Tile is tile, right? And if I can buy high-quality porcelain tile for the floor for just a few dollars a square foot, why would I pay many times that amount for handmade tiles? And can't I use any kind of tile in my pool, in my shower, on the outside of my home, or in my little wall fountain?
We'll address those issues, and what we can do at Arcana Tileworks to help you find the right tile for your particular needs.
1. Why is porcelain floor tile so much less expensive than handmade wall and floor tile?
There are two key answers. The first is that floor tile is mass produced using high-speed production equipment. This process produces excellent, high quality tile well suited for the demands of flooring, while the labor costs (and individual craftsmanship) in each tile is very low. Handmade tile, on the other hand, is made one by one, by hand.
The second reason for the price difference is that the low prices from mass produced tile requires that each color and style be sold in, well, mass. Styles, sizes, and colors with low sales will be discontinued for economic reasons. Handmade tiles cannot achieve the savings of high volume, but also do not have to be ruled by high volume, and therefore handmade tile artisans are free to create many designs and explore many options - including custom, one-of-a-kind items.
2. I've thought of using some of those neat Mexican tiles on the outside of my home. Any reason why I shouldn't?
There is a reason why you see tile most often in warm-climate locations...or, at least, climates without serious winters. That reason is because many tiles, including many (or most) Mexican tiles, are porous and absorb water, and if water is absorbed into the tiles and then freezes, the tile will crack, shatter, shed its glaze, or all three.
So, if you are in sunny Florida, sunny California, or other places that use "sunny" in their descriptions, you are probably OK. Even places like San Francisco (or The Netherlands) which rarely experience winter freezes are fine. However, colder climates call for "frost proof" or "frost resistant" tiles which are less absorbent.
Arcana Tileworks makes "frost resistant" tiles like these. The tiles and glazes are fired to 2100 degrees F or higher - a "high fire" temperature. The clay is "matured," which means basically that the ceramic material has fully fused together, making the tile minimally absorptive. Minimal water absorption means no freeze damage. Mexican tiles are typically "low-fired," which means less strength and more absorption. This will cause trouble for you in the Midwest, or North Carolina, or a zillion other places with four real seasons.
High-fired tiles are also the best option for wet areas in any climate: outdoor kitchen walls, outdoor fireplaces, pools, water features, indoor bathrooms, etc. because they will not absorb water to any appreciable degree.
3. Why else would I consider custom handmade ceramic tile and details from Arcana Tileworks?
Hundreds of glaze colors. More added all the time.
Customized glaze colors.
Glaze matching service.
Tile shape matching service.
Low minimum order dollar value.
Personalized and responsive service.
US (Florida) manufacturer (faster than overseas).
Custom patterned tiles.
Exterior grade tiles and details.
Customer-guided design. (Have a unique request? Just ask.)