Double Take

Slate-ish tiles, which mimic slate, are formed from scrap derived from paper laminate countertops made of Forest Stewardship Council-certified or recycled paper. Not only are the tiles composed of recycled waste from an already sustainable product, but they also employ a low-energy manufacturing process—they’re hand split with a chisel. “Slate-ish is kind of an artisan product because of its handmade nature,” says Jan Carlson, co-founder of Lincoln, Neb.-based Straw, Sticks and Bricks, a firm that deals in sustainable building materials and produces Slate-ish tiles.

The tiles received the greatest number of reader inquiries in Qualified Remodeler’s September issue, page 46.

“There are not a lot of sustainable decorative surface materials made in the U.S.,” Carlson explains. “A lot of it is imported, and almost all of the stone that looks like Slate-ish is going to be imported, as well, meaning substantial petroleum use will be incurred just in transporting it to the U.S.”

With a look much like stone, the tile is appropriate for interior use and can take the place of other stone or ceramic tile. Slate-ish is lightweight, making it suitable for ceiling applications or other uses where natural stone would be too heavy.

Although the material lends itself well to large commercial applications, much interest has come from the residential market, according to Carlson. Common uses are feature walls, fireplace faades and entries.

“Installation requires no special tools or training. A lot of our installations are simply done with clear silicone caulk for adhesion, and Slate-ish can be cut with standard woodworking tools,” she says.

Slate-ish is available in strips, cubes and bars and in seven colors: Bark, Berry, Chocolate, Moss, Ocean, Soot and Wheat.

Created by Straw, Sticks and Bricks co-founder Josh Shear, Slate-ish is manufactured under the aegis of Straw, Sticks and Bricks. The firm has dealt in sustainable building materials for more than 10 years and also produces a recycled glass countertop material that is distributed only in the Midwest because of the energy cost that would be incurred in shipping long distances.

Slate-ish, on the other hand, is more easily shipped because of its light weight and is available from Straw, Sticks and Bricks or one of the company’s dealers.