Apr. 3, 2012
[Note: This was written as a Guest post for the Coverings Blog, but we are also reposting on our own blog]
Fireclay Tile is excited to be attending Coverings 2012 in Orlando, Florida from April 17-20th. Fireclay Tile’s mission is to produce the most beautiful, durable ceramic products using sustainable manufacturing processes and recycled materials. We are innovators and actively engaged in developing new ceramic technologies while preserving “old world” methods. We focus on both the residential and commercial markets, and we would LOVE to meet with you at the show.
To take you back a few years, Fireclay Tile was established in 1986 by Paul Burns, our Chief Ceramicist. His Uncle, Chester, owned Stonelight Tile, one of the early California tile manufacturers. Since its inception, Fireclay Tile has been at the forefront of innovation in the ceramic tile industry. Some of our proudest moments have been switching to all lead free glazes in the 80's, inventing our Debris Series Recycled Tile in the 90's, and in the past two years launching Crush, our 100% recycled glass tile line, and our new Glazed Thin Brick line crafted from 30-100% locally reclaimed earth. We are scavengers at heart, and we are constantly looking around our local community for new waste streams to up-cycle into our products. Sustainability is just part of our DNA, and we couple it with amazing customer service focused on supporting our customers’ success. And we make everything that we sell right here in the USA!
At Coverings 2012 we will be showcasing our entire line as well as highlighting a few NEW products and collections including:
Crush 100% Recycled Glass Tile: The most eco-friendly and cost effective recycled glass tile produced in the USA. Crush is available in 40 colors in both gloss and matte finishes in 17 different shapes and sizes. Click here for our Crush 100% Recycled Glass Video.
Glazed Thin Brick: In partnership with California's oldest brick maker, Fireclay is launching 9 stunning glaze colors on a 30-100% reclaimed earth brick body. Glazed brick has never looked so good! Click here for our Glazed Thin Brick Video.
The Runway Collection by Kelly LaPlante: Come see 4 new designs by Kelly LaPlante for Fireclay Tile, all inspired by runway styles!
The White Collection: Come see Fireclay's take on white!
We are also extremely proud of our enormous Decorative Tile offering, including handpressed and handpainted decorative tiles. We are particularly passionate about our Cuerda Seca tiles, as we are one of the only to do a multicolor wax resist tile made 100% from our own materials in the USA.
Fireclay Tile has worked tirelessly to expand our national and international Dealer/Showroom network, and in 2011 we added 20 new showrooms throughout the US. We are a 26 year-old U.S. manufacturer, and in the past three years have completely revamped our business to focus on our core principles of sustainability and customer service.
We have a private meeting room (#2611) in the TCNA pavilion and we'd so very much like to meet with you. To set up a time, please email eric @ fireclaytile.com and find out why over 93% of our customers rate their overall experience as exceptional. We know you will love working with us. Plus, we make a killer margarita!
Our Vice President, Eric Edelson, will also be presenting at Coverings on Tuesday, April 17th and Friday, April 20th about How to Market Your Showroom Online. Both sessions are at noon, and we’d love for you to stop by and pick up your FREE Guide to Marketing Your Showroom Online.
Feel free to reach out to our ceramicists with any questions you have by checking out out the Fireclay Tile website, and we're also on facebook and twitter!
Feb. 25, 2011
Many of you already know that Fireclay TIle has recently been trolling the Bay Area for recycled porcelain to add to our Debris Series Recycled Tile. Sunset Magazine learned of this initiative and decided to highlgiht us in the backpage of the March issue. Beyond being an absolutely beautiful magazine, we were thrilled they wanted to feature us and the Zanker Road Landfill, pictured above where we get most of our recycled porcelain.
To read more about our porceliain recycling effort click here.
Feb. 24, 2011
We are honored that Architect Magazine highlighted Claymonde in this month's issue of the magazine. They were interested in Claymonde for the following reasons:
- Glazed in the USA
- Ultra-thing, allowing for lower shipment cost and easier installation
- Contemporary, large format sizes that were both modular and square edged, allowing for minimal grout
- Made by Fireclay Tile, a leading US- based socially responsible tile manufacturer
To learn more about Claymonde click here.
Nov. 30, 2010
This year Fireclay Tile teamed up with the Zanker Road Recycling Center (San Jose, CA) and Recology (San Francisco, CA) to begin a new recycling effort with waste porcelain. We first blogged about this effort here, and the ultimate goal is to increase the recycled content of our Debris Series Recycled Tile from 62% to over 70%, while taking the total post-consumer recycled content to over 50% of the clay body.
NPR covered this effort on its Morning Edition show on Tuesday, November 30, 2010.
Click here to see the full story.
We spent a day with NPR on site at the Zanker Road Recycling Center in San Jose, CA and at Fireclay's Factory in Aromas, CA. Below are some picutres from the day highlighting both the people and the process. As you will see getting to where we are today has taken a lot of work, and recycling waste materials is no easy task. Some may argue that "recycling" in general is inefficient, but in this case, the alternative is digging and excavating dirt and then packaging and transporting it, so we think the trade off is worthwhile and beneficial to all parties involved.
Michael Gross (Zanker Road) and Paul Burns (Fireclay Tile)
Waste Porcelain - Comprised of bathtubs, vanities, and toilets
Containers holding waste porcelain. Over 8 months Zanker Road had removed over 17 containers, or 150 tons of waste procelain from the waste stream
Waste porcelain beings processing. Here a GIANT crane is moving the porcelain from containers onto crushing platform
Zanker's crushing machine would process all 150 tons in one morning
Final processing at Zanker Road included sorting the Porcelain based on size
At Fireclay Tile's factory, our crushing machine would again process the waste porcelain into even finer particles.
The final product. Half of these tiles contian the recycld porcelain and the other ones do not. We specifically developed this product formula so no colors would be altered, as is evidenced by this photo. People also always ask about sanitation, but since we double fire our materials using natural gas at over 1800 degrees fahrenheit, sanitation is not a problem.
Special thanks for Zanker Road and Recology for their contributions to this effort and to NPR for taking the time to cover what we think is a fantastic story.
Oct. 29, 2010
Recycled tile gives old materials new purpose and offers exciting looks for new and remodeled homes
A granite quarry in San Jose, Calif., struck an unusual business agreement with the Fireclay Tile factory next door. The quarry gives its rock dust to the tile company, which uses it to create its Debris series—a name that unabashedly markets the product’s 60% recycled content.
Small and large manufacturers all over the country have caught on to the trend of re-using discarded window glass, porcelain toilets, and leather seat scraps from nearby manufacturers, turning factory trash into high-end tile treasure.
“They didn’t know what to do with all the dust they were making,” says Fireclay spokesperson Teresa Cooney, “so the owner of Fireclay, Paul Burns, who is also a scientist, figured out how to incorporate this into a tile for a sustainable cause.”
Recycled bottles go into the glass mosaic tiles made by Hakatai, scraps from leather belts turn into EcoDomo leather tiles, and old soda cans make Alumillenium’s decorative metal tile backsplashes a novelty. These are just a few of the tile companies striking deals with local landfills and industrial plants to re-use and reduce waste.
“I can’t tell you how many e-mails I get a day where people want to unload their recycled bottles,” says Megan Coleman of Stardust Glass, which receives enough refuse from window and door factories near Portland, Ore., to manufacture glass tiles with recycled content as high as 97%.
Demand for recycled-content tile is on the rise because pros and homeowners who want sustainable interior tile find it looks the same (or even better) and behaves the same as traditional ceramic products.
“The level of recycled content is pretty important in terms of how we determine what materials we pick for our projects,” says San Francisco architect William Duff Jr. “[Recycled tile] has a much better story and everyone will feel better about it. In some instances, a recycled tile may be the right tile just from its look and feel.”
The recycled content ranges anywhere from 10% to 100%, and manufacturers offer a variety of materials, including glass, ceramic, aluminum, brass, wood, bamboo, porcelain, cork, and terrazzo. Some companies produce hundreds of color choices and glaze options.
“Any time you have an attractive product, it sells itself,” says Minneapolis architect Greg Kraus, “but then you can add in that component of saying, ‘This is a product that has a significant amount of recycled content in it.’” Kraus uses recycled products from Crossville, which recently carved out a place in its expansive line for the recycled-ceramic EcoCycle series.
“The product itself is at a good price point, but I think it helps to save cost in terms of manufacturing,” says Kraus.
But free dust, door glass, and debris do not necessarily lead to a lower-priced product. Says Duff, “some recycled tiles are going to be less expensive than a conventional tile and some are going to be more.”
Tucson, Ariz., interior designer Lori Carroll tells her clients the cost can range from 20% to 25% higher than its un-recycled counterpart.
The price is the same for traditional high-end porcelain tile as it is for Mosaic Tile’s Italy-imported recycled porcelain tile, says that company, and cost is comparable as long as you evaluate the recycled tile within its sphere of quality, material, and function.
FINDING A HOME
Thanks to the growing popularity of the green movement, recycled tile is on the rise from obscurity, finding a home on bathroom walls, kitchen countertops, and interior floors.
“It used to be the universe of green materials was fairly small,” says Duff, “but that’s growing larger and larger. Where we are today is a very different place than where we were five years ago; there are enough options available that you can pretty much achieve anything that you want.”
But like with all new products, questions linger. While Kraus says the recycled tile he uses has no maintenance, durability, or installation issues that are different than standard tile, Carroll raises the question of how long the sustainable product will last because its presence is fresh to the market.
Still, the future for recycled tile looks bright, according to pros and manufacturers, who predict a wider variety of styles to hit the market as more recycled-tile companies set up shop in the U.S.
This article originally appeared in Building Products magazine
Oct. 5, 2010
Oct. 1, 2010
(Note: This article was published on September 30, 2010 in the San Jose Neighborhood Section. If you'd like to see Fireclay's recycled porcelain effort in an action video click here).
By Stephen Baxter
Paul Burns, the president of San Jose's Fireclay Tile, describes himself as more of a scavenger than a die-hard environmentalist.
He values thrift and resourcefulness, and his company has been making recycled tiles for kitchens, baths and other uses for 10 years. Now, he is taking recycled tile to the next level, and the proof is in the porcelain.
On Oct. 15, trucks from San Jose's Zanker Road landfill will deliver 150 tons of porcelain to Fireclay's factory in Aromas, outside of Watsonville. The porcelain, which came in the form of sinks, toilets and bathtubs, will be crushed to dust and transformed into tiles.
It took 12 months to collect the 15 debris containers of porcelain, and it comes on the heels of a similar shipment from a San Francisco transfer station near Candlestick Point.
The porcelain will be mixed with other materials and scorched in an 1,800-degree kiln to create the company's Debris Series Tile. The new tile will have 70 percent recycled materials and probably be the only tile in the industry made from post-consumer waste.
Burns is pleased, but it's been a lot of work.
"I've been recycling for over 10 years, and [the landfill operators] would basically hang up on me," Burns said recently. "Which I understand, because they're moving things around on big trucks and have things to do. You're basically a pest, a gnat."
Burns sat on the shaded tile patio of his shop at 495 W. Julian St., where the company's showroom and offices have been since 1986.
The building behind HP Pavilion looks modest from the street, but inside is a burst of colors and tile styles. In the back is the original factory.
Many of its tiles use recycled materials and are known for their quality. Word of mouth testimonials mean its clients now range from Whole Foods Markets to ordinary San Jose homeowners to restoration architects. The company has also been in contact with the architects of the World Trade Center memorial in New York, who asked for round, glass tile samples.
"It's always been a mystery how people find us, but now with the Internet it's become easier," Burns said.
Since its start in the '80s, the business has grown to include 30 employees.
"Years ago people laughed at him," Fireclay vice president Eric Edelson said of Burns' early recycling efforts.
Not any more.
Burns grew up in Saratoga and Los Gatos, and his uncle introduced him to tile=making at age 10.
Burns would spend Saturdays making ceramics and tile in a kiln. The original appeal, he said, was that he could watch a raw material become a finished product.
Burns later worked at Stonelight Tile on Pomona Avenue near the Alma neighborhood of San Jose. In 1986, Burns and three partners started Fireclay, and they chose the location on Julian Street because it was an industrial area that was also close to customers.
They bought a large kiln from another ceramics operation that failed, and set up the tile making shop in the a large warehouse-like space in the rear of the building.
They eventually outgrew that operation and set up their current factory in Aromas, but a new electric kiln will return tile-making to the Julian shop in the coming months. The Aromas factory will continue as well.
All the tiles are made to order from more than 100 standard colors and several hundred designs. Every client's order is handmade, and they don't stock tiles. They simply take orders and make batches.
Having spent his life in tiles, Burns has seen the fashions come and go.
Brown is back. Peach and teal combinations had their day. The pink-and-black 1940s look shows up now and then. And how could he forget the '70s avocado green and harvest gold combinations. White is still the most popular color by far.
Besides the dozens of tile samples, the shop on Julian Street also includes an outdoor "boneyard," where hundreds of boxes of extra tile are sold in individual pieces.
Because most of the tiles in the boneyard were made from recycled materials and left over from projects, Burns said buying there is kind of like recycling twice.
Some of Fireclay's adventures in recycling have come from coincidence and luck.
The Aromas tile factory is next door to a granite rock business.
Around 1998, the managers of the granite company approached Fireclay about the possibility of selling its waste dust from crushing granite. Tile could be made from the waste dust, it turned out, and the companies agreed to ship the dust--next door.
That deal, Burns said, solidified Fireclay's commitment to using reclaimed materials.
"That gave us a real mission," Burns said. "Then we realized we could make a product with recycled glass. We started using the spent abrasives from sandblasting. Now we're going to be recycling porcelain."
Porcelain is a high-quality ceramic, and Burns came up with the idea of using porcelain sinks, bathtubs and toilets dropped off at landfills. The crushed porcelain will be sterilized when it enters the kiln, so Burns indicated that the "yuck factor" should disappear for customers.
Michael Gross, the Zanker Road landfill's marketing manager, said he like the idea of reclaiming the porcelain after talking to Burns.
"I thought it was a great idea, because I'm always looking for niche markets of recycling materials," Gross said.
Burns said the first porcelain shipment should last about eight months of production--and he's clearly content to see his idea come to life.
"I've always been kind of a scavenger," Burns said. "It wasn't really about recycling; it was about using what's around."
For more information about Fireclay Tile, visit www.fireclaytile.com.
Aug. 26, 2010
By Mary Gottschalk
Artisans and do-it-yourselfers know that the boneyard of excess inventory and seconds at Fireclay Tile is a treasure trove of tiles in all shapes, sizes and colors at 80 percent off regular retail prices.
During the "Boneyard Blowout" in progress through Sept. 4 at Fireclay on W. Julian Street prices drop even lower.
Tiles that retail at $23 a square foot at regular boneyard prices are $2.50 a square foot during the sale.
The 6-by-6-inch and 4-by-4 inch decorative tiles, which retail at $28 and $24, are $10 during the sale.
And the popular Saltillo paving tiles from Mexico are 20 percent off retail, with prices differing by size and finish.
"We have more than 5,000 square feet of glazed boneyard tile which can be used for bathroom, kitchen backsplash and fireplace surrounds," says Paul Burns, owner of Fireclay.
In the boneyard, named for the common term used for an area where ceramics broken in the kiln are tossed, the staff groups tiles together by color to make it easier for people working on a specific project.
Others look at it as a treasure hunt, wanting to check out everything from the flat tiles to the bullnose, quarter round, cove base, sink caps and moldings to see where their artistic inclinations take them.
In addition to people wanting to remodel kitchens and baths, there are those who want to make tiled planters, tiled tabletops, tile trivets and tile coasters.
Many select larger,
solid-color tiles to cut and use in mosaics, while others prefer the small, embossed pieces for their mosaics.
It's not unusual to have happy hunters return to Fireclay with photos of their projects and the company website includes photos of some completed projects.
"There's a lot of creative things that people do," Burns says. "We often say that our best tile projects come out of the boneyard."
Eric Edelson, Fireclay manager, points out that 90 percent of their tiles use recycled materials in the manufacturing process.
He points to the Debris Series, developed by Burns, which contains 50 percent post-consumer and pre-consumer recycled materials and is available in more than 100 colors.
Edelson says that while some of the tiles in the boneyard are seconds, most are simply excess leftovers from the special orders the 24-year-old company is known for.
It manufactures more than one million tiles a year, each one made to order.
Fireclay Tile's "Boneyard Blowout" sale continues through Sept. 4 at its showroom, 495 W. Julian St., at Autumn Street, www.fireclaytile.com, 408.275.1182. Hours are 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Friday and 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. Saturdays.