LH Interiors, Lisa Higgason, ASID, RID
Granite counter top with tumbled stone tile backsplash with small pewter tile accents placed on the diagonal

The beauty of tile

Decorating with tile is still one of the most popular and affordable offerings in the design industry. By using the new colors, textures and patterns, tile can make a space exciting, sophisticated and daring. From mosaic patterns to colorful glass, there are wonderful new applications of tile in kitchens, bathrooms, fireplaces, walkways, walls, swimming pools and fountains. Tiles can create pattern and give fabulous texture to your space. Large tiles on the floor give a clean look and make a small space look larger. Using the same tile on the floor and running up the side of a bathtub gives a spacious even flow to the area.

Tile is a general term and can describe many different materials. Man-made tiles are ceramic or porcelain and natural stone tiles are made from travertine, granite, marble and others. Ceramic and porcelain are made from clay and are fired then glazed. They have the greatest potential to be more uniform in color and finish and are unmatched in durability and cost efficiency. They are resistant to heat, moisture and are extremely easy to maintain. Porcelain tile has an absorption rate 100 times less than ceramic which makes it frost resistant and a first choice for outdoor use.

Natural tiles are quarried and cut and then finished by honing, polishing or tumbling. Colors will vary greatly and cracks, fissures and discolorations are common but add to the natural beauty of the piece. Natural stones are porous and need to be sealed and cared for properly. The price of stone is not directly related to quality, it is related to availability. The best way to choose natural stone tile is to take a sampling of the product and lay it out to see the individually unique characteristics of what you are getting.

Dark stained cabinets set off the brown and gold mosaic glass tile backsplash.
Stainless steel appliances give a rich textural contrast.
Mosaic glass accent stripes accent the cook top.
Silestone counter top with ceramic tile backsplash and glass mosaic border
Random match ceramic floor tiles creates the look of natural stone

Here are some quick facts about some of the most commonly used natural stones. Granite is an igneous rock made mostly from Feldspar and Quartz making it the hardest and most popular natural stone used in both residential and commercial applications.

Travertine is limestone formed over a long period of time in hot springs resulting in many visible holes in its natural state. Marble is formed from limestone by heat and pressure. These forces cause the limestone to change in texture which makes marble a metamorphic rock. Mineral impurities give us a wide variety of colors in marble. Both travertine and marble are very porous and need to be properly maintained.

Bright pink walls and white cabinets make the turquoise glass mosaic counter top pop
A glass sink enables the bright turquoise glass on the counter top shine through

Slate is a metamorphic rock formed below the earth's surface from fine particles of quartz and clay. Slate is formed by mountain-forming movements in the earth's crust which squeezes these minerals into layers, giving the tiles a layered appearance which may flake but gives a fabulous texture to the tile.

Glass tiles have become very popular for kitchens, baths and swimming pools and come in a wide variety of colors and sizes. Ceramic tiles have come a very long way and can now be made to look like planked wood or cork. Decorative tiles made from stainless, copper and brass are also widely used as accents or borders. Just as we blend fabric patterns and textures in our spaces, blending mosaic tiles with various other sizes of coordinating tiles will add depth and richness to the space. Remember also, that choosing a grout that closely matches the tile will result in a more even and contiguous look.

A large corner tub surrounded by beautiful random match tile on the floor and walls.
Shampoo niches are backed in a coordinating mosaic tile and soap shelves are made of the same granite as the sink counter.
Close up of the wide mosaic tile border offset by large glass accent tiles placed on the diagonal

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