Tile selections for both designer and client can often times be overwhelming. Thousands of choices can be found online, at big box retailers and from many smaller mom and pop tile shops. If you like fun, funky and different, you typically have to dig deep into the hidden selections of most big box retailers (an online search is most helpful). Mom and pop shops that specialize in tile can usually give you a better selection with personalized service. However, one place thats often overlooked is your local salvage yard.
This yard has tile dating back a century in designs and colors that you simply don't see today. I was fortunate enough to be visiting Louisville Kentucky and stopped in to see DW Architectural Salvage, and I was fascinated by their one of a kind tile selections. Although most of their tile comes in small runs from 10 to 100 square feet, this is an amazing place to source that one of a kind backsplash or guest bath floor. The photos below are a testament to the tiles you'll never find in a big box or mom and pop shop.
A small box of this tile was found under a table measured about 3 x1.5" shades of green, gold, and yellow with a heavy crazing make this a one of a kind tile. Each one cost 50 cents. I'm told prices vary on a sliding scale depending on the amount of tile purchased and a little haggling is not out of the question.
This is an 8x8" antique encaustic cement tile. The total square footage is about 120 square feet. This is plenty of tile to install on a small bathroom floor, with tiles to spare. If you don't like the weathered patina (how could you not?!?), we have had fantastic luck taking cement tiles like these and lightly wet sanding the surface with 120 grit to make them look good as new. The price for these is about $12 per square foot. fantastic price for a tile this beautiful!
At about 5 square feet total, this was one of the smallest runs that we found. I'm assuming the tile is very old as much of the green firing has worn off, exposing the ceramic below. It sure does make for a stunning one of a kind backsplash behind a corner sink perhaps. Price: $0.50 per piece.
This is one of my favorite runs of tile (about 10 square feet). These are about 5" x 1.5" with swirls of pinks, blues yellows and browns, and a nice vintage glazing. If only they had a big enough run to do an entire shower, I would have purchased them all. If I wanted them I could have haggled down from a dollar a piece..
What a fantastic selection of vintage white subway tile (upper right). While it may take a little digging, your local salvage yard can be a fantastic source for your one of a kind tile project.