April Showers Bring May Flowers

If April showers bring May flowers, then Architectural Ceramic’s brings you a twist on the classic rhyme. Instead of flowers, let’s talk showers and shower tile. From the ground up, we’ll see what goes under and over shower floors and walls.  This blog post may give you a few ideas now that we hope blossom into a bathroom renovation with us in the future.

Underneath It All

Starting from the ground up, a successful shower installation starts with what you can’t see.  Architectural Ceramics offers two brands, Laticrete and Schluter, that make shower systems part of their specialty.  From the shower pan to the grout, and everything in between, we’ve got you covered.

Laticrete

With tools for homeowners, architects, contractors and distributors (that’s us) alike, Laticrete is a great resource for tile installation products and learning.  Architectural Ceramics stocks a few of their products, a popular seller for example, is their grout.

When considering a shower renovation, Laticrete has an à la carte approach.  Their shower systems are made of preformed foam components treated with HYDRO BAN.  In other words, the high density polystyrene core is covered with a factory-applied waterproofing membrane that’s ready for thinset and tile.

Laticrete preformed shower pans; image via laticrete.com

Pictured above, are two preformed shower pans.  One option, has a circular cut, ready to accept a common round drain.  The other option, is cut for a linear drain.  This style is newer and more common in Europe than in the U.S.  Either style is pre-sloped to ensure that the water run-off heads toward the drain and doesn’t pool at the edges.  Your contractor will thank you for not having to pour a cement basin.

Laticrete preformed shower niches and benches; image via laticrete.com

Moving from the horizontal surface underfoot, to the vertical surfaces of your shower, let’s consider what you come into contact with most: niches and benches.

Typically installed at eye-level, a niche is a great option for storing shampoo bottles.  It’s similar to a shower shelf, but instead of taking up valuable space you may need to stand in your shower, a niche is recessed between the studs of the wall cavity.

Few things are more relaxing than a long, hot shower.  With this preformed shower bench, it won’t take your contractor long to install it.  Which means you’ll be enjoying your shower sooner.

Laticrete preformed ramp, curb and curb overlay; image via laticrete.com

We can’t contain ourselves, at Architectural Ceramics we love to talk about tile and home renovations.  When renovating your shower, it’s important to contain the water with a shower curb.

When considering which shower curb to use, Laticrete has two preformed options.  The thinner, is designed for shower spaces that need a full length but minimal curb to contain water.  Homeowners who want to use a simple shower curtain may choose this option.  If the shower installation calls for a heavy glass door that slides or pivots, however, then the curb overlay offers a solid base for support.

Need an option that offers wheelchair accessibility?  When paired with the preformed linear shower pan, the preformed ramp makes a great handicap accessible installation for any residential or commercial setting.

Laticrete linear drain, bonding flange, and drain grates; image via laticrete.com

We hope all this information doesn’t leave your feeling drained.  Last, but not least, Laticrete offers three drain styles that coordinate with the HYDRO BAN shower systems.

A linear drain is an alternative option to a common round drain.  Because the shower pan slopes differently with a linear drain, you have a wider range of tile options that may be used on the shower pan.  Made in the U.S.A. and made of 16 gauge stainless steel, Laticrete’s linear drain is also durable.

If your shower space is a custom size, and a pre-made shower pan doesn’t apply, then consider using a HYDRO BAN bonding flange and coordinating square drain grate.  Set in a mortar bed, the bonding flange is centered in the shower space and accepts a square drain.  The HYDRO BAN drain grates are low-profile and available in three finishes: brushed, polished or oil-rubbed bronze.

Schluter Systems

Another resource for tile products and continuing education, is Schluter Systems.  For Architectural Ceramics, we stock a few products like their Jolly or Rondec trims, but also their shower kits.

Since we’ve already gone piece by piece through Laticrete’s shower system components, you’ll recognize pieces in Schluter’s shower kit.  Elements like the pre-made shower pan and the curb are there, but in addition, Schluter’s kit offers their patented KERDI waterproofing membranes.

Schluter Systems Kerdi waterproofing membrane; image via schluter.com
Schluter’s KERDI waterproofing membrane applied in a shower; image via schluter.com

What is KERDI?  We’re glad you asked.  If you ask Schluter, they’ll tell you, “it is a pliable, sheet-applied, bonded waterproof membrane and vapor retarder. KERDI features a modified polyethylene (PEVA) core with non-woven polypropylene on both sides to anchor the membrane in the thin-set mortar.”

So, whether you’re using Laticrete’s HYDRO BAN or Schluter’s KERDI waterproofing method, we think we’ve covered our bases in a shower installation.  Want to know how any of these products can be used in your own renovation?  Don’t hesitate to visit one of our DC-metro area showrooms locations to talk with a design and sales associate about your options.

It’s Raining Cats & Dogs

Had enough talk about what goes behind the floor and walls of a shower?  Then let’s move on to something a little cuter than KERDI: puppies!

That’s right, doggies baths.  Rumor has it that former President Barack Obama has a doggie washing station for his pup in his DC-area home.  Since we weren’t invited to his home to take pictures, instead we’ll take to Houzz for a bit of inspiration.

Photography by S. Brenner for Oliver Designs in Denver, CO.; image via houzz.com

This laundry room and doggie bath combo, designed by Oliver Designs in Denver, CO., has us drooling over the space.  The key to the overall look and feel is keeping like planes in like tones.  The pale celadon or sage green paint color on the vertical walls, for example, is close in color and hue to the backsplash and tub tile used on the walls.  The horizontal floors and countertops both use warm beige tones in natural materials with subtle veining.

Photography by S. Brenner for Oliver Designs in Denver, CO.; image via houzz.com

The design is refreshing, from the calming walls and floors, to no-fuss the cabinetry.  It’s refreshing to see flat front cabinetry doors instead of the ever-popular shaker style.  The warm wood of the cabinetry ties in well with the natural wood baseboards, door and window trim.

So, how can we bring this west-coast look and feel to the east-coast?  We may not be able to help with the cabinetry, but we can offer similar tile:

On the doggie shower walls, it looks like a glass 3″x6″ subway tile was used.  At Architectural Ceramics, we have our Naturals Collection that fits the description perfectly.

For the floors, a natural travertine or porcelain tile that looks like travertine was used.  Available through Architectural Ceramics, our Opulence Collection features large-format and mosaic porcelain tiles that looks like travertine.  Here, the Jura Beige color mimics what was used is the space.

 

When It Rains It Pours

Alright, we couldn’t resist a good pun.  There’s no doubt that whether you’re renovating a kitchen or a bathroom, geometric and ogee shaped tiles are on trend at the moment.  So let’s take a moment to talk about one shape in particular: the fan or fish scale.

Pratt & Larson’s fan mosaic; image via prattandlarson.com

For this blog’s purpose, we’d like to think of the fan shape as a rain drop.  Fun and simple, this tile’s shape adapts to various design styles depending on the glaze treatment.

For our vendor Pratt & Larson, their craftsmen in Portland, Oregon shape and glaze each ceramic tile by hand.  Here, their fan mosaic features a glaze with various blues and greens.  The soft pooling in the glaze and the color blend would blend well into a home with a nautical or traditional style.

Cobalt blue fish scale tiles, inspiration via pinterest.com

Also in blue, but this time a bold cobalt, this shower space uses the fish scale tile as an accent band in the shower.  It’s a strong contrast to the elongated white subway.  And the blue and white color combination is always a classic.

Matte black fan mosaic, inspiration via pinterest.com

Not sure you can commit to a look like cobalt blue, even if it is an accent?  How about a matte black tile instead?  The classic black color may take the fan mosaic from being trendy to timeless.  Here, it blends seamlessly from the bathroom’s main floor to the shower floor.

To learn more about various tile shapes, like the fan or rain drop, check out our blog entry Getting in Shape: The Skinny on Tile Shapes & Patterns.

Making a Statement

Using geometric or trendy tile isn’t the only way to make a statement with your shower.  Using an accent wall in the shower is a great way to add style without overwhelming the space.

Here, Jennifer Gilmer Kitchen & Bath and Architectural Ceramics teamed up with our client to create a master bath that features texture in a big way.

Photo: Image by Bob Narod, Photographer, LLC for Jennifer Gilmer Kitchen & Bath; features AC’s Island Stone line and stock porcelain Craig Castle

The dark tile that clads the wall, comes from our Island Stone vendor.  The Crescent V-Tile series in the color Sutra Black takes on multiple personalities.  To one person, it looks like bamboo shoots, and to another, it reminds them of falling water.

To see more from this project, or to get more shower accent wall inspiration, visit our blog entry Making a Statement with Shower Accent Walls.

The Extended Forecast

We know what’s trending in bathroom tile now, but where do we see it going?  In 2018, it’s only natural that we move forward by going back to a more natural palette:

Geometric Cement

Geometric floor and wall tile; inspiration via pinterest.com

Hand-made cement tiles have a natural looking shape to them, but with a geometric pattern they can also look sharp.

Shown to the right, is an inspirational image that beautifully showcases a bathroom vanity with a geometric tile floor and backsplash.  The overall look is simple and sharp.

To get the look, consider using our vendor Sabine Hill.  who specializes in painted cement tile.  The Kinetic Collection, shown below, has a graphic look.

To see more cement tile with graphic glazes from our Sabine Hill line, view the Sabine Hill Catalog here.

Small-Scale Grids

A natural way to organize tile, this small-scale grid pattern is clean and simple.  Whether it’s square or rectangular, tile on a straight-stack grid could be the next big thing.

Pink blush small-small tile on a grid; inspiration via pinterest.com

This small-scale pink blush tile is on trend for 2018, but it has us wondering what will be the color in 2019.  Will neutrals and pastels still win over bold hues?  Time will tell…

Terracotta Tile

Terracotta hex bath and shower floor tile; inspiration via pinterest.com

If trends are cyclical, then we’re bringing back the 70’s with terracotta.

This red clay-based tile, shown to the right, makes a great bathroom and shower floor.  Where our baby boomer predecessors may have used terracotta tile with a harvest wheat wall tile, here it pairs well with a subway tile in pale pink.

At Architectural Ceramics, we carry a line, Tabarka Studio, that specializes in hand-made terracotta tile.  You’re sure to find a hexagon, among other specialty shapes in glazed or unglazed finishes.

 

For further questions about the tile featured here, or to place a tile order, please contact sales@architecturalceramics.com.  Want weekly updates about Architectural Ceramics and our product lines?  Join our newsletter here.

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