Winning Porcelain “Woods” from Esmer Tile

By Annette M. Callari, Allied ASID; CMG

Reclaim by EsmerIt’s no secret that natural hardwoods are a hot commodity. So no wonder, other flooring types have jumped on board to recreate the best aesthetic wood has to offer, but in more durable, family-friendly materials. The latest addition to this cache of wood-look floors is a new introduction by Emser Tile announcing their “Reclaim” glazed porcelain tile line.

I have a son in the military who often uses the phrase, “Go big or go home”. And he does go big, of course. Parachutes out of airplanes, serves on the Air Force Special Forces team, and his latest venture will now be pilot training. (…so much for trying to keep him out of harm’s way—never going to happen.) But that’s the way it is. Each generation accomplishes bigger and better things.

The parallel I’m trying to draw here is that the generations of flooring have gotten bigger and better as well. This new launch from Emser is bringing to market an 8” x 71” wood-look plank!!! The look is dramatic, and minimal-width grout lines camouflage that this is tile. Exactly what Emser was striving for—an easy-maintenance, realistic wood look that rivals nature’s best. The color line is also drawn from nature: sand, brown and gray. Use them individually or mix and match to create a stunning compilation (see photo).

Next generation flooring continues to amaze and surprise. Cross-over looks are born out of the need for better functionality. Expect that trend to continue into the future, and undoubtedly all of us can look forward to what’s coming.

Discovered: Star Glass™ Grout

Annette Callari, Allied ASID

Good design is all about solutions, and here’s a solution worth sharing. Glass tile is a shining star in both commercial and residential designs, bringing color, light and translucence to any interior.  Getting creative with glass tile nets big results, but can also net some installation headaches as well.  The crystal clear elegance of glass requires a grout that can enhance its beauty—and I believe I’ve found it.

STARGLASS COLORSStarGlass™ translucent grout from StarQuartz, headquartered in Baltimore, Maryland, offers the solution.  Regular grout products used in glass tile installations can bleed under the tile and give a muddy, irregular appearance.  StarGlass™ is designed to let your glass tile be the star, because it enhances the look of the glass.  Besides being translucent, it’s three-dimensional and reflective.  The secret ingredient to this grout is a round glass bead aggregate that combines with a urethane grout binder.  What a brilliant idea!  It brings out the beauty of the glass (or metal) tile without weighing it down.

The manufacturer states, “StarGlass™ can be used on vertical or horizontal surfaces for both interior and exterior tile installations.  Approved uses include grout for ceramic, porcelain, glass tile, metal tile, or natural stone tiles.” 

Here are some of the interesting features/benefits that I discovered:

  • Pre-mixed, ready to use
  • Excellent chemical, stain and mildew resistance
  • Semi-flexible, low shrinkage, and high crack resistance
  • No color fading, streaking or shading—even when wet
  • Fast, easy clean-up when compared to epoxy and cement grouts
  • Proprietary coloring system
  • UV stable colors (non-yellowing)
  • Self-sealing (no sealing required)
  • Non-sag formula for vertical surfaces
  • Installs up to 50% faster than other grout systems
  • Contributes to LEED credits
  • Contains over 80% post-consumer recycled content

Pretty impressive line-up of features, but most important, we finally have a product specifically designed for glass tile installations.  It’s possible your tile setter hasn’t even heard of it yet, but be persistent if this is what you want in your home or office.  A little research and your professional will be a convert too.  I believe in this product—to the point where I have specified it for a vertical glass tile installation in a commercial design I am working on.  With this product discovery, I brought something new to my company and to our installation crews.  StarGlass™ may now become a star player for all of our future glass installations. 

Before I close, let’s talk color for a moment.  This grout comes in 15 amazing colors (Diamond, Onyx, Opal, Jade, Bronze, just to name a few). The colors are gemlike and almost dance with reflective qualities. You can see the entire color line on their website,—and you need to know that Daltile is the national distributor for this amazing new product.  What fun!