Just because you have finished choosing the most fundamental aspects of your home (such as the hardwood, cabinetry and appliances) — the fun isn’t over. Here is your opportunity to truly customize your home with personal touches to make the space your own. One of the ways to do that is by selecting tiles that speak to your unique design vision. Not only are there different kinds of tile available, from polished, uniform looks to more variant mosaic details, there are different ways to combine, contrast and individualize the final product. Tile is a wonderful way to diversify your home because there are so many options available, and so many versatile ways to use it.
Where Should You Install Tile?
There are numerous places throughout your home where tile proves to be an effective, pragmatic and appealing option. The most beneficial places to include tile in your home are on the floors of the mud room, laundry room and bathrooms, and as a backsplash in your kitchen and/or laundry room. You may also want to use it to surround your fireplace, either as a hearth or as a feature wall. The possibilities are endless.
Know Your Terms: Tile Types 101
With so many options available, it is important to think about the differences between each tile type. Take into consideration how they compare in aesthetic, maintenance, durability and cost. Here is a list of common kinds of tile to help get you started.
Marble: Marble is a popular option for many homeowners. However, because marble is a natural stone, it requires bi-annual sealing to prevent against visible wear.
Granite: Like with granite countertops, granite tile is a natural stone and so requires sealing every six months or so. Its aesthetic is unique because it comes directly from a quarry. Each slab is interspersed with different mineral speckled patterns and it comes in a variety of colours.
Slate: Slate is also a natural stone and so requires the same care and maintenance as marble and granite. However, slate is a very durable stone that is very dense. It usually comes in darker, earthier tones. It also tends to be textured rather than polished and smooth, but there are finishes that can help to temper its natural texture.
Porcelain: Some homeowners prefer porcelain tile to marble because it is aesthetically similar, but does not need to be re-sealed because it is not a natural stone. Porcelain is non-porous and therefore unlikely to stain, and is very strong and durable material. An added benefit; porcelain tiles also tend to be less expensive.
Ceramic: Ceramic tile is not as durable as porcelain, but does not require the maintenance of the natural stone tiles. Consider it a mid-range option between marble and porcelain.
Ledge-cut Stone: This is a heavy, dense cut of stone that is more appropriate for around the fireplace or as a feature wall in the living room. It is, however, another great aesthetic option to help you personalize the look of your home.
Your Style, Your Way
The wonderful thing about tile is that you can put as many, or as few, styles in your home — uniformity isn’t vital in this regard. The bathroom tile does not need to match the tile in the kitchen. The kitchen backsplash does not need to match the backsplash in the laundry room. You can include whatever styles you like to suit your own preference and to suit your design goals for each room. So if you want your bathroom to have a dramatic, exotic vibe, but your kitchen to have a sophisticated, clean and modern look, that’s completely achievable.
Aside from the colour and finish of the tile itself, there are a few other options to consider which can influence your overall look:
- Pattern and Layout: Tile can be installed in many different patterns, depending on the shape and size of the tile(s) and the space. You can add borders and even mosaics to achieve different effects. From the simple “straight lay” and “diagonal” patterns to more intricate patterns such as the “running bond”, “checkerboard” and “herringbone” patterns, the layout of your tile can influence how large or ‘busy” your space looks — so take some time to talk with your designer about what will work best for you.
- Grout: In the days of yore, nobody gave much thought to grout. Not so anymore! Grout is now available in a huge array of colours from whites and creams to greys, charcoals, and even red clay and camel colours. You can consider if you want your grout colour to “match” your tile colour, to contrast against it, or to remain neutral. Matching the grout to the tile colour will make the grout lines appear more subtle, whereas contrasting a light tile with a dark grout (or vice versa) creates a sort of “frame” around the tile, drawing the eye’s attention to it. Understated grout colours have the most mass-appeal, though light-coloured grout will show stains and dirt more easily. The options are virtually limitless — so get inspired and choose what fits your style.
To create uniformity (or just to make use of a tile you really love) it is possible to use floor tiles on walls (for example, as a backsplash). However, one limitation you should be aware of is that tiles designed specifically for walls are not strong enough to be used on the floor.
Tile really is a great option for a home, especially because it is so versatile in its look and its function. But with so many possibilities available, it is easy to get overwhelmed. Remember; ultimately, your taste is what drives the look of your home, and you can work with a professional interior designer ensure that you love the final product.