Choosing Tile

Published July 19, 2012

Entering the world of tile can be very daunting. For those do-it-yourself types, this is especially true when the time comes to choose the size, style, colour and finish of tiles. If you have recruited the talents of an interior designer or decorator, this task may be less overwhelming for you as these people have trained eyes and can usually source the best tile for you quickly. For the rest, it’s time to hit the pavement and visit as many tile stores you can in order to see everything new that is out there and conduct price comparisons.

If this is your first time choosing and installing tile, you may want to take heed to the following tips.

Firstly, there are a lot of different kinds of tile out in the market. The most popular is probably still the glazed ceramic tile. This tile is made from an assortment of clays that are molded into shapes and then a glaze is applied and baked onto the surface of the tile. Customers can choose from matte, gloss and other non-slip surfaces as well as various shapes and sizes ranging from 1 inch all the way up to 12 inch. The most popular is still the 4 1/4 inch tile that is commonly used in kitchens and bathrooms. It can be laid straight across or turned on a diagonal for a more interesting appearance. Be aware that the glaze on these tiles is only on the surface and if they become chipped the clay will become exposed. They also tend to scratch quite easily.

Mosaic tiles are the smaller 1-inch tiles and have become more popular with decorators in the last few years. These smaller tiles usually come in sheets of 12inch x 12 inch size and can be mixed and match to produce patterns if requested. An advantage of this type of tile is the non-slip factor. Because there is more grout per square inch, there is less glazed surface to slip on. These tiles are fantastic in small spaces such as bathrooms because of the detail they offer.

If you prefer a more natural look, you may want to investigate such choices as marble, limestone, granite or slate. These more natural choices have gained popularity and can be cut and made into tiles. A softer look is often achieved with these tiles but most have to be treated with a sealer if used in areas that are exposed to moisture and high traffic.

Another option is the new glass tiles that you may see in the tile shops. These tiles are wonderful for bathrooms and kitchens but must be handled with care. The newest innovation in glass is the fiber optic glass tiles. These lighted blocks of glass are wonderful for making a bold statement in every colour imaginable and are great for bathtub surrounds and columns. Semi precious stone is another trend to watch. Tiles of “mother of pearl” and “tiger eye” are popping up in high-end homes …its like jewelry for your bathroom.

Remember to pay attention to the colour of grout when installing your tile. An easy option is to match the grout to the tile’s tone or choose a contrasting grout for a more graphic look. Be wary of white and cream grouts. They can dirty quickly and can build up mildew on bathroom walls and floors. A more popular choice is pale grey.

Ready to hit the tile stores? Not yet…be sure to measure your quantities first. The best rule of thumb is to multiply the length and width of your space and determine it’s square footage. Then subtract the non-tiled areas and add 15 percent for waste and cuts. It’s also a good idea to order pre-stocked tile that you may be able to return if the boxes are unopened. Ask your tile dealer before you purchase your tiles. Custom ordered tile is usually yours forever.