One of the neatest things about home remodeling is seeing just how far people’s creativity can take them. It’s pretty inspiring to be able to peek into the minds of luminaries like Frank Gehry and Frank Llloyd Wright, two home designers with great gifts for transforming how a place could look. At Remodeling Central, we’re constantly amazed at how far a person’s mind can go and what they’re capable of thinking, but we’ve discovered there’s one trend that may just be better suited for the “tried it, didn’t work out” pile: tiles that change color based on temperature.
How Temperature-Sensitive Tiles Work
If this seems like something out of a sci-fi movie, it’s not really. You’ve seen this kind of technology before, most commonly in mood rings. Slide the ring on to your finger, and watch how it reacts to your bodily temperature and changes colors. It seems like magic, but only until you understand how the technology behind it works.
Temperature sensitive glass consists of liquid crystals that lay just beneath the glass surface, and they’re the ones responsible for changing the color of the glass. These liquid crystals exist in three different phases:
Nematic: These liquid crystals look like the spikes on a hedgehog, with the rod-shaped molecules lining up in a parallel fashion. Because of how they’re lined up, the molecules within them are free-flowing, but the longitudinal shape still remains. You’ve most likely seen nematic liquid crystals in things like TVs, if it has an LCD display.
Smectic: If the liquid crystals are at a lower phase, then they can be found in the smectic phases. What’s different about these liquid crystals is they’re grouped together in one direction and slide over each other, much like soap does. There’s more than one smectic phase, and scientists further subcategorize them based on their positional and orientational order.
Chiral: Here, we have liquid crystals noted for their hardness, with the molecules twisting around each other as if they were in a dryer. The crystals are also tilted along their axis, which produces a sort of spiral look among them.
Why Homeowners Are Using It
Having temperature-sensitive tiles is a quick, useful and easy way to see what the temperature is in a certain part of your home without having to touch it or put a thermometer to it, or to indicate where cold spots may be. Your thermostat will regulate the temperature in your house according to what you set it at, but it won’t tell you where drafts, leaks or cold spots are. Temperature-sensitive tiling can, by staying black to indicate cold temperatures and morphing to reds and oranges to indicate a better heat flow.
It’s also a bit of a novelty item, as having showers will never be the same again. You step into a stylish shower tiled in black, and then watch it turn green, blue, red, orange and yellow when the water heats up and hits it. You get a two-for-one look when it comes to remodeling, as you can have both cool black tiles and a smorgasbord of colored ones, all at the switch of a heating difference.
Why We Don’t Like It
It looks a little too hippie-ish for our liking, as though someone had taken the concept of tie-dyed shirts and transferred it to the walls. The color differences can get pretty garish sometimes, and especially when they’re not in any set pattern — which is often. Instead, your walls have a splotchy appearance to them that looks like someone on an acid trip painted your walls, but changed their minds halfway through and gave up.
Plus, temperature-sensitive tiles are expensive because they’re individually handmade. We definitely have nothing against paying more for quality goods, but only when the ends justify the means. And in this case, we can’t see what the big fuss is.