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Wood look tiles: The truth about timber tiles

Architecture news & editorial desk

The increasing consumer preference for green building materials that also come with the promise of durability, longevity and low maintenance is driving design trends across the world.

While timber remains a universal favourite in interior decor, especially for walls and floors, concerns about sustainable sourcing are encouraging architects, interior designers and homeowners to consider more eco-friendly alternatives such as wood look tiles in porcelain and ceramic.

It’s hard to replicate the timeless aesthetic and traditional raw appeal of timber in interior design, be it in the warm textures of hardwood flooring or the rich tones of timber wall panelling. However, natural timber comes with its own challenges, not only in terms of sourcing and pricing but also in its long-term care and maintenance.

Timber is not for every environment, nor can it be used in spaces exposed to moisture such as bathrooms, kitchens and laundry rooms. Besides, hardwood floors need to be constantly protected against scuffs, scratches and spills.

Having made a soft entry in the market more than a decade ago, wood look tiles are increasingly finding acceptance as a viable alternative to natural timber in design applications. Several factors have contributed to the rising popularity of wood grain tiles, particularly, durability, affordable pricing, choice of sizes, colours, patterns, variations, finishes and materials, low maintenance, application versatility, green qualities, and longevity among many more – all without having to compromise on the beautiful aesthetic of natural timber.

Wood look tiles: Porcelain or ceramic

Timber grain tiles are typically available in porcelain or ceramic. While porcelain is more widely used as a base, it’s easy to confuse one with the other. A high quality porcelain tile has a higher breakage point than a ceramic tile – this means a porcelain tile can withstand hard knocks.

Porcelain can also stand up to minor temperature changes, avoiding cracks. Ceramic wood look tiles are ideal for low traffic residential living spaces.

The PEI rating introduced by the Porcelain Enamel Institute determines the ability of the tile to resist abrasion, and ranges from PEI 1 (easily scratched) to PEI 5 (maximum scratch resistance). A minimum PEI rating of 3 is required for residential home applications, and higher for commercial installations.

Porcelain wood look tiles are offered in through-body and colour-body options. While a through-body tile will have a consistent colour and pattern throughout including the surface, a colour-body tile features a baked-on sheen, which can get damaged.

Design versatility

Technological advancements in the production of wood effect tiles have not only enhanced product quality but also dramatically improved the look to simulate real timber to perfection, making the hardwood finish more realistic and authentic than ever before.

The sheer versatility of wood look tiles is impressive, especially in terms of the timber species they can replicate. Bold or dark, greys or pastels, these porcelain tiles can reproduce the beauty and warmth of Oak, Walnut, Chestnut, Maple, Teak, Jarrah, Wenge, Acacia or any other species of your choice.

The wood effect on these tiles is created by scanning natural timber and using high resolution inkjet printing technology to print the image down to every knot and grain in great detail. Wood look tiles that repeat the pattern every few tiles will not be realistic enough to visually simulate timber.

However, when the pattern is only repeated, for instance, after 24 or more tiles (faces), the wood effect is more authentic. The higher the number of faces, the more realistic your timber look flooring will be in the final design outcome with the repetitive pattern barely noticeable.

Choose your wood look from any of several timber species or the currently trending reclaimed wood and distressed wood finishes, select textures to go with your grains and knots, go for the glossy, polished finish or keep it rustic with a weathered look, complete with imperfections.

If the stock doesn’t match your expectation, you can even have your wood look tile customised to your personal grain, colour and texture preferences.

Indoor and outdoor

Wood look tiles are versatile in application too. Turn your bathroom into a spa-like environment with a wood effect, or get the much-desired timber finish in your kitchen. But timber grain tiles have a wider application beyond just the wet areas of your home.

Adopt a wooden floor look throughout your home including your living spaces and bedrooms. Create an accent wall to add drama to your interiors.

Being impervious to water and moisture, wood look tiles are perfect for homes in marine environments such as beach houses or homes near water bodies. Get a hardwood floor for your entryway without worrying about scratches, scuffs or dripping umbrellas.

Take the design theme outdoors seamlessly by installing wood look tiles with anti-slip properties on your deck or any alfresco space.

Timber look tiles are pet-friendly, stain-proof and moisture-proof, will not warp or splinter like timber, and can retain both colour and finish over the long term. These tiles are also compatible with underfloor heating systems.

Plank sizes

Wood look tiles come in a broad range of sizes to replicate real wood. Thanks to modern production processes, tiles can even be supplied in 72-inch length planks (or more) with a choice of widths to suit the application and design theme. Some tile collections are also available in variable lengths to mimic a real hardwood floor. Shorter and narrower planks are perfect for creating herringbone patterned floors.

Eco-friendly

Made from natural materials such as clay and sand, wood look tiles with their longevity, minimal maintenance and zero VOC emission hit all the green building goals. They are recyclable too with the ground-up material used in paving applications.

Installation

Wood look tiles are typically installed on concrete slabs. For a more realistic wood look floor, make sure you select tiles with rectified edges – these are tiles with straight edges that eliminate the need for grout and deliver a smooth, even hardwood floor appearance, quite unlike a tiled floor. Tiles with a textured surface or non-slip properties must be considered for wet areas.

Maintenance

Unlike high maintenance hardwood floors, the stain-proof, non-warping wood effect tiles are easy to clean and care for over their lifetime using regular, non-abrasive cleaning solutions.   

And the cons…

In cold climes, a wood look floor can get uncomfortable underfoot. Discomfort can also come from standing or kneeling on the hard surfaces for an extended period of time.

Wood look tiles, especially those with smooth, polished surfaces can get slippery in wet areas, resulting in falls and injury. Wood look floors are also quite noisy.

Pricing

Based on the quality, type, size and customisation, wood look tiles can cost anywhere from AUD 16 to AUD 46 per square metre, or higher.

Continue reading Wood look tiles: The truth about timber tiles

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Wood look tiles: The truth about timber tiles

Architecture news & editorial desk

The increasing consumer preference for green building materials that also come with the promise of durability, longevity and low maintenance is driving design trends across the world.

While timber remains a universal favourite in interior decor, especially for walls and floors, concerns about sustainable sourcing are encouraging architects, interior designers and homeowners to consider more eco-friendly alternatives such as wood look tiles in porcelain and ceramic.

It’s hard to replicate the timeless aesthetic and traditional raw appeal of timber in interior design, be it in the warm textures of hardwood flooring or the rich tones of timber wall panelling. However, natural timber comes with its own challenges, not only in terms of sourcing and pricing but also in its long-term care and maintenance.

Timber is not for every environment, nor can it be used in spaces exposed to moisture such as bathrooms, kitchens and laundry rooms. Besides, hardwood floors need to be constantly protected against scuffs, scratches and spills.

Having made a soft entry in the market more than a decade ago, wood look tiles are increasingly finding acceptance as a viable alternative to natural timber in design applications. Several factors have contributed to the rising popularity of wood grain tiles, particularly, durability, affordable pricing, choice of sizes, colours, patterns, variations, finishes and materials, low maintenance, application versatility, green qualities, and longevity among many more – all without having to compromise on the beautiful aesthetic of natural timber.

Wood look tiles: Porcelain or ceramic

Timber grain tiles are typically available in porcelain or ceramic. While porcelain is more widely used as a base, it’s easy to confuse one with the other. A high quality porcelain tile has a higher breakage point than a ceramic tile – this means a porcelain tile can withstand hard knocks.

Porcelain can also stand up to minor temperature changes, avoiding cracks. Ceramic wood look tiles are ideal for low traffic residential living spaces.

The PEI rating introduced by the Porcelain Enamel Institute determines the ability of the tile to resist abrasion, and ranges from PEI 1 (easily scratched) to PEI 5 (maximum scratch resistance). A minimum PEI rating of 3 is required for residential home applications, and higher for commercial installations.

Porcelain wood look tiles are offered in through-body and colour-body options. While a through-body tile will have a consistent colour and pattern throughout including the surface, a colour-body tile features a baked-on sheen, which can get damaged.

Design versatility

Technological advancements in the production of wood effect tiles have not only enhanced product quality but also dramatically improved the look to simulate real timber to perfection, making the hardwood finish more realistic and authentic than ever before.

The sheer versatility of wood look tiles is impressive, especially in terms of the timber species they can replicate. Bold or dark, greys or pastels, these porcelain tiles can reproduce the beauty and warmth of Oak, Walnut, Chestnut, Maple, Teak, Jarrah, Wenge, Acacia or any other species of your choice.

The wood effect on these tiles is created by scanning natural timber and using high resolution inkjet printing technology to print the image down to every knot and grain in great detail. Wood look tiles that repeat the pattern every few tiles will not be realistic enough to visually simulate timber.

However, when the pattern is only repeated, for instance, after 24 or more tiles (faces), the wood effect is more authentic. The higher the number of faces, the more realistic your timber look flooring will be in the final design outcome with the repetitive pattern barely noticeable.

Choose your wood look from any of several timber species or the currently trending reclaimed wood and distressed wood finishes, select textures to go with your grains and knots, go for the glossy, polished finish or keep it rustic with a weathered look, complete with imperfections.

If the stock doesn’t match your expectation, you can even have your wood look tile customised to your personal grain, colour and texture preferences.

Indoor and outdoor

Wood look tiles are versatile in application too. Turn your bathroom into a spa-like environment with a wood effect, or get the much-desired timber finish in your kitchen. But timber grain tiles have a wider application beyond just the wet areas of your home.

Adopt a wooden floor look throughout your home including your living spaces and bedrooms. Create an accent wall to add drama to your interiors.

Being impervious to water and moisture, wood look tiles are perfect for homes in marine environments such as beach houses or homes near water bodies. Get a hardwood floor for your entryway without worrying about scratches, scuffs or dripping umbrellas.

Take the design theme outdoors seamlessly by installing wood look tiles with anti-slip properties on your deck or any alfresco space.

Timber look tiles are pet-friendly, stain-proof and moisture-proof, will not warp or splinter like timber, and can retain both colour and finish over the long term. These tiles are also compatible with underfloor heating systems.

Plank sizes

Wood look tiles come in a broad range of sizes to replicate real wood. Thanks to modern production processes, tiles can even be supplied in 72-inch length planks (or more) with a choice of widths to suit the application and design theme. Some tile collections are also available in variable lengths to mimic a real hardwood floor. Shorter and narrower planks are perfect for creating herringbone patterned floors.

Eco-friendly

Made from natural materials such as clay and sand, wood look tiles with their longevity, minimal maintenance and zero VOC emission hit all the green building goals. They are recyclable too with the ground-up material used in paving applications.

Installation

Wood look tiles are typically installed on concrete slabs. For a more realistic wood look floor, make sure you select tiles with rectified edges – these are tiles with straight edges that eliminate the need for grout and deliver a smooth, even hardwood floor appearance, quite unlike a tiled floor. Tiles with a textured surface or non-slip properties must be considered for wet areas.

Maintenance

Unlike high maintenance hardwood floors, the stain-proof, non-warping wood effect tiles are easy to clean and care for over their lifetime using regular, non-abrasive cleaning solutions.   

And the cons…

In cold climes, a wood look floor can get uncomfortable underfoot. Discomfort can also come from standing or kneeling on the hard surfaces for an extended period of time.

Wood look tiles, especially those with smooth, polished surfaces can get slippery in wet areas, resulting in falls and injury. Wood look floors are also quite noisy.

Pricing

Based on the quality, type, size and customisation, wood look tiles can cost anywhere from AUD 16 to AUD 46 per square metre, or higher.

Continue reading Wood look tiles: The truth about timber tiles

Why These Armchairs Are Worth $12,500

The right pair of armchairs can make for a cozy perch—but is this duo worth more than $12,000? Indeed, says Katja E.T. Hirche at New York City’s Bernd Goeckler, who notes that similar models can go for up to $25,000 at auction. Here’s how she arrived at the price.

Name Recognition.

“People are looking for names, and Jacques Adnet was highly prolific in the 1950s and 1960s. He’s a modernist who invented a lot of new styles across a broad spectrum of design,” she says. The chairs were pictured as one of his standout works in René Hardy and Gaëlle Millet’s 2014 Jacques Adnet hardcover retrospective.

Innovative Material.

The chairs are made of leather-like skaï, which was “a novelty for the time,” says Hirche. “It’s a sign of the times. It was used in 1950s airports,” she says. In fact, this model was designed for the Air France VIP lounge. Meanwhile, gilt brass legs resemble bamboo. “Adnet was innovative by incorporating a bit of nature,” Hirche says.

Durability.

The chairs’ gilt brass legs can endure wear and tear. “The brass can always be polished no matter how many children or adults touch it. It stands up to the test of time,” she says. Meanwhile, the skaï is in like-new condition despite age, and the chairs are light and easy to move from place to place.

 

Jacques Adnet armchair available at Bernd Goeckler

“These are great lounge chairs, and they’re lower to the ground than a typical armchair. You can easily sit on them for a couple of hours,” she says. Plus, unlike many armchairs, they don’t have closed sides, which lends a unique touch.

Pro tip:

When buying chairs online, says Hirche, always feel free to call the dealer for more information or additional photos (of people sitting in them, to get a sense of proportion and fit). Always ask if chairs have been reupholstered—a newly reupholstered chair will boost comfort and longevity—and if the metal shows any nicks or sign of wear.

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Why These Armchairs Are Worth $12,500

The right pair of armchairs can make for a cozy perch—but is this duo worth more than $12,000? Indeed, says Katja E.T. Hirche at New York City’s Bernd Goeckler, who notes that similar models can go for up to $25,000 at auction. Here’s how she arrived at the price.

Continue reading Why These Armchairs Are Worth $12,500

Augmented Reality: the Latest in Real Estate Technology

Stephanie Small spent months thinking about what kind of countertop to get for a new wine bar she will soon open with a partner in Somers, N.Y., part of Westchester County.

Besides mulling over the durability and price, Ms. Small thought long and hard about how the 16-foot bar would look, not just in the inside, but through the window from the outside. “I spent hours trying to visualize things and I just couldn’t,” she said.

Then a friend who worked for Cambria, a countertop manufacturer based in Eden Prairie, Minn., told her about the firm’s new augmented reality app, which lays digital images on top of the real world when people look through a smartphone lens.

After downloading the app onto her cellphone, she pointed the device to where the counter would be installed. An image of the bar appeared in its intended spot and she quickly realized that one of her most recent picks — a dark gray marble top — would look too much like the concrete floor. “It was remarkable to see it in the real space,” she said. “It changed my whole vision.”

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Photo

 
Pandora Reality, an augmented reality developer, builds tools for brokers and developers who want to show the potential of an unfinished space. CreditPandora Reality

Although the technology behind augmented reality has been around for years, the average consumer had little to do with it until last summer, when Apple released ARKit, a tool kit that allows developers to make augmented reality apps. Then Apple also made its latest operating system augmented reality compatible, suddenly allowing millions of people to use any augmented reality tool available through the app store.

Tim Merel, managing director of Digi-Capital, a Menlo Park, Calif.-based augmented and virtual reality adviser, predicted that by the end of 2018, there could be as many as 900 million smartphones and tablets capable of supporting augmented reality apps created from tool kits like Apple’s ARKit, Google’s ARCore and Facebook’s Camera Effects. And that number could grow to more than three billion by 2021.

At the moment, developers are creating simple tools. For example, MeasureKit is essentially a digital ruler, while PLNAR helps a user take dimensions of a room to create a floor plan. And Homesnap, a real estate search engine, has a “Walk the Property Lines” tool that shows the property lines around any home.

When you’re able to swap or move images at a push of a button, you can convey the “what-ifs instantaneously” to clients, making the decision-making process quicker, said Matthew Miller, the founder of StudioLAB, a Manhattan architectural and design firm.

With new technology, it’s all about the ease of use, said Brian Peters, chief marketing officer at Cambria. “I made sure both my 12-year-old daughter and my 41-year-old wife were able to use the app,” he said.

Augmented reality is also helpful for home-goods manufacturers who need to send out samples or swatches, Mr. Peters said. “We think our customers will be able to narrow their choices further on the app, before requesting a sample.”

Michael Schroeder, the director of virtual design and construction at SGA, an architectural and design firm with offices in New York and Boston, said that augmented reality could also help fill a major data gap for developers. For example, a tool could be created to show traffic patterns at a building site, or another could depict the texture of various building materials, which a developer could then quickly change on an iPad as while walking around a raw space.

 

“There’s a lot of data that architects and builders need to assess at the design phase and changes are made constantly,” he said. “If I’m able to stand at the site and see the shadow impact a building has on the surrounding area, it might alter the height of the building.”

To help builders and engineers, Daqri, a Los Angeles-based augmented reality firm, has been promoting its Smart Helmet, where augmented reality glasses are part of the construction helmet. The helmet allows the user to see data about machinery, including a generator’s rotation speed and when it was last inspected. It also has a thermal camera, which shows the temperature of pipes. Colleagues in a remote location can also see a repair as it happens and send instructions, if needed.

Clelia Warburg Peters, the president of Warburg Realty, thinks augmented reality has the possibility to become a key tool in the home-buying process. Virtual reality, which has been used by brokers to entice customers to buy homes in faraway cities, conveys what the builder wants to show. However, augmented reality puts the buyer in the actual space, which can take people from the, “‘what is’, to the ‘what it could be,’” she said.

“Buying a home can be very emotional. If you can change and personalize things, it can help with the decision-making process,” she added.

Pandora Reality, an augmented reality developer based in New York and Istanbul, builds augmented reality tools for brokers and developers who want to show the potential of an unfinished space. Alper Guler, Pandora’s head of operations in the United States, thinks real estate marketers could use technology to help keep their client’s attention.

“Home buying is a weekslong process. You can keep clients engaged with augmented reality much more than a link to a website,” he said.

One current drawback, experts said, is the lack of realism of the computer-generated image. They still look too fake, Mr. Miller said.

“I think augmented reality will find a large audience when people can’t tell the difference between the real thing and the computer-generated image,” he said. “But I’m sure that’s right around the corner, like all things tech.”

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