Friday, December 9, 2011

End of year "Sample Sale"

End of year sale going on for the In-Stock items found here:  

You can contact you local StoneImpressions Dealer to purchase one. 

What are these?
We’ll admit it - we sometimes make mistakes and print a perfectly good mural or accent on the wrong stone or in the wrong size. Over time, we have built up a small stock of these murals, accents and listellos. These products are not defective in any way – our production team just made the wrong item.  This stock also includes tiles that were made to photograph for out catalogs.

All of these decorative tiles are sitting on our shelves just waiting for a home.  They ship out right away instead of our normal two week lead time.  It is a great option if you have a last minute need for some decorative tiles.  

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Could this be the beginning of a beautiful tile?

A collage of some of the new concepts that our designers are noodling around with.  This always starts with many, many choices.  And you never quite know where it will end up.  Some designs that we absolutely LOVE could eventually fall out of the running.  And sometimes the opposite happens. A timid, unassuming design idea that nobody gives much attention, can leave us breathless once it is dressed up and displayed on stone.  It can be a wild ride, but oh so much fun!

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

How to Grout StoneImpressions Tiles

This question comes up so frequently, it is worth repeating this blog entry from October 2009.

One of the questions that we get asked most often is "How do I grout my StoneImpressions decorative tile mural or pattern?"

The short answer is this:
"Grouting is a matter of personal preference.  You should always talk to your installer to discuss how your tiles will be grouted.  And make sure your installer reads our Installation Instructions before starting your job."

And now you are thinking, "Okay, thanks for nothing. That answer doesn't help me at all!"  The long answer is what you need - so sit back, grab a drink and get ready to read for a while.  It isn't really so complicated but there are certain things you should know about the different options for grouting and how each will affect the look of your StoneImpressions decorative tile.

Grouting - Ceramic vs. Natural Stone

In general, grouting is usually done by smearing grout all over the tiles to get it in every joint and space between the tiles.  When you grout ceramic tile, the only place the grout can go is in the spaces between the tiles.  The ceramic tiles themselves have a smooth surface and do not have holes in the tile where the grout will fill in.

It is a different story for our natural stone tiles.  Depending on which type of stone you choose, these tiles can have naturally occurring holes, cracks and crevices.  When you smear the grout all over these tiles, it will not only fill in all the joints and spaces between the tiles, but every hole, crack, and crevice too.  With that in mind, let's talk about some options for how to grout our decorative tiles.

Option #1 - Smear Method
Spread grout over the entire image just like you do for any other tile.

This will fill the natural holes in the stone and can cause the image to become randomly spotted with grout.  This is not necessarily a bad thing.  There are two points to keep in mind for this option:

1. What kind of stone are you using?  
Our Light Travertine has a lot of natural holes and pits in it.  It has a more rustic and aged look to it.  Grouting the Light Travertine using the Smear Method will result in many spots of grout.  But if you like the more rustic look, this might not be a problem for you.  On the other hand, our Tumbled Botticino and Tumbled Durango tiles do not have many natural holes or pits.  They do have some pitting, but not much compared to the Light Travertine.  When you grout the Botticino by spreading the grout all over, there may be some spotting, but usually not very much.  You can see the different stone types that we offer on our Materials page.

2. What kind of design is on your StoneImpressions tile?
If the design that you have chosen has a lot of dark colors, the light colored grout in the holes and pits will be very apparent.  If your design is a lighter color, the grout in the holes will not be as obvious.

light travertine wine mural with dark ink
This is a mural with dark colors on Light Travertine.  Notice the many holes and pits.  If you smear grout all over this mural, you will see grout spots in the dark areas - especially on the wine bottles and the grapes.

light travertine lemons mural with light ink
This mural is also on Light Travertine, but the colors are much lighter.  The grout will again fill all of the natural holes and pits, but the spotting will not appear as prominently.

durango mural with dark ink

This mural has dark ink, but it is printed on the smoother Tumbled Durango stone.  When you spread grout all over this mural, it might fill in some smaller holes, but not many. 

The same is true with our accents and listellos.  The listello shown below is on Light Travertine and has many holes and pits.  But the ink is a very light color, so grout filling in the hole might no be a problem for you.

light travertine listello with light ink

Option #2: Grout Bag Method
Use a grout bag to fill only the grid lines of the mural.

A grout bag is just like a pastry bag that is used to decorate cakes.  You fill it with grout and then squeeze the grout through a tip which allows you to put the grout only where you need it.  

You use the grout bag to grout only the joints and spaces between the tiles.  That way you avoid getting grout filling in every hole and crevice in the natural tile.  This can be more time consuming than the Smear Method.  If your installer uses the grout bag for a single mural, then it is probably no big deal.   If you expect your installer to use a grout bag on twenty or fifty square feet of tile - you should also expect to pay them for the extra time it will take.

This method gives you the best of both worlds.  You get the sealing and protection that the grout provides, and you avoid spots of grout showing up throughout the design and detracting from the overall look.  In many cases, this would be the ideal way to grout your decorative natural stone tile.

More information about how to use a grout bag.

Option #3: No grout at all.

You can place the tiles right up next to each other and skip the grout.  This is the best way to keep the design of a mural intact - it displays the image without spaces in between that can interrupt the design or pattern.  This option will result in some gaps between the tiles depending on what type of stone you are using.  Stone with very tumbled edges will leave gaps where the four corners of the tile meet.  Like this:

example of tumbled botticino marble tile in 6x6 size
The gaps are not gigantic, but they are there.  Click on the picture above to see a close up view.

If you are using stone with a straighter edge, like our Micro-bevel Durango, you will not have many gaps. See picture below:
example of micro-bevel durango tile in 6x6 size

Leaving the gaps and spaces without grout could create difficulty in the future, because dirt, dust and moisture can accumulate in those holes.  This is one of the main reasons that people use grout in the first place.  It seals the spaces in between the tiles to prevent any accumulation of dirt and moisture which can eventually damage the wall behind the tile.  You should consider where the tile is located to decide whether you want to use this method.  If you are installing in a room in your house where you don't expect much moisture, this method might work for you.  You could also try using the grout bag to apply grout only to the bigger gaps between the corners of the tumbled tiles.  That will give you some protection.

If you are thinking about the no grout method you should definitely talk to your installer first.  There are many things to consider and a knowledgeable tile installer will know what questions to ask to determine the best course of action for you.

Grouting wrap-up

We hope this information will help you in deciding how to grout your StoneImpressions tile.  And perhaps you can understand why there is not just one simple answer to fit everyone.  Your taste, your stone choice, your installation location and your mural or pattern design will all be factors to consider when determining how to grout.

Let us know in the comments below if you have any grouting tips for us or additional questions that you'd like us to answer.

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Layout does matter

With some tile designs, how you lay them out during installation really does make a difference.  Some examples:

 A single tile of our Minore Charcoal Green design.  These tiles are usually laid out in multiples of fours to make up a pattern.  But how you arrange those four tiles can give you different looks.

This layout focuses on the circular pattern that you see in the Minore design.

By laying the tiles in a slightly different order, you emphasize the interlocking 
geometric pattern in the Minore design.

A single tile of the Linda Vista Pattern shown in 12x12 limestone.

You wouldn't think there are options with this swirly, floral pattern.  But there is more than one 
way to lay this out.  The drawing above shows it with all of the tiles facing in the same direction.

In this layout, every other tile has been turned 90 degrees so that the circular flow 
of the design is slightly changed.  It is a very subtle difference.

Here is a simple example of how layout can change the look.  This is the 
Marseille Pattern tiles as they are typically laid out.

By turning the tiles on the diagonal, you see a different pattern emerge.

The most important tip about laying out pattern tiles is to decide on how you want them arranged, BEFORE your tile installer gets started.  Lay them out together on the floor or on a table to take a look at how the pattern comes together.  And make sure your installer knows which way you want them to go.

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

A beautiful kitchen backsplash

This beautiful kitchen features tiles from our Clermont Collection.  Limestone was used for both the decorative tiles and the plain tiles throughout the backsplash.  Click on any of these pictures to see a larger version.

The backsplash area behind the stove showcases the Clermont Upright Mural.  It is a colorful pattern with an intricate design. See a more detailed photo below:

This design has a number of colors - gold, green, blue and burgundy.  However, the name we chose for this color scheme is Azul.

Here is a close up of so you can see the detail and color of this design.

The Clermont Listello runs along the entire backsplash as a border and 6" x 6" Clermont Accent tiles have been placed in a few key areas. 

These accents are shown on our Limestone tile.

Here is a list of the exact tiles uses in this kitchen:
BTN700300-A CLERMONT Listello - AZUL

Click on this link for a printable file (PDF) of the whole Clermont Collection.

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Black & White Tile Designs featuring Carrara Marble

While working on today's post, we came across this incredibly delightful photo from TrappedInTimeDesigns.  (Yes, yes...another Etsy store.)  She makes custom and ready-made costumes, clothing and accessories.  LOVE the fanciful, funky, vintage style with attitude.  A great example of how you do not have to rely on color to make a bold statement.

What can be said about Black & White?  It is classic, sophisticated and will always be in style.  Our spin on Black & White uses Carrara Marble as the white base for designs that feature shades of black only.  We offer a range of looks, from intricate decorative patterns and listellos to simple nautical scenes that have the quality of scrimshaw carvings.  Take a look:

Lyon Mural framed with black granite and Carrara marble dome liners.

Serenata Pattern Tile in Iron color

From our Nautical Tile Collection - Maritime Accents on Carrara

Elegante Mural in black color.  This one comes in many colors - see more here.

Another Vintage Doorknob Design on Carrara

Peperigno Mural in the Iron color from our Wrought Iron Tile Collection

She's always dressed for the occasion. 

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

American Made Tiles

When we are telling folks about our tiles for the first time, we are often asked where they are made.  We are happy to answer that all of our tiles are manufactured in the United States of America.   The stone that we use is sourced from Italy, Mexico and the Balkans, however we purchase these raw materials from American suppliers.  Once the stone tiles arrive at our state-of-the-art facility in San Diego, California, our employees use our patented process to create the colorful, decorative tiles and murals that you see in our catalog and on our website.

We sell our tiles only through our network of authorized dealers located throughout North America. Many of these showrooms are small, local businesses who have strong roots in their own communities.  These stores are a part of your local economy. They employ your neighbors, contribute to the local tax rolls, and have a vested interest in your community.   Nobody likes to pay taxes, but wouldn't you rather have your money stay in your own backyard?  Especially in this economy, shopping locally supports your community in a very tangible way.

We are proud of the professionalism and knowledge of our dealers and so we are more than happy to refer you to one when you are looking to purchase our tiles.  You can find your local dealer by going to the Tile Showrooms page of our website.  You can also fill a form on our Request a Tile Quote page and we will have a local dealer contact you.

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Orange is a Diva

If Fall has a color, it has got to be Orange. Sure, there are rusty reds, smokey browns and greens with dark intensity. But the unique presence of Orange in any color scheme cannot be overlooked. Orange is the gal in the room who stands up and demands attention. She is known for her loud and boisterous ways - screaming with unrelenting vibrancy no matter where she is found.  You love to invite her to parties, however you find yourself just a little bit relieved with she finally goes home.

But Orange can be tamed. One of our new Pattern Tiles has just the tiniest dashes of Orange. The pattern is called Harvest and Orange peeks out a little hello among the charcoal and brown of the leaves and branches surrounding it. This tile design on Limestone has a distinctly autumn feel to it.  A simple, earthy warmth that is saved from tedium by the bursts of Orange throughout.

Our Harvest Tile Pattern shows the softer, quieter side of Orange.  But is is still fun to take a peek at Orange in all her lively variations.  We did a little browsing through Etsy and came up with a few of Orange's more Diva-like moments.  Enjoy!

Monday, September 26, 2011

Give your eyes a treat - gorgeous color abounds

If you love color, this is a fascinating video to watch.  The Printing Ink Company is located in Ontario, Canada and they manufacture ink used for professional printing.  Who knew that an industrial process that sounds so mundane and boring could actually be so visually arresting?

The person who shot this video certainly has a great eye. His name is Tate Young.

We work with color and ink every day, so we can really appreciate the careful attention and passion that goes into this company's ink making. And since we are on the subject of us (shameless self-promotion, we know),  take a look at some of the more colorful designs from our new catalog.

Chopin Mural on Carrara Tiles

Deco Dots Saybrook Vibrant (these are 1" x 1" mosaics)

Dancing Flowers design on Limestone

Marseille Design in the Caviar color scheme

Southwest style accent and listello from our Ganado Collection

Holland Pattern Tile in Blue on Botticino

What is your favorite color today?