A VERSATILE MATERIAL

BY BARRY WALDMAN | PHOTOGRAPHY BY HOLGER OBENAUS

Buckhannon Brothers Tile offers tile products for your home that can be manufactured to look like almost anything—wood, metal, glass and more.

Tile, whose origins date to ancient Egypt, can work with any style you have in your house. It can be used on walls, floors, ceilings, and in pools or around fireplaces—both indoors and outside. It is both utilitarian and decorative. Tile can cover a whole wall or just be used as an accent. It can add warmth, beauty, elegance and curb appeal. It can even create the illusion of space. And it’s varied enough to fit into any budget.

“We can literally put tile anywhere,” Sonya Buckhannon says. She should know. Along with her husband, she has operated Buckhannon Brothers Tile in Mount Pleasant for nearly two decades. If you peruse the Buckhannon showroom on Long Point Road, you’ll see an array of products in a nearly endless assortment of colors, styles, designs and finishes. And if you don’t see the pattern you want, Buckhannon can create it.

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In the Buckhannon showroom, tiles don’t always look like tiles. One style, which resembles clusters of small, multicolor pebbles, is perfect for a shower floor. Another mimics brick—but has the advantage of never needing to be repointed. There’s even a floor tile that resembles wood. Not only is it beautiful, it’s durable and resistant to the elements.

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When you think tile, think outside the rectangle. Tile can be cut to any shape and refashioned into new patterns. On the Buckhannon showroom floor, for example, one square of tile began life as long planks; it was then cut into pieces and reconstructed into an intersected diamond pattern. Even standing on it, you would never know it wasn’t all one piece. There are three-dimensional tiles as well that can be used for molding, borders and decorative pieces. In short, if you can imagine it, there’s a tile for it.

Tile comes in a variety of materials. Porcelain is popular because it requires no maintenance whatsoever and is as durable as an elephant’s memory. Natural stone, which needs to be sealed and cleaned regularly, exudes elegant charm. Other materials include concrete, ceramic and glass, each of which works best for a particular style.

When you work with Buckhannon Brothers Tile, you’re not just purchasing an aesthetically pleasing and functional product. The services of a free design consultant add tremendous value. Sonya Buckhannon and her team can help you consider options you didn’t even know you had.

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Here’s how the process works: Customers are encouraged to bring photos with them to the showroom—perhaps from Pinterest or a design magazine— to convey to Sonya Buckhannon the look they envision. In other cases, she will elicit information from customers with a series of questions aimed at understanding the style of their house—taking into consideration the floors, wall coverings and lighting throughout. In sum, Buckhannon matches material, look and pattern to each customer’s unique needs then lays it all out.

After establishing the desired look, Buckhannon helps her clients determine how to create that look within a budget. That might mean using a beautiful but less expensive marble tile for a wall while saving a more expensive marble mosaic, created by a water-jet process, for an accent.

Over the years, Buckhannon has accommodated just about every request imaginable. One woman brought a panel of wallpaper pattern she admired. With that guide, Buckhannon created a tile design that mimicked the pattern then installed it as a feature on her shower wall.

Another client brought a picture of an outdoor scene that included a bird and trees. Buckhannon had her supplier create models of the picture made out of tiny, hand-cut glass tiles. The customer chose one of the models, and Buckhannon crafted a gorgeous tile backsplash for the kitchen, which she installed just above the stove. It was a true work of art.

It’s a matter of investment. For a few hundred dollars, a colorful backsplash can transform the look of a kitchen. And when you consider that kitchens and bathrooms help sell houses, adding tile can be worth the cost. In the meantime, of course, you can enjoy living in a more beautiful home.

If you’re thinking of renovating your house or building a new one, tile is clearly a viable option. Sonya Buckhannon offers six things to consider before making any decisions.

SIX THINGS TO CONSIDER

1. Consider the dominant style, not just in the room in question, but throughout the house.
2. Look at photographs of rooms that please you to find what you like. It helps to see how the final product looks when installed.
3. Consider what materials work best for your lifestyle. If you have children and pets, porcelain is a great choice because it can stand up to water and wear.
4. Consider your budget. Elaborate, customized patterns tend to be more expensive and can be used more sparingly if the budget is tight.
5. How long will you live in the house? If you’re planning to sell the house in the next few years, brash colors and patterns might inspire you but turn off some buyers.
6. Be strategic about color. Too much color, particularly bright ones, can overwhelm the eye.

Barry Waldman is principal of Big Fly Communications, a public relations and marketing firm for small businesses and nonprofits.