Tools for TILE!

Are you remodeling or starting new construction on a bathroom in your home? It could possibly involve some tile work for your floors, your tub surround, and your shower walls. Can you be creative with this? YES you can!

It’s amazing how many options and choices are out there for you depending on your project needs. Porcelain, ceramic, or stone choices are usually the “go to” choices in the bathrooms in this area. There are many others that can be used in other areas of your home, as well. I LOVE creating the design, but your function is a key ingredient in this recipe for remodeling!

Porcelain tile is for high traffic areas and is not glazed like ceramic tile and is the same color all the way through. This means that if the tile is chipped, you don’t notice the chip as you would in ceramic tile.

Ceramic tile has lots of choices and is probably the most affordable with the options that are available. It does have the glazed finish, so if it’s chipped, “white” will be seen at the chipped location, much like when you chip a piece of your china.

Stone tile covers several areas including slate, limestone, and travertine. These are all quarried from the earth and give you a natural, rich, earthy feeling. They also have to be sealed and enhancement really brings out their true beauty!

Basically, it’s important to remember that ANY kind of tile can be used on the wall but NOT ALL wall tile can be used for the floor. Your floor tiles do not need to be slick and almost feel like you can grip it with your toes….if you know what I mean….to have a safe floor tile. And in the shower floor, you must use mosaic or small tile pieces on the floor for the slope toward the drain, because you need the flexibility in size to work through the needed sloping drainage area.

I always like to think of tile from the creative point of view with combinations to give you that custom feel even if it’s using the same tile but “turning it” to create design. “Punch” in the design can be taken up a notch by adding in specialty pieces, such as glass or stainless inserts or framing with “a chair rail” or ledge effect or even a combination of sizes as the accent. A “bull nose” piece wraps the tile back to the wall, if there’s not a finished edge on your tile piece. Stone has finished ends and don’t need the bull nose piece.

With all this in consideration, the grout color will really make the difference as well. Do you want your grout to blend or stand out? Your choice in grout color will reflect this effect. AND remember that the grout lines need to be smaller, for better cleanability needs…..and also sealed!

And then the size of the tile creates more decisions with your particular project as well. Should you use 4×4 or 6×6 or 12×12 or even larger? Should you use rectangles or squares? How should you lay it…. Like brick or squared up or diagonal? Or a combination of several? More design questions that impact your finished look!

My rule of thumb on the size of your tile is to go bigger with your tile to keep the upkeep more reasonable in cleaning. AND I think that bigger tiles create visual space as well. PLUS turning the tile on the diagonal also can create space on your floor design. Don’t short change yourself with your design….there’s a lot to remember I know!

If budget is your only consideration, you can use a cultured marble for your walls and for the shower pan (already molded with the slope to the drain). There are several colors available to make this option a little more versatile but it doesn’t give you design choices like tile can do.

Be sure to give your bathroom tile your attention way before the contractor needs it. It does have to be ordered at times or shipped to the desirable location for pick up, which could take several days or weeks in some cases. AND as you can see, there’s a lot to “think through” and specify with this aspect of your remodeling project and you don’t need these decisions to be impulsive – function and design are impactful. Your tile contractor needs to be available to work through the design process with your designer to measure and order properly.


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