Whether you are looking to showcase a modern custom design or a classic 3͟ x 6͟ subway pattern white tile in one of the states many classic restoration projects, tile has and will always stand the test of time.
Tile, in general, can be installed just about anywhere you can imagine. While many of us are accustomed to seeing tile in lobbies and bathrooms there are many other applications on floors, walls, and ceilings that it can be applied to.
Tiling on the wall of a high traffic commercial space such as the corridors of a school, hospital or busy corporate lobby will not only showcase a unique design but will also limit the cost of repairing damaged walls, and the need to repaint on a regular basis. The versatility of tile is endless, from a designer tile backsplash in your office coffee room to quarry tile with industrial grade epoxy grout in a commercial kitchen, tile can cover it all.
SIZES AND PATTERNS
Tile is now available in all shapes in sizes and there are limitless patterns in which they can be installed.
Square tiles as small as 5/8"x5/8" and as large as 24"x24" and beyond can be installed square-to-wall, diagonally, brickbond, or even diagonally-brickbond.
Rectangular tiles, from 1"x4"mosaics to 18"x36" or larger, can be stacked lengthwise or widthwise, set in a herringbone pattern, or installed in a stagger similar to hardwood installations. Large format tiles are now being used on building exteriors to provide a distinctive tile aesthetic that is currently popular in Europe and large cities around the country. One thing to remember in the design phase is that the Tile Council of North America recommends a maximum 33% off set for larger format tiles like 12"x24" that are staggered to avoid an uneven surface where the lowest points of tiles (the edges) are placed next to the highest bowing point (the center) of adjacent tiles.
Other unique tile shapes like penny rounds, arabesques and ogees, or random linear strips are generally found in mosaic form. Octagons are now available as large as 14"-16" Patterns like octagon & dot, windowpane, basketweave, and pinwheel can be created with multiple sizes of larger field tile or found readily available on mosaic sheets in smaller sizes.
CERAMIC VS. PORCELAIN
Ceramic has long been a standard in the industry. Porcelain is generally considered to be a premium product (as it is stronger and denser than ceramic), but each has its pluses.
Generally less expensive to manufacture in standard sizes
Easier to cut
Allows for molding into unusual shapes, relief decoratives, and artisanal/handmade looks
Greater breaking strength Less porous, making it suitable for exterior installations where it resists water absorption and weathers the freeze/thaw cycles better
Can be manufactured with precise, rectified edges that allow for installations with very minimal grout lines
Can be manufactured in a through-body process, in which the surface color is carried all the way through to the back of the tile, making chips and dings less visible
When considering Natural Stone, it is important to note that Mother Nature was responsible for the manufacturing of the product. Man can fabricate it into the desired sizes with polished, honed, or tumbled finishes, but we cannot make it harder than it is, more resistant to breaking along veining or natural defects, more consistent in visuals, or less varied in general. All stones require sealing prior to grouting to resist staining, and will need to be re-sealed throughout their lifetime.
OTHER TILE MATERIALS
Tiles can come in many other materials, including glass and metal.
Before purchasing glass tiles or mosaics for floors or wet areas, it is important to research the manufacturer’s guidelines to confirm that they have been rated for those applications and to determine a recommended thinset and style of grout. Glass tiles with a crackle finis should always be sealed prior to grouting to resist staining and for ease of grout clean-up.
"Metal" tiles, mosaics, and decorative trims can just as often be made of resin to mimic metal. It is important to confirm that real metal tiles are approved for wet areas, to eliminate rusting and staining. It is also important to check the manufacturer’s specifications for resin metal tiles to ensure they can sustain the heat in kitchen or fireplace installations.