Tiles

Feature Project: Pemberton Hall Visitors Center

Historic Site, Salisbury MD
Wright’s Ferry 4×8″ Brick Tiles, Running Bond Pattern

This thin brick veneer installation is in the Visitors Center of historic Pemberton Hall, a circa 1741 plantation home in Salisbury, MD. The buildings and surrounding land have been made into a park with miles of wetland trails and many day camps and outdoors groups often using the space for learning and play.

The Visitors Center building is a reproduction tobacco barn used for educational purposes. Inglenook’s 4×8″ brick paver designs fit the ticket for the interior brick flooring that is both historic-looking and rugged enough for the pounding of many little feet. This project was commissioned by the Maryland Parks and recreation system. In the picture above, the Pemberton Hall with an inset of the reproduction tobacco barn that used Inglenook brick tiles.

The entryway of the Visitors Center, by itself with an inset of children emerging from the learning center. This entire installation used Inglenook Tile “Wright’s Ferry” 4×8″ brick tiles in Old Strasburg color mix.

The educational room from various angles.

Julie’s Update: New kiln and other news

The most exciting event this week was yesterday’s delivery of our new Bailey gas cart kiln! We have been making many preparations for its arrival, such as putting on a new roof, pouring a new (level) concrete floor, and adding to the size of our workspace.

This kiln will improve our lives in many ways. Most importantly, we will be able to cycle many more tiles through our kilns, and shorten the lead times on most orders. We will also be able to load and unload it without crawling inside, so it will more user-friendly.

It is a sophisticated kiln that regulates itself, and we will not be required to baby-sit it on

evenings and weekends as it fires, as we do our present gas kiln.(Perhaps this fall we will get wood chopped for our fireplaces, after all!) So much of our time over the past year has been taken up waiting for the gas kiln to finish its firing cycle.

With the kiln, we also took delivery on an additional electric slab roller, which is part of our production process. With it, we will be able to add another line of workers, and fill that gas kiln regularly. Next, we will need to make a larger break room! With our new equipment, we are ready for the busy fall building season.

We will welcome Ben tomorrow, another veteran worker from the Coatesville VA Hospital.

We are excitedly anticipating an article that will be published soon in Architectural Digest, featuring a home renovation that used a large number of our Summer Kitchen brick tiles. When we have more information on this, we will share it in our blog.

Cheers,

Julie Good-Kruger

Inglenook Tile Design

Cleaning Review: Microfiber Mops

Once in a while, a customer will come to us with questions about the type of mop to use on their brick tile floor.

For the assiduous mopper, the typical sponge mop might not hold up to frequent scrubbing, especially on our more rustic tile styles, such as Wright’s Ferry. Trying to address this problem, we came across microfiber mops, a relatively new development in the floor cleaning sphere.

Microfiber mops use static electricity to trap dust and dirt, allegedly getting floors cleaner with less effort. They also are much more durable than the typical sponge or loop mop. We were intrigued by the possibilities of this product and purchased a heavy-duty microfiber mop that could be used wet and dry to test out on our home’s brick tile floors.

Read more about the product and our assessment of its usefulness below.

Heavy-Duty Dust/Wet Microfiber Mop kit

Price: $25-$30

Self-description:

This description of the product is from Shopmicrofiber.com, the website from which we purchased our mop kit. Microfiber mops are sold on many different websites– shop around for the best deals and features.

The Microfiber Heavy-Duty Mop is a top-quality, industrial-strength alternative to our classic Microfiber Standard Mop. Specially built from sturdy, resilient aluminum hardware, it will easily stand up to continuous, intense use.

The Microfiber Dust Pad is made from supercharged, electrostatic Microfiber that quickly attracts and holds dust, dirt, pet hairs, lint, crumbs and more, removing it from your floors and keeping it out of the air. The powerful Microfiber Mop Wet Pad easily tackles even the dirtiest floors, cleaning away dirt and grime, oils and spills, smears, smudges and scuff marks, leaving floors clean and streak-free

Microfiber Mops are a safe and economical alternative to traditional mops because they provide a thorough clean using only water – no harsh or expensive chemicals needed. The microscopic, split, wedge-shaped fibers draw in and attract dirt and stains, leaving behind only a clean and sparkling floor. Microfiber Mop Wet and Dust Pads are machine washable at least 200 times, saving you money and saving the environment from needless disposable waste.

Microfiber Mops are also easy to use, effortlessly surpassing all other types of floor mops. Microfiber is super absorbent, able to hold up to 7 times its weight in liquid, so mops won’t drip. Plus, they are lightweight and easy to maneuver, enabling you to cover large spaces in a short time.

Because Microfiber is safe enough to use on any hard floor surface, including hardwood, tile, marble, linoleum, stone, and painted surfaces, it is ideal for every room in your home. Make a quick pass through the room with the Microfiber Dust Pad, quickly removing dirt, dust, hair and more. Then use the Microfiber Mop Wet Pad to wash floors for a bright, clean finish. Quickly clean up spills in the kitchen and bathroom, wipe away mud in your entryways, and more.

Our Assessment:

I first tried our microfiber mop dry on our most rustic floor– our entryway brick tiles are much more pitted than anything Inglenook Tile sells today, meaning its success on this floor would be a good measure of success on all others.

The mop is very light and glided across the brick tile surface easily, not catching on any of the rugged grooves. As advertised it did, indeed, do an excellent job picking up the dirt and other small particles. The larger particles were left behind, however, indicating to me that the dry microfiber mop is best used for maintenance cleaning during the week with a thorough vacuuming on cleaning day. I removed the microfiber pad and shook it out well outside when I completed the floor, an action that seemed to restore it fairly well to its original pristine white state. Machine-washing is also an option.

The next test, wet mopping.

I used a warm, dilute solution of water and Stone Logix cleaner to wash our brick tile floors with the microfiber mop. Again, the mop worked well to pick up dirt and dust, leaving the floor with a pleasant, clean gleam. The logistics of using the mop were a bit complicated, however.

First, my bucket could not accommodate the 18″ wide, rigid mop head, so I removed the microfiber pad (an easy task– it’s attached with Velcro), dipped it by hand into the warm cleaning water, wrung it out a bit, and then re-stuck it to the mop. All those familiar with mopping see the obvious problem here. Every time the mop needs to be rinsed and wrung as you mop the floor, the pad must be removed and the whole task done by hand. A specialized microfiber wringer bucket I have since located online has the potential to ellievate this troublesome part of the mopping process, though.

One other complaint– the little metal slides that attached the mop head to the handle of the mop slid out of place several times when I moved the mop suddenly in one direction, leaving my mop in 2 pieces. I would then have to reassemble the unit; again, not a hard task but a somewhat annoying one.

When I finished mopping, I did one final rinse with fresh water, wrung it out and hung it up to dry. No problems there.

Bottom Line:

The hype about microfiber mops has merit. They are indeed excellent at catching dirt and very resilient to the texture of our brick floor. I doubt I will need to replace the microfiber pad for a long time. However, wetting and wringing out the microfiber pad by hand each time the pad needs to be rinsed is a daunting task. I will likely need to buy one of the microfiber mop wringer buckets before I undertake a major mopping project. If you are a frequent mopper and are concerned about a sponge mop on your brick tile floor, this is definitely the mop to buy. But do yourself a favor and buy a wringer bucket at the same time.

Castles and Abbeys Collection: New Tiles

After we introduced the Castles and Abbeys collection last week, two more new tiles for this collection successfully made their way out of the kiln. Look for more coming soon! Learn more about this collection.

Interested in samples or more information? Contact us. The Castles and Abbeys collection tiles will be for sale starting this fall!

All Saints Church Lozenges

These raised low relief tiles match the design of four late Saxon tiles evacuated from the All Saints Church in York, UK. The original red clay tiles were either used as step risers or as flooring in the church, and are the oldest surviving examples of medieval ceramic tiles in northern Europe.

The diamond-shaped lozenges decorating this tile were a popular Christian symbol in the Middle ages, though scholars remain uncertain what the shape was meant to represent.

Our All Saints church Lozenge tiles display the low-raised relief design on 6 inch squares.

Acton Burnell parish Oak Leaves

This attractive line-impressed Oak Leaf motif comes from the 14th century Acton Burnell parish church in Shropshire, UK. In medieval times, oak leaves symbolized many desirable traits, including hospitality, stability, strength, honor, eternity, endurance, and liberty. Oak leaves were also associated with power and victory, making them commonly incorporated into heraldic imagery.

This specific tile design, however, being laid in a church, was likely created to embody the religious symbolism of the Middle Ages–strength, renewal of life, and steadfastness, especially in times of persecution. Oak trees were also sacred to ancient Druids, as their Tree of Life, and may have been incorporated into Christian symbolism as a way of assimilating many Celtic peoples into the church.

Our 6 inch Oak Leaves tiles are line-impressed, like the originals, and can be used on their own or mixed with plain field tiles to add a regal, historic look to your floor.

Old World Collection: Hexagons

Early this week, we pulled several more Old World collection tiles from our kiln and are excited to share the prototypes with you! These two new tile designs are both plain mosaics– elegant, repeating field tile patterns– which form the backbone of this collection. (Learn more)

Want samples or more information? Contact us. Old World collection tiles will be for sale starting this fall!

Broken Hexagons

This plain mosaic design uses a single tile to create a visually-engaging pattern of nesting hexagons, subtle enough to be used on large swathes of floor, yet unique. Each broken hexagon piece is 9″ wide by 5.5″ tall, combining to form a 10 inch hexagon. As with all of our plain mosaics, the addition of powders, oxides and wood ash lend interest, variety, and age to each tile.

Marketplace Hexagons

A classic plain mosaic, repeating hexagons can be found paving public plazas and open air markets across Europe. Our 5 inch hexagons bring the same appeal– simplicity and elegance– to your home’s floors and patios. These tiles can be matched with our hand-stenciled designs from the Provence collection for a country French flair.

Coming this fall: Castles and Abbeys Collection

Medieval times, rich in mythology and romanticism, have long captured our imaginations. Ruins of castles and other majestic structures dot the hilltops of modern Europe, reminders of their storied past. In the medieval buildings left standing, we can catch a glimpse of these stories and the beautiful architectural details that graced them.

Tiles in medieval Europe were a luxury, enjoyed by those who could afford them. Patronage for medieval tile makers came from the church and clergy, the aristocracy, and well-to-do merchants. The subject matter was simple: the ever-popular fleur de lis, floral motifs, heraldic emblems, and religious themes. Animals were imbued with symbolism; a lion, for example, embodied courage, power, and resurrection.

Tilemakers often etched or inlaid these distinct tiles designs into wet clay. Mosaics, raised low relief, sunken counter-relief, and line-impressed designs are also found in medieval buildings across Europe.

For our Castles and Abbeys collection, we have gathered tile designs from European castles, abbeys, and cathedrals and re-crafted them for today’s home. We will provide details of the origins and inspirations of each tile design in this collection, allowing you to know and to share your floor’s story.

Castles and Abbeys Preview

Chapelle de Saint Cucaphas Quatrefoils

This tile design originates from the elegant twelfth-century tiles found in the Chapelle de Saint Cucaphas in Saint-Denis, Paris. On the original, the classic quatrefoil motif, a design representing a flower or leaf with four leaflets, has been inlaid into the larger square and painted black and warm yellow to create a dramatic contrast. We have reproduced this timeless tile design on 6″ square tiles and etched the quatrefoil into its surface. We then set the quatrefoil design apart with sprinkled manganese to create a subtly contrasting black and earth-toned mosaic.

Rievaulx Abbey Scrolls

These etched squares interlock to create an understated pattern of leafed foliage and scrolls, borrowed from 13th century inlaid tiles found at the Rievaulx Abbey in North Yorkshire, UK. The Gothic stiff leaf motif created by the repeating pattern was popular in early English ornamental work and remains an attractive choice for the modern home. Our Rievaulx Abbey Scrolls are line-impressed on 6″ tiles and fired in our gas kiln, giving the floor tiles a graceful design and rich color variation.

Watch for more tile designs from the Castles and Abbeys collection, coming soon. The Castles and Abbeys collection tiles will be available for sale starting this fall. Call to pre-order samples and to receive more information.

Feature Project: Chimneys and Hearths

Inglenook is the Scottish word for “chimney” and is often used to describe a warm central hearth in the homes of Northern Europe. Therefore, it is only fitting that this feature project is a collection of chimneys and hearths, installed in the home of a customer in the Philadelphia area.

David and Margaret, our customers, live in a beautiful traditional-style home in mainline Philadelphia. They first contacted our company and came to visit our warehouse in Winter of 2007 to pick out and order tile for their home. Since then, they have ordered from us two more times for other areas in their home! David and Margaret found Inglenook Tile because of they were unhappy with the plain tiles they had installed in their entryway and had decided that brick tile might give them the look they wanted. Margaret told us when we came to visit, “Now that these (Inglenook tiles) are down, we just love it! We’re sending you a family friend who wants to use these tiles, too.”

Below are the pictures of David and Margaret’s installations, a chimney, an entryway, and two hearths. (pictured above: their home. directly below: the beautiful hydrangeas in their front yard.) All the tiles shown are in Marietta color mix.

Click here to see a video of this installation.

It’s a little rough– our first time with our new video camera– but it gives you a feeling for the project.

We’ll start outside where David and Margaret used Lancaster Running Bond 2×8″ brick tiles and corner pieces to cover the outside of their chimney. You’d never know that it wasn’t full-sized antique brick!

Inside, we see the entryway that was David and Margaret’s first installation with Inglenook Tiles. They used Wright’s Ferry 4×8″ brick tiles in an offset basketweave pattern.

David and Margaret installed our brick tiles for two hearths as well. One of these hearths covers a large region around the hearth outlining a beautiful oriental rug. Both hearths used Wright’s Ferry 4×8″ brick tile.

First pictured is a closeup of the hearth. They used a herringbone pattern on the inside of the hearth base with a running bond border. The rest of the floor area is in a herringbone pattern. The second picture shows an image of the entire area. The final picture shows a clear detail of the herringbone pattern along the side of the rug.

The second hearth is smaller, using Wright’s Ferry 4×8″ brick tiles in a running bond for the base. The surround uses 2×8″ corner pieces to achieve the appearance of full sized brick.

Thank you, David and Margaret, for giving us the time to see your home and the beautiful installations! We really appreciate it!

Coming this fall: The Provence collection

Provence

Provence, a region of southeastern France on the Mediterranean Sea adjacent to Italy, is known for its wine, artists, and rich culture. Our Provence collection is rustic and welcoming, equally at home in a cheerful cottage or in an elegant chateaux. Combining soft earth tones and brighter accents, our Provence style captures the ambiance of Southern Europe, with its heart in the homes of the French and Italian countryside overlooking lush rolling vineyards, the blue waters of the Mediterranean, or the soaring peaks of the French Alps.

In the homes of the Mediterranean region, floors were historically made of natural materials—some wood, but mostly brick, stone and clay tile. Our other collections subsume several of these historic floor types—brick and repeating mosaic patterns.

Our Provence collection distinguishes itself with additional classic tile shapes –hexagons, rectangles, and squares– and the hand-stenciled motifs of Southern Europe, rubbed soft as though worn by hundreds of years of use.

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Provence Preview
To give you a peek at what we are working on right now, we’ve pictured two Provence collection tiles that came out of the kiln this Monday.

Corner Fleur de Lis: 6.5” square tile
This 6.5” square tile has a deep red clay body accented by corner fleur de lis designs in contrasting beige clay. The fleur de lis motif, a stylized lily or iris, dates far back in history, found in some form in nearly every ancient culture. In more modern history, the fleur de lis has become attached to European, and especially to French designs through its long-standing use on the heraldry of French monarchs. The Corner Fleur de Lis tile will be only one of our Provence tiles to bring this attractive and enduring design to your home.



French-Stenciled Hexagons

This tile design showcases our classic French hexagons, a tile style often found covering villa floors and rooftop terraces along the Mediterranean coast. Our hexagons will be available unadorned with attractive, natural variation achieved through kiln-flashing, and with stenciled designs, colored with clay slip, powders and oxides.

This hexagon design is the latter, decorated with a ‘snowflake’ motif and arranged in a pattern with other kiln-flashed hexagons. The wood ash, oxides, and other natural materials used in the design of these tiles give these handmade tiles a well-worn elegance, as though reclaimed from the floor of a French cottage.

See our plain mosaic hexagons in the Old World collection.

All of Provence tiles will be made to order—choose your stenciled patterns in white tones, black or darker red and personalize the design for your home.

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Watch for more Provence collection tile designs coming soon. Among the tiles in product development are some with floor designs created on 10.5” square tiles. Provence collection tiles will be available for sale starting this fall. Call to pre-order samples and to receive more information.

Soon, we will introduce our final new collection, the Castles and Abbeys collection, offering timeless interpretations of medieval tiles for your home.

Coming this Fall: The Old World Collection

With the Old World collection, we at Inglenook Tile have reached back into history, uncovering designs used by ancient European cultures where tile making was considered an art form. As we leafed through historic resources, we found an abundance of inspiration for the modern home: the clean lines and quality craftsmanship of Nordic ceramics, the lacey patterns of Celtic motifs, the fanciful designs of antique German chocolate and butter molds, and the tile patterns used in ancient European courtyards and banquet halls.

The Old World collection brings your home the best of Northern European design, rooted in history, yet timeless in essence.

Old World Plain Mosaics
The first designs in our Old World collection were tiles historically known as “plain mosaics,” repeating patterns of tiles that fit together to form broad patterns across your floor. These flooring tiles, not to be confused with Roman mosaics which are composed of tiny cubes, were popular in many parts of the world in ancient times for their simplicity and beauty. Plain mosaics also experienced a revival during the Arts and Crafts movement, 1880-1910, and found a place in this period’s bungalow-style homes.

To achieve an authentic aged appearance, we have painted our “plain mosaic” designs with thin clay slip or sprinkled them with oxides and clay powders, techniques similar to those used to achieve color variation in ancient times. Through the firing process, random color flashing produces beautiful variety of natural earth tones on the flooring.

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Old World Preview

The first of our plain mosaic designs came out of the kiln yesterday morning. We were excited to see how they turned out and are now excited to share a couple of them with you! To start, we have pictured the “Ell” plain mosaic and “Diamond point” plain mosaic in this post.

The Ell Plain Mosaic
The Ell plain mosaic creates several historic flooring patterns. The first pattern, known as “herringbone” after the symmetrical angles of fish bones, creates long, elegant rows across the floor.

The second pattern using the Ell plain mosaic is an interlocking rectangle

The Ell plain mosaic also pairs with 4×4” squares to create another historic flooring pattern. We stamped the pictured 4×4” tiles with woodland animals, but you can also use them in this pattern unadorned, relying on the natural color variation to create interest on your floor.

The close-up image pictures a mouse stamp on the 4×4″ tile.

The Diamond Point Plain Mosaic
The Diamond point mosaic tile also has a variety of potential installation options for your floors.

See two of these patterns, Diamond Point pinwheel mosaic (top) and elongated hexagons mosaic (bottom), pictured below:

Pinwheel

Finally, the Diamond point plain mosaic can also install as a hexagonal border around a square tile. Shown here with a darker firing.

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Old World tiles will be available for sale starting this fall. Call to preorder samples and to receive more information.

Watch for more Old World collection tiles, coming out of product development soon! Tomorrow, we introduce the Provence collection, our line featuring the tiles and motifs of historic Southern Europe.

Cleaning Thin Brick floors (and other unglazed tiles and stone flooring)

We often have potential customers wonder how to clean our brick flooring.

“Just like any other unglazed tile or stone floor– vacuum and wipe up occasionally,” we reply cheerily.

But what does that mean, exactly? How often do you vacuum or mop? And with what type of tools or cleaner? Is it easy or does it take a lot of time and work?

Over the next several weeks we hope to answer these questions for you through providing instructions, tips, and product reviews about cleaning brick floors. This posting is the first of these entries.

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Cleaning Inglenook Brick Tile

Many of our customers rave about how easy maintenance their brick tile floor is, especially as compared to its full brick counterpart.

Walt, from our blog’s feature project, Harvest Moon Farms, is a recent fan. “It’s so easy to take care of,” he said, “We just vacuum it.” Another customer, Debbie, let us know that she how thrilled she was about the floor’s easy clean-up. When her elderly dog had accidents, she said, she always hoped it would be on the brick tile floor because it easily wiped up with no mess or residue.

At home, we think our brick tile floors are easy care, too. We vacuum our front entry occasionally and are grateful that the floor does not show dirt well for the times in-between. For kitchen and bathroom floors, though, cleanliness is paramount.

Luckily, brick tiles can be kept spick and span, regardless of in which room they are installed.

Cleaning 101

Here are our instructions on how to keep your brick tiles clean day in and day out. These instructions apply to any unglazed tile, brick or stone floor, so these tips might be helpful in other areas of your home as well:

For routine cleaning, vacuum or sweep your brick tiles, as you would any other uncarpeted floor. Vacuum weekly or as often as you clean the rest of your home. Floor or wall interior bricks may be dusted with vacuum cleaner dusting attachments. After vacuuming, you can wipe with a plain water and damp mop, if desired. This step can help prevent dirt from building up on your brick floor.

When more heavily soiled, the bricks may be cleaned using a mild detergent solution. Soap and water works fine, but you can also use commercially available detergents for tile or stone floors. Rinse them well, and wipe dry for greater sheen.

To save time, try putting 1 cup of vinegar in the water; the floor will shine without being polished.

Do not clean unglazed ceramic tiles with acids, strong soaps, or abrasives.

We recommend using microfiber mops rather than sponge mops, since sponge mops often do not hold up well on the texture of unglazed floors. Several customers report that the robotic mopper, Scooba, works with great success on their brick tile floors, as well.

Remember: Always seal brick tiles or other unglazed ceramic or stone flooring prior to washing. Unsealed tiles, bricks, and stones are porous.

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We hope this information is helpful to you!

We are going to be experimenting on our brick tiles in the upcoming weeks with different non-toxic cleaners, mops and other cleaning tools and reporting back to you on our success. At the end, I will compile all the reviews into one easy to use guide.

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