Architect and builder Uri Tedgi sets no limitations for himself when it comes to his business. As the owner of Millennium Builders in Philadelphia, PA, he prides himself on pushing boundaries, especially when it comes to new materials. As a result, when he was introduced to Laminam, Crossville’s brand of large-format porcelain panels, he decided to challenge himself and figure out a way to utilize the material in his own townhome.
Although the material is commonly employed in commercial spaces, given its grandiose size, Tedgi was intrigued to make it work in his 2,800-square-foot residence, despite the fact he never worked with the material before. “It was definitely a challenge because it was my first time using the material,” Tedgi said. “[However], when I was introduced to this material, I already knew what the end result would look like — a very modern, sleek design that was maintenance free.”
To accomplish the contemporary look he was trying to achieve, Tedgi selected three different Laminam collections to be used throughout his home design, including I Naturali, Oxide and Collection Polished. With more than 50 designer-inspired colors and finishes to choose from, Tedgi went with a variety of six colors from these collections, which each added their own bit of pizazz to every space in the home.
Roughly 930 square feet of material — or about 30 whole panels — was used for the kitchen countertop; and walls in the master bathroom, kids’ bathroom and fireplace surround. All of the material was supplied by Garden State Tile in Philadelphia, PA.
Architect/Builder: Millennium Builders, Philadelphia, PA
Manufacturer: Crossville, Inc., Crossville, TN
Supplier: Garden State Tile, Philadelphia, PA
Installation Products: Mapei, Deerfield Beach, FL
Perhaps the most interesting, and dynamic, of the applications begins in the kitchen, with the 12-foot-long countertop fabricated from Laminam’s I Naturali collection in Calacatta d’Oro Polished. Reminiscent of natural Calacatta marble, for which it’s named after, Tedgi chose to use this particular color in a polished finish to give the countertop a very classic and sophisticated look. Using only two panels of Laminam for the countertop, he opted for a 3-foot-long waterfall edge, which extends all the way to the floor, creating a very dramatic feel.
Just beyond the kitchen is the living room, where Tedgi decided to accent the fireplace in an inventive way with the Laminam. Using the material as a floating panel in front of the fireplace to create something a little more complex than that of a fireplace surround, he employed Laminam’s Oxide collection in Nero, which captures the glitter, grit and patina of weathered metal. This addition complements the natural Calacatta marble fireplace, sleekly lining it and extending to the ceiling — continuing the contemporary vibe throughout the gathering and entertaining area.
Upstairs in the two bathrooms is where the remaining Laminam was employed to complete the upscale residence’s transformation. For the walls of the master bathroom, he selected two completely opposite colors from the I Naturali collection — Ossidiana Vena Scura (nearly black in color) and Pietra Di Savoia Perla (an opaque white color) — which add a nice contrast and complement the modern design. For the walls in the kids’ bathroom, Tedgi took the same idea and selected two contrasting Laminam collections and colors; the upper half of the walls are lined in the Oxide collection in Perla, a tinted white color, while the bottom half of the walls are clad in the Collection Polished in Fumo, which is a shade of darker gray.
To bring the residence to life, Tedgi literally became a jack of all trades — combining all of his skills to design, build and install the extra-large porcelain panels, which are said to be one of the largest and thinnest types of porcelain material available in the industry today. Because of this, Tedgi faced some interesting challenges, mostly in regard to the installation, since he had to haul a dozen panels up several flights of narrow steps. “The main difficulty was getting the material up three stories, maneuvering it between [the spaces] and getting it into the rooms,” said Tedgi. “I had to fabricate things downstairs and then carry them upstairs to the master bathroom and other bathroom.
“If I was to do anything different in the future, or if I have another job like this, I would get everything cut like you do with a waterjet — have everything precise — or have it done at the job, and then bring it to the site and install it,” Tedgi went on to say. “It’s not easy to do it onsite in small spaces and install. For commercial spaces, that’s a different story. But, for residential spaces, I would definitely, for most pieces, cut them at the shop, have it all figured out and then bring it in to install.”
To complete the installation, Tedgi enlisted the help of one other installer, and utilized mostly products from Mapei of Deerfield Beach, FL, including Ultraflex 1,a standard-grade, single-component, polymer-modified thin-set mortar, which is used for most interior and exterior installations
Similar to his challenges with transporting the Laminam, Tedgi also encountered some minor complications when installing the material, given his inexperience using it. “You have to be precise in the cutting [of it],” he said. “If it’s too big and you already start to adhere it to the wall, it’s going to be a problem. In this case, I did that, when I should’ve shaved 1/8 or 1/16 inch off of it, so I had to remove it and it created a vacuum-like effect — adhering to the thinset, and that was a problem. [In the future], I would just cut it precise, then cut 1/8 inch off and fill it in with grout, so it can fit nice and snug.”
Despite the few roadblocks Tedgi faced along the way, he and his fellow helper managed to complete the entire job in a little over two months with no other complications. “It’s perfect,” said Tedgi. “I love it. And the cleaning lady has a very easy job now. She just sprays it with cleaning product and calls it a day.”
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