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Family-owned since 1947, B&W Tile is now for sale — gulp: get your pastel-colored tile now just in case…

kate-in-pink-bathroomB&W Tile has been one of the most important go-to sources for Retro Renovators — its wide selection of pastel-colored square ceramic tiles is unparalleled and priced right, too. Kate (in her pink bathroom made possible by B&W tile) and many other readers agreed, and have used the tile to create or repair their midcentury bathrooms. Now, after being in the family for 70 years (!), the company is for sale. While there is no immediate reason to panic, I am of the belief that in moments like these, if you were thinking you’d eventually be buying some of this stuff, well: Get it now while the getting is good!

I spoke with company management late last week. They said that current owners Ralph and Joseph Logan are heading toward retirement and are looking for a buyer for B&W. The company was started by their father, Ernest, in 1947.

B&W has two locations in the Los Angeles area and supplies tiles wholesale to other companies around the nation. I am guessing: The key / a key value of this business includes its manufacturing operations — all those pastel-colored tiles are made by B&W. So when the company is sold, you’d think the new owner would continue. That said, you never know.

So I repeat: Get while the getting is good. B&W’s website has dramatically improved. See it here.

CategoriesBathroom Tile
  1. Natalia Rostov says:

    They are a wonderful business, so I hope any new owners continue the tradition. I was hunting all over the country for gray square tile to match my 1955 gray tiles, and B&W was the most gracious, quick and comprehensive source. Alas, the grays did not match completely. But they did their best to try.

  2. Wendellyn Plummer says:

    Hi Pam,
    I just contacted them last week and nothing was said about the Sale? I am hoping they have what I need. Just waiting for a cost and ship time. I am pretty new to the Vintage game but was so excited when we bought our 1965 tri-level home this past December. Fingers crossed!!!

    1. Pam Kueber says:

      Again, I repeat: Read the story. The hope is certainly that a new owner will continue the business…

  3. ineffablespace says:

    I know that white was also very popular as a fixture color since the first cast-iron bathtub and vitreous china toilet bowl, (and I grew up in a house with all-white bathrooms and an all-white kitchen –excepting an Irish Linen countertop and some stainless–in the height of the harvest gold and avocado era. But the curmudgeon in me is still very unhappy that it is impossible to recreate a three piece (cast iron tub, toilet, and sink/s) colored bathroom in the manner of the full-on colored mid-century bath. Unless you find salvage. And at the rate it’s going soon you won’t be able to do a two piece either.

    Mine’s going to be all grey which is a weak substitute but I am mildly comforted by the fact that grey or white baths were actually pretty popular with the architects around here even in the 1960s and the shade I am using was available. (The original appears to have been yellow and black and white with gold sparkles, which must’ve been left up to the builder)

  4. Carolyn says:

    Maybe I’m just dense but where is the price list on their website? All I can find is the shipping cost. Thanks!

  5. kara says:

    So sad, B & W has been a Socal staple for as long as I’ve lived here. I have fixed up many a house with their help.

  6. ineffablespace says:

    I don’t think Ann Sacks carries a tile that fits the bill anymore. They have some expensive textural or dimensional tiles with a mid-century-modern flavor, but as far as I can tell the Caliber or other basic lines of 4x in a wide range of colors have been discontinued.

    You may want to verify, but I could not find something like this among the current offerings.

  7. Lisa Compo says:

    Uh Oh…I had B &W in the back of my mind for doing the 4×4 yellow tile backslash in my new old kitchen in a year or so. And wanted some pink for my dream bathroom.
    So…with the potential sale of the company are you saying that the pastel 4x4s will be may become pretty much unavailable from anyone? Do you know of another company…or is it just that B&W is the best variety?
    You said not to panic, but this isn’t exactly good news for someone on the verge of needing their products in a year or two.

      1. Matt says:

        It’s a few days late, but I can confirm that Daltile has a shade of blue that matches the blue-gray Regency Blue that American Standard used. It’s Waterfall / color 0169, currently in stock and in production. We were planning on going with B&W but their blue is a bit more aqua and is a better match for Kohler and other fixture makes. The mudcap pieces used for trim are becoming make to order since not so many people set that type of tile any more. Based on conversation with Daltile last month I would put them on the “threatened” list. Their countertop trim is basically extinct. For what it’s worth you an simulate the more authentic mudbed look easily by installing 1/4″ Hardibacker on the walls up to about 1″ below where you want the tile to stop. It’s a nice fit with the curvature of the trim.

        Ming Green on the other hand, B&W can’t be beat. It’s a perfect match and after I finish recreating our blue / gray trim bathroom I’m using their tile for a green / ??? trim one. It may be outdated information, but when I called earlier this year they sent small size samples in all kinds of colors when I asked nicely for them.

        1. Ashlee says:

          I had a really hard time finding Waterfall. I went to the Daltile showroom here in Van Nuys and it’s a special order, which was fine. But they didn’t make all the trim pieces needed to complete our shower. While I was able to use black for most of the trim, there were some I needed in Waterfall and, as a result, had to use a B&W blue for that bathroom instead. BUT! In my other bathroom, I was only tiling the walls around the tub, so the trim pieces weren’t an issue and Daltile was just fine. I went through the wringer with tile on this particular project, so if you have any questions, I’m more than happy to help! Just let me know!

  8. ineffablespace says:

    I have the feeling that the restoration market for any period has to go through a crisis period and a recovery period but I am not really sure how this all works on a timeline.

    People now call subway tile “timeless” and “classic” and now you can buy everything from cheapo to fully rectified flat restoration tile in 3×6″. I don’t think the people who are calling it timeless and classic had to try to find it in the 1990s. People who were restoring Victorian houses (which actually probably started in earnest in the 1960s) had to rely on salvage or an extremely few, expensive, custom restoration tile manufacturers.

    Did anyone here try to get a stained glass window restored in the 1960s or 1970s? I didn’t, I was in grade school in the 1970s, but I know that the windows in the church I went to were in desperate need of restoration and they could not find anyone to do it. It was the 1990s before there were companies that would take on large projects like 15-20 windows for an ordinary church, not a historic monument.

    The availability of techniques, materials, fixtures and finishes seems to lag behind the interest in restoration of whatever period. They seem to disappear completely at the time that interest in a particular period is starting to become more general.

    Kohler killed off pale pink, pale yellow, pale blue and pale green all around 2012. Colored toilets and sinks from other companies are becoming fewer and fewer as we speak. But it’s coincident really with a more generalized interest in historical pastel bathrooms? I am not sure why that is. Kohler also discontinued Taboret, a mid-century faucet style, and their Cinderella-type cast iron corner tub. At least they still make Triton (and list most options for this under Commercial). I don’t mean to pick on Kohler specifically except that they were the last large company to make cast iron tubs in actual colors and have a few other things in their lineup that were originally designed in the 1960s that were a little more high design than just purely functional.

    Like I said I am not sure what the market forces are that seem to remove historic options at just about the time that interest in that particular period of history is starting to gain traction, but it seems to be part of a cycle.

    1. Lincoln says:

      Before something becomes “antique and desirable” in the eyes of the masses, it first spends some time being “dated and tacky.” I’m sure many a clawfoot bathtub got busted up for scrap before turn of the century things became fashionable again. Things are made as replacement parts for old houses for maybe a few ‘generations’ of style, then discontinued, then brought back when that style goes from old to antique. I imagine in 10-20 years, the box stores and designer catalogs will be filled with pink toilets and knotty pine and starburst everything.

      1. ineffablespace says:

        “Before something becomes ‘antique and desirable’ in the eyes of the masses…”

        Sure, this is the case, I agree. But I still don’t really understand the timing of industry vs that change in sentiment:

        Pink bathrooms and knotty pine are becoming desirable, or at least no longer considered hideous by the masses–Now. I participate in a forum where the last thing on most people’s minds is any sort of preservation or accuracy in anything newer than probably the arts and crafts movement, pre-1920.

        A few years ago, if someone posted a pink bathroom and said “How do I make this work?” there were always people who said “A sledge hammer, you have to get rid of that thing”, and the more conservative people would say to remove the sink and toilet, and paint over the tub and tile, or if they were afraid to paint the tub, buy an extra long shower curtain and keep it covered up.

        I would try to explain the importance of keeping things like this and I would generally get shouted down. There was one member who said to me that ” [she] had been watching my replies and it was obvious that I did not like anything new, and I always thought old was better no matter how u— it was” and that I seemed to get off on convincing people to keep dated, u— stuff, but I was not the one who had to live with it.

        Now, a few years later, when a pink bathroom comes up, there is general support for keeping it and the person who suggests the sledgehammer is the one who does not get as much agreement.

        One day when I was feeling particulary peevish in a thread where people were suggesting pink shades for something, I linked to a few threads where the same people were saying how terrible pink was as a color for anything just a few short years ago. I think when Pantone comes up with their next color of the year they should call it “Fickle” no matter what color it is.

        So maybe the answer is that people are ready at this point to *keep, or *accept a preexisting colored bath (at least pastels, Harvest Gold and Avocado are still on the chopping block)–but industry knows that virtually no one in any profitable number is actually willing to Recreate one.

        And if it happens in 10-20 years that is because it has moved into a completely different era history wise. Because to some extent the design world has already moved into embracing the 1980s.

          1. Kathy says:

            Well said! Too bad we never seem to be able to bridge that 10-year or so gap. I hope B&W finds a buyer with their passion.

  9. Barbara says:

    Hi Pamela!
    Can you get samples?
    Or what’s a quick search to find out who carries B&W tiles in your area?
    Barbara

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