patina overview & what to expect with my tile installation


all unglazed tiles will slowly develop a patina. but most people are unclear on what this treasured finish is, and how it develops.

history of patina
the term, patina, derives from the latin for “shallow dish” describing copper dishes that always garnered a green patina. the use of the term, patina, came to refer to any fading, darkening, muting or other signs of age, which are known to be natural or unavoidable (or both).

what is patina?
patina is that mysterious and enigmatic surface that separates new materials from antiquated ones – creating objects and surfaces that are prized as heirloom quality.

the patina itself is a thin layer that forms on the surface of stones, leathers, metals, clays, cements, woods etc., and can itself constitute a protective coating on the materials it covers. because of these attributes, patina has become a celebrated finish and a requirement to what is known as an antique finish derived from oxidation and other chemical introductions that render age, wear and a polish enhanced by age and exposure. these effects all combine to create a softer appearance in both color and character.

  1. is patina right for my tile project?
    we are often asked about specifying unglazed tiles that will garner this prized patina, or glazed tiles that require little to no maintenance. Though the convenience of glazed ceramic surfaces is prized for many areas and are especially required for intense sanitary conditions (institutional bath walls, hospital floors and walls and industrial kitchen walls) any other areas are fine to use unglazed tiles.
    the biggest gain unglazed tiles have over glazed surfaces are -
    • improved slip resistance
    • improved appearance with age
    • natural visual qualities vs manufactured visual qualities

  2. why might I prefer glazed tiles?
    glazed tiles will change very little due to the protection offered by the fired glaze. unglazed tiles will have more porosity and will change over time as they absorb the environment around them. we understand that some clients will prefer the no maintenance qualities of glazed surfaces rather than patina surfaces. if you are looking for tiles that are perfectly consistent and uniform, unglazed tiles are not for you or your project. if this is the case, please search for any of our tile products that are glazed.

  3. patina and cement tiles the word “patina” is an inherent part of the heirloom experience of your cement tile installation and the reason that cement tiles are specified for so many projects requiring a surface that will beautifully age with the structure it protects. more than a century ago, europe was the birthplace of cement tile and many of the original installations from that time period continue to be treasured installations.

  4. your cement tiles and their patina fast forward to today. patina is still all the rage and, now, cement tiles are having a resurgence around the world and are especially finding popularity in the united states where they have not previously been used before. because of this, there is a lack of familiarity with this new “old” surface and with patina.

    please share this information with not only your installer but also your maintenance crew so that they can understand the beauty and protection of a sound patina for your cement tile project. because your tiles arrive new, it is important for you to know exactly the best path to get them from their out-of-the-box new condition through to their inherent patina.

please check for our guide to maintaining your tiles from the point of installation and on to their future life in your project. we want to be sure that you have every opportunity to support your cement tiles into their perfectly imperfect patina finish.


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