Jun. 17, 2010
Ever wonder what makes the variation in our tile colors so beautiful and unique? Curious why tiles that have been fired in the same batch sometimes vary in texture, color, etc? Why is it that every individual tile is unique to a certain degree? This can be a common question in the tile world and one we at Fireclay are quite familiar with. BUT it is also one of the reasons we love what we do and the uniqueness of the products which we make. Color variation is what makes Fireclay so special and wonderful! The key things to know are:
- It happens! Because of this we grade each of our Debris and Vitrail Series colors V1 to V4 to indicate potential range of color
- Color variation and range in ceramic glazes is beautiful and one of the many reasons people choose Fireclay Tile
- Educate yourself or your customers about color variation so you know what to expect and can fully appreciate the beauty
- Order ~10% extra in case your job requires more than you originally anticipated
- Matching color or a control sample is a very challenging task and is not a guarantee. Hence, we have a $350 color set-up fee for custom work or non-standard colors.
At Fireclay Tile we custom manufacture each and every order we receive. Rather than stocking product and limiting our selection, which means your tile may look mass produced, we have developed a proprietary process to ensure a quick (~4 week) turnaround that allows an infinite range of possibilities and uniqueness for your tile. It’s a great process and one that produces absolutely stunning ceramic tile, but being that it is a handmade tile we want to make sure you, our customer, are aware of color variation – why it happens and what it means.
Why Color Variation Happens…
Color variation occurs in high-fired ceramic tiles where the glaze reacts slightly different at high temperatures and the amount of O2 circulating in the air. Certain colors react more than others, producing more color variation within an individual batch. Unlike paint which is mixed and then dries a final color, glazes only show their true colors when combined with a heat catalyst that brings forth beautiful, deep, rich colors. People are drawn to glazes because of this richness and depth – it’s something you will never get from glass, plastic, or paint products. But because of inconsistencies in heat and because our tiles are handmade, many of our colors experience subtle color variation that one must understand so as not to be surprised when they see it. We and others believe it is this variation which truly brings forth the beauty of Fireclay Tile – it’s not mass made, rather it’s made for you by Fireclay Tile!
Some glaze colors are more effected by differences in heat. An example is a color with a peach tone or green/yellow, which will be more effected by the temperature. White, on the other hand, does not vary much because there is almost no color, and black which has a very strong stain does not vary much either. To help you better choose your colors we have ranked each color V1 to V4 to express how much variation to expect for each Debris Color and Vitrail Color. The ratings are:
|Little Color Variation||Subtle Tone Shifts||Tonal and Subtle Hue Shifts||High Tonal and Hue Shifts|
Here are some examples (note: computer monitors do not always show exact color match):
Debris Series Example Colors & Color Variation Grade
|Tusk (V1)||Brown Bear Satin (V2)||Bryce Canyon (V3)||Bamboo Matte (V4)|
Vitrail Series Example Colors & Color Variation Grade
|Ebony (V1)||Cranberry (V2)||Prussian Blue (V3)||Basil (V4)|
What This Means for You…
We guarantee you an absolutely stunning product that is beautiful, vibrant, and unique. Understanding variation ensures that you are not surprised when you see slightly different shades on certain colors, and do not view those shades as imperfections but rather benefits of purchasing a handmade tile. We've included a few shots highlighting some subtle variation which we love!
What We Recommend...
- Always refer to our Color Variation Grades and compare those grades with the Debris Series and Vitrail Series colors you are interested in.
- If you are looking at a V3 or V4 color, feel free to ask us for a sample to purchase or visit a retailer near you.
- Purchase your tile first and then follow with paint colors, countertops, or cabinetry. The tile will be the focal point, and it sets the tone for the rest of the space. Plus, it will certainly out-last any other product because of its durability and strength.
- When placing your order, we suggest ordering an additional 10% more than you need just in case something should happen or you mis-measured. We can try our best to re-make part of your order, but it may come out looking slightly different.
- Don't expect an absolutely perfect match to your sample. We will always give our best effort and our quality control department will try its best to always catch true imperfections. It is a handmade product, though, which means exact matching will almost never occur. We will come close, but when ordering colors you must realize that matching is not a guarantee.
- Order from our current set of Standard Colors. Old or discontinued colors should not be considered unless you pay a $350 color set-up fee.
We hope this provides a better explanation of color variation in ceramic tile! Any questions please never hesitate to email us.
Photo Credit: Courtesy of Kathy Norton and Mitchell Keith