With the availability of tile in all shapes, colors, sizes, textures, materials, and patterns, few surfacing materials give you the ability to customize the look of your home like tile does.
Chances are good that there is a commercially-available tile that fits your vision for your home. Whether you want to tile your floors, counters, backsplashes, walls, or shower, make sure that you select a professional installer with a history of successful jobs and a portfolio of satisfied customers. The installer can also help you choose which tile to use.
Types Of Tiles And Materials
With very few exceptions, tile is selected for its beauty and practicality. With this in mind, all tiling is not created equal; some tile requires more frequent maintenance. Before selecting your tile and grout, you should consider a few things:
- Smaller tiles require more grout, which usually means that you’ll spend more time cleaning grout lines.
- Large-Format tiles require less grout, but these tiles are more likely to have concealed pockets of air beneath the surface and are more prone to breaking.
- Softer materials like clay are slightly more prone to scuffing, marring, and stains. These materials also have to be resurfaced more frequently.
- Some tiles that are suitable for walls may be too soft for floors or countertops.
The following is a list of the basic types of materials and designs that provide so many types of tiling options:
- Stone Tiles – Your material options may be broader than you initially realize. As a rule, if you can make a counter out of a material, you can probably also turn it into tiling. Here are some of the most popular tile materials for floors, walls, showers, counters, and backsplashes:
- Polished-Concrete Tiles – Due to recent innovations that can change the aesthetic beauty of polished concrete, such as dying, acid-washing, and staining, you can enjoy the durability and reduced maintenance of polished concrete in nearly any color or pattern. If you like the look of polished concrete but you also enjoy a grout pattern, this tile material may provide you with the exact look you want.
- Clay – Clay tiles have become very popular in many California homes. Clay can be dyed or stained to suit a variety of color schemes. Clay is a softer material, however, and it requires periodic resealing to prevent moisture from affecting the integrity of the clay.
- Large-Format Tiles (LFT)– If any edge of the tile is over 15” in length, it’s considered “large-format,” whether it’s a rectangle or a large square. Large-format tiles require extra care during installation because they’re more prone to breaking.
- Textured Tiles – Tiles come in many textures, like wood grain, pebbled, stucco, or some other embossed emblem or pattern. The advantage is that tile is easier to clean or replace than most of these other surfacing options.
Factors To Consider When Choosing Your Tile
The abundance of tiling options can be overwhelming. With so many options, how do you choose? Over the years, we’ve developed a list of considerations for homeowners to think about when selecting what kinds of tiles to include in their home. Here are some of the factors we consider when working with our Los Angeles customers:
- Location of the Tile Installation – Light-colored tiles made from porous materials aren’t suitable for showers and bathtubs. In these spaces, the tile can be stained by hair dyes and other tinted products used in the shower. Tiling used for kitchen counters or backsplashes must also be resistant to staining. There is a range of tile hardnesses, so to avoid scuffing, floor tiling should be relatively hard, while wall tiling can be softer.
- Color of the Grout – For the most part, grout is tougher to clean than tiling. If your plan involves white grout in a kitchen, think about what will happen when marinara sauce or turmeric comes into contact with it. Another factor to consider is how your grout color will match all of the tiling used in the project. Darker grouts will show less wear and may not need to be replaced as soon as lighter tones.
- Tile Aesthetics – At least part of your reason for choosing tile is that you like the way it looks. As you plan your project, you will be able to consider many different sizes, textures, colors, and patterns of tile. How will the tile you choose work in concert with the other aspects of the room? Ask your installer if you can bring home samples to hold against your floors, walls, and appliances. You can also purchase a single tile before committing to a large batch.
Popular Places For Tiling In The Home
Nearly any flat surface can be tiled, but that doesn’t mean that tiling is the perfect surface covering for every area of the home. Tile works great on most floors, countertops, kitchen backsplashes, and showers. You can also use tile to give your bedroom and hallway walls a unique appearance. On the other hand, certain types of tile aren’t ideal if they’re used to support a heavy object like a vehicle or a safe. Here are some factors to consider as you think about tiling various parts of your home:
- Bathroom – Use water-resistant, stain-proof tiling and grout that won’t discolor if it comes into contact with disinfectants.
- Kitchen and Backsplash – As is the case with bathrooms, kitchens must feature liquid-resistant, stain-proof tiling. Scratches and scuffs can also be a concern as metal utensils and cookware comes into contact with tile surfaces. Heat is another factor to consider when choosing kitchen tile.
- Floors – The floors of any home take a beating. Consider using durable, scuff-proof tile when installing floors in high-traffic areas. Make sure to factor friction into your decision as well; some types of tiling are slippery, especially when wet.
- Walls – Choosing to tile walls that aren’t in the kitchen or bathrooms is mostly a matter of aesthetic choice. Keep in mind that dark tiles can make rooms seem smaller. It may also be difficult to hang heavy pictures or mirrors in tiled rooms without damaging the walls.