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How Mother of Pearl Tiles can Enhance Luxury Home Decor

Who doesn’t want to step into a luxury home every time you walk in the door? Whether you’re picking out every finish for a custom new build or looking to give your old family home a fresh new look, adding the allure of Mother of Pearl tiles is always the way to go! These shell tiles are beloved by designers for their timeless beauty, iridescent shine, and long-wearing surface, so you can invest in giving your home a fabulous upgrade that you’ll feel good about for years to come!

Blue and White Kitchen with French Range and White Mother of Pearl Inlay Backsplash

The allure of Mother of Pearl can be found in its enchanting and radiant foundation. Here, Pearl Flower White Marble & Mother of Pearl Waterjet Mosaic Tile offers an inviting neutral backdrop for a clean and elegant contemporary look. This blue and white kitchen with French elegance is a gorgeous place to cook and gather together!

No matter which type of Mother of Pearl tile you choose, these iridescent details reflect light and add a dash of exquisite opulence anywhere they’re installed. Loved for its classic and timeless beauty, the nature-inspired touches of this material transcend fashion and trends — use it today and its shine and shimmer would still be just as gorgeous in ten years’ time. It is functional, durable, unusual, and easy to use as any other prestigious tile. 

You can use this gorgeous shell shine to dress up a white kitchen, give your shower a gorgeous gleam, create a Hollywood star-worthy vanity backsplash, or add luminous shine to your living room with a fabulous fireplace surround!

What Is Mother of Pearl made of?

This mesmerizing natural material is actually the pearl coating on the inner shell of different types of mollusks. Also known scientifically as nacre, Mother of Pearl comes from the shells of three types of mollusks — pearl mussels, pearl oysters, and abalones.

Marble and Mother of Pearl Inlay Tile for a White Backsplash

Artfully paired with white Thassos marble to create a striking geometric mosaic pattern, this Pearl White Thassos Shell Tile will effortlessly make any interior space come together. Check out that natural shimmer from the shell tile inserts in this elegant white marble mosaic!

The coating is a blend of minerals secreted in order for these shellfish and molluscs to protect themselves. The composite of nacre is deposited around a piece of debris like sand that has gotten inside of the shell. After layers and layers of nacre build up around the foreign particle in the shell, a pearl is formed. 

While we’re used to the creamy glow of freshwater or cultured pearls used for jewelry, the same type of iridescent material that turns them into semi-precious gems also forms along the inside of these shells. They’re then harvested and painstakingly trimmed into small pieces that can be used in jewelry, inlaid into intricate crafts or other designs or, of course, made into beautiful mosaic tiles!

Example of an uncut nacre shell from ScienceAlert


Classic Interiors with the Allure of Mother of Pearl Decor

Mother of pearl tile, also referred to as shell tile, seashell tile, or shell mosaic tile, is made by carefully cleaning the shells with a combination of muriatic acid and bleach until a smooth surface is attained. At that point, the shells are glazed to provide a protective layer and enhance their natural iridescence. It is then cut into shapes to make stunning mosaic pieces! Mother of Pearl is naturally 2mm thick, but you’ll find some tiles that are 8mm in thickness if they are backed by other materials in a mosaic design.

 

White and Glass Shower Enclosure with Arabesque Tiles in Marble and Mother of Pearl Inlay

 

Pure, glamorous, eye-catching, and uncomplicated, our Pearl Chic White Marble & Mother of Pearl Waterjet Mosaic Tile add texture and stunning originality to this bathroom space, while developing a focal attraction that’s hard to ignore.  

Because it is 100% made of natural shell materials, shell tile is a completely impervious surface finish. Being a natural substance, each piece of iridescent Mother of Pearl is hard, resilient, and durable. Each piece will have a slightly unique allure since it's an organic material!

For this reason, homeowners and designers alike have always been captivated by the fragile beauty of Mother of Pearl for centuries and have often used it to transform ordinary looking interior settings, commonly in the form of mosaic tile designs. The unique textures, natural veining, and pearlescent magnificence of each individual piece creates a sense of luxury at an accessible price.

It's the iridescent glow of Herringbone Pearl White Thassos Marble and Shell Tile that makes you give this pantry space a double take! That’s the beauty of shell tile — it’s the intricate and shimmering detail that provides an instant upgrade to simple spaces. 

Furthermore, the shimmer of each piece ensures that it glimmers beautifully as it catches the light and draws the eye in the darkest room. The wonderful lustrous quality of this material is unequalled when it comes to interior finishes - whether you’re creating a coastal bathroom design, a dazzling white kitchen backsplash, or a gorgeous flooring accent.

Frequently Asked Questions about Mother of Pearl accents -

Where can you install Mother of Pearl Tiles?

Although it can be used in almost all interior applications, Mother of Pearl is a great source of inspiration particularly for both kitchen and bathroom design. Besides its enchanting beauty, the material is resistant to water, heat, and scratches. Shell tiles accentuate shower and bathtub spaces and easily add a chic seaside-inspired feel to the space!

 

Blue and white bathroom with Mother of Pearl inlay chevron tile backsplash
This shimmering seashell accent wall adds a high-shine punch of glamour to this modern bathroom interior. Here, Herringbone Pearl White Thassos Marble and Shell Tile enhances the all-over luxury of this master bathroom vanity accent wall. 

 

Can you install pearl tiles on a fireplace surround or a backsplash behind the stove?

Similarly, these shell tiles can be used to capture your inspirational style and turn a basic white kitchen wall into a striking centerpiece in your home. The scratch and stain-resistant qualities of pearls make these tiles perfect for backsplashes while their ability to withstand very high temperatures make Mother of Pearl a favorite selection for fireplace surrounds. 

Add a touch of glamour and iridescence to your living room with a fireplace surround decorated with this Pure White Mother of Pearl Herringbone Mosaic Tile. The enhanced reflective surface will brighten up your living space and add a natural focal point to your gorgeous decor! 

We always recommend installing tiles according to fire codes for the best result over the years, but you can rest assured that properly installed Mother of Pearl backsplash tiles or a shimmering shell fireplace surround will add beauty and iridescence to your home for years to come!

Can you install a shell tile floor?

To use Mother of Pearl on your floors, it’s important that you check if it’s rated for such application by the manufacturer. Although this material has a delicate shimmer, Mother of Pearl tiles approved for floors are typically thicker than those used on the wall to give them the added strength and durability they need to take more wear and tear. 


What type of tiles are made of Mother of Pearl?

In addition to their iridescence, Mother of Pearl in its many shapes can become the focal point of any room interior. Due to advances in manufacturing with waterjet cutting, it can be shaped into different sizes and designs, then attached to either a mesh sheet or self-stick backing to create what we know as mosaic tiles. 

This Mother of Pearl Abalone Mosaic Tile backsplash combines natural materials and understated elegance. The square jeweled highlights are luxury and sophistication in a nutshell! This combination of two types of shells creates a detailed white backsplash with a rainbow sparkle that manages to be stunning and sophisticated at once!

Shell sheets can be easily shaped into some of the most popular tile designs and even paired with other materials - white marble mosaics are a very popular pairing thanks to the inherent elegance in each material on their own. Together, they are especially stunning!

Alternatively, you may opt for groutless Mother of Pearl tile which also comes in other patterns and presents a smooth, seamless finish. While most mosaic patterns leave a very narrow grout line space in-between each tile piece, while groutless tiles, as the name suggests, have no space in-between each tile. Occasionally you need to fill spaces between tile sheets to create a seamless finish, but they are a great low-grout choice!

If you’re looking for a distinctive look that still maintains an extra luxurious feel, there’re many shapes to consider including squares, hexagons, chevrons, semi-round fish scales, ovals, and triangles. Pearl penny tiles which are circular in shape are a great choice if you desire a classic design finish. 

How do you Install Mother of Pearl tile?

Great installation is the key to a tile job that’s contemporary, elegant, and clean. Installing Mother of Pearl mosaic tile is a simple job that DIY enthusiasts can complete on their own. To speed up the install process for these detailed designs, seashell tiles are fixed onto a mesh backing which can be cut easily and don’t require you to painstakingly line each tiny piece in place and set them one at a time! 

Checkerboard Tiles made of Mother of Pearl

1. If you need to cut the actual shell tiles, a wet saw fitted with a diamond blade is highly recommended in order to achieve a smooth and seamless cut.

See more tips on the best tools to cut tile materials.

2. Before you start to spread your mortar, ensure the substrate is firmly fixed, flat, clean, dry, and free of debris. Because Mother of Pearl is translucent, it is strongly recommended you use white thinset during the installation process — and only a thin layer of it since these are light weight thin tiles. 

3. Once each piece is firmly set, use an unsanded grout to avoid scratching the high sheen surface — and any excess should be cleaned off your tiles before it hardens.

Do you need to seal Mother of Pearl Tiles?

While the water-resistant surface of pearl tiles does not require a sealant, regularly sealing your grout lines will help prevent them from stains or discoloration. In regard to maintaining a fresh and new look after installation, shell tiles should be regularly cleaned with warm water and a soft cloth. 

Highlighting shine and shimmer that never fades, Mother of Pearl Pillow with Abalone Dots Mosaic Tile is stain and scratch resistant, and therefore wipeable and impervious to water.

How do you clean Mother of Pearl tile?

Being a non-porous material with a durable patent-pending finish, this simple routine is all you need to extend the life and beauty of Mother of Pearl tiles. Given the fact that most of these tiles consists primarily of calcium carbonate, it’s vital not to use or allow cleaning solutions such as abrasive cleaners, powders, and bleach to sit on the surface for extended amounts of time as this will cause a reaction, and in turn weaken the tile surface.  

More interior inspiration with Mother of Pearl design -

Colors straight from nature

In general, Mother of Pearl tile color is largely determined by the type and color of the shell they come from. As you may have guessed, natural white is the most common tile color, with a reasonable percentage of chips in natural yellow, tones of grey, or a mix of all three. 

While the outer layer of the shell creates the creamy white shade most commonly associated with pearls, the inner layer of certain shells can offer a wider range of natural colors. Called Goldlip Mother of Pearl, this organic building material is a beautiful way to warm up your home decor without missing on pearl accents.

This white and gold chevron Mother of Pearl Divine Mosaic Tile pattern is a stunning modern way to use enhanced natural colors in a water-resistant and glamorous tiled surface!

Under illumination, the iridescent tiles give off an unmatched sheen and reflect different colors depending on the angle from which you are looking at them as well as the position of your lighting. 

These pearl penny rounds are a range of natural colors to add a deep sea shine to this modern bathroom vanity accent wall!

They can throw off rainbows at the right angle, and their naturally shining surface is a radiant addition to dark interior spaces. Lighten up a downstairs powder room by adding a Mother of Pearl vanity wall with gleaming shell tiles, or install a marble and pearl mosaic under your cabinets to illuminate your cooking space with natural light!

Add a glow of iridescence in any home decor

Mother of Pearl tile creates a special, extravagant experience that can drastically change the appearance of any interior setting. Regardless of what interior style you are going for, an iridescent pearl surface effortlessly shines through to give your room one-of-a-kind natural beauty.

There’s no denying the luxurious ambience and spa-like mood that Mother of Pearl oval tiles provides especially in a coastal interior. Complete the look by incorporating sea-inspired hues such as sky blue, off-white, sandy tan, soft teal, and shiny yellow. 

Coastal interiors look extra luxurious; its glimmer and superb color make contemporary spaces feel special; it offers a cozy, upscale touch to modern aesthetics; instantly injects an elegant atmosphere in a white kitchen found in most classic and transitional homes; and adds a lovely texture and detail to farmhouse decor. The versatility and melange of mosaic shell tiles can work with just about any aesthetic — and it’s a timeless design solution that won’t look outdated despite ever-changing trends. 

Another appeal of the material is that the tiles pair beautifully with other natural stones to create decorative highlights and contrast. 

 

Now you have the perfect guide to adding a luxury home finish to your home with Mother of Pearl inlay tiles, from how to style your home, install your tiles, and keep them shining for years to come!

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