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Meet the Maker: Earp Bros

13 Aug 2022

Earp Bros are the experts in surface design, manufacture, and logistics. They design and procure only the highest quality products suitable for the Australian environment, as well as work closely with their manufacturers to develop materials they truly believe offer better value, performance, and health benefits. That’s why we knew that Earp Bros tiles needed to be included in our Barefoot Bay Villa project in Byron Bay. Read on below to find out more about the company and why their tiles are of the highest quality…  

The Earp Bros story is quite an incredible one – can you tell us a bit about the history behind Earp Bros and how the brand has evolved over time.

Established more than 135 years ago by George Frederick Earp in October 1883, we remain a 100% family-owned business. Surviving two World Wars and the Great Depression, we have continually changed and adapted to the needs of our customers. Our business was first established to provide coal bunkering between Western Australia and Newcastle to support the growing steamship industry. This soon led to new opportunities for import and export of commodity goods such as sugar, dried milk, and matches between London and the booming Port of Newcastle. We progressed into timber and hardware supply, automotive mechanics and sales, Arnott’s biscuit distribution and even glass shower screen manufacture. Over the years we have continually learned from our customers and continue to do so today with a refined focus on beautiful, high-quality hard surface products that are better for the environment and our health - hand-selected and tailored with the Australian climate and design sensibility in mind.

Where is the company based now and how many employees do you have?

We operate a national supply chain with designer showrooms in Sydney, Melbourne, Newcastle, and Brisbane. Our head office and main warehouse are located in Newcastle as a central location for the East Coast of Australia. We also operate a clearance outlet called Earp Bros Clearance Centre located about 250 metres down the road from our Head Office. We currently employ about 85 staff across all locations, from Product Design who create some of our beautiful products right through to delivery drivers who unload your order at your door - it’s service with a smile of course!

Where are the tiles designed and manufactured?

Over the last 59 years we have developed strong, long term relationships with the world’s leading brands and manufacturers in Europe, Northern Africa, and Vietnam, so we understand the best manufacturers and the not so good ones. Along with our inhouse design team, we work with these manufacturers to develop materials most suited to Australian needs. Our major supplier the Porcelanosa Group in Spain is one of the largest and most respected tile manufacturers globally, and we have been a partner with the firm for close to 35 years. We also understand the desire for higher levels of customisation which is currently being sought by the Australian design industry and have formed some truly remarkable relationships with both artisan makers and leading ceramic and porcelain technology brands to bring this offering to Australia.

The tile selection process for anyone can be overwhelming, to say the least – where should someone start when selecting tiles?

The single most important thing you can do if you are unsure of what you are looking for is to take a moment to consider what you will value most about the tiles you select. Budget is a consideration for most people, but it shouldn’t dictate your selection - no tile is created equal and certain qualities, designs or characteristics can provide considerably more value to you than just opting for the cheapest tiles you can find.

How important is it that your products are suitable for the Australian environment? How does this impact tile choice?

Generally speaking, all tiles sold in Australia should meet both the International and Australian Standards for ceramic tiles. This does not, however, mean that you can use any tile in a typical Australian environment. We have unique lifestyles in this country to anywhere else on the planet and we should consider this when we make our choices.

What makes Earp Bros tiles the most sustainable choice when selecting tiles?

The amount of energy, water and raw materials used in the production of tiles can be immense. So, what is the most sustainable way to produce tiles? Our Global Green Tag certified tiles are produced in Spain by world-renowned Porcelanosa Group, a brand synonymous with style and quality.

At Porcelanosa’s manufacturing facility all water is captured from the production line, reticulated and cleaned for reuse. Not a drop is wasted - you use more water to brush your teeth than is lost by producing a square metre of tiles! Next, are energy considerations. To produce tiles that will last the lifetime of a building requires a huge amount of energy to produce the heat to continually fire the kilns at 1300 degrees Celsius. This energy is produced by natural gas, the most efficient heat source currently available for tile production (some countries still use coal-fired factories, an abhorrent waste of natural resources and the main cause of air pollution in many countries). Much of the heat generated in kilns can easily be wasted, so Porcelanosa has cogeneration power systems in place to capture the heat before it is lost and reintroduces this heat at other stages in the production cycle. These are only a few of the steps taken to ensure every watt of energy, every milliliter of water and every milligram of raw material is used in the most efficient way possible, to produce tiles that are designed for a lifetime.

We know that for every one of our tiles sold, less water is wasted, less energy consumed, less waste generated, and a more beautiful space built that will stand the test of time.

Earp Bros are specialists in risk reduction – what are some of the best Earp Bros tiles for someone to choose from when concerned about safety in their home?

The main areas of concern in residential homes are bathrooms and pools - the highest risk of accidents is in these two areas due to the nature of wet environments and walking in bare feet. Although not yet legislated, slip-resistant finishes should be considered closely for these types of areas. Our range of slip-resistant floor tiles is beautifully designed and offer matching matt and/or gloss finishes to seamlessly integrate between areas.

What are the biggest trends you have seen in tiles in 2019 when it comes to colour and texture?

Organic shapes, earthy tones, and bold colour are in. Moody green, deep blue, unique marbles, terracotta, terrazzo and the artisanal handmade. The range of materiality that is now possible in tile has led to some exciting new products, like our XTone porcelain countertops inspired by cement, aggregate stones, and distinct marble designs. One of the most exciting materials we’ve released this year would have to be Bottega, a complete range of floor tiles, wall tiles, decorative, sheets, and countertop slabs - the same design and finish can be installed on literally every surface of the home. Materials that are adaptable in size and finish and that offer a timeless take on natural materials are only going to get stronger as they offer you the ability to take the beauty of nature and apply it to any surface you desire.

You can explore more of Earp Bros products on their website.

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