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How To Choose the Right Tile

tile portland

Starting a Remodel? How to Choose Your Tile

If you’re about to start a residential remodel project, you’ll likely need to pick out some tile for your home’s new look. Tile is one of the world’s most popular building materials and is used for floors, walls, and even countertops. The term “tile” encompasses a wide variety of natural and manmade products. The sheer amount of options can make choosing tile an overwhelming process.

Once you figure out what kind of tile you like, the real challenge is figuring out if that tile will match your lifestyle. That’s where the team at Intrepid Marble & Granite comes in. Find out below how we suggest you select the right material for your living space.

Where Should You Install Your Tile?

Each space in your home serves a specific role, and the tile that you choose should reflect and enhance that space’s function. For example, a kitchen backsplash helps define the style of your home, whether it’s contemporary, traditional, or somewhere in between. Many people choose mosaic tile for kitchen backsplashes, but you may choose a classic subway tile or an intricately decorated altered natural stone tile. Think about what you need out of each space first, then start considering other factors.

Which Type of Tile Should You Install?

While the exact number of tile options available for your remodel project probably figure into the thousands, there are a few broad categories of tile to consider. We hope this guide will help you narrow your choices!

Natural Stone Tile

how to choose natural stone tile portland

“Grosetto” from MIR Mosaic’s Tuscany collection

As a rule of thumb, natural stone tile is highly durable, and it can be installed almost anywhere. Marble, granite, limestone, and travertine tiles exist all over the world in impressive, lasting structures. The Taj Mahal in India consists of marble and sandstone. The Roman Colosseum consists of travertine, while limestone and marble compose the Greek Parthenon.

However, natural stone tile isn’t suitable for every location. For example, several varieties of limestone tiles should not be installed in wet areas like showers. Limestone is calcium-based and acid-sensitive, which means that it will etch when exposed to typical hair and skin products. Some varieties of limestone will eventually completely degrade due to their softness. However, many limestone tiles are safe to use in a shower with regular sealing.

When selecting natural stone tile for your project, make sure to research your options before installation. At Intrepid Marble and Granite, we’re happy to walk you through the pros and cons of the natural stone tiles you’re interested in. Once you’ve selected a variety of natural stone tile for your space, you’ll need to ensure it’s sealed regularly. How often the tile needs sealing depends on the type of stone, the specifications of the sealer, and the frequency with which you use the space. Sealing natural stone tile seems intimidating, but the process isn’t actually any more complicated than wiping down the stone periodically.

Porcelain and Ceramic Tile

Porcelain and ceramic tiles are typically glazed, which makes them non-porous and stain-resistant. These qualities mean that they’re low maintenance and suitable for high-traffic areas such as bathrooms and kitchens.

What’s the Difference Between Ceramic Tile and Porcelain Tile?

Both ceramic and porcelain tiles consist of clay-brody materials and don’t require sealing. Ceramic and porcelain tiles are processed similarly. However, ceramic tile typically belongs on walls, while porcelain tile is suitable for both walls and floors.

How To Choose Between Porcelain and Ceramic Tile and Natural Stone Tile

Before finalizing your tile choice, ask yourself what qualities you want out of your space. Are you comfortable with variation, or do you prefer a consistent look? If variation, patina, and change over time are qualities you enjoy, natural stone may be the option for you! If consistency and ease of maintenance are your priorities, porcelain may be a better fit. After you’ve narrowed down the kind of tile that best suits your space, you can turn your attention to your design preferences.

Tile Design: Choosing Color and Style

Your tile choice is a great way to reflect your style and aesthetic. From soft neutrals to bright and bold patterns, tile can transform a room and express your desired mood or attitude.

If you don’t have the time or budget for a complete overhaul of your home, strategic tile selection can achieve some serious visual heavy lifting. Pairing a simple subway tile on your shower walls with a more elaborate, eye-catching tile in the shower niche is a simple and unexpected way to inject some visual interest into your space.

Natural stone communicates an enduring and unique beauty, which is why classic, timeless spaces so often benefit from utilizing elements like marble tile. But for intense, primary colors, laid out in appealing, modern patterns, ceramic tile is often the answer. Along with porcelain tile, ceramics can offer entirely new designs and patterns, beyond what’s possible in natural stone.

That said, graphic, dramatic patterns are as readily available in natural stone as they are with porcelain, ceramic, or cement tiles. Natural stone tiles come in all sorts of shapes and sizes, and modern technology has exponentially expanded how porcelain tile challenges our standards and expectations.

How To Choose Tile Size

Some applications require specific size ranges. Tile designated for shower floors, for example, must often be no more than a few inches, to accommodate the slope of the drain. But more broadly, the scale of your tile selection will affect how the area impacts you.

Large Tiles Versus Small Tiles

Large tiles make a dramatic statement and can make small spaces feel more expansive. Small tiles, meanwhile, add complexity and visual texture to a room. Small tiles have more grout lines than large tiles.

In addition to its functional purpose as a setting agent, grout also serves as a design element. A contrasting grout creates a dramatic effect, while a grout color that compliments the shades present in your tile will recede. The smaller the tile, the higher the design impact the grout will have.

How To Choose a Tile Layout

The aspect of tile selection that often goes overlooked is the final layout. The way you lay your tile can be as straightforward or as complex as you desire, depending on whether your goal is to highlight the area or make sure that it fades into the background.

Uncomplicated layouts (staggered or straight-stacked patterns) won’t dominate any room. In a busy space, laying your tile in a simple, straightforward fashion will create a sense of spaciousness, calm, and neatness.

Complicated layouts (herringbone, Versailles, or checkerboard patterns) will contribute additional visual interest to a living area. Laying tile in one of these ways can make even a simple subway tile into an attention-grabbing feature.


How Can Intrepid Marble and Granite Help You?

Choosing a tile that works for you is an undeniably complicated process, thanks to the vast assortment of size, color, and design options available across the spectrum of natural and manmade tile. But hopefully, by thinking carefully about each of the factors outlined here, your process will be a little bit easier. For advice and encouragement, call Intrepid Marble and Granite today with any questions you have about choosing a tile that’s both functional and beautiful.