If you’re keen to be environmentally responsible but would also like a bit of urban chic, look no further than recycled metal tiles. Certainly, metal is not the first material that comes to mind when you think of tiles – or even when you think of “green” flooring – but recycled metal, as well as being an eco-friendly option, actually provides a host of practical benefits and injects a shot of unique style into your interior design themes as well.
Where Does it Come From?
Most recycled tiles are made mainly from aluminium or occasionally from brass, with the latter being more expensive and therefore less common. Aluminium is recycled in a process where the metal is melted – this is distinctly different and much less energy-intensive than extracting virgin aluminium from the ore, which requires a process involving large-scale electrolysis.
Aluminium can be recycled from windows and doors, containers, appliances and even automobile parts – as well as the ubiquitous beverage cans. The aluminium products are shredded and ground into small pieces and then melted in a furnace. This produces a molten form of aluminium which is to all effects identical to virgin aluminium and from then on, undergoes the same kind of processing.
The recycled aluminium is checked for impurities and also to make sure that it conforms to the necessary amalgams and compositions specified for different products. It is then poured into moulds and large ingots of aluminium are created; these are then flattened into sheets of varying thicknesses depending on what is required for the product that is to be created.
Although aluminium recycling began in the early 1900’s, it did not become popular common practice until the late 1960’s when the surge in numbers of aluminium of cans led the public to become aware of recycling and its benefits for the first time. Nowadays, the recycling process usually produces alumnium alloys, such, as silicon aluminium, which conform to industry standard specifications.
Because recycling aluminium only involves melting the metal, it is actually a much less expensive and energy-intensive process than the original extraction process from the ore, as well as the additional costs associated with the original mining and refinement. In fact, recycling only uses up 5% of the energy used in the original production and nowadays, recycling has become an important proportion of the aluminium industry.
Additional benefits and savings include the reduced capital costs that come from fewer mines, landfills and even the reduced international shipping of raw aluminium. Furthermore, recycling produces significantly less carbon dioxide than the original extraction process and it limits the open-cut mining processes which are often used to obtain aluminium ore – a very destructive process which ruins large areas of natural land.
Aluminium is also a fantastic renewable resource as its uniquely inert structure means that it can be recycled indefinitely and there is no loss of function or capability in the recycled material. In fact, recycled aluminium can be used to make any product that would otherwise have used virgin metal.
Recycled Metal as Flooring
Recycled metal tiles provide an eco-friendly and extremely versatile flooring material. The tiles come in a range of finishes, from glossy polish to matte or even rough sandblasted textures – and can also be impregnated with surface patterns. Choose different tones and styles and mix-and-match to create a unique checkerboard look.
They are extremely durable and in particular, heat resistant up to 300F. In fact, aluminium’s conductivity means that they even help to contribute to a pleasant room temperature. Another bonus is that these recycled tiles do not show fingerprint marks, like stainless steel does, which makes them especially desirable in the kitchen. Maintenance is easy as well – just a regular wipe with a damp cloth or for more serious stains, an occasional thorough clean with mild dishwashing detergent and water will keep things beautiful.
One drawback is that recycled metal tiles are not widespread yet so you may have to make an effort to find a supplier. Make sure that you choose someone experienced in dealing with this material to install your recycled metal tiles – although the installation is similar to traditional tiles, using grout and mortar, metal will require slightly different techniques.
Choosing recycled metal tiles means that not only are you taking an environmentally-responsible option but you will also be adding a unique style statement to your home or workplace.