Inspiration and DIY Tile Installation: Using Environmentally Friendly Tiles and Materials

Features Coconut Beach Block Random mosaic with Keystones in Arctic White 2x2 mosaic

Features Coconut Beach Block Random mosaic with Keystones in Arctic White 2x2 mosaic



We can all do our part to help the environment and preserve natural resources, especially when it comes to home design projects. If you are considering, or in the process of, adding new flooring to your home, there are ways to make your project more environmentally friendly. Many types of tile are manufactured using sustainable materials, making them a good choice for your "green" home. Before you head out the door to start shopping, there are a few things you can do to make your tile installation greener and friendlier to the environment.

Consider the Environment Before You Begin

You'll want to start out by thinking about your overall room design and what you can do to make your living space more green. Most rooms have some opportunity to conserve energy, water, or another natural resource. One example would be to consider maximizing the use of natural lighting. Another would be to add insulation to better control temperature and reduce energy consumption year-round. In bathrooms and kitchens you may want to consider opting for water-conserving or Energy Star-rated appliances.

Photo features South Beach 1/2 x 1/2 mosaic on the walls.

Look for Products with Recycled Material Content

From a very young age, people are taught the importance of recycling to help protect Earth's natural resources. Recycled materials can be collected and reused to create products for the home, which avoids the need for manufacturers to mine additional natural resources. When you are looking at greener options for your tile installation, you'll want to consider products containing higher levels of recycled materials.

Both pre-consumer and post-consumer recycled products can be included in today's tile products. Pre-consumer recycled materials, also known as post-industrial content, include byproducts of manufacturing processes. This would be scrap material that is typically left over after a product is complete. Manufacturers are always looking for ways to reduce or reuse these byproducts and limit the amount of useful products that will wind up in landfills. Companies that support green initiatives often must invest in research and development to find new ways to use leftovers from the manufacturing process. One ingenious way Daltile uses post-industrial content is by incorporating a byproduct of a roofing manufacturing process into floor tiles. As a result of product innovations, today, more than 98 percent of Daltile's products contain pre-consumer recycled materials.

Tiles may also contain what's referred to as "post-consumer" recycled content. Products labeled with this type of content may include something that you have at one time placed into a recycling container. Products recycled by consumers are sorted and returned to manufacturers to be incorporated into new products. Daltile also uses post-consumer content in many of its products, including glass mosaic tiles. For example, the Glass Horizons™ product line contains up to 82 percent of post-consumer recycled content.

Focus on Healthy, Earth-Friendly Flooring Choices

Being kind to the Earth preserves a healthy environment for all of its citizens. Pure air to breathe and clean water to drink are two precious resources that every environmentally conscious person should strive to keep in mind when planning a home design project. For this reason, you may want to choose tile flooring, which will contribute to healthy indoor air quality. The smooth, hard texture of tile resists allergen infiltration, making it easier to remove pollen, dirt and debris by sweeping the surface, before dust particles are tracked through your home and cycled into your indoor air. Tile is an especially great option for allergy and asthma sufferers because it's easy to keep clean with water and typically does not require harsher chemical detergents. Tile also dries quickly, so the risk of moisture seeping into your flooring and causing mold is reduced. In fact, the water-resistant characteristics of tile makes it one of the best materials to use in the bathroom and kitchen.

Ask about Grout and Adhesives

Of course tile installation involves more than just a box of tiles. When installing a new tile floor in your home, you'll need to consider all of the materials used to complete the project. Although tile itself is typically a very green option, you may be concerned about the potential environmental impact of grout, sealers, and adhesives. One term you may hear frequently when researching green home improvement projects is "low VOCs." Volatile organic compounds, or VOCs, are gases that may release into the air as a result of certain chemicals within finishes, sealers, and adhesives. According to the Environmental Protection Agency, these VOCs have a larger effect inside of the home than outdoors where they are more widely dispersed. When looking for products, such as grout, adhesives, or other sealers, in conjunction with your home improvement project, check to see if items are labeled as having low VOCs. Also, check labels for environmentally friendly certifications under programs such as Greenguard or LEED®.

Read Posted Information about Sustainable Manufacturing Practices

Companies committed to caring for the environment engage in responsible manufacturing processes and create a formal strategy to go green. For Daltile, this commitment includes placing manufacturing plants close to natural resources, which decreases chemical emissions during transportation. Daltile has also recycled 340 tons of cardboard and paper since 2003 as part of Greenworks, a company-wide environmental initiative. Research and development is also a priority for environmentally friendly companies. Daltile also made changes to its manufacturing processes that have prevented over 200 million pounds of waste from entering landfills. Waste water is another concern of environmentalists. Water is one of the most precious resources, and conservation practices are a necessity. As such, Daltile has worked to find ways to conserve water and five of the company's manufacturing plants currently recycle and reuse 100 percent of waste water.

With so many factors fitting together as pieces of a giant environmental puzzle, it can be hard to decipher which home improvement and design products are more Earth-friendly and why. Certifications like those awarded by the Tile Council of North America's Green Squared program are a great way to tell which products are truly making a difference. Tile products certified under the Green Squared program have been independently tested and verified in regard to their claims of environmental friendliness. For additional ways to stay green during your tile installation, you can also review company websites and read up on corporate initiatives surrounding environmental friendliness. Rest assured, there is a wealth of information available to help you design and complete a healthy, safe, and environmentally friendly home improvement project in your home.