We're sure you have probably seen many gorgeous posts on Instagram of kitchens and bathrooms featuring some amazing tile work. Tile has certainly evolved a lot in the last decade and so many home and business owners are opting to use tile in their spaces. While there are many pro's to using tile in your space, there are many con's that you should be aware of in order to make an informed decision or you could end up with some unexpected surprises.
While of course we will always suggest hiring a professional to help you with your fixture and finish selections, sometimes it isn't always possible. For that reason alone, we wanted to put this article together to explain some basics about tile, tile types and tile patterns, which should give you a little bit more knowledge if you have to select finishes on your own for your project.
The Basics and More on Types of Tiles
With so many types of tiles available it can be really overwhelming trying to determine what goes where. Some tile rules of thumb to remember are; Ceramic tile and Glass tile are walls only. The reason for this is that they are not strong enough to be walked on and are likely VERY slippery and thus, a safety hazard. Porcelain tile is what you should be opting for on the floor and it can also be used on walls, but again, be cautious of the tiles finish. If your tiles are glossy they are probably too slippery for applications like an entrance or a bathroom. There are of course many other types of tile, like marble, cement, slate etc. Check out this article for more details on each of those.
Tile Patterns; Do's and Don'ts
Before you can choose a pattern to lay your tile in, it is important to understand how the tile was made. If it was pressed, that means your tiles were made one at a time and set into their shape, kind of like baking a cake. This typically will cause the edges of the tile to flare out slightly and in-turn require a slightly larger grout line than a rectified tile (which we will get to next). The great thing about a pressed tile is that you can usually put it in just about any pattern you wish, like brick (also known as half/half or 50% offset) or staggered (also known as offset or 1/3 2/3).
When it comes to a rectified tile, the pattern is so important because they are made by laser cutting each tile out of a much larger piece. If you remember our cake example above, a rectified tile would be like making cookies and cutting your shapes out of a much larger piece of dough. So that being said a rectified tile has practically perfect edges which will allow them to be set with much tighter grout lines than a pressed tile would. However the tile will usually have a slightly thicker center compared to its edges and therefor if it were placed in a brick pattern, you would be putting the 2 thinnest edges of the tiles against the thick center of the one above.
With any tile you are looking to purchase, it is important to ask the sales rep where it should be used and how it should be laid. Most designers and trades will be well aware of this information as its our job to provide our clients with the best options available for their projects, but it doesn't hurt to ask. Remember that its always less costly to do it right the first time. Check out this great visual article showing different tile patterns.
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