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7 Questions to Ask Before Picking Out Tiles

If you’re taking on a DIY home remodel on your own, or just looking to get started picking from hundreds of tile choices, you need all the self help you can get! Unlike a basic upgrade like new paint colors or throw pillows, choosing a new tile can be a more involved project. There are a number of factors to consider such as material, design, location and installation. For these reasons, you’ll want to be smart about this investment in your home. To help prepare you, our design expert has answered these 7 common questions to ask before picking a tile! 

Art Deco Bathroom Wall with Frosted White and Chrome Glass Tile

Here’s the end goal - finding the perfect tile for beautiful installs like this elegant bathroom with our White Deco Fan Glass Mosaic Tile

We’ll dive into Areas of Use, where it’s safe to use specific tiles, the different types of tile materials that are best for each project, and what to consider for color, finish, and more!

1. What tile material is right for my project?

The type of material you choose depends on where you’re installing your new tiles: shower, kitchen, vanity backsplash, ect. Here’s the lowdown on the common types of materials for each project and how to pick one.

Ceramic

Add Color and Shine to your Interior with Glazed Ceramic Tiles

Ceramic tiles can have a gorgeous shine with color glaze like our La Riviera Blue Reef ceramic subway tiles!

Ceramic tile is a classic for a reason! It’s a budget-friendly tile that still provides a major impact. Although it’s not as resilient or water-resistant as porcelain, ceramic is still a versatile option that’s a great look for the price and low-maintenance. Think of it as the tile outlet shop version of your #designergoals. 

Ceramic tile is made of clay, kiln-fired and glazed for color and shine. It offers a gorgeous glossy shine in a variety of colors! From a crackle finish or a zellige handcrafted look, there are so many gorgeous ways to add detail with ceramic! It’s a popular choice for kitchen and bathroom walls with a classic ceramic subway tile look.

Porcelain 

Add a modern look with the metallic rinse finish on our Ionic Steel 12" x 24" Porcelain Tile, or find the perfect porcelain finish with a wood look, natural stone design, or other finish! 

Modern Bathroom Style with Porcelain Tiles

As the most reliable and practical option, porcelain tile is like your classic black blazer — it’s a high-quality safe bet for almost any design.  It’s made from a refined clay that’s fired at high temperatures, making it hard, durable and non-porous.

Since it won’t absorb water or bacteria, porcelain holds up well in areas that see a lot of liquid such as the bathroom floor, kitchen backsplash or shower. This perk means easier cleaning work for you and less fuss. Otherwise, porcelain tile can also work pretty much anywhere else, including living room floor, entrance way and accent walls.

An amazing feature of porcelain is that it can resemble a variety of natural textures. Whether you want to mimic a wood grain pattern or even a gritty surface like rock, porcelain tile can create the illusion of other cool materials. Neat right? 

Glass

Matte, glossy, colorful, or light - you can’t go wrong with the gorgeous look of glass tile, like our Obsidian Black Herringbone Glass Tile for a modern black and white bathroom!

Glossy Black Glass Herringbone Tiles for a Modern Spa Bathroom

Glass tile is a gorgeous option for a designer look! It comes in everything from decorative mosaic patterns, timeless subway tiles, and large field tiles. Since it's non-porous, glass will resist liquids and prevent bacteria from growing in the cracks. Matte or polished, it’s easy to wipe down glass backsplash tiles or shower walls.

In terms of appearance, glass offers a charming reflective surface that bounces light to brighten up the room. This quality is popular among people who love a glam look! Another bonus is that the hues in glass are extra saturated so the vibrant colors will last a long time.

It’s also a material that can be endlessly recycled, offering a sustainable material for your home as an added bonus! 

Marble

Carrara Marble Subway Tiles for a Traditional Kitchen Design

From large-format marble slab style wall coverings, classic marble subway tiles, or intricate marble mosaic designs - the style options with this luxury home material are endless!

Let’s delve into luxury interior design! The durability and classic beauty of marble tile makes it a timeless investment for your home. 

You can use marble tile almost anywhere to elevate the look of a room. Just keep in mind, however, that beauty must be maintained.. It’s quite porous and needs to be sealed to prevent liquids, dirt and germs from affecting the finish. You must also be diligent about cleaning marble regularly because it collects more impurities than porcelain or ceramic.

You can install marble tile just about anywhere - from a marble subway tile kitchen backsplash, luxurious walk-in shower, elegant traditional home flooring design, or as a high-traffic floor or wall covering in a business!

Always check the Area of Use on the specific tile you’re looking at online to make sure it’s approved for the type of installation you want! If you’re not sure, search by Project to find kitchen backsplash tiles, high and low traffic floor tile options, tiles for showers, and more!

 

2. Which designs will work with my space?

Whether you pick plain or decorative tile designs should depend on the surrounding decor in the room. 

If the tile is more detailed and elaborate, the nearby furnishings should be understated, letting the tile act as the main focal point. Or it should work the other way around: a plain tile offers a neutral backdrop for neighbouring elements that are more intricate, such as a statement rug or funky wallpaper. 

Micro Mosaic Tile Designs add Impact to your Interior

This Luxor Bianco Carrarra and Thassos Micro Mosaic tile brings impact with a simple wall application - the design is a work of art all in itself, while the soothing gray and white colors can work with any other hues in your color scheme!

White Zellige Ceramic Tile Backsplash for a Modern Farmhouse Kitchen

We’ll show how to use a neutral tile in this country-glam kitchen reno. The white glazed ceramic subway tile adds a luxurious sheen and texture, yet is neutral enough to blend with other eye-catching details like crystal pendant lights, bright florals and wood textures.

Our advice for deciding between a decorative tile or a less focus-pulling design? 

 

3. Where should I use tile in my house?

Tile is one of the most versatile options for a floor or wall covering in your home! Unlike painted walls, you don’t have to worry about cooking splatters damaging your kitchen walls, and unlike hardwood floors, you don’t have to worry about water damage, scratches, or refinishing. 

The most common areas to tile in your home:

Neutral Farmhouse Kitchen with Marble Mosaic Backsplash Tile

Add stunning pattern to a neutral farmhouse kitchen with our marble mosaic backsplash tile!

  • Backsplash wall tile - whether in your kitchen or bathroom, tiles are a natural wall covering for a backsplash tile. Their non-porous surface can be easily wiped clean, avoiding concerns about staining paint or damaging wallpaper. They can withstand cooking splatters, water splashes, and add a gorgeously decorative element! From flower patterns to shiplap, you can recreate any of your favorite bathroom design elements with water-resistant tile for a look that will last.
  • Showers are another area that need a non-permeable material and tile is the best option! 

The impact floor tiles can have on your interior is huge - how about this Mediterranean home with our Blue and White etched marble star and cross tiles?

The impact floor tiles can have on your interior is huge - how about this Mediterranean home with our Blue and White etched marble star and cross tiles?

  • Flooring designs - bathroom and shower floors come to mind as the most commonly tiled areas, thanks to the wide range of slip-resistant designs for spaces expected to get wet. They’re also a great pick for kitchen floors since they can be easily swept clean and a damp cloth is all you need to take care of spills. Thanks to their durable surface and the decorative designs in mosaic tile or wood look porcelain, they offer a gorgeous and low maintenance flooring option throughout the entire house!

Dreaming of the perfect laundry room design? This blue and white backsplash has all the charm of wallpaper with a water-resistant and stunning marble mosaic wall!

Dreaming of the perfect laundry room design? This blue and white backsplash has all the charm of wallpaper with a water-resistant and stunning marble mosaic wall!

  • Laundry room walls - we love the recent trend of turning laundry rooms, utility spaces, and mudrooms into welcoming areas! Adding a beautiful yet functional tiled wall is a great choice for a place prone to messes and even mud!
  • Fireplace surrounds - thanks to their heat-resistant nature, tiles are a  great choice to create a focal point in your living room with a fireplace facing! They can be used to blend in with your decor, like a coastal farmhouse adorned with shiplap, or you can choose creative mosaic patterns, shining finishes, or vibrant colors to create a stunning accent piece.

4. Which tile size works for my space?

Tile size is important for two reasons: aesthetic and safety. 

Starting with aesthetics: the matter of tile size is important because it can influence the overall style and feel of the room. 

Vintage Vanity Style with Emerald Green Hexagon Tiles

Here’s an example of how small tiles bring depth to a small vanity area. This glass mosaic backsplash features mini hexagons of White Emerald Weaved Hexagon Glass Mosaic Tile. Petite tile pieces like these introduce more grout lines, producing extra texture and complexity —  a feature that feels more decorative.

They’re great for a mosaic backsplash insert to add character and charm to your kitchen wall over the stove, or anywhere you’d like to add decorative elements!

Practically speaking, smaller tiles and mosaic patterns introduce a vital home safety element - slip-resistance. The more grout lines, the more grip - which is why smaller tiles are considered the best option for floors that are prone to get wet, like entryways, laundry rooms, and especially shower floors. 

Next, let’s consider bigger patterns and slabs of tile. Looks wise, they tend to have a more classic and crisp appeal.

Modern Living Room Floor with Porcelain Tiles

This upbeat dining room in an urban home, for instance, is designed with these large porcelain floor tiles. They offer a tasteful design without overcomplicating the space. Visually, they work well in bigger spaces to compliment the expanse of the walls.

From a functional standpoint, large tiles can also create the illusion of more space. So if you’ve got a small kitchen or bathroom, you might consider steering away from complicated patterns for a smoother look with fewer grout lines.

 

4. What tile color palette should I work with?

Tile colors belong to three main categories: neutrals, monochrome, and colors. The right color should create a feeling of harmony within the space.

These Mallorca square ceramic tiles add a glossy black wall covering thanks to their gorgeous glazed finish.

These Mallorca square ceramic tiles add a glossy black wall covering thanks to their gorgeous glazed finish.

Let’s start with the rule of darks and lights or monochrome designs. Dark colored tile bring drama to a large space, while light colored tile have an expanding and brightening effect for small rooms. Whether you want a dark and dramatic flooring to add a moody feel, or love the look of light and bright walls, these always work well together and can be paired with just about any other color. 

Add depth to an all-white kitchen with the mix of finishes in this White Ceramic And Pearl Glass Hexagon Mosaic Tile backsplash!

Add depth to an all-white kitchen with the mix of finishes in this White Ceramic And Pearl Glass Hexagon Mosaic Tile backsplash!

Next up, we’ve got neutrals: these are shades and tones like taupe, grey, black or ivory. They match with almost everything! They’re a great base palette if you’re looking for a large flooring area or a stretch of wall.

You can never go wrong with neutrals, like the warm earth tones of our etched marble subway tiles.

You can never go wrong with neutrals, like the warm earth tones of our etched marble subway tiles.

You might also consider a tile with blue colors like teal, purple and indigo. These colors match with other cool tones or shades, and other neutrals. Despite its cool tone, blue remains one of the most popular interior colors - it’s considering welcoming and soothing, which makes it a classic for paint colors, tiles, and other interior decor!

This charming kitchen combines white countertops, natural wood cabinets, and Sky Blue Penny Round Glass Tile for the perfect welcoming home!

This charming kitchen combines white countertops, natural wood cabinets, and Sky Blue Penny Round Glass Tile for the perfect welcoming home!

Lastly, we’ve got warm colors. They’re more intense and saturated than cool colors such as yellow, or orange and red. They match with neutrals or other warm colors. 

Add a warm pop with a red glass mosaic tile backsplash for a modern kitchen!

Add a warm pop with a red glass mosaic tile backsplash for a modern kitchen!

Having trouble deciding? That’s where samples come in! Play with tile samples, paint swatches, fabric books, and other details to create a space that feels fabulously finished!

5. What kind of tile finishes should I consider?

Just like lipstick, every tile offers its own level of shine. Whether you prefer matte, gloss or semi-gloss will depend on the overall vibe you’re trying to achieve.

A Matte Ceramic Subway Tile will feel more calm and understated than Mother of Pearl Mosaic Tile which has an iridescent, shimmery finish. On the extreme side of shine, you might consider something like the Silver Diamond Mosaic Tile. It’s made of glass which offers a polished luster, while the silver hues bring a vivid metallic quality for a powerful punch to your kitchen backsplash. 

Add shimmer and iridescent shine with Mother of Pearl shell tiles!

Add shimmer and iridescent shine with Mother of Pearl shell tiles!

The type of finish you choose isn’t always about looks; it can have a functional purpose too! One advantage of matte tiles is that they hide smudges and water marks better than glossy tiles. On the other hand, since glossy tiles are more reflective, they bounce light around the room to give the impression of a brighter space.

Matte marble - like our honed Carrara Herringbone mosaic tiles - adds a gorgeous finish to any interior!

Matte marble - like our honed Carrara Herringbone mosaic tiles - adds a gorgeous finish to any interior!

Matte or honed floor tiles are also a great option to increase slip-resistance, as they provide better grip than a polished tile. 

6. Should I invest in an expensive or budget-friendly tile?

The choice between a premium or budget-friendly tile should depend on your lifestyle and design goals. Certain areas of your home might be more “deserving” of special upgrades, while for others, a budget-friendly option will suffice. 

For example, if you’re a passionate cook who dreams of a more inspiring kitchen space, then it’s worth splurging on a gorgeous marble backsplash.

Luxe Waterjet Tile in White Marble and Black Glass

Whether you use a high quality marble mosaic like our black and white glass and Calacatta waterjet as an accent tile or a large-scale installation, you’re sure to love it!

Or if you spend a lot of time in your family room, you can consider investing in a higher quality tile for your accent wall or fireplace. Yet, be rest-assured that luxury doesn’t always have to be high-end Italian marble. You can opt for porcelain, which is still a durable and elegant alternative at an attractive price point.

Fireplace featuring the Kasai Notte Kintsugi Porcelain tile, a design inspired by Japanese Art.

Fireplace featuring the Kasai Notte Kintsugi Porcelain tile, a design inspired by Japanese Art.

 

7. Why should I buy tiles online?

The last - and possibly the most important - question! There are a lot of advantages to shopping for tiles online, but we understand why you might have some questions. We’ve answered this question in a bit more depth before, but let’s dive into some of the bigger points:

  • You’re more likely to save on tiles: Tile Club offers a 5% discount to all members of our free newsletter so you not only get the best possible price for your beautiful tiles, but you get a nice little savings on them as well.
  • We have one of the largest stocks of tile that’s ready to ship! Not only will you find a tile you love in our collection, but we have one of the biggest inventories available! 
  • You can order samples to see the tile in advance. No need to rely on what’s in a showroom or on your screen when you can see - and feel - the tiles in our samples shipped directly to your home.
  • Free shipping anywhere in the Lower 48 United States! That’s right - you’re not bound by local availability! We ship throughout the US and Canada and ground shipping in the Lower 48 States is free for qualifying orders. Boxes of Ceramics and Porcelain have a minimum order amount to qualify for free shipping.

Luxury Bathroom Design with Our Herringbone Pearl and White Marble Vanity Backsplash

Browse some of our favorites to find your perfect style by use, material, finish, color, and budget! Of course, you can’t go wrong with our favorite Herringbone Pearl and White Marble tile!


Hopefully we’ve had a chance to answer most of your questions, but if there’s something that’s still on your mind - feel free to contact our team for a quick and friendly response!







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