Tile | New Tricks

Tile has really come a long way in the design world.  Where it used to be only for kitchen and bathroom floors, it's really evolved into a serious decorative element for multiple rooms in the house.  Tile comes in a variety of materials but technology has enhanced it to give so many more effects now.  We've discussed different types of tile in a previous post, but today we're giving the run-down on the visual effect tile can offer based on information from this article from Houzz.

The benefit of tile that many people overlook when it comes to using it as a decorative element is the fact that it is so durable.  Yes, it's semi-permanent as well but it can really create some impressive visual effects so look at the durability as a pro instead of viewing the semi-permanency as a con.


Not too long ago, tile when from looking like stone plus to basic printed patterns and colors to also looking like wood (ie. wood-look tile floors that were all the rage).  Now, tile is expanding into looking like other materials such as fabric, wallpaper, concrete, and even elaborating on the wood-look.  To be honest, it just keeps getting better and better.

Tile sizes are changing to.  Tile used to only be available in certain square sizes which then evolved into larger square sizes, then there was elongated sizes like 12x24, oversized square like 36x36 and now there are all sorts of specific shapes tile is cut into such as fishtail, hexagon, fleur, leaf....really, the possibilities are endless.


The nice thing about the larger sizes is that tile can create a seamless effect on a wall---with larger tiles and minimal grout lines, tile can be applied to walls and appear to just be an all over texture or finish.  This consistency is very appealing since it is so durable.  It's perfect for commercial and exterior applications to ensure longevity.

The same is true for patterned tile.  Because it is so durable and has the ability to show very little grout in a wall application, tile is quickly becoming a much more durable version of wallpaper. Be sure to use a skilled installer when installing this type of patterned wallpaper because it does require skill to make the pattern repeat consistent all over.


There are certain linear patterns of tile now, as well, that, once applied give an overall fabric application effect.  Once again, tile is much more durable than a fabric wall application so this a great development.  Hospitality venues really get the most benefit from these type of tile applications because they can carry their themes throughout the building without risking them being destroyed when applied in high traffic areas.


Of course, pattern and prints on tile have evolved dramatically as well and you can purchase tile now that look 3D and very realistically mimics patterns and objects that occur naturally in nature--such as marble, river rock, and even water.   Wood has also continued to evolve with plenty of color and weathering level options that can be used almost anywhere.


It's awesome to see something that used to be so basic being used in so many different applications.  Really, when it comes to tile, with a good installer, the sky is the limit!



Tile | All About The Terminology

Tile is a tricky business.  There are a ton of different kinds of tile out there which means different applications, different product to go with it, and different terminology.  As a homeowner, you may have a little knowledge of tile from your own home projects or maybe even just reading up on things, but there's a whole lot of secondary terms that can be associated with tile and tile installation...just talk to a tile installer.  Once they get into a space and start pulling the tile out and have a better idea of what's behind the walls, all sorts of things start coming up.  So today, we're here to inform.  We found this great article on Houzz that breaks down a number of different tile terms (along with their definitions) and we think it's pretty much genius so we're sharing.

Common types of tile include ceramic or porcelain and natural stone

Ceramic Tile is "classified as nonporcelain and porcelain. Nonporcelain, usually with a decorative glaze, is softer and less durable than porcelain, which has a slightly different composition and was fired at higher temperatures. For the tile shopper, “ceramic” usually refers to nonporcelain ceramic. It’s suited to walls and floors and lighter wear than porcelain" according to Houzz.

Natural stone tile is something made of, just that, natural stone.  It may be travertine which is very common, marble, or granite.  Travertine and marble are two of the most common.  Natural stone tiles are often very porous and require additional sealant.

To install tile, there are a number of different products that can be used: epoxy grout and cement grout are options to finish the tile once it's laid.  Mud and thinset are the two products used to adhere the tile to the floor.

According to Houzz, epoxy grout is "a durable, stain- and chemical-proof, resin-based grout. It’s costly, has a plastic-like look and requires extensive cleanup of residue, but it sets faster than regular grout and means no more scrubbing."

Cement grout, however, is made from a cementitious powder mix.  It is not waterproof however it is easier to work with than epoxy grout.  It also looks somewhat plastic-y so it could look odd when used with a natural stone tile.

Mud-set is a term derived from setting tile in a mud-bed.  Instead of using a thin layer of setting material when laying the tile, the installer will create a thick bed of setting material.  This adds water resistance to the tile base and stability to the floors since they are on a much thicker layer of mud that separates them from the sub floor.  This type of setting helps prevent tiles from cracking.  Mud-setting tile is still recommended for certain types of tiles but is very labor intensive so it isn't done as often anymore.

Thin-set is a tile installation method where the setting material is laid very thin.  In this scenario, the installation is much less labor intensive.  It is a commonly used method of installation because there are so many improvements in tile products to help prevent water damage and cracking that the setting method isn't the only way to prevent that.

Mosaic tile is a small version of the tile (often 1/2"-2") that comes on a sheet and is sold by the square foot. A pencil tile is a 12" long, thin (usually 1" thick) piece of tile that can be a finishing piece for the tile edge.  Subway tile is a rectangular tile that is usually laid in a brick pattern.

Tiles can come honed or polished.  Honed tile is less slippery than polished tile because it does not have the full polish applied.  It often has a smoother, softer look and is appropriate for high-traffic areas where someone might be at a higher risk of slipping.

Tile is complicated.  There's a lot to know and subsequently, a lot that can be accomplished!  Get to know tile.  It can definitely work for you!

How To | Get Your Tile Right

Tile can be tricky...with a capital T!  For larger bathrooms where you don't want to have the same tile throughout but have a lot of area to cover and aren't sure how to mix and match, this design dilemma can be daunting.  Tile is great and can make a huge difference in any space, so once you're comfortable with putting it together, you open up your home to so many new and interesting design possibilities.

As with any space, the goal you want to achieve with your final visual is balance.  This applies to anything applied to the wall or floor too.  You never want a room to feel too heavy on one side, top, or bottom---everything should flow.  This feeling is what evokes satisfaction when entering a space.  When selecting tile and deciding where to apply it, you want to achieve balance.  If you have a wall tile that will be in the same room as floor tile, make sure the scale varies.  Too much of a small tile will look all very busy, especially if it's concentrated in one space.  And too much of a large tile can feel heavy, if it's applied to the wall.  So mix it up!  Small tiles on the wall with larger ones on the floor will provide your space with the applications it needs to finish it off but won't overwhelm the room.

Now that we've got size figured out, lets discuss pattern.  Pattern is ok, but don't go overboard.  Remember, tile is a commitment---you're probably not going to be replacing it every year so you want to make sure there's an element of timelessness that will make it transition well as the rest of the decor changes.  So, if you're incorporating pattern in one area, try balancing it with a solid in another area--ie, wall & floor.  Usually the floor is the best place for something solid, but it's not necessarily a rule.  A large scale, bold pattern on the floor coupled with a smaller, solid pattern on the wall is still visually unique and balanced.

When it comes to stone, you have a little more flexibility.  Tiles that are patterned or printed...or anything with glaze need to be treated as a pattern, but natural stone can be viewed as a neutral.  It may have it's own natural pattern in it, but because of the organic feel of this type of application, you don't have to limit yourself so much.  Try messing with the scale of pattern when incorporating natural stone---you may have a tile with a naturally small scale pattern whereas, it's coupled with another stone application in the same room that's much larger in scale.  Normally large scale pattern in natural stone is much more fluid which we love!

Don't forget about tile finishes as well.  Adding variety in something like this can not only help keep a space balanced but also add a unique high-end look.  Matte finish is all the rage now--we've moved away from the "everything has to look shinny and glossy" era and moved into a more organic feeling trend.  The flat or matte finish tile goes perfectly with this so don't forget about that option.

Finally--don't go too crazy with color.  This sort of goes hand-in-hand with the pattern statement as well.  You want your tile to last a little while so don't go too color trendy when you're selecting something.  Be sure to have an element of neutrality that allows your space to stay transitional.