requirements.
✅ Ceramic and porcelain tiles are made from 100% natural and plentiful raw materials that are usually found in close proximity to the factories, thus reducing fuel consumption and transportation costs.
✅ Clean healthy air: Since tiles are fired in kilns to extremely high temperatures, there are no volatile organics (VOC's) in the finished product that can be released into the air we breathe. In addition, there are adhesives and grouts available that contain zero, or very low VOCs.
It's good to know that most modern tile factories today are “closed loop,” reusing water and materials. They send only negligible amounts of scrap to landfills and wastewater to treatment facilities.
If we are using large format tiles in a sustainable interior design scheme, they are normally porcelain, which is widely used. Porcelain shows a solid colour throughout the tile, dense, extremely tough and non-porous, difficult to cut even with a diamond edge saw. *Porcelain tiles are very much considered a sustainable interior product.
Below, is an example of large format tiles we used in a bathroom refurbishment, along with glass mosaics using recycled glass content, as an accent wall, from Fired Earth.
👉 It is expensive to clad walls in a marble slab, (not environmentally friendly either) previously, we have used a combination of marble slab and large porcelain format tile printed to look like marble, which keeps the supply and installation cost down. To install a marble slab the walls need special preparation which ends up making the wall build-out pretty thick (around 70mm).
We have used this alternative combination for a client and it worked very well. See below. The tiles we have used are from Minoli, as well as producing a beautiful product they have environmental initiatives in place for waste reduction, recycling, and energy efficiency.
Another product I am impressed with is an Italian tile manufacturing company, whose product is sold here in the UK through Porcelain-tiles.co.uk. They have amazing large format tiles on offer, book-matched as well as great colour ranges. The icing on the cake is they have incredible sustainable initiatives and commitments. This company defines sustainable luxury. Well worth a look.
As well as super large, can be 2m x 3m, format porcelain base, their tiles are ultra-thin to around 5mm, but very strong, being thin allows for better manageability of the tiles otherwise they become too heavy to move.
They can also be used to replicate the thickness of marble if the edges are mitred (which takes a skilled tiler!) You do need to be careful of the edges as they can become vulnerable and can chip, especially on a countertop. It is recommended to use an installation team familiar with handling and laying of this product, when done well it can look just as effective as marble or stone slab.
LOOKING FOR THE WOW FACTOR?
If, as a client, you are looking for the 'wow' factor of a book-matched marble slab, there are alternatives on the market to using a natural marble slab. The EKA Group has developed stunning large-format porcelain tiles, 'Privilege' range, available through West One Bathrooms, with beautiful semi-precious and marble patterns laser printed on the surface, protected with a resin that is applied by hand to maintain the perfect textured finish. We don't need to use the earth's precious natural resources of marble or stone slabs which as we know are not renewable.
A creative designer, with an eye for detail and materials, along with a skilled installer, can replicate a stunning sustainable luxury interior design look.
SOME TILING SUPPLIERS TO CONSIDER:
✅ Johnson Tiles - 🇬🇧A British Company. Producing tiles since 1901, all of their tiles have 20% of recycled ceramic material in them. A good range of tiles is available with a holistic approach to helping the environment from manufacturing to packaging. They definitely deserve 5 stars for effort!
✅ Porcelanosa - they have a good range of tiles and bathroom products along with a sustainability initiative across their multi-national company.
✅ One company I stumbled across recently is Parkside Architectural, and I am super-impressed with for offering sustainable interior products for use in luxury residential interior designed homes. Owned by Topps Tiles who also own Strata Tiles. Now, Topps has a bit of a stigma attached to them being high street and cheaper perhaps, but this is owned by a UK family that now has 400 stores nationwide. Their Parkside arm of the business has a section specifically dedicated to offering designers and architects, sustainable interior products with recycled content, which is really good news. You can even search by recycled content! The Criaterra range is 100% zero-waste and 90% energy-saving in its production.
✅ Ann Sacks - Crackle Collection is a partnership created between ANN SACKS and its parent company, Kohler Co. Through Kohler WasteLAB, the unfired pottery transforms the waste into a responsive tile body. The body of the tile is made from 100% recycled material. Additionally, the glaze contains between 37% and 99.7% recycled content." I include it here to show what can be achieved with the right mindset and intention. Sadly, having this product shipped from the US will negate any sustainable efforts in manufacturing the tile.
⭐️BEFORE YOU GO! Download this FREE GUIDE - 10 mistakes to avoid when designing your bathroom - a must-have to read along with! CLICK HERE TO DOWNLOAD NOW! ⭐️
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