Handmade tile and "machine-made" (or "commercial") tile are different. Arcana Tileworks LLC makes both handmade tile and glazes machine-made tile. Handmade tile is manufactured differently from machine-made tile in many ways, which means that the two types look different from each other when finished.
Specialty shapes are possible in handmade tile. The slight differences between tiles can add to visual interest.
If you are unfamiliar with the look of handmade tile, you may be surprised that it does not look like the perfectly flat, square, and uniform tile typically found in your home or business.
See the slight wavy top edge on this otherwise very similar handmade tile (on the right), for instance.
Machine-made tile base, custom glazed
Handmade tile with custom glaze
Handmade does not mean inferior (or superior, for that matter), but it does mean different. To make sure that "different" doesn't translate to "disappointment," let us mention a few things about handmade tile.
1. Handmade tile is not as flat as machine made tile. The differences may be in small fractions of an inch, but the differences can be seen by the eye. These slight variations can create visual interest. They also, especially for larger floor tiles, can create problems.
2. Handmade tile is not as square as machine made tile. The mechanics of clay movement during drying and firing can do interesting things to a handmade tile's shape, no matter the care and precision put into the effort. Slight variations in square and shape require some tolerance in grout lines. Handmade tiles will usually require wider grout lines than a machine made tile of the same size.
3. Glaze uniformity on handmade tile may be varied. Often, the glazes we use on our tile are variegated by nature. In other cases, the manufacturing process creates some small variations.
4. Glazes and underglazes on handmade tile may need to be brush-applied, which can show brush marks. This is can the case with multi-colored patterned tile. Brush application can create more variegation even with single-color glazes, which may be desirable.
5. Our handmade tile is designed to be fired to "mid range" temperatures, like the glazes we feature in our website. Most machine made tile will melt or deform at those temperatures, so glaze must be formulated differently to fire to those lower temperatures.
6. Many tile installers are not experienced with handmade tile. They may expect the perfection of machine made and discard far too many hand made tiles as unsuitable. They may expect to use spacers for uniform grout lines. They may expect to have narrow grout lines. Allowances for slight warpage will also need to be accommodated. The installer needs to be knowledgeable and be able to accommodate the characteristics of this tile. More direct involvement with the installer may be needed, too, to be sure they do know this product and how to install it.
Those who like the handmade, unique look of an artisan product will find handmade tile to be ideal for many installations, large and small.
Those who need a special shape or unusual size may find handmade tile to be best solution.
However, anyone who needs the greater uniformity of machine made tile can still meet that need. Those who need tile matching for wall tile usually are trying to match machine made tile, so we would use that base for your project. Arcana Tileworks can custom-glaze machine made tile base many sizes, including 4.25" wall tiles, 3" x 6" subway tiles, 1" and 2" hex sizes, and a wide variety of trims.
Arcana Tileworks® is a registered trademark of Arcana Tileworks LLC.