Why Solid Bronze Tiles?
The durability of solid bronze can still be seen in ancient works.
There are a lot of metallic-looking tiles on the market. While they may look the same at first glance, the differences are like night and day.
Solid Bronze – Saint-Gaudens Metal Arts Bronze tiles are cast in a foundry from molten bronze. They are bronze through and through. Like 3,000 year-old sculptures, they are eternal. You can tell solid bronze by how heavy it feels in your hand. They are hand painted and polished. Bronze has no installation limitations – tiles can be walked-on, placed near hot stoves or fireplaces, used outdoors, used in showers or around pools, or even endure a hurricane (this happened to a customer in Florida – they were pulled out of the rubble and re-used); and they will always look good.
Solid Metal – other metals – Other metals and alloys are used to cast solid metal tiles. Among them are aluminum and pewter. Aluminum is very corrosive when exposed to moisture, and will develop a powdery white coating. While being flexible, aluminum is also soft and can not be used in the wide range of applications bronze can. Pewter is a soft metal, easy to cast and finish cheaply, but unlike bronze is not advisable for use in floors or any other surface where it will be touched frequently. Of the countless alloys and other metals used in tile very few, if any, will stand the test of time like bronze.
Solid Metal – plated – A tile can be marketed as solid metal when it is actually a base (cheaper) metal with plating on top. This is the most common solid metal tile on the market. Base metal, commonly known as “Pot Metal,” is soft, like lead, and cheaper to cast and finish. They are plated with very thin layers of nickel, copper, brass, etc, and are usually coated with a shiny sealer. The problem with these tiles is that they can bend and break very easily. When bent, the plating cracks and peels off. If cleaned with an abrasive cleaner, the thin plating wears off. For this reason, they can’t be used in the floor. You can tell plated metal tile by its lighter weight, and shiny, costume-jewelry like finish.
A note about copper: Copper isn’t castable, so you will never see cast solid copper tiles. A copper color can only be obtained by: plating over pot metal; mixing it with resin (see below); or wrapping thin sheets of copper over a rigid base form.
Metal Coated Tiles – A tile design is molded and cast in plastic. They are then spray-painted with a mixture of resin and powdered metals. Several metal colors are obtainable using this method. Because the sprayed-on coating is very thick compared to plating, detail in these tiles is often lost. Because these are only coated, finishes can peel off and tiles can warp near heat.
Metalized Resin – This is a proprietary method of pouring resin mixed with powdered metal into a mold. The resulting tile is resin-based throughout. They are lightweight, and can warp around high BTU cook tops or fireplaces.
Ceramic Metal Glazes – Regular ceramic tiles are fired with glazes that look like metal but have no real metal in them. Along with all ceramic tile chipping is the most common problem, along with abrasion if walked on, and loss of finish.