17 May 2009

Mother of pearl wall tile

I've had a run on interest in mother of pearl wall tile in the last week and I have to say that the stuff's stunning, really stunning. Check out this wall tile installation from the great folks at Maya Romanoff.


I have some samples of it and even have a back splash done in it in the showroom. I swear, it can stop traffic it's so distinctive. But that's in a kitchen showroom, not in a real house. So I'm wondering if anyone out there has any first-hand experience with mother of pearl as a tile?

Mother of pearl is made from a material called nacre, and nacre is secreted in the shell linings of certain mollusks. Nacre is also the substance pearls are made from and like a pearl, mother of pearl has a colorful iridescence and a depth to it. Nacre has captivated human imaginations since the dawn of time.

Beautiful stuff but I wonder how it holds up as a building material. Nacre is an organic and inorganic compound. It's made from alternating layers of calcium carbonate and any one of a number of biopolymers. The precise biopolymer is a function of the organism secreting it. Still with me? Now this microscopic layering is where nacre gets its depth, iridescence and strength. The combination of calcium carbonate and a biopolymer serve an organism well while it's alive. However, calcium carbonate and biopolymers break down after the secreting organism dies. In a protected environment, nacre will remain beautiful for generations. What happens though ,when it's exposed to the wear and tear of daily life?

So, anyone? Anyone? Anyone have some first hand experience to share?

16 comments:

  1. No experience with this tile, Paul... but I love it! I almost used something similar (maybe it was the same??) in my kitchen but for some crazy reason, changed my mind. Not happy with what I DID choose :`( I'm definitely going to keep it in mind for the bathroom we're putting in the basement (accent in the tub surround) so I'll be interested to see what you learn re: wear/tear.
    Victoria @ DesignTies

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  2. How beautiful it is! I suspect the same care would apply as to jewelry; namely keeping it away from direct sunlight, strong sources of heat and cleaning it with just a damp cloth.

    On my husbands antique Billiards Table there is an inlay of Mother of Pearl on the rails, plus the cue Rack also has it too. The latter when purchased had several coats of oil base paint and when I stripped it down it came as surprise to find more inlays of it. Surprisingly the s/agent didn't affect it at all.

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  3. Victoria, I have samples of the stuff that I'm sending to Kelly tomorrow. I think she's leaning toward suing it in her kitchen.

    Brenda, good advice. I know the stuff's hardly fragile but I'm sure it has some quirks that need to be considered. Interesting that your stripping agent didn't harm it.

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  4. Paul, if you search under Care and installation in the MR website it gives a few specs.
    It is amazing the s/agent did not harm it as it is pretty toxic stuff.

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  5. I can't wait to see the samples in real life!! If I decide to use them in the kitchen, I'll tell you anything you need to know about them :-) They won't really be exposed to any real wear & tear in our kitchen, though -- they won't be exposed to direct sunlight, won't go behind the stove, and really won't even be touched. So I don't know how helpful my first-hand account would be!!

    Kelly

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  6. You will have your samples by weeks' end Kelly. I'm really curious to hear how you like them.

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  7. I have a feeling I'm going to love them!!!! THANK YOU!!!

    Now I just need to find the perfect wolf wallpaper border for the kitchen and I'll be all set -- got any suggestions?? ;-)

    Kelly

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  9. Where can one purchase these tiles? I saw them used in a show home and fell in love.

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  10. Hey Cy, pretty much any decent tile retailer has access to them. What I show in the photo is a bit more high end though. Look for anyone who sells Ann Sacks or Walker-Zanger tile.

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  11. How do you think these tiles would look as a mirror border?
    MV

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  12. I have a mother of pearl blend of of Terrazzo on our patio area outside the kitchen....However, it's basically an assortment of broken shells. (about 1440 cu ft of it)....

    It is quite pretty - but I don't suppose it is the same as a wall tile.

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  13. We specialize in manufacturing and selling Genuine Mother of Pearl tiles similar to the one mentioned above. Our clients come from all over the country for our Mother of Pearl tiles to use them on bathroom floors, walls, and kitchen backsplashes. Some unique and creative places that people have used these tiles for are window sills and headboards.

    Like many of you, one of the main concerns that our clients have is how durable Mother of Pearl tiles are. The tiles are actually very strong despite their appearance and thickness. In fact, they are often times stronger than many types of marble and other tiles! Genuine Mother of Pearl is naturally thin because it actually comes from a shell.

    As far as cleaning, any non-abrasive soap works well. Hope this helps!

    Kelly
    www.tilecircle.com

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