Home Office Installation

 These installation pictures feature an interior wall in a home office. Our customer, Steven, wanted brick shelves incorporated into the walls for candles and other accent pieces. Lancaster Running Bond 2×8″ brick tile and custom brick tile shelves created the effect he desired.

 Steven said the following about his experience with Inglenook Tile Design:

“The tiles I purchased from Ingelnook were great.  Their customer service is excellent and all the advice and guidance on how to complete the project was very much appreciated.  Everyone loves this wall in my home office.  I get compliments from everyone that walks in.  I’m very happy that I went forward with this project and Ingelnook was a great choice.
I’m definitely going back to Ingelnook for my next tile project!!!”

Watch for more new installation photos, coming soon!!

Installing Tile over a Vertical Surface

Kitchen cubby wall

At Inglenook Tile, some of the most dramatic installations of our brick tiles have been on walls, ceilings and chimney boxes. Brick tile can be installed on all of these surfaces without needing to pour concrete footers or otherwise add extra support, one of the major advantages of brick tile over full-sized brick.

Installing brick tile vertically, however, can pose a conceptual challenge to many customers– how exactly do you install it? How does the surface need to be prepped? Are there differences between indoor and outdoor installations? How does the installation process change if the tile is being laid over wood-framed walls, cement block, or drywall?

To help answer some of these questions, we turned to Jim Glessner, a very knowledgeable installer who has laid numerous Inglenook Tile projects. These directions and tips apply to our brick tiles as well as any other unglazed tiles that you might use on a vertical surface.

Directions: Installing Brick Tile on a Vertical Surface

Depending on the surface type you install over, these steps will be slightly different. Read more details in the surface-specific sections below.

  1. Prepare surface by screwing backerboard firmly into the wall studs, if this step is necessary for your surface. Cover the entire wall area that you intend to tile with backerboard.
  2. Jim emphasizes the importance of taking the time to lay out your tiles properly before you begin to install. Take careful measurements and lay out your tiles, keeping 1/4″ grout lines in mind. You might want to draw out the final lines on the wall.
    • Pay special attention to the final, highest row when laying out the tiles. You don’t want to be left cutting a small sliver of tile for the final row at the ceiling– it ruins the illusion of full-brick. If the final row lays out as a less than the full tile height, split the difference between the first, lowest row and the last, highest row. This way, you will have the appearance of full-sized brick for the entire wall.
    • If you are installing with corner pieces, as for a chimney, horizontal layout is also crucial to avoid cutting a much shorter tile piece immediately before the corner piece. As with the vertical wall layout, plan ahead and spread out the cutting between two or more tiles so that they are all a similar size.
  3. Once you have laid out the wall installation, install the tiles using standard mastic and 1/4″ spacers. Start at the bottom and work your way up, row-by-row. Be very careful to keep the rows plumb as you install tiles across the wall area.
    • For small wall areas, you may choose to use speedset thinset instead of standard mastic or thinset. You will need to work quickly if you choose to use speedset.
  4. Allow 12-16 hours for the mastic to cure for standard mastic; 4 hours for speedset thinset.
  5. After the mastic has cured, pull out the spacers and prepare your grout or mortar.
    • Jim recommends mixing mortar in a bucket with a 1/2 inch mixing drill
    • The mortar should be a thick liquid consistency, much thinner than the mortar used to install tiles on floors. You should be able to scoop up mortar and pour it into joints with a trowel.
  6. Grout in-between the tiles and strike the joints. Jim strikes the vertical joints first and then the horizontal ones.
  7. Allow 24 hours for the mortar to dry.
  8. Seal the tiles and mortar with a penetrating sealer of your choice to allow easy cleaning and protection from water.

Installing Over Drywall

For installing brick tile over existing drywall walls, Jim tells us that you have two options depending on whether or not you want to remove and re-install your trim or wainscoting.

Option 1: Lay tiles directly on drywall

The first option is to leave the trim in place and install the tiles directly over the drywall. Our brick tile and most other tile is thin enough to lay flush against standard trim without an unusual transition from the trim to tile. This option has the disadvantage of being less resilient. For instance, as Jim explains, if the wall were to have a hard impact, such as a 2-by-4 hitting wall with some force, the tiles would go through the drywall. If you choose this option, start at step 2 in the above directions and then follow as given.

Option 2: Lay tiles on backerboard over drywall

Installing the tiles over backerboard makes the wall more resilient to impact, but requires the removal of all trim from the wall area before installation. You then screw backerboard through the drywall, making sure to hit studs. You might wish to glue up the backerboard and then screw it in. Follow the remaining directions as given above. After sealing the tiles and allowing them to dry, reinstall the trim over the tile wall.

Installing Over Wood-framed Walls (New Construction)

For new construction, you generally will be starting your installation project with a wood-framed wall. Installing over a framed wall simply requires screwing the backerboard into the wall studs, exactly as the above directions detail.

Installing Over Concrete Block

Concrete block is simplest surface over which to install brick tile. You can stick the tiles directly to the concrete block with mastic or thinset. Skip to Step 2 above and follow the directions as given.

Interior vs. Exterior Wall Installations

The technique is the same whether you install tiles indoors or outdoors, but the products you use will be slightly different.

  • When installing exterior walls or chimneys, Jim recommends laying tiles with mastic that has a much higher portland cement content. This type of mastic is more expensive but is much more pliable, allowing the tiles to move with the movement of the building once installed.
  • Make sure to seal exterior tiles to protect against rain. Use a sealer designed for exterior use.
  • Only use tiles that have been tested for freeze-thaw resilience if living in an area with cold winters. Inglenook brick tiles have been successfully tested for freeze-thaw resistance by the Tile Council of America.

Not interested in installing yourself and live in central Pennsylvania? Jim can be contacted at 717.672.1987.

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.

Cleaning Review: Stone Logix

As promised, here is the first of several cleaning reviews about products to clean unglazed tile and stone including our brick tiles. Today, I am writing about Stone Logix, an non-toxic floor cleanser formulated for natural stone.

StoneLogix

Price: $30.95 per gallon

Self description:

Don’t ruin your gorgeous natural stone floors with harsh cleaners! Protect your investment and use only a cutting-edge product like this that will not harm your fine stone floors. Stone Logix™ is safe for the environment and is an excellent cleaner!

Gentle neutral pH. Safely cleans luxurious natural stone floors like marble, slate and travertine quickly and easily. The unique chemical blend breaks down oils, grime and dirt making it simple to mop away. Restores and brightens tile and grout to its original color with oxygen power.

  • Neutral pH
  • Concentrated
  • Non-etching formula
  • Lab tested
  • Will not attack finish
  • The easiest and most cost effective way to clean!
  • Contains NO acids, alcohol, amines, ammonia, caustics, chlorine bleach, Glycol Ethers, phosphates, dyes or perfumes.

Our Assessment:

We used StoneLogix on a very dirty section of our brick tile flooring in the mudroom of our house (we live in the country, so the room at times actually does live up to its name). As we got the water ready we noticed that, despite its claims to being green and non-toxic, the product does still recommend wearing plastic gloves or other protection while cleaning your floor. Perhaps not completely benign, it would seem.

We prepared the regular cleaning dilution: 2 ounces of cleaner in one gallon of water. Then, we scrubbed a section of the mudroom floor with a rag. After allowing the tiles to dry, we noticed only a slight difference between the cleaned tiles and the dirty ones.

Next step: try the stronger dilution. After all, this floor was quite dirty, the soiled floor dilution of 12 ounces in 1 gallon of water might be necessary. With the stronger dilution and some scrubbing, the tiles cleaned up nicely.

Finally, we used the more dilute concentration of Stone Logix cleaner on another brick tile floor in our home, this one vacuumed and only somewhat dirty. We mopped up the floor with a microfiber mop (review coming soon) and the combination did an excellent job trapping any lingering dirt after vacuuming.

Bottom Line:

Stone Logix cleaner requires you to use a high concentration and some elbow grease to clean heavily soiled floors, but it does work. For normal levels of dirt, the dilute concentration paired with a microfiber mop got our floor squeaky clean. The fact that it is non-toxic may also appeal to homes with small children or pets. Finally, this product can be used in auto-scrubbers, which makes it a potential pair with IRobot’s “Scooba” or an industrial quality auto-scrubber.

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.

Manufacturing in the USA

by Julie, Inglenook Tile co-owner

Last night, before sleep, I began thinking about all the changes we have weathered with our small, growing company. When we started Inglenook Tile Design about five years ago, our original business plan was to use my experience in design and product development to manufacture our tiles in Asia.

I didn’t expect, however, that the factories wouldn’t understand why we wanted our tiles to look old. It was very difficult to communicate that we wanted a random, rustic look, with no two tiles being exactly the same. Our factory wanted to make products that look exactly the same – it is a sign of consistency and quality for them in a country where “new-looking” is synonymous with “modernity.” However, a uniform, modern look was exactly what we did not want. The search for a factory who could reliably create the antique look we wanted dragged on.

Frustrated by the slow progress, we turned to the Veteran’s Industries in Myerstown, PA. It was a sheltered work program for veterans from the Lebanon Veteran’s Hospital. We trained the veterans to make our tiles, and they were supervised by the facility manager, Dave, whose commitment to us and our products grew into a great friendship and boon to our company.

In 2005, when the government unexpectedly closed the workshop, we were forced to make other plans and move to our own warehouse space. The husband of one of our former employees from the doll company (our first company) owned a warehouse, so we signed a lease for a corner of it and moved into the echoing, unheated space.

Meanwhile, some Chinese friends found us a factory in Asia. We visited, trained the factory, provided them with molds, and began to import. The factory did a beautiful job, but we noticed several problems: first, it was hard to anticipate what to order ten to twelve weeks before the shipment would arrive. Would we need 4×8” tiles or 2×8” tiles? In what proportion would we mix the order? The factory only made a narrow range of products–if customers wanted special color variations, we had to make them ourselves. As a result, we found ourselves making more and more tiles in our chilly warehouse, bundled in overcoats, and standing in front of an anemic heat dish. The other problems arose, most prominently rising Chinese labor costs and high ocean freight costs. We realized that our manufacturing needed to come back to the US.

A couple of years ago, we brought everything back to our Pennsylvania warehouse. We enlarged the space, added insulation, and built out an office and break room space. Due to our positive experience with the Lebanon VA, we turned to the Coatesville Veteran’s Hospital for workers and contracted with their Work Restoration Program. (Read more)

Our relationship with this VA program and with our vets has been a great blessing and allowed our company to grow with the increasing demand for our brick tiles. This week, we were pleased to hire Billy, who has worked with us for 6 months through the VA and just graduated from their program, as our own full-time employee. We continue to expanding our workspace, buy new equipment, and hire more people as several of our past blog entries have chronicled.

I am a believer in the world community and global trade. That being said, when you see “buy American” slogans, it may or may not mean anything to you – but it has new meaning for me. As I tallied up who we are helping to support with our American-made tiles, I was amazed. One small business has such a far-reaching impact on other local businesses and individuals! For example, we make a difference to our friend/landlords by leasing space from them. Our business helps support US-based box companies, kiln and clay companies, and warehouse equipment suppliers. Even the local hardware store, where we buy paint for our warehouse floor, feels the impact of our decision to manufacture in Kinzers, PA. Then, there are utility companies, electricians, our employees, our veteran workers from the VA Hospital, and our driver, Heather, who takes them home. There are office supply stores, print shops and trade show promoters. As I thought through the list, the breadth of the others we touch by manufacturing our tiles surprised and inspired me.

Until I was thinking alone in a quiet room last night, I never realized how many people are benefiting from this one little company, nestled in a corner of Lancaster County, Pennsylvania. I went to sleep, proud to be paying our bills and sharing our prosperity with our neighbors.