A Tiled House?
November 28, 2006 2:08 PM   Subscribe

Is there any logical reason why one would tile the exterior of a house?

Ok, so I've been mulling over this one for a while and have decided to turn it over to the hive.

There is a house near me that has had the entire exterior tiled, from the ground to the roof. I believe it happened about two years ago. Basically, I'm at a loss to explain why someone would tile the outside of a house in (what appears to be) regular inside tiles. They're a revolting shade of brown, if that helps.

Anyone got any ideas?
posted by cholly to Home & Garden (23 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
 
Maybe they think it looks nicer than whatever's under the tiles.
posted by nomis at 2:16 PM on November 28, 2006


Because people are stupid.
My former landlord painted the inside of his swimming pool with exterior house paint. Then wondered why it started peeling.
posted by clh at 2:24 PM on November 28, 2006


In places like Portugal & Puebla, Mexico, tiled exteriors are usually ornamental although there is a practical purpose. Here's a link about Lisbon azulejo.
Ugly brown tiles.. Maybe just bad taste (or different aesthetics)
posted by lois1950 at 2:30 PM on November 28, 2006


Tiles are pretty durable and don't require much maintenance.
posted by electroboy at 2:35 PM on November 28, 2006


As long as people have been building, they've taken advantage of whatever materials are cheap and plentiful for them. Sometimes it works out, sometimes it doesn't. Your neighbor probably got hold of a bunch of surplus tile on the cheap. So yeah, logical from his point of view...

I've seen several homes coated in various ecycled materials including household glass, broken tile, old tires, aluminum cans, you name it. *shrug* Some people make artistic statements with their homes by decorating the interiors. Some do it with an excess of christmas lights. This family has chosen bath tiles.
posted by nakedcodemonkey at 2:37 PM on November 28, 2006


It's quite common in Tokyo—you see buildings covered in white, pink, whatever tiles. I refer to it as the toilet school of architecture.

Not sure why it's done, but I'll speculate that it is done because tile can be cleaned more easily with a hose, and the pollution in Tokyo makes buildings look old very quickly, so that would be a good thing.

In your neighbor's case? No clue.
posted by adamrice at 2:49 PM on November 28, 2006


In my hometown, there's a kit home circa 1958 that has large, two-foot-tall ceramic tiles on the outside. No wood was used to build the house—it was supposed to conserve natural resources by using only scrap from other industrial processes (or so I've heard).

Why someone would tile their home like that today, I have no idea.
posted by infinitewindow at 2:49 PM on November 28, 2006


I was also going to vote for "insanity" as a reason, but then skipped posting it... glad to know I am not alone in this opinion.

It could be a Mediterranean/Portuguese thing. There is a large Portuguese community in Toronto and in those neighbourhoods it's not uncommon to see houses with tiled fronts. It's decorative - I find it ugly, but others might not I suppose.
posted by GuyZero at 2:55 PM on November 28, 2006


Some buildings only have a wooden frame under the tiles with no bricks, so the walls are essentially constructed the same way a tiled roof wood be.

It doesn't sound like this is the case with yours though.
posted by cillit bang at 3:03 PM on November 28, 2006


I know a guy who has carpet in front of his house instead of sidewalk- i wondered about it until i found out he has a carpet company....and then i understood :)
posted by Izzmeister at 3:08 PM on November 28, 2006


There's a business corner (St. Paulites: University and Snelling, that big green bldg) in my hometown of St. Paul, MN that has done this. After it was built we started calling it the Bathroom Building.
posted by GaelFC at 3:35 PM on November 28, 2006


  1. The Big Orange Splot might hint at a possible explanation.
  2. De gustibus non disputandum est.
  3. The person who did it really is crazy.

posted by Quinbus Flestrin at 3:38 PM on November 28, 2006


I thought of another one:

4. The home owner is a fan of the architecture or London Underground stations, some of which have nice, shiny, brown tile (or is it glazed brick) exteriors: Goodge Street Station is one example, but there are many others dating from a similar period.
posted by Quinbus Flestrin at 3:49 PM on November 28, 2006


I have seen quite a few tiled buildings / houses in Asian countries. I don't know the exact reason for it, but once I noticed it, I saw it everywhere.
posted by tomble at 4:38 PM on November 28, 2006


I am a Realtor and have seen exterior vinyl siding used for tub surround.... I assumed the guy stole it from work and knew how to install it...

This guy was probably a tile guy and got it cheap and knew how to do it, yet he has no idea how to install siding.
posted by thilmony at 5:28 PM on November 28, 2006


I do not think it is done for practical reasons but just preference. We have the mother of all tiled houses in my town, a two story, slab sided thing that is covered with white marble tile. Huge sculptures out front and the owner drives a car with about a hundred red reflectors on it. I think it is a neurological thing.
posted by Iron Rat at 6:15 PM on November 28, 2006


I lived in a Lustron house a couple years ago - probably what infinitewindow is referring to above. These houses were built of enameled steel panels as quick and cheap modular/prefab homes for returning veterans in refitted military steel production plants. The original advertising touts them as low-maintenance and easy to clean, with a picture of the lady of the house hosing down the exterior in her heels and pearls. They're mostly in the Midwest, although there are some scattered all over the country.
posted by nonane at 6:18 PM on November 28, 2006


Pubs in Sydney are tiled on the outside. I assumed it was so they could be hosed down on a regular basis.
posted by kjs4 at 6:42 PM on November 28, 2006


"Basically, I'm at a loss to explain why someone would tile the outside of a house in (what appears to be) regular inside tiles."

Tile, assuming the colour is pigments and not dyes, is somewhere between brick and marble for durability. With synthetic grouts it may be essentially maintanence free in many climates. Which if one intends to occupy a home till death can be a good thing. It's the weathier Italians in my home town who have tiled their homes.
posted by Mitheral at 8:04 PM on November 28, 2006


Quite common in medieval architecture. See the Abbey Gatehouse in Lorsch. Roman architecture was basically all tiled in that it was faced concrete. Also the Etruscans, ancient Chinese, Persians, Syrians, and Egyptians used exterior tile. Babylon's Ishtar Gate was tiled.

Historically, it is very common. Tile offers many of the same advantages as brick without the cost. Seems a perfectly reasonable material to use today as well.
posted by luckypozzo at 10:34 PM on November 28, 2006


Homesick Portuguese?
posted by PuGZ at 1:09 AM on November 29, 2006


I don't know about the color choice, but tile is a good outside cover, I think. Why use Masonite? Why use aluminium? Why use vinyl?

I think it makes more sense in warm climates, as the tile is more reflective of the heat. Maybe freezing would be rough for the tile, but I don't know.

Myself, I'd love a house done in polished granite, but that's a tad costly.
posted by Goofyy at 1:47 AM on November 29, 2006


Good call, nonane.
posted by infinitewindow at 8:06 AM on November 29, 2006


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