If a room in your home feels like it needs an update but you don’t want to undergo a complete remodel, it may be time for a subtle upgrade with tile. Tile is a popular design choice for both professional interior designers and DIY-inclined homeowners. The good news is that because there are so many different types of tile and materials available, you can use them in any room of your home, for however large or small a project you want, and on just about any budget.
Let’s look at some of the most popular types of tile.
Forget the fragility associated with stained glass windows—glass tiles can be deceptively durable. They’re perhaps not sturdy enough to make a good flooring material (the glass shards can be hazardous if the tiles do break, after all), but they work well for flourishes and trims, walls, and backsplashes. Additionally, your glass tiles can be colored either all the way through or just on the surface, and the color won’t fade over time. And as an added bonus, glass is moisture-proof, so you don’t have to worry about water and food splatters in the kitchen or steam in your bathroom.
Porcelain is a popular tile choice for just about anywhere in your home, including the shower, walls, countertops, ceilings, floors, and backsplashes. Its popularity probably stems from the fact that it’s a durable material (it’s made from dense clay), reasonably priced, and a lower maintenance flooring choice than stone or wood. The downside of its durability is that it can be difficult to cut into custom shapes or to round off the edges to make it fit in unusually shaped spaces. Another downside is that porcelain is usually an unglazed white or gray color, which doesn’t appeal to everyone. However, you can choose to screen-print your porcelain to make it look like another material.
Ceramic tile is pretty much at the opposite end of the spectrum from porcelain—it’s also made from clay, but it’s much more delicate, which makes it easy to cut but not ideal for use outdoors or as flooring. It often has a natural red terra cotta finish which many homeowners find appealing, especially in the kitchen, but it can come in other colors and can also have a glazed finish. It’s relatively low-cost and low-maintenance.
It’s a more expensive option, but it’s hard to beat the elegance of a stone tile like marble, slate, or quartz. Stone is also incredibly versatile—you can use it for flooring, walls, ceilings, backsplashes, baseboards, showers, tub decks, and even outdoor spaces like patios. Because stone is porous, this type of tile requires a little more maintenance than the other tiles described in this guide. It should be sealed when installed to protect from scratches, stains, and etching, and it needs to be regularly cleaned with either soap and water or a non-acidic cleaner.
Other Tile Types
There aren’t any strict rules about what tile needs to be made from, so you’ll find some pretty creative options out there, including mirrored glass, sea shells, semi-precious stones, and even animal hide. If you want to create an accent or make a statement with your interior decorating, one of these more unusual tile types may be the way to go. However, keep in mind that these so-called exotic tile types often tend to be more expensive (especially if you’re using semi-precious stones), so consider using these materials for smaller-scale projects, such as trims or flourishes around a door, window, or mirror.
Whether you’re hoping to add an unusual touch to a room in your home or looking to spruce up your kitchen with an entirely new floor, there’s a tile for that. For more tile design inspiration, check out the handy tile style guide from Drury Design and talk to a professional interior decorator to decide what’s right for your project.