Selecting Tiles: The Ultimate Guide

Selecting tiles can certainly be an overwhelming task with so many exciting options available to choose from. Whether you are working on a bathroom or kitchen renovation or tiling your whole house, there truly is a whole world of possibilities available in the tiling industry. So where do you start? How do you make the decision less daunting? Our quick guide to selecting tiles will help you narrow down your options until you find your perfect match!

Tile Inspiration & Style

The best way to get started in selecting tiles is to do your research! Look online, peruse magazines, get some ideas of what the latest trends, styles, materials and techniques are in order to narrow down your search. Target an overall style you would like to achieve in your space and draw inspiration from various sources.

There are particular tile colours, styles and shapes that lend themselves well to certain home decorating styles; for example, a Moroccan themed Bathroom design could incorporate lantern shaped tiles to really compliment the overall design scheme. A Hamptons style kitchen on the other hand would be perfectly complemented with crisp white subway tiles as a splashback.

Set a Budget when Selecting Tiles

Always set yourself a budget early on in the tile selection process, especially when working on a bathroom renovation or full home renovation – you would be surprised how quickly costs can accumulate when tiling larger areas! Do investigate various tile showrooms and websites in order to get an understanding of how much different types of tiles cost; This will help you set a realistic budget figure to work with and again, will narrow down your search to selections in both your preferred interior design style and set price range.

Selecting Tile Types

There are many different tile materials available from glass, ceramic, porcelain, natural stone and concrete or encaustic tiles. The key is to select the material that will suit your intended application best and assist in achieving the overall style you are wanting in this space.

Glass Tiles

Glass tiles are made of a combination of sand and minerals and are suitable for wall applications, swimming pools and low traffic flooring applications. Of course, it is always advised to seek your tile store’s best advice on how particular tiles can be used as not all glass tiles can be used as a flooring option or as a pool tile for example. Glass is a popular material for creating mosaic tiles, such as the Andy Warhol inspired mosaic featured below. Mosaic tiles usually come in sheets (usually around 30 x 30cm) that make installation simple. Glass tiles are often more expensive than ceramic and porcelain tiles, making them better suited for feature walls and splashbacks.

Glass Tiles_Perini Tiles
Glass tiles are a non-porous option that will not require sealing. This flexible tiling solution can be used in a variety of different applications, from kitchen and laundry splashbacks, bathroom tiles and swimming pools. Certain varieties of glass tiles can even be used as a floor tile solution in the home, offering an elegant and luxurious touch to your interior design scheme.

Ceramic Tiles

Ceramic tiles are made of natural clay and sand and are most often used for wall applications however, certain collections can be used as a floor tile. Basic collections are often more cost effective than their porcelain counterparts but you will find more decorative ceramic wall tile options that can fall into a higher price tier. Ceramic tiles are available in either glazed or unglazed options; it should be noted that glazed ceramic tiles will not require sealing as the glaze itself will act as a protective barrier whereas unglazed ceramic tiles are porous and will require sealing. Glazed ceramic tiles are water resistant and can be used in wet areas around the home however, they will not be as durable as porcelain tiles in terms of their resistance to scratching for example.

Ceramic Wall Tiles_Perini Tiles
Ceramic wall tiles make for an excellent choice as a kitchen or laundry splashback tile and as a bathroom wall tile. Glazed ceramic tiles are especially favoured in these areas of the home as their surface is simple to wipe clean and maintain without the need for sealing.

Porcelain Tiles

Porcelain tiles are made of a dense clay which is fired at a much higher temperature than ceramic tiles. They are suitable for just about any wall or floor application, including specific collections that are also suited to outdoor areas. Generally more expensive than ceramic tiles, porcelain tiles are highly durable and easy to maintain, with no ongoing sealing or professional cleaning required. With advanced technology, porcelain tiles are now being created in a way that almost perfectly mimics the look and texture or natural stones such as marble, allowing you the luxurious natural look for less cost and less maintenance! Porcelain tiles are also water resistant and will not allow the growth of bacteria, while also being highly fire resistant, minimising the movement of flames.

Selecting Tiles_Porcelain Tiles
Porcelain tiles provide a versatile design solution for interior and even exterior spaces. These tiles provide many benefits in the home from being resistant to scratching, staining and moisture while also being a low maintenance solution that will not require sealing.

Cement Tiles/Encaustic Tiles

A traditional form of tile manufacture, cement tiles are handmade using coloured clays and have been used for centuries in the home. They are also known as encaustic tiles or concrete tiles but are more commonly referred to as cement tiles. Featuring bold, intricate patterns and bright colours, these tiles are perfect for period style homes or for blending the old with the new in a modern upgrade to a traditional styled home. A key point to keep  in mind is that all cement tiles do retain a bit of moisture from the manufacturing process; once laid, they will dry up to their intended colour after a few days. If laid in direct sunlight, cement tiles can fade over time so opt for a porcelain tile replica instead if this is of concern to you. It should be noted though that this quality will add to the character of the tile, creating that authentic touch! Cement tiles do require sealing as they can absorb liquids being a porous material so this process should be completed prior to installation then every few years or so after that.

Encaustic Tiles
Encaustic tiles are a popular choice for the home, offering a range of both modern and classic styles in terms of pattern and colour. These luxurious tiles are the perfect solution when you are looking to create a striking feature in the home.

Natural Stone Tiles

Natural stone tiles such as marble tiles for example, can be used in a variety of applications from walls to floors, kitchen splashbacks and even outdoor areas (always make sure to check in with your tile store to see which tiles can be used in outdoor applications). All natural stones require sealing after application and may require professional cleaning and re-sealing every few years depending on the amount of traffic the tiled area receives. As you can expect, natural stone products are not cheap and there is the ongoing maintenance factor that will add to their ongoing cost. Natural stones, require a bit of extra care in your daily cleaning routine: marble for example is renowned for being a soft and porous stone that can be easily scratched or stained so specialised cleaning products that are specific to natural stone materials should always be used. When selecting tiles at a showroom or store, make sure to ask about your tile selection’s cleaning and maintenance advice.

Marble mosaic_Perini Tiles
Natural stone tiles can be used in all areas of the home. These tiles add an elegant, luxurious and timeless touch in any interior design scheme making them an excellent choice for any style of home.

Selecting Tile Grout Types & Colours

Now that you’ve selected your tiles, it’s time to look at different grouts and grout colours. Selecting a tile grout may seem like a menial task however, the grout colour you choose can literally make or break the whole look of your interior design scheme! Consider if you would prefer your grout to blend in with the tiled surface or if you would rather create a visual contrast between the colour of the tile and the colour of the tile grout. This technique works especially well with tiles that feature an interesting shape, such as lantern tiles or hexagonal shaped tiles, as it makes the unique shape of the tile stand out using contrasting colours.

A good tip to keep in mind when selecting tiles and grout colours is to pay attention to the grout colour used on the tile display in the showroom you are visiting: they have selected that particular colour for a reason!

Thanks to the many advances made in the tiling and grout industry, tile grout options have developed to include an astounding amount of varying colours, the ability to mix grout colours to create the perfect shade and even the added benefit of providing waterproof and mould resistant grouting options. Epoxy grout for tiles for example, is perfect for wet areas as well as kitchen splashbacks as it can play a major role in preventing the build up of grime and mould, providing you with a super easy to clean surface. Do keep in mind, that Epoxy grout is a little more expensive than traditional cement based grout and due to the fact that it is more difficult to work with and to clean after grouting, will add a cost to your labour bill. However, the end result is truly worth it!

Selecting tiles can seem overwhelming when you first step into a tile showroom as there are seemingly an endless amount of options available! Following our quick guide, the decision becomes much simpler as you will be able to narrow down your selections to the most suitable options.

Stuck on selecting tiles and other materials for a bathroom or kitchen renovation? Checkout our Melbourne Colour Consultation option for expert advice!