Brighten up your Contemporary Backyard with a Glass Tile Water Feature Like This

Sometimes a fountain just needs a little TLC.

This contemporary water feature had some technical problems and when homeowner Bret Hopper contacted us -  he worried his fountain would not be able live up to its full potential.

Not to worry!  We were able to bring the right installation system, and some great product and design to the project to create a cooling water feature for this Scottsdale backyard.
Luke started with prep - grinding, floating.
Then came waterproofing...
And Finally a two-layer antifracture membrane
Ready for Tile.  The bottom of the fountain was waterproofed and tiled at a second stage.
This design called for a clean 90 degree corner so we decided to miter all the perimeter mosaics to achieve a right angle.
Installing Miters: over 800 miters on this fountain.
A clean, crisp edge....
Looking good with Moonstone Muse!  Sometimes we encounter dye lot issues when working with handmade products.  On this particular installation we did quite a bit of hand-blending to maintain an even look to the installation.  Many hours were spent blending sheets and tiles during the installation process.
One consideration that needing resolution was the sheer decent water spillways, which had been recessed too far into the monolith by the original builder.  Then, with the addition of tile and floatwork, we caused them to be recessed even further.  So we went to our friend over at Grizzly Iron to have these custom stainless steel spillway extensions fabricated.
Do you see the dark shadows around each tile?  This is my favorite thing about the color 'moonstone' - while it is an opaque 'milk' glass formula, the perimeter of each tile is slightly translucent as a result of the manufacturing process, and when the installation is grouted, these edges actually trap light and create shadows within the installation.  It give such depth and movement to the installation.


Make your Contemporary Statement with a Glass Mosaic Feature Wall

We recently helped our friends over at Oceanside Glasstile with some installations for their new product line, "Blue'.  This exciting new collection is based on the simple beauty of the material from which it is crafted.

With a color palette steeped in nostalgia, this product line offered the perfect selection for a luxury bachelor pad feature wall project that had come up in recent months.  I have always believed that a feature wall of glass mosaics is one of the most beautiful design statements one can make.  A play of scale and texture generates a big design 'pop' when tiny little translucent squares are allowed to fill the entire space.

We took before pics, visualizing the area to be tiled...

  Installation Timelapse. Watch it, Like it and Share it please!  It's fun!

Product: Oceanside Glasstile 'BLUE' in 1x3 brick
Design: Amy Denny, Alpentile
Installation: Luke Denny, Alpentile
Photo: Michael Woodall, www.michaelwoodall.com


Stunning Scottsdale Retreat

This Scottsdale Golf Resort backyard space received the ‘Alpentile Treatment’ as we brought designer Wendy Lesueur’s vision to life.  Under the direction of Mark Coble, Coble Construction, this year-long project finished with a bang last month when we completed this absolutely stunning Oceanside Glasstile mosaic spa and sun-shelf.
Before picture of the spa
Our Process began months before, with a lot of prep work in the pool.  Here Amy prepares for a bonded mortar bed.  We actually bond the mortar with modified thinset for a superior bond strength.
Here Luke screeds mortar for a perfectly flat tiling surface.  These details add time and labor to the installation process, and truly differentiate the product we deliver.
Luke prepares the fountain spillway for floating, we need to achieve a perfectly level surface for the water to spill over evenly.
In this photo of the installation process in the spa, you can see our perfectly flat substrate which has been waterproofed and also has an anti fracture membrane applied.  Luke and DJ are installing the radius tile on the bench, and Albert is back buttering the tiles with grout.  This installation method results in the flattest, most even surface.
Our favorite moment in the installation is when we remove the
paper for our first glimpse of tile…

And here is the finished work – We also love to use Oceanside Glasstile’s trim pieces, for a seamless and smooth transition in any pool/spa.  The rounded corners feel and look great.  The base of this spa is a custom fabricated medallion, in-house, and is a signature of Alpentile’s installations.

Oceanside Glasstile ‘Extrados’ Waterfeature

Ready to Entertain

Installation by Luke and Amy Denny, Alpentile
Tile: Oceanside Glasstile www.glasstile.com
Design: Wendy Lesueur
Build: Mark Coble, Coble Construction
Project Manager: Scott Mills, Coble Construction
Photography: Mike Woodall, www.michaelwoodall.com


Industry News

The current issue of Pool and Spa News features this excellent article about glass tile specifications in pools and spas.  It is so important that quality products are selected and that the mounting systems for these mosaics are appropriate for water submersion.

Just as important - the installation method and materials - which must be designed not only for glass tile, but also to accommodate the movement that occurs in the concrete pool shell.  We continue to share this information in the hopes that further education in our industry will improve the quality standards and result in more success stories with the beautiful products available to today's discerning designers, architects and homeowners.

Here is a snippet of the article, click below to read the entire article:

Pool and Spa News - Pros voice Glass Tile Concerns
Pros Voice Glass Tile Concerns
By Rebecca Robledo | 8.2.2012

"As the popularity and sales of glass tile increase, a group of professionals have begun 
gathering to discuss problems associated with some of the products. 

The issues include product-quality questions, the unwillingness of some manufacturers to stand behind
their merchandise and a voluntary installation standard. 

“We’re afraid that because of bad installers or bad glass, people will shy away from the use of glass 
in these environments,” said Steve Slutzah, president of Westside Tile & Stone in Los Angeles. 

“And some of these people have been doing pools for 15 or 20 years [without] having a problem.”

Slutzah and others attribute the issues, in part, to a recent influx of manufacturers entering the 
glass-tile market, some with inferior quality products."....Read the entire article HERE


Refined Craftsmanship, Elegant Details

'Refined, Elegant, and Sophistocated'....   Our recent projects show interior design trending towards elegance in composition with sophisticated use of color.  Clients are remodeling their living space with intent to stay and enjoy the results.  

Unique personalization and detailed craftsmanship are a significant part of a current conversation revolving around quality installation and timeless design.

Here, antiqued silver hardware, hand-carved moldings, millwork accents painted by hand, on-site...these are essential components that bring sophistication to this truly custom design.

This iridescent glass mosaic backsplash is a carefully selected design element, adding reflective sheen but not overpowering the fabulous details of this gorgeous kitchen remodel in Paradise Valley, AZ.

Builder Dan Madison, of Madison Couturier Custom Homes, Matt from Desert Cove Woodworks and Madison's construction supervisor Mark all make the time to focus on detail and precision in finish work.  We enjoyed a thorough pre-installation collaboration with this team, and great communication throughout the project. Tile-to-millwork transition areas were identified and discussed, and focal points requiring exact layout were defined with the client. It was a refreshing team effort that ultimately resulted in the best possible installation.


Our installation process commences with protection of beautiful mill work, granite countertops, and limestone floors.  Once all is taped and safe, Luke begins by taking measurements for full-tile layout. In this case, the substrate was in excellent condition so relatively minimal preparation (evening out high and low areas in the substrate) was required. 

Luke blends sheets before installation

We pull sheets from several boxes and blend prior to installation (in case of color variation within our batch of tile.) 
Back buttering the mosaic sheet with grout

These mosaics are installed using the 'alternate method' - a technique where mosaic sheets are pre-grouted prior to installation.  The result is an exceptionally smooth finished tile surface that reflects an even sheen of light.  Normally reserved for pools and spas for a smooth surface upon which to sit, this time-intensive method is an additional step we can take where the subtle enhancements it affords benefit the design aesthetic.

Once back-buttered with grout, mosaic sheets are installed in an even bed of premium bright white thinset, specially developed to bond with glass tile.  Even though these glass mosaics are opaque, we use bright white thinset to ensure the brightest, truest color. 

Luke removes face-mounted paper to reveal a pre-grouted mosaic installation.  Minor adjustments are made, eliminating the appearance of sheet lines.   

After setting materials have a chance to slightly cure, the tile surface is gently wiped clean with a sponge to remove glue residue from grout joints.  This also prepares the surface for a final application of grout to fill any open pores resulting from our adjustments. 

The final result is a neutral backsplash that casts just the right amount of shimmer without overtaking the kitchen design.  Beautiful!

Designer: Rick Marecek, Marecek Interiors, in close collaboration with the homeowner.
Tile:  Casa Dolce Casa Glass Tile - Vetro Neutra Glass Mosaic Lux 3/4" X 3/4"


Have you considered copper penny tiles for your next project?

The fate of the American One Cent piece is yet to be determined.  Will we follow Canada's lead, discontinuing the faithful penny?  Well, keep saving your pennies, we have a great solution for all your spare change! 

When Design/Builder Rick Chafey of Red Rock Contractors recently contacted us to install copper pennies on the powder room floor in his clients' ultra-cool man-cave, we were very excited - we'd done some experimenting with penny installation, and were excited to put our findings into practice.

While no one can argue the thrifty material cost for a penny floor, this is actually quite a tricky installation requiring specific substrate preparation, specialized setting materials and tile preparation before installation.


We began the project by sourcing trays to sheet the pennies, thus expediting installation time and producing an evenly spaced grout joint. 

Each sheet covers just over one square foot.  For this installation we randomly placed our pennies 'heads or tails'.  

A specially formulated water soluble adhesive and craft paper are used to to mount the sheets. And here's a face-mounted sheet ready to go.

Because the pennies are thin, for a professional result the substrate needs to be perfectly flat, as any variation in the floor will show through in the surface reflection of the tile.  

Also, to eliminate transitional floor height variation at the thresholds, our float bed needs to come to within 1/8" of the existing floor height in 2 adjacent rooms.

This process requires proper tools, experience, and time - one day of preparation before we can start installing our pennies.


Specialized setting materials are required to adhere to the copper and stand up to wear and tear of foot traffic.  

We selected a product from Custom Building Products called CEG lite - a 2 part epoxy thinset/grout.  This product is relatively expensive with tight working time.

The sheets are lofted to ensure good layout before mixing the two-part epoxy setting materials. Once layout was confirmed, we mixed out materials and I'll be honest here - there are no photos because we had to work FAST!
Our installation received a final coat of grout after curing for several days, and the resulting installation is below:

With quite a bit of preparation, and some mad tile skills, 
here's the resulting beauty -

We love this vintage toilet - a handpainted antique 
imported from France for this project.  

Looking for Copper Penny Trays?  We finally have them in!  contact sales@alpentile.com

Design:  Rick Chafey Red Rock Contractors
Fabrication of Penny Sheets; Luke Denny, Alpentile
Installation: Luke and Amy Denny, Alpentile


Alpentile In The News!!

We recently completed a glass mosaic signage project for our friends Ben and Holly up at Captive Spirits Distillery in Ballard, WA.  This creative collaboration introduced us to Jason LaBrash over at Grizzly Iron for his help fabricating the framework for our sign.  The story is captured in this article below by Ashley Bray in the April issue of Sign Builders Illustrated.


Click on the magazine below for the full story:  Page 52 - 61.


Tucson Time-Capsule gets the Alpentile Treatment

It is a rare and wonderful occasion to be able to step into the past - and that's just what happened when Joey and Nova came upon a 1950's home in a historic Tucson neighborhood ... in original condition

Hidden under a single layer of 1970's wallpaper and linoleum, they discovered original finishes ...perfectly preserved... from wall paper to wood paneling, exposed beam ceilings, un-scarred brick and mortar feature walls, this virtual time-capsule came to life as each surface was exposed.  Other 50's relics included the original doorbell, hand-made cabinetry, even the pencil sharpener screwed to the kitchen wall.

Because so many features were sound, they decided to only make essential remodeling improvements that would reinforce the 1950's aesthetic of their home.

The challenge in the bathrooms was to somehow make ice-cream colored wall tile with pastel cast iron tubs work...  In this case, simplicity and history were the keys to a successful result.

White hexagon mosaics with a black dot insert would do the trick.  

And how do you take a traditional design and add a touch of modern?  

By selecting a textural material like hand-made, tumbled milk glass.  Swirls of variegated opacity give milk glass a unique visual texture.  Once grouted, the perimeter of each tile is enhanced with 'shadowing' caused by light trapped in the semi-translucent tiles.  This effect is most visible with non-contrasting grout.

'The Alpentile Treatment'

It's all in the details...the planning....and the methods we use 
to achieve the aesthetics our clients and their homes deserve.

We review the design with our client before installation begins.
We loft any installation where tile layout is impacted by the dimensions of the room.  In this case, I don't want black deco tiles to be touching any vertical plane. Once lofted, we can review the design with our client for final input before installation begins.

On this project, one bathroom has 2 entries, and ideally the tile layout will be perfectly symmetrical from either entry point.  The best way to ensure accuracy is to lay out the sheets in advance, based on the shape of the room - and tweak our design so that it fits perfectly.

Once lofted, I create spaces for deco tiles and number the sheets.  As I hand sheets to Luke, he adds in the black tile deco pattern by hand.  

This takes guesswork out of installation.

Luke installs the flooring a section at a time, taking time to make adjustments as the paper is removed.  

Paper Faced mounting systems are by far the best system for creativity and detail work.  

This system allows the installer to work in batches and make refinements as he goes - the progress can be slower, and the end result is superior. 

Luke continues to install in batches.  We cut in our perimeter tiles on the following day.  

Because of our planning and lofting, we end up with full tiles, or half-tiles in this hexagon pattern, in much of the room.  

Cutting in a hexagon pattern can be cumbersome if all the cuts are oddballs. Lofting the floor made cutting easier, faster and more precise.

After...classic and clean!

All original...and flooring that fits.

After...Bright and cheerful, the kids will love their new digs!

We treat every project like it is our finest work, and we are so happy with the end result - where normal practice might be to demo and start from scratch, we enjoy the challenge of taking something old, and giving it a second life.