B&W Tile is our #1 place to buy bathroom wall and floor tile still manufactured today in true mid century colors. (World of Tile is #1 for vintage New Old Stock.) B&W is not just a retailer, they also are a manufacturer — and they can make up to 52 tile colors in all, they tell me. However, you can’t see these tile colors on their website. Now, though, I have found a source — online — where you can see 20 of the colors. The company is Clay Squared — it’s based in Minneapolis — and it may even be a better company for you to order your B&W Tile from, if you don’t live in Los Angeles and want to work with a company that can help you with your tile order and even, design.
B&W has two bricks-and-mortar locations in Los Angeles metro. And they have a website. But, it’s frustrating to initially scope their product line, online, because they don’t show any of their tile colors, online. B&W is good about sending samples. Kate called B&W to inquire whether they charge for samples, and B&W replied that if you want to see a few colors, they would send them for free. If you want to see several (like five or more) they may charge you a small fee — something like 25 cents a tile.
Where to see B&W colors online:
Even so, if you want a sneak peek at 20 of B and W’s tile colors, I have found this work-around: A tile retailer called Clay Squared in Minneapolis carries the B&W line. They show 20 B&W tile colors on their website, here.
Of course, you are never ever going to buy wall tile for your bathroom or kitchen without seeing it in person. But at least you can get an idea here.
Working with B&W Tile compared to Clay Squared
The discovery of Clay Squared also is good news for Retro Renovators in the Minneapolis area who may be looking for retro bathroom tile. You can go down to Clay Squared’s store to see these samples all at once. Then, you can work directly with Clay Squared to create your plan to use B&W Tile, order and receive it. I’m guessing they also will take your calls when questions come up about installation details and design panics. Note, however, that in the course of reporting this story, we saw that Clay Squared’s list prices (*which include shipping) for the B&W Tile initially read much higher than the quotes we have received from B&W (*shipping not included). So we did more research, and here’s our take away of the situation:
- B&W’s quote to Kate for 4″ pink wall tile is $4.50/s.f. — plus shipping. B&W offers personal service — but their general manager clarified to me that you must come into one of their Los Angeles-area stores if you need help with your design and measurements, they do not offer this level of service via phone or email.
- Clay Squared’s quote for the same tile is $12 / s.f. — including shipping. Clay Squared offers personal service to help you get your tile design just right etc., whether you are local to Minneapolis or live elsewhere and need to work with them via email and phone.
- I talked to Josh, the owner of Clay Squared, and he further clarified: The pricing structure and comparison between B&W and Clay Squared immediately gets more complicated depending on the color you choose and the size and shape of tile you choose.
- My take away: If you need a goodly amount of tile and really truly know exactly what you want … if your tile order feels like a “commodity” purchase to you… then you will likely get the best price inclusive of shipping from B&W; if you live in LA metro, you can also get personal service by going into one of the B&W’s two locations. BUT, if you are not in LA and if you want personal service via phone and email in choosing your tile, designing it into your bathroom, specifying exactly what you need so as to minimize waste and if you want someone to call and talk to at all the anxiety-producing steps, then Clay Squared may be the better answer for you.
Scoping your bullnose trim tile
If you are going to use 2×6 bullnose trim tile in white or black (rather than a self-color) — you might do a little bet better, price wise — once you include shipping — by buying your liner tile from a Big Box store like Lowe’s, Home Depot or Menards. BUT, one issue I *think* you will want to watch for — is that the thickness of your liner tile matches the thickness of your wall tile.
SECOND, you’ll also want to consider how a bullnose trim tile — if it’s white — “matches” whatever floor tile you may have specified. For example, B&W tells me that their “white” tile #10W is not “brite” white, it’s more of an antique white. Oooooooh. I like that. The whites back in the day were not as bright as they are today. But, if you end up specifying a bright white floor, you might want a bright white bullnose that is a closer match. Oh, the decisions.
If you don’t specifically need pink bathroom wall tile, check Daltile, American Olean and American Universal
If you are trying to be careful about cost — be sure to check other manufacturers to see what colors are in their present lineup. For example, DalTile and American Olean (same parent company) are regularly changing up their line. The last time I checked, they had some nice light blues, an aqua, and even a mint green. My local tile store quoted me prices starting at $2.45/s.f. for Group 1 … and $.3.65/s.f. for Group 2 this tile — no shipping charge if you could wait for the truck. That’s about as cheap as you’re gonna get tile in this here USA — unless you score some at the ReStore or craigslist, perhaps.
- See this story: 12 places to find 4″ x 4″ bathroom tile in pastel colors.
So, depending on what color you are looking for, and what your time frame is, you need to scope the alternatives. Here on the blog, we can’t keep up all the changes in everyone’s lineup in real-time. It’s like herding cats.
But if you need pink bathroom wall tile:
Want Mamie Pink? B&W still is our #1 go-to place. See Kate’s recent story — a round up of all the places we could find pink tile, 17 in all.