The history of tile dates back to the earliest civilizations, and thousands of years later we’re still using it due to its exceptional durability and design quality. Making its way into almost every dwelling, tile in its many forms is arguably one of the most versatile building products around with flexible applications both inside and outside the home. Long-lasting, easy to maintain, and super fun to style with—tile is a treasured design tool!
Types of tile, best uses, inspiration, and pattern mixing… we’re covering it all below:
Tile Types and Applications
Applications: Ceramic tile is most often used in kitchens, bathrooms, foyers, and mudrooms but it is recommended for any high traffic areas in the home. It is widely versatile and best known for its durability. Ceramic tile is rated from 0 to 5 based on strength; tile rated 0-2 is most appropriate for wall tile (including bath/showers), while 3 is better suited for floor uses. For commercial installations, seek tile with ratings of 4-5.
Applications: Porcelain tile is a type of ceramic tile, sharing the same desirable qualities. Porcelain, however, is noted for being stronger than other ceramics and more water resistant; making it a better choice for bath/showers and outdoor applications.
Material: Natural Stone
Applications: Think slate, marble, and travertine—natural stone tiles are often associated with luxury. These regal terrestrial selections can be a little more expensive, but very timeless and organic in appeal. Natural stone tiles are often used for entry and bathroom floors. Some types may require a sealer to minimize wear and repel stains.
Applications: Highly decorative tiles, with geometric prints on the surface for instance, tend to be cement. Cement tiles are made of concrete using a handmade process. They are very durable, with the ability to outlast ceramics if properly cared for which includes using a sealant to protect the surface. Be prepared, the surface may also patina over time. Cement tiles are most popularly used for decorative floors, shower accents, backsplashes, and fireplace surrounds.
Applications: Glass tiles are durable with a unique glossy transparent surface compared to most other tiles. Appropriate applications include bath/shower walls, backsplashes, decorative wall art, mosaics, and even swimming pools! However glass tiles are not always suitable for floor tile, unless their surface is textured to prevent slippage.
Use Pattern Like a Pro
Tile installations range from simple stacked or symmetric designs, to brick-like subway installations, to mosaic murals, and everything in between! You know what that means? There are no strict tile rules! Which is great, because that leaves more room for creativity and fun.
Simple stacked tile is a timeless approach that we’ll never break up with, but some of our favorite tile installations include a clever mix of patterns playfully complementing each other. If you’re thinking of mixing tile patterns, aim to pair a bold choice with a background choice. Bold choices might include tiles with some print on them, like vintage or mosaic patterns, while background choices are more simply stated like standard subway tile. This intentional combination creates visual energy, with the highly patterned bold tile punctuating the subtle background tile selection.
High Style Tile
Other fun style applications include using uniquely shaped tiles like hexagon or installing tiles in a herringbone or basket weave formation. Showcasing a custom rug-like design at the entry or in the master bath is another standout way to use tile. Bold color choices are a fun way to make a statement too, like emerald green or ocean blue.
For a more relaxed aesthetic opt for a wabi sabi tile style. Celebrating the organic qualities of nature, the handmade craftsmen trend of wabi sabi tile welcomes imperfections with irregular textures and hand-painted brushy patterns. What wabi sabi tile lacks in consistency it more than makes up for in charm.
Grout also plays a key role in defining tile style. It can be surprising what a difference grout size and color can make to the overall look. Large format rectangular tile keeps the emphasis on tile, while smaller tile surfaces require more grout to be used. If you’re after a subtle solid surface style, choose a grout with a similar color to your tile. For a more bold design, use a contrasting grout color. Evaluate the width of grout lines too when deciding how expressive you want your tile grout to be.
Our designs are about style as much as durability—so you’ve probably noticed tile is a staple in our work. We’d love to chat about your next tile project, from simple bath surround to elaborate floor projects, we can help bring your design dreams to life. Click here to get started!
Happy Home. Happy Life.