Tiles are wonderfully practical. They’re durable and easy to clean, keeping our bathrooms and kitchens hygienic and protected from moisture. Versatile, they work on floors and walls and come in plain and patterned styles from traditional to modern.
With so much choice, it’s understandable that choosing tiles for the home can be somewhat overwhelming. How do you decide which to go for in any one room? Although some of the decisions are purely down to your own personal likes and dislikes, there are some qualities you should consider in order to pick out the right tiles for your home.
Size does matter
Although you might not have given it much thought, the size of tile you go for does make a difference to both the time it takes to lay and to the overall appearance of your room.
If you use large tiles, you’re going to need fewer of them to complete a wall or floor. This means they’re quicker to lay and you’ll need to make fewer cuts to fit them into edges and corners – which is handy when you’re tackling bigger rooms. If you’re hiring a tiler to do the work, this helps to reduce the labour costs. And with tiler prices averaging between £150 and £250 per day, it’s an important consideration.
So, you might think bigger is always better, right? Well, no. Using large tiles in small rooms can actually make the space appear even smaller. In small kitchens and bathrooms, you’re better off going for standard-sized square, mosaic or metro tiles. Therefore, size does matter.
Choosing between patterned and plain
This leads nicely onto how you decide between patterned and plain tiles. What you choose is largely down to personal preference of course, but there are a few things that might sway your decision either way.
Highly patterned designs are great for adding character and personalising a room to your tastes, and there’s nothing wrong with that at all. However, in small rooms such as bathrooms where you’re planning to tile most of the surfaces, this can look a bit busy. So, if you don’t fancy sticking to plain tiles, try using a mix. Perhaps a patterned floor and plain walls or plain tiles with one patterned section.
Getting a feel for surface and texture
The first thing people usually consider when they’re choosing tiles is the colour. But it’s also important to consider the type of surface the tiles have too, as this greatly affects how they appear.
Glossy tiles are great for reflecting light, so they can brighten even the smallest, darkest room. If you’re not a fan of glossy tiles, you could try crackle-glazed tiles. These are great for adding a vintage or crafted style to your kitchen and bathroom walls yet they’ll still help to bounce light around. The only downside is that they do require sealing in wet areas.
Matt tiles are another option to consider and, in some places, they’re essential for keeping your home practical. Matt tiles are the best option for non-slip floors in places such as wet rooms and high-traffic areas. They help to boost safety in family homes with young kids and older family members. To be sure they’re suitable for your project, do check their ratings. An R10 tile will provide some slip resistance while R12 and R13 tiles are particularly grippy in wet areas. Another advantage of matt tiles is that they don’t show up water marks as much as glossy ones do. So, you may find these are lower maintenance.
Typically, matt and gloss tiles have smooth, flat surfaces. But if you want to add a bit more character or interest to your floors and walls, you might find textured tiles are a better option. Some floor tiles are great at mimicking the natural textures of wood and slate, giving you a cost-effective and low maintenance way of achieving a traditional look. Meanwhile, Zellige-style tiles have lovely, rippled surfaces, creating a handcrafted look for your shower cubicles and splashbacks. So, when you’re choosing tiles, think about the texture as much as you do the colour.
Material vs function
You might be thinking that all tiles serve the same practical purpose. Well, that’s not quite true. The majority of tiles are made from ceramic or porcelain but you can also get tiles made from materials such as marble and stone. And these different materials have different qualities. So, you need to understand their pros and cons when you’re picking out your tiles.
Stone and marble tiles are great for creating a stylish, high-end finish to kitchens and bathrooms. And they do have timeless appeal. However, they are porous. This means they absorb water, making them problematic in wet areas and prone to staining. So, you’ll need to make sure they’re sealed and check how often they’ll need resealing before you commit.
Both ceramic and porcelain tiles are long-lasting. But as porcelain is a harder and denser material, it just edges ceramic in the durability stakes. Because of this, you do pay slightly more for them.
Final thoughts on picking tiles
As you can now see, picking out tiles does need careful consideration and it’s not just the colour that counts. When you’re ordering samples or heading to the DIY store, remember to think about the material, surface texture, patterning and size.