HOW TO CHOOSE TILES
If you have embarked on a renovation that includes tiles before, you will already know that there are a huge range of tiles available. Wall and floor tiles are available to suit every taste, application and budget. Whilst more choice expands your design horizon, it can make selection more difficult and confusing. So, where do you start?
Size does matter! Typically, smaller formats like 450x450mm are suited to smaller residential spaces - entrances, kitchens, bathrooms, toilets and laundries, while larger formats like 300x600mm and 600x600mm can also be used and are particularly suitable for larger areas - dining rooms, living rooms and outdoor areas. Don't be afraid to use a big tile - they can make a room feel bigger and mean less grout lines.
Tiles can be as large as 3mx1m which look fabulous in large homes and commercial applications, particularly in areas such as shower linings and bathroom walls. Care should be taken with the very large sizes - the bigger the tile, the more expensive and difficult it is to move around and lay as it usually requires 2 or more people to handle one tile.
Colour is one of the most important design considerations, so choosing an overall colour scheme is the first step. Tiles usually have a predominant colour with subtle overtones of other colours to bring out their personality. For example, a grey tile may have warming overtones of yellow, or cooling overtones of blue. Tiles tend to take on the colour of their surroundings, so it is always recommended to view the tile in conjunction with the rest of the colour scheme (paint swatches, benchtop, fabric etc) in the room you're using them in to assess how all aspects tie together.
For residential spaces, unless you're particularly keen on colour, brightly coloured tiles in large blocks are generally not a good idea. Keep colour as a feature - a small splashback area, or a strip amongst more subtle colours are the best options.
A tile's pattern, texture and variation all add depth and realism to the design. Here are some common design themes:
- Plain White: can be matt, gloss or textured, this is the most popular, versatile and economical colour choice for bathroom walls. It can be easily dressed up with a contrasting floor tile and/or a feature area of ceramic, glass, metal or natural stone mosaics or trims. As noted in the 'Colour' tip, be cautious of over-doing bright colours on feature areas.
- Monochrome: has returned as a popular theme in bathroom and kitchen design. Most of our popular ranges are stocked in both black and white.
- Minimalistic: styling in neutral off-whites, greys and beiges, with plain or simple patterns offers both elegance and subtlety to any room.
- Stone: patterned and textured tiles are great for reproducing a very natural and timeless look without the installation and maintenance hassles of natural stone
- Wood: similarly, tile interpretations of timber planks using inkjet printing technology can offer amazing realism, overcoming the limitations of wood in wet areas
- Classical: designs such as marble, travertine and terracotta are timeless and enduring
- Fashion: for the more adventurous there are many choices to express your personality.
Tiles come in variety of different finishes and can alter the aesthetics of a tile.
- Gloss or Matt ceramic: used for walls. Ceramic wall tiles cannot be used on the floor, as the glaze and biscuit are not strong enough to withstand foot traffic.
- Matt / Honed / Natural porcelain: used for floors. The most common and very durable tile, matt (sometimes called honed or natural) porcelain tiles are practical, easy to clean, stain resistant and fairly scratch-resistant.
- Polished porcelain: used for floors. Commonly Chinese in origin as it is very expensive when sourced from Europe. Polished porcelain tiles will usually need an ongoing maintenance programme of sealing to keep stain resistance. Some are prone to scratching so shouldn't be used in entranceways.
- Grip, Bocc, Structured, Flamed, Slate, Rock porcelain: usually used outside and very durable. Different manufacturers have different processes and different names to create outdoor tiles with a surface profile, which can vary greatly in roughness. Consider carefully the cleaning process for rough surfaced tiles if you're thinking of putting them inside - they are usually not able to be mopped so will need scrubbing. There are specific non-slip surface requirements under the NZ Building Code for particular zones in commercial buildings - contact us if you need more detail.
We're often asked how to judge the quality of a tile. It's almost impossible to tell by looking at a tile whether it is fit for purpose or not, and there aren't any easy DIY tests you can do either. We recommend purchasing from well-known, reputable tile importers that will be able to help you choose the most suitable tiles for your installation.