Archive for the ‘Tiles’ category

Five Tips for Taking Care of Your Carpet and Tile in a Green Friendly Way

June 19th, 2014

This is a guest post by Candace Hubbard.

First let’s start with an explanation of exactly what “green cleaning” is.  To put it simply, it is the cleaning of carpets, upholstery or tile using the same certified ways that carpet cleaners always do, but using “green” chemicals instead of other potentially harmful chemicals.  These are biodegradable, non-toxic and a whole lot safer for you and your family’s carpet cleaning care.  Here are some ideas of how carpet cleaners take care of your carpet and tile using green friendly products.

What Can Be “Green” Cleaned?

You can have your carpet, upholstery, tile and grout, marble, granite and other stone green cleaned without any problems.  The company you choose should follow these methods for your carpet cleaning care:

  1. Use a pre-cleaner treatment to help loosen dirt and ground in stains.
  2. Your furniture, sofas, chairs can all be cleaned using green products that don’t pollute the environment.  Just be sure that your carpet cleaner uses certified green cleaners before tackling these items or your carpet.  They will all come out just as clean as if you used one of the more popular, or less environmentally friendly brands of cleaner.
  3. Even the dirtiest tile on your floor can be cleaned to look shiny brand new by using products safe for the environment, so don’t worry that these products aren’t up to the job.

Allergen Treatment

If you suffer from allergies you might think that you need to use a special product that might not be totally kind to the environment, but this isn’t true.  Your carpet and tile etc, can be treated with hypo-allergenic products that do no harm whatsoever to the environment.

  1. Be sure that your carpet/tile cleaning service is using a product that is guaranteed by the maker to be hypo-allergenic yet green.

Treating Your Tile

You don’t need to hire the carpet cleaning kings to blast the grease, grime and dirt out of your tile in an environmentally safe way.  Sometimes smaller companies are greener than the larger ones.  They may also be willing to work more and try harder to meet your needs.

  1.  The company you choose should not use any acids, or harmful chemicals or even scouring brushes.  And a powerful steam cleaner should be used on your tile and grout.  It’s also a good idea to have your grout sealed after it is cleaned and there plenty of green products available to do that.

It really doesn’t take much energy or expense to keep your carpet and tile clean and green safe.  It doesn’t require the services of large companies who advertise themselves as thecarpet cleaning kingsYou just have to search for the companies who care enough to try and protect the environment.  If a company is dedicated to this then they will have the products and skills you need.   As long as you do your part in seeking them out, these companies should be able to give you the service you expect.


Candace Hubbard is a freelance writer who has done interviews with companies like and other companies responsible for tile and carpet cleaning care.  She has researched the topic of green cleaning and written about it extensively.

Recycled Granite Has Lots of Design Possiblities

April 12th, 2013

Granite Scraps, normally sent to landfill

In keeping with my theme of writing about products made from waste material, I was contacted by a company called Green Stone Granite, based in Guelph, Ontario. Green Stone Granite is a new enterprise that takes leftover granite from building jobs and turns it into new products. Dana Laferriere, my contact at Green Stone explained to me that after counters or flooring or tiles have been made from granite, the off-cuts are usually sent to landfill. According to Green Stone’s estimate, 30-40% of granite is “waste”, as in off-cuts and scrap, and is sent directly to landfill. Green Stone has asked local granite manufacturers  (Guelph and surrounding area) to send their scraps to them instead of landfill.

Green Stone Granite’s goal is to become a zero waste facility. Dana said,

We need to get our name out there to educate the public that there are different uses for granite, and now the option for recycled granite. Once we do that and our business grows, we will be able to put the money into achieving a zero waste facility. Currently we are able to re-purpose on average 70% of the granite that comes to our facility. Our goals for the future is to start producing landscaping material with the remainder including aggregate which would bring that to 100%.

Split Stone granite tiles for kitchen

Feature Wall made from split stone granite scrap

Their most popular product is the split stone. It is rough, like any natural stone in its finished form.  The split stone has many applications from kitchen backsplashes, fireplace surrounds to outdoor uses such as pavers and for outdoor kitchens. They also create cutting boards/cheese trays and are in the process of developing granite ice cubes (whiskey stones).

Cost: The cost is comparable to a marble or glass backsplash.

Delivery: They are able to deliver the product to the Toronto area, and are currently speaking with eco building stores about carrying it directly in Toronto.

Installation: Installation is similar to installing traditional tile, however the stones are dry stacked so no grout is required. The benefit to our product is every project is unique and there are endless possibilities of colour combinations.

For more information on Green Stone Granite, visit their website.

Linoleum Flooring Guide

March 19th, 2012

Photo courtesy of Richa Wilson and Kathleen Snodgrass, via Wikimedia Commons

Linoleum flooring was the flooring of choice for schools, hospitals, residential kitchens and entry ways until the invention of vinyl (PVC) tile and sheeting. It’s relatively easy to maintain, especially newer versions, it is hypo-allergenic and doesn’t off-gas so it’s good for indoor air quality. It is a bio-based product made from linseed oil, pine rosin, cork and wood flours, limestone powder and colour pigments and is biodegradable at end of life.  The backing can be jute or acrylic — acrylic offers more structure for the smaller tile product.

There are three main manufacturers of linoleum flooring, all of whom are based in Europe. The flax that produces linseed oil is grown here in Canada, shipped to Europe to be turned into linoleum sheets and tiles, then the final product is shipped back to North America for sale. But since linoleum is also sold in Europe and Asia, and there just isn’t enough demand for linoleum in North America to warrant manufacturing facilities, Europe actually seems like a good central location.

Linoleum care: One of the reasons vinyl tiles became so popular is because linoleum requires a little more care than vinyl flooring. Traditional linoleum needs to be waxed and polished from time to time, and occasionally, when the floor starts looking dull, the finish needs to be stripped and reapplied. Between polishings however, Linoleum is best cleaned by vacuuming and then going over with a damp mop. For some great tips on how to care for your linoleum tile, see this post I found on

Best uses: Because linoleum is derived mostly from plant material, it tends to behave like wood floors do. It doesn’t like a lot of moisture, so it’s best to keep it away from damp basements, mudrooms with wet boots or pet-washing areas or even potting sheds that might see a lot of water. Linoleum absorbs water if it’s not mopped up right away and it will swell and buckle. Although it’s resilient and easier on your back than ceramic tile in a kitchen, if using in the kitchen, be conscious of mopping up spills as soon as they occur as it absorbs water similar to wood flooring. It is best used in residential settings in playrooms, bedrooms, and kitchens with care.

Benefits: Linoleum is hypoallergenic, so it doesn’t off-gas any harsh chemicals. In addition, because pigment is mixed in with the rest of the ingredients, if linoleum gets scratched, it’s difficult to notice because the entire thickness of the tile is the same colour. With vinyl flooring, the final design is sprayed or stamped on at the end of the process. As it wears, particularly in high traffic areas, the under coat (usually white), will show through.

Installation: Linoleum is best installed by a professional installer and one is usually recommended by the flooring company where you’ve purchased your product. You might also want to specify that the installer use water-based, low or zero-VOC adhesive to install the flooring in order to keep off-gassing to a minimum.

Cost: The cost of linoleum varies, depending on many factors, including whether it’s in sheet or tile form, but it can range between $3-8/sq foot just for the linoleum. This price excludes tearing up an existing floor or installation or cost of any additional products, such as a new subfloor, adhesives, or specialized installation such as inlay patterns. Talk to your installer about getting an estimate.


There are three manufacturers of linoleum tiles, all of whom base their manufacturing in Europe:

johnsoniteTarkett/Johnsonite: manufacturers of Harmonium xf sheet and tile linoleum and is available in a wide variety of colours and styles. The company adds a special coating so that the initial polishing step after installation, common with linoleum floor installations, is not required. In addition to Harmonium xf being a 95% bio-based product, the Allegro, Toscano and Veneto collections contain 37% pre-consumer recycled content. Tarkett also is a responsible manufacturer across all its flooring collections, continually striving to measure and and reduce the amount of virgin material being used, and decrease energy, water and waste. It is a member of the United Nations Global Compact, and explains:

Based on ten universally accepted principles in the areas of human rights, labor, the environment and anti- corruption, the global Compact aims at contributing to a more balanced and sustainable development and responsible commercial practices.

For more information on Tarkett’s corporate responsibility efforts, visit its website.

To find a distributor near you, visit the Johnsonite website.


marmoleumMarmoleum: Made by Forbo Manufacturing, based in The Netherlands, Forbo is the largest manufacturer of linoleum in the world. All Marmoleum flooring contains natural pigments and 40% recycled content, in addition to 70% of the product being derived from rapidly renewable materials. Marmoleum is available in sheets and tiles and varying thicknesses, suitable for different uses and available in a wide variety of colours and patterns and is available at select retailers across North America.

It also is available in a “Marmoleum Click” floor — linoleum tiles glued to a composite backing that can be installed without glue.

All Marmoleum products are coated with Topshield a protective coating, no need for additional polishing. It is ready to use immediately after installation. Like all linoleums, Forbo recommends not mopping it for 5 days in order to let the adhesives (in the case of tile or sheets) cure first.

Forbo also continually strives to reduce its use of energy, water and materials and improve its recycling efforts. To read about its environmental sustainability efforts, visit its website.

To find a Marmoleum dealer near you, visit the website.


Armstrong linoleum flooring

Armstrong Linoleum Flooring: Available in sheets or tiles — although tiles are made for special order only — in a variety of thicknesses. Armstrong’s linoleum is protected with NATURcote, a finish that provides low maintenance once installed. You can specify Armstrong’s low-VOC, water-based adhesives to go with this linoleum product if you search through its EcoScorecard flooring database.

To find a dealer near you, visit Armstrong’s website.

Regarding Armstrong’s corporate environmental commitment, it is a member of the Climate Registry and submits its greenhouse gas inventory every year. In addition to reducing its carbon footprint, it also has made commitments to support sustainable forestry initiatives, reduce waste, increase recycled content in its products and continues to eliminate urea formaldehyde from its products.


Crossville Tile’s New Porcelain Tile with Recycled Content

January 16th, 2012

I’ve written about Crossville Tile’s recent waste reduction efforts, as well as the benefits of using porcelain tile. In a nutshell, the company now incorporates ceramic waste material into every one of its tiles. Each tile contains 4% pre-consumer recycled ceramic supplied by TOTO. It’s fired waste that would otherwise end up in landfill — seconds that can’t be sold. But beyond that, Crossville has a few product lines that contain higher levels of recycled content which consists of fired waste (ie., porcelain tiles that didn’t fire properly in the kiln and can’t be sold), leftover sludge from rinsing and cleaning the raw material, and post-consumer tiles from Crossville Tile’s “Tile Take Back” Program.

Below are three of the lines Crossville Tile has just launched including sizes, styles and recycled content:

Bluestone Porcelain Tile in Vermont Black

Bluestone Porcelain Tile contains a minimum of 20 percent recycled content and is manufactured in Crossville using processes that have been certified by Scientific Certification Systems.  It’s available in four colorways – Colorado Buff, Arizona Brown, Pennsylvania Blue and Vermont Black – and a variety of sizes:  24″ x 24″, 12″ x 24″, 6″ x 24″, 12″ x 12″ and 6″ x 6″ field tile; 2″ x 2″ (natural only) and 3″ x 6″ (honed) Mosaics; and Random Mosaics using 2″, 4″ and 6″ tile with staggered joints.  Single Bullnose, Universal Cove Base, and Cove Base Left and Right trim pieces complement the collection.

Inspired by the natural stone from which it derives its name, Bluestone by Crossville features a field of soft earthen tones, enhanced by fossil-like impressions and the subtle pearlescence of embedded shells.  In both natural and honed finishes, Bluestone Porcelain Stone® tile imparts a classic, time-honored elegance to any space.   

Bluestone porcelain tile is suitable for either residential or commercial use.

Mainstreet Porcelain Tile: Contains between 4-20% pre and post-consumer waste. The darker the colour, the higher the recycled content.

Available in five colors – Cinema Champagne, Café Caramel, Bistro Brown, Gallery Grey and Boutique Black, Main Street also comes in a variety of sizes: 18″x18″, 6″x18″, 12″x12″, 6″x6″ field tile, and 2″x2″ mosaics mesh-mounted on 12″x12″ sheets.  Single Bullnose and Cove Base trim complement the collection.

…Main Street [is] a contemporary, city-inspired Porcelain Stone® line that promises to be a favorite among contract designers and specifiers with its neutral color palette, subtle stone look, high COF and ease of maintenance.  

Mixology with Mainstreet -- porcelain tile and metal tiles with recycled content

Mixology Metal Tile:

Crossville®is introducing Mixology: a new metal line that’s been painstakingly crafted by Crossville artisans to replicate cast metal sculptural pieces as affordable and earth-friendly tile.  Each of the exquisitely wrought metal tiles contains a minimum of 50-percent certified* post-consumer recycled content, making the line not only an attractive choice, but the responsible choice for our environment. (*Certified by Scientific Certification Systems.) 

Seven field tile designs in two sizes – 4 x 4 and 6x 6“, plus 10 trim options and two random mosaics are available in four distinctive finishes, providing 98 pieces to “mix” and match for commercial or residential installations.  Crossville’s new Mixology and Match interactive design tool is available at

Mixology was designed for interior wall applications including:  molding, ceiling trim, chair rails, window and door borders, countertop edging, backsplashes, showers and other wet interior wall areas, fireplace surrounds, etc.  All tile and trim coated to maintain a durable, low maintenance finish.  Much more cost-effective and much lighter than solid metal, these tiles cut and install like porcelain or ceramic tile.

Crossville Tile products are available throughout Canada and the US through tile showrooms. For more information on the company’s overall waste management efforts, read this post.


Every Porcelain Tile at Crossville Tile Contains 4-40% Pre-Consumer Waste

January 16th, 2012

Crossville Tile

While at GreenBuild in October 2011, I had the opportunity to speak with Heidi Vassalotti, Architectural Sales Representative for Crossville Inc. regarding Crossville’s waste reduction efforts, sustainability efforts and new products containing recycled material.

First a little bit about porcelain tile: The difference between porcelain tiles and ceramic tiles is that porcelain tiles are fired at around 2200 F, whereas ceramic tiles are fired at around 1200 F. In truth, porcelain tiles are also part of the ceramic family, but they’ve been distinguished from ceramic tiles over the years because of the increased firing temperature and the way the raw material is processed. The material from which porcelain tile is made is a fine powdered dust derived from a mixture of  minerals, clay and other materials. It is compressed together and then kiln-fired at around 2200 F. Because it’s fired at a higher temperature than ceramic, it is less porous, meaning that it is stain and water resistant and highly durable. It can also be used in exterior applications because it is frost resistant. Generally, when colour is added to porcelain tiles it is added to both the body and surface meaning that if it were ever to chip, it would be relatively unnoticeable. Ceramic tile, on the other hand, is more prone to chipping than porcelain tile, and often colour is only added to the surface layer, meaning that chips are noticeable. Porcelain tile is an excellent product for mudrooms, bathrooms and kitchens. It cleans easily and is incredibly durable with a 50+ year lifespan.

Over the past few years Crossville Tile has been tackling waste reduction in its manufacturing processes. Throughout the firing process there is a lot of waste by-product produced, including the residue waste that is the result of the firing, and tiles that are fired but either break during the process or don’t fire properly so they can’t be sold. In the past all of this material was bound for landfill. Now however, it is being reused in the process of making new tiles. These tile lines are part of Crossville Tile’s Eco-Cycle porcelain tiles and contain 15-50% pre-consumer waste. As part of Crossville’s ongoing sustainability plan, incorporating this fired waste and filtrate material into its manufacturing processes prevents 12 million tons of waste from going to landfill every year.

But further to its finding a use for all of its own waste, Crossville has entered into an agreement with TOTO to take all of its products that didn’t survive the firing process to use as raw material. It means that now all of Crossville Tile’s porcelain lines contain 4% recycled waste. I know 4% doesn’t seem like a lot, but the results are actually significant. It’s the same kind of thinking as having all North Americans change out one incandescent light bulb for a CFL versus one or two of us becoming “No Impact Man.” In Crossville’s manufacturing processes, a little recycled matter is more significant across an entire system than one or two recycled lines out of 100 different products. (Note: this is not to say that either the efforts to create recycled product lines or “No Impact Man” aren’t worthwhile — they are, it’s rather to emphasize that a little recycled material across the board can make a big difference overall.)

Crossville Tile has also established a “Tile Take Back” program, whereby if you don’t want to see your old shower tiles end up in landfill, you can send them to Crossville and they’ll be crushed down into dust and reused in new tile manufacturing. Granted, this makes sense for commercial renovators more than individual home renovators, but you never know if some sort of co-op can’t be developed to handle this kind of program.

The result of these waste reduction efforts is that Crossville is now a net importer of waste products; it actually uses more waste than it produces in its manufacturing process. What this also means is that fewer natural resources are being used to produce its product lines — and not just one of its lines, but every single one.

In addition to its waste reduction efforts, Crossville Tile also tackled water use. Whereas water used to be used once and sent into the local city sewer system for treatment, a new system is now in place where water is 99.98% is reused. The final 0.02% that does leave their plant is treated before leaving while the leftover sludge that used to go to landfill is now a raw material for some of its tile lines.

Third Party Certification: In order to demonstrate that its recycling systems were as they claimed, they brought in Scientific Certification Systems, an independent third party, to audit its processes in manufacturing and water use. Under SCS’ Floor Score auditing arm, it also certified Crossville’s final products for Indoor Air Quality.

While Heidi was telling me about the waste reduction efforts at Crossville Tile, I wondered if it was possible for it to partner with municipalities for a similar program to its Tile Take Back program for old ceramic toilets, sinks and tubs. For instance, the city of Toronto used to have a toilet rebate system whereby if you replaced your old toilet with a more efficient model you’d get a rebate of $60-75 for new, water efficient toilets. It meant a lot of that porcelain was going into landfill. Heidi told me that yes, it would be possible, assuming they tested the older products for other materials such as lead and biohazardous waste. In the meantime Crossville has just ventured into a project with the city of Chicago which is renovating one of its municipal buildings. All of the old porcelain tile within the building is being shipped to Crossville’s factory, ground down into the raw dust material, and then being reused in new tiles to be put back into the renovated building. I love hearing stories about forward-thinking businesses and governments working together, it is so inspiring.

Crossville Tile also has a few product lines that include more than the standard 4% recycled material. At Greenbuild they launched three new lines containing higher recycled material content from 20-50%, called Mixology, Mainstreet and Bluestone. You can read about these products in this post. For more information on Crossville’s waste reduction efforts, here is a link to its sustainability brochure.




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