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Backsplashes, Mosaic and Tile

The combinations of colors, styles, and shapes for wall and are endless; there is a design perfect for every traditional, contemporary, and modern style-loving person out there. However, whether choosing a kitchen backsplash, shower or tile flooring, try not to put aesthetic at the top of your list. It can be tempting to choose tiles based only on style and then look at other characteristics after that; but if the quality isn’t fit for your desired use, chances are they will chip and wear in no time, losing the original aesthetic value. Whether you’re shopping for pool, outdoor, floor or wall tile, follow the advice below to ensure you get the right quality and design for your space.

What is the best material for wall or floor tiles?

Evaluate your lifestyle, and the area that you want to use tile in. Is it a high traffic use area? Is it outdoors? Will it be exposed to moisture on a regular basis? Knowing the location, and the type of wear and tear that product will experience is absolutely vital before making any type of design decision. Some common floor and wall tile materials include:

This is a great choice for any area exposed to moisture such as bathrooms and kitchens, the outside elements such as entryways and patios or a lot of foot traffic. It’s a highly durable material and typically treated with an abrasive to prevent slips, making it well suited to be a floor tile. While ceramic tile is definitely a pricier option, it will wear extremely well, without fading and high resistance to tread wear. Make sure to check for flaws in the glaze, and if they are unglazed you’ll need to seal them so they become stain resistant.

Porcelain is often chosen as a tile material because it’s extremely dense, very hard and resistant to wear and moisture (even more so than ceramic). Porcelain tiles make excellent flooring, and designs can imitate other natural materials to allow for non-traditional designs in bathroom and kitchens. (For example, hardwood in a bathroom is not recommended, but using tile that looks like wood can help you achieve the same look with little to no maintenance). Make sure that porcelain tiles are rated with a range from one to five. Ratings of one and two are strictly recommended for walls and countertops, and three to five for floors.

The smooth, glossy finish of glass tile makes an ideal accent. It’s extremely watertight, so water or moisture permeating the surface is not an issue. It doesn’t stain, fade or scratch easily, so it works well as kitchen backsplash tile or shower tile. Glass is also weatherproof, making it the perfect pool tile. Glass is often a recycled or reclaimed material, so if you’re environmentally conscious, this may be the way to go.

Granite, Marble, Slate and Other Natural Stone are all extremely durable and hard. They are more expensive and often require some type of treatment to seal and/or maintain them, so just be aware of what’s involved before purchasing them.

What’s the best shape and size for tile backsplash or flooring?

The size and shape of your tile partly depends on the look you’re going for. You can achieve a different ambiance by using small or large tiles or a combination of the two. If you like a cleaner, more modern look, choose mid to large size tiles in more traditional shapes, such as rectangular subway tile. For a more interesting look you can use smaller sizes and geometric shapes, like hexagonal or circular tile. Mixing shapes and sizes in the same color will give a layered look. It is important to consider the shape and surface that you will be laying the tile on. Angular or curved spaces are best with smaller designs and are easier to cut and fit to an odd shaped spot. Larger pieces will be quicker to lay and require less grout and maintenance. However layout is important for the best looks.