Big Surprise Problem w Crossvile Empire Tile!

11 years ago

Just got delivery of the Crossville Empire General's Gray porcelain 14 x 14 tile (polished) that we selected for a bath remodel. We had used another color of the same tile in our entry way, and were very pleased. Apparently, rather than having a conventional glazing, the clay in this tile is constructed of a slurry of stone-like pieces over a more traditional porcelain clay substrate. After the two layers are fired and polished, the tile has amazing depth and richness, and each tile has unique stone-like variations. (We have had guests get down on their hands and knees in our entry way to examine it, when we told them it wasn't polished stone!) It really is extraordinary, with a price to match. (It's made by Ilva in Argentina.)

Here is our problem: Unlike our entry way, which was a totally flat installation, our bathroom required 14 x 3 1/2 bullnose pieces for the edge of the shower enclosure and around a recessed window in a tiled area in the shower. (These are the only trim pieces offered in the polished version of this tile. The unpolished version of General's Gray, which isn't nearly as attractive as the polished, offers more trim pieces.) We also thought that we would use the bullnose trim pieces around the base of the wall, wherever the tile butts up to the wall. So here's the surprise: Amazingly, the bullnose trim pieces ($11 each) do not have the same finish on the edge that is supposed to remain exposed as they have on the face of the tile! Instead, the edge exposes both the upper stone layer, which goes about 20% into the tile, and then the plain porcelain substrate below. (The substrate is a light beige with black speckles in it, and is quite evident in the side view.) It is as if you took a regular piece of any tile and just polished one edge, without any concern for whether the edge had the same glaze or color as the face of the tile. I really can't believe that anyone would find this kind of trim acceptable. I plan to complain to the vendor when he opens up on Monday, but what can we do about the exposed edges that we will have? (Construction starts on Monday.) I called my contractor's tile installer, who could hardly believe what I was telling him about the exposed edge. He said we might use Schluter edging, which is available in a finish that would match our brushed nickle fixtures. He thought that might look fine at the edge of the shower tile surround, but he was concerned about the window. He said that Schluter makes various "quarter-round" pieces for outside corners, which we could use around the window recess, but he thought we might find that a bit too "institutional-looking". Has anyone ever heard of this kind of problem with bullnose tile? Does anyone have any suggestions? Is the Schluter edging a good idea? Should we try to get it in a gray to match the tile? Or choose a metal edging that matches the fixtures? We still like the tile and would hate to hold up construction while we shop and wait for something else. Any suggestions would be MUCH appreciated!

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