While browsing through the photographs of an acquaintance’s newly renovated home, I was floored by the Moroccan accent tiles in the kitchen. The colourful “Zellige” tiles brought a stunning and stylish element to an otherwise monotone space, lending it a vibrant dose of exotic sophistication. While used as an integral part of the overall home décor, tiles indeed serve many practical purposes in any living or work space. Typically, most commonly used tiles are made of stone, ceramic, porcelain, and glass, though people have used just about everything from solid gold to broken seashells and even shards of liquor bottles for this purpose. These days, beautiful, strong tiles in a variety of shapes and colours are just a store visit away.
While tiles serve a variety of decorative and practical purposes, it is important to remember that unlike paint and wallpaper, using tiles in your home isn’t exactly a simple or cheap process. When you invest in tiles, you invest long term, and it’s crucial to not get swayed by momentary excitement.
It sounds elementary, but needs reinforcing – Use only good quality tiles. Once the tiles are laid, there is no going back. So take time to select the very best ones you can buy.
Even the best tiles can look shoddy and unattractive if aligned incorrectly. Ensure that you hire experienced professionals for installing your tiles. Always purchase an additional 5-10% more tiles than you require, allowing your tiler to compensate for cuts and breakages. You can always ask for a refund on the boxes of unused tiles.
With the variety now available, you can think beyond ceramics. Research locally for glass, porcelain, cork, wood, or any other material easily available. However, before you zero in on the material, cut and size of the tiles, consider their functionality and practicality. You can achieve that by answering these two questions:
Where will this tile be placed?
Are you using these tiles for a backsplash, a counter, your floor, or the walls? Answering this basic question will help you narrow down your choices. Stone, ceramic, and porcelain work best for counters and floors. For walls and backsplashes, glass is a good choice. Before buying, explain to an in-store expert where your tile will be installed. Floor tiles should have the right texture and strength to make them safe walking surfaces. Porcelain tiles, with their no-slip grip and strength are a great flooring choice. Ceramic tiles are easy to clean and install, apart from being waterproof and sturdy, making them ideal for moisture-rich spaces like bathrooms. Natural stones are known for their durability, and since no two stones are exactly alike, give an exquisite natural pattern to the tiled floors or walls. While buying, ensure that all the tiles are the same size. It’s common for the manufacturing process to yield tiles with variations up to 1/4 of an inch.
It’s important to choose tiles that can stand up to the daily wear and tear of your household. Spilled foods, cleaning supplies, scratches, etc. should be taken into account while making a purchase. If you are looking at decorative tiles, and want to get creative, the backsplash should be your go-to area. It doesn’t take any direct traffic, and you can get creative with materials and design ideas. That said, your backsplash will still have to withstand splashes of hot water, oil, grease and cleaning materials. Colourful ceramic tiles are a great fit for a backsplash behind a stove: they can withstand the heat and are easy to wipe off. Ceramic is also a great choice for an accented bathroom backsplash. Porcelain tiles with a wooden finish are designed to withstand high traffic spaces and wet areas unsuitable for traditional wood floors, while still giving a natural appeal. Tumbled marble is a timeless look that fits with many different styles. Marbleized tiles also lend your flooring and surface a more formal look.
While you are the best judge of what colours are right for your tiles, there are a few thumb rules that can make the process easier.
Use lighter colours to make a space appear larger.
Darker colours can add warmth.
Neutral colours will allow you to change your accessories.
Use vibrant colours to make a space cheerful and add character.
Choosing a Grout
Ensure that you use a grout that matches the tile, thus making grout lines disappear. For a more dramatic look, opt for a contrasting colour, making individual tiles stand out. Invest in stain proof grout for areas that need frequent cleaning.