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Ann Architect, Renovation Design GroupAnnie Architect, Renovation Design Group

Renovation Solutions is weekly column on architectural home design by Ann Robinson and Annie Schwemmer, Principal Architects of Renovation Design Group, a Utah architectural firm focusing on home renovation design.

Friday, April 13, 2007

New materials liven up a home

By Ann Robinson and Annie Vernon

If you're working on or thinking about a remodel, you'll find there is no end to the choices of materials you can use to finish off your project. Here are some new options for wall finishes and tiles that we find particularly interesting because of their versatility and style as well as their environmental friendliness.

Since the 1950s, the most common interior wall sheathing is gypsum wall board, commonly called sheet rock or dry wall. It's flat, smooth appearance gives a clean look, but it can be a little sterile. Many use painting techniques such as rag rolling, glazes or sponging to give these walls a pop, but there is a new option we love. It is a clay-based plaster that can be applied on top of sheet rock. It helps you capture the warmth and character of true plaster walls, like those used in homes built in the early twentieth century, and it can even help keep your home warm or cool.

Clay-based plaster helps capture the warmth and character of true plaster walls, like those used in homes built in the early 20th century, and it can even help keep homes warm or cool.

This plaster is 100 percent natural, made from a combination of clay, aggregates and natural pigments. It can be used to produce a variety of looks and textures that do not require painting since the product already contains color. The clay helps naturally control the indoor climate by absorbing and releasing moisture in response to changes in the environment. It is available in three finishes and 30 colors. For more information, visit

Glass tiles are all the rage for showers and kitchen backsplashes. Oceanside Glasstile combines up to 85 percent recycled glass with raw sand to create its many offerings. This product is freeze-thaw resistant, making it possible to use even outdoors in Utah. It comes in more than 40 colors and finishes, including mosaics, textured designs and smooth field tiles. Visit for more information.

Bedrock Industries uses beer and wine bottles to make mosaic tiles in earth tones, and recycles the waste from stained glass to make brighter colored tiles. The tiles are fused from 100 percent recycled glass without added pigments or fillers and come in 28 colors and 11 shapes. Visit

Yemm & Hart offers three surface materials made from common environmental nuisances: discarded tires, detergent bottles and PVC plastic scraps. They make Tire Veneer tile with bright flecks of color against a gray or black background. They are nontoxic and could be fun in a utility or play area. Flexisurf is made from discarded PVC and is available in matte, grid, and weave textured sheets or tiles. Origins is made from recycled detergent bottles shaped into colorfully blended panels for use as partitions or counter tops. You can learn more at

With so many new innovations, the old standards like ceramic tile, plastic laminate, granite and solid surfacing materials are getting a run for their money. Have some fun doing your own research and you'll be amazed at the choices you have. As always, we welcome your home architect design questions at

© 2007 Renovation Design Group. All Rights Reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced in any form or by any means without the prior written permission of Renovation Design Group.

If you are considering a remodel project, please Request a Free Consultation with Ann or Annie.

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