Considering your financial commitment, it's understandable that you prefer building with conventional construction methods and familiar materials. Working with tried-and-true systems brings certain assurances, but an unexpected product in the right application can help set your houses apart from the guy down the street.
For example, most builders stick with dependable ceramic tile for their homes, but they ignore the wide array of other materials that can add style to a home.
Glass is perhaps the hottest material in tiles. Durable, water resistant, and low maintenance, glass reacts with light to produce luminescent surfaces that are particularly vibrant. Although typically expensive—often upwards of $20 per square foot—glass can be used sparingly to give a custom look to a kitchen backsplash or shower surround.
Another option is stainless, which has all the same attributes as other steel surfaces—durability, easy maintenance, and water resistance. Offered by manufacturers such as Sylmar, Calif.–based Walker & Zanger and Chicago-based AllStone Imports, steel-tile usage has grown with the rising popularity of contemporary design, but it also can be used for accents in traditional homes.
For those who are even more intrepid, manufacturers such as Ann Sacks in Portland, Ore., now offer tiles made from wood, while other companies make tiles from a combination of cement, recycled glass, and fillers.
Trikeenan Tileworks in Keene, N.H., has produced an innovative new product by merging two tile classics. The company saw the growing popularity of glass tile but found that customers often avoided it because the installation could be challenging. So Trikeenan introduced a line of products that features glass tiles fused to a ceramic back. Now customers get the vibrancy of glass with the easy installation of ceramic, the company says.
Learn more about markets featured in this article: Chicago, IL.