Helpful tips for selecting the perfect tile

To me, there is nothing more beautiful than a well designed tile feature.

I have been designing for almost 20 years and I have never seen such beautiful tile! The shapes, sizes and materials are the most vibrant and breathtaking that they have ever been and it is quite possibly the best part of my job when I get to create a fabulous tile design.

In the ongoing saga of my bathroom renovation I have struggled with what tile to put in this space, which I’m sure many of you can understand. I want it all! From the large format slick and polished tile to the tiny twinkling mosaics it is almost impossible to decide what the final look will be and then a new product captures my imagination and the decisions start all over again. The one saving grace with tile is that there are a few rules and considerations when choosing and these rules can help reign in your imagination and wanderlust when it comes to tile.

The first rule is in regards to size; some rooms work better with larger tiles and others will accommodate a smaller format more easily.

Restricted sizes such as backsplashes or showers may narrow down your choices and help you chose a tile based on its size and ease of installation in a certain space.

For example, the return ‘legs’ down the side of my shower are extremely narrow which guided me to choose a smaller mosaic for ease of installation so I focused on micro mosaics which would look much better in a smaller space.

Shower ceilings and shower floors are also places where a smaller format tile is optimum as it needs to follow the slope of the shower floor and larger tiles on a ceiling in a wet area can be prone to falling down as they are too heavy.

Development of pattern is another important rule to consider.

If you are tiling a small space and want a herringbone or brick pattern the size of the tile is very important for the development of the pattern.

A past client wanted a 24 inch by 24 inch tile laid in a brick pattern in her bathroom which didn’t work on paper as her bathroom was only five feet wide.

The brick pattern would not show at all in that space with a two foot tile yet she wanted a large tile on the floor to reduce grout lines so we chose a 12 inch by 24 inch tile which made the pattern work perfectly.

A backsplash that is 18 inches will not give you much room for a mosaic if you choose an 18 inch tile and that small backsplash behind your bath vanity is only six to eight inches so thought must be given to the size of tile used.

On the practical side, consider the function of the space the tile will be used.

Highly polished tiles are beautiful but can be treacherous in wet areas such as showers or around bath tubs. Smaller tiles in very wet areas mean more grout lines to clean and seal to keep them free of mould and porous tiles such as marble can give you grief behind your stove if you make a lot of spaghetti sauce!

Tile is gorgeous and easier to choose than you realize if you consider a few rules of layout first.

Kim Wyse is an interior designer with Carpet Colour Centre.

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