Tag Archives: Eco-Friendly

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.


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.


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.


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.


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.

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Trends That Will Influence US Homes in 2017

During the past few decades interior design in the US has borrowed much from other cultures, as has Europe, to the extent that both have truly become reflective of global influences. This is not at all a bad thing, as many of the home-grown European and US trends have likewise caught on elsewhere.

Colorful Fashions

In 2015, the Pantone color of the year was Marsala, which is a wine produced around the Italian city of the same name in Sicily. In 2016, for the first time the company nominated a blend of two colors known as Rose Quartz and Serenity.

After the deep plum red of Marsala and the baby blue and pink shades of the pairing of Rose Quartz and Serenity, many design experts are looking towards shades of green as a possibility for 2017, although others believe that earthy shades and pastels will continue to be popular.

Emerald was the Pantone color of the year in 2013 and Turquoise in 2010, so although some interior professionals have touted dark green as the new replacement for navy and midnight blues, variations on hues such as sand (2006), orange (2012) and yellow (2009) may yet be resurrected.

One thing is for certain: every aspect of interior design will be touched by the result of Pantone’s 2017 color of the year, including decorative schemes and accessories, textiles, and flooring, as well as indoor and outdoor furnishings.

Pantone color of the year, Marsala.
Marsala was the Pantone color of the year.


Taking care of the environment has soared to the top of the agenda for those concerned with many aspects of home interiors and lifestyles. In 2016, increasing climate change pressures helped architects and design professionals respond by taking a creative approach to construction methods and building materials.

The trend to improve power generation within home sites with the adoption of eco-friendly alternatives to fossil fuels is likely to last well into and beyond 2017, as the benefits include saving both energy and money. Rising sea levels and increasingly strong hurricane winds mean it is both responsible and cost-effective to apply environmentally friendly techniques to home building.

On Trend Materials

While cool marble and sizzling copper were sought after in 2016, it looks like 2017 may well be the year of clay and wicker in place of marble, while mixed metals seem to be on course for a new lease of life in 2017. It’s likely that dusting off the family silver, gold, polished nickel and brass may well be worthwhile, as well as burnished metals and black steel.

Terracotta has also been mentioned as part of the new décor for 2017, but this is not a throwback to rustic tiles. Instead, it represents a segue into stylish fireplace cladding and elegant interior feature walls with a matte finish. With the trend towards homes becoming more open plan, feature walls are a useful way to break up larger spaces and absorb some sound.

Another material that is making something of a comeback in this respect is cork – placed underneath stone tops on coffee tables, on side tables and also stools. Some interior designers predict the rise in working from home will not only result in the creation of more home office spaces, but also encourage homeowners to clad some walls completely in cork, the better to pin-up maps, schedules and fun notes to family members.

Wood and Textiles

It seems like there’s a kind of swap going on between timber and fabric for 2017. Just as wooden bed frames are giving way to elegantly plush upholstered bed heads, fussy drapes seem set to be replaced with chic spare elegant shutters.

In a way, this is all about bringing modernist architecture into interior design – specifically, form follows function. The bedroom atmosphere should be calming and perhaps a tad glamorous and can be softened by additional fabric to achieve this effect.

On the other hand, the functional areas in homes such as living rooms, kitchens, playrooms and the home office are activity spaces. These can be stripped back to showcase the clean lines of the window openings. To find out more about padded bed heads, check local retailers, and to learn about the benefits of installing shutters, click on window shutter video guides.

Quirky Corners

One trend that is set to really take off in 2017 is the creation of interesting and customized nooks and crannies. So many homes have the same interior layout that they can end up looking like every other house on the block, both inside and out. This is one of the reasons why the flexibility of open plan living is becoming more popular. Whether a household needs quiet calm corners for study, soundproof basements for playing video games or relaxing tranquil spaces with a comfy sofa for reading, it looks like being able to personalize even the smallest of spaces is a surefire winner for the creation of the dream home in 2017.

Structured Plants

Statement indoor plants change with the seasons, and in 2017, it looks like the olive tree could just dominate the domestic interior. Despite this, some experts predict that the best plants for improving air quality may come into their own, as people are more conscious of environmental issues. Among these are the succulent Aloe Vera, the bright and breezy Gerbera daisy, and the Chinese evergreen, which produces beautiful blooms and red berries. All these are known to cleanse the air of a variety of air pollutants and toxins, thereby promoting a cleaner home atmosphere.

Modern Vintage

Finally, one enduring trend seems to be the fashion for contemporary furniture based on vintage styles. This is not likely to go away anytime soon. It includes items that have natural textures and are also durable, such as abaca, cane and rattan.

The desire to make the best possible use of natural and sustainable resources makes sense in the context of how popular upcycling and repurposing has become. Indeed, it may mean that 2017 becomes known as a revitalizing game changer in terms of what has become the throwaway society.

Whether it’s new color schemes or a mixture of different textural choices around the home, the design trends that will influence US home interiors heading into the New Year are bound to be exciting ones.

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This New Hotel Is Designed To Harness Energy From The Ocean



Hotels everywhere are taking steps to become leaders in sustainable architecture and design. From properties at the base of fjords in the northernmost parts of the world to resorts in tropical islands nestled among coral reefs, travel destinations are beginning to look to their local environment to harness renewable clean energy.

One architect, Margot Krasojevi?, has become known for her unique concepts which push the boundaries of ordinary and conventional designs. Her most recent work, the Harmonic Turbine Tidal Hotel, is designed to directly benefit from wind and ocean power.


The hotel is structured to harness the tides to create electricity. Using eco-friendly materials, the building will be constructed using two interlocking steel frames clad in aluminum which will give the hotel structural integrity while allowing it to also sway a bit with the outside natural elements. Beneath the building, there will be water turbines that will efficiently harness the tidal movements to generate energy. The hotel was created for Yalong Bay in Hainan, an island in South China, because of the windy conditions and large waves which are ideal to work in harmony with the hotel’s semi-submerged design and structure.


The building is designed to capture so much electricity that the hotel will be able to sell the surplus to the local grid and benefit the surrounding community. As a result, the hotel will not only offer a destination for travelers to unwind, but it will also be a self-sufficient building that can double as a sort of power plant for clean renewable energy. 


Although renewable energy is the focal point of the unique design, the experience for visitors will also be one of a kind. The hotel’s entrance will lead to a partially submerged viewing chamber and 30 private bedrooms where guests can feel as though they are in a semi-submerged submarine as they watch the waves crash again the windows.


According to Krasojevi?, the inspiration for this design came from observing rock-pools and tidal power. The hotel’s close connection to the ocean tides is meant to capture the experience of surfing. By marrying interior design with practical sustainable technology, the luxury hotel hopes their plan will serve as a model for sustainable hotels everywhere.


Krasojevi? has worked on many other seemingly impossible projects. The architect, who has architecture design studios in London and Beijing, has previously created practical buildings designs to adapt to the changing environment such as the Hydro-electric Tidal House in Cape Town, the water purifying footbridge in Amsterdam, and the Suspended Hotel Campsite in Provence. 

Her firm’s ideology can be seen through the uniques projects as they support the notion that architects should always strive to harness renewable energy through building designs. Krasojevi? believes that as the world’s climate changes, architecture should also adapt their craft and respond to the changing environment. 


In an email interview with Green Matters, Krasojevi? shared, “The main interest in this approach to architecture is to question the relevance of building typologies when facing environmental issues, sustainability and renewable energy as one one of the main design criteria.” She continued, “Buildings should `work’ by embracing renewable energy instead of programmatically catering to redundant typologies alone. To inhabit architecture is to be responsible for the environment.”


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Sustainable Office Design: Can Eco-Friendly Still Be Beautiful?

By Harper Reid

There are many misconceptions about sustainable office design—with one of the most common myths being that eco-friendly offices can’t be as good looking. However, going green certainly doesn’t mean you have to compromise aesthetics. Architects and green interior designers are constantly finding innovative ways to design beautiful, functional offices in a responsible way. More and more, we see successful examples of green architecture that have minimal impact on the environment yet maintain elegance and style. Here are three key tips to design a beautiful, sustainable office.

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This House Aims to Redefine High-End Small Living

The designer of a cutting-edge home on Maui’s north shore is working to recast what it means to live well while also living sustainably.

Continue reading This House Aims to Redefine High-End Small Living

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