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Customize Your Home with Tile

Written by Posted On Sunday, 14 August 2005 17:00

The next time you plan to tile an area in your home, instead of running to a tile store to pick out everyday squares, you might consider pulling out and thumbing through a box of your favorite photographs.

A San Diego company that specializes in visual legacies imbeds your artwork or photographs right into tiles, creating a customized look for kitchens, walkways, pools, bathrooms, fireplaces and other areas.

"I do everything from marble, tumble stone, glass, frosted glass on up to regular ceramics and then the ceramic tiles are in matte finish, satin finish and glossy," says Toni Renier of Square Meadows .

Whether it's photos you took of Yosemite waterfalls or a beautiful view of the Amalfi Coast that you captured and now want turn into tiles to put in your shower, in your kitchen for a backsplash, or simply to hang on your wall, tile photos can add a very personal touch to your décor.

Square Meadows can use your photos to create the desired look for a particular room. However, the actual photo is not put on the tile. Instead a special ink is used that turns into a gas when it is heated. The tile is treated with a special coating to allow the ink to become imbedded into the tile.

Renier says "What you do is scan the photo or create the artwork in Adobe Application, Illustrator, Photoshop or whatever. Then it gets printed out on a special paper that allows the ink to sit up on to the paper as opposed to being absorbed into the paper. Then you put it in a heat press and it depends on the tile how long and how you press it, but it gets placed in there at about 450 degrees. Once that pressure and the heat are happening, the gas then permeates the tile and the image then is permanently imbedded into the tile."

Depending on the project, the process can take a week to several weeks to complete and the cost varies from hundreds to thousands of dollars, depending on the size of the project.

"Because I am a graphic designer and artist/illustrator, I can design whatever for you. So if you had something in mind -- a vision of what you wanted a certain area to look like -- I can illustrate it or design it, lay it out and do the graphics for it and then blow it up and separate it into the tiles," says Renier.

While the tiles are very versatile, Renier cautions that some environments aren't the best because just like photographs, the tiles can fade over the years.

"If you're taking it and you're putting it outdoors where it's going to get direct sunlight on a constant basis and a lot of heat -- I mean if you're in Tucson, Arizona and you do your pool -- you're looking at about probably only a three-or-four-year shelf life, if that," says Renier.

However, when the tiles are used indoors and out of direct sunlight and heat, Renier says they should last 50 years.

One important note, you're on your own for installation of the tiles. Renier says when you or a worker installs them make sure to use a non-sanded grout, "The sanded grout tends to scratch the tile more." Also seal with a top coat to protect the tiles.

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Phoebe Chongchua

Phoebe Chongchua is an award-winning journalist, an author, customer service trainer/speaker, and founder of Setting the Service Standard, a customer service training and consulting program offered by Live Fit Enterprises (LFE) based in San Diego, California. She is the publisher of Live Fit Magazine, an online publication that features information on real estate/finance, physical fitness, travel, and philanthropy. Her company, LFE, specializes in media services including marketing, PR, writing, commercials, corporate videos, customer service training, and keynotes & seminars. Visit her magazine website:

Phoebe's articles, feature stories, and columns appear in various publications including The Coast News, Del Mar Village Voice, Rancho Santa Fe Review, and Today's Local News in San Diego, as well as numerous Internet sites. She holds a California real estate license. Phoebe worked for KGTV/10News in San Diego as a Newscaster, Reporter and Community Affairs Specialist for more than a decade. Phoebe's writing is also featured in Donald Trump's book: The Best Real Estate Advice I Ever Received and The Complete Idiot’s Guide to Buying Foreclosures. She is the author of If the Trash Stinks, TAKE IT OUT! 14 Worriless Principles for Your Success.

Contact Phoebe at (858) 259-3646 or Visit for more information.

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