How to Choose the Right Tile Design & Colour for Your Home
Updated: Jan 26, 2020
Even though much of the surface beneath our feet is hidden by area rugs and furniture, the type and style of flooring used can make (or break) a space’s aesthetic or impact the way in which the room is used. Of course, your choice should come down to the material you’re most fond of (provided it’s within your budget); but narrowing down the field of suitable choices can itself be difficult. To make things a little easier on you, we’ve put together some basic criteria for you to consider as you search for that perfect porcelain tile.
Consider Tile Hardness & The Purpose of the Room
Before anything else, knowing how the space will be used will determine what sort of products you’ll be looking at. If the room is one that is conducive to activity, you’ll want to make sure that the tile you select is rated higher on the Mohs scale. This scale is used to rate the hardness of the tile so that you select the appropriate tile. The Mohs scale consists of five levels of classification:
Class I – The associated tile is rated for no foot traffic. Ideal application: walls.
Class II – The associated tile is rated for light foot traffic areas or for wall applications.
Class III – The associated tile is rated for light to moderate amounts of foot traffic, countertop surfaces and wall applications. Can be used in most rooms of the home, except for those that experience heavy foot traffic.
Class IV – The associated tile is rated for moderate to heavy amounts of foot traffic. This class of tile represents the minimum hardness level for kitchens, hallways and entryways.
Class V – The associated tile is rated for heavy foot traffic areas.
Likewise, the purpose of a room can also determine the colour of the tile selected. For example, you may not select a simple glossy white tile for use in a mudroom, or a bold tile in an otherwise minimalist bathroom. The point is, the purpose of a room can weigh heavy on considerations other than a porcelain tile’s durability.
Unless you’ve shopped for tile before, you may not be familiar with another key consideration: porosity. Porosity is the ratio of air holes to solids in the composition of a tile, a ratio that directly impacts the amount of water said tile can absorb. Depending on the room where the tile is being installed, the porosity level may need to be more or less elevated than in other rooms. Like the Mohs scale, tile porosity is measured by the following classifications:
Impervious – The associated tile has a water absorption rate equal to or less than 0.5%. This type of tile is recommended for use in bathrooms and kitchens.
Vitreous – The associated tile has a water absorption rate ranging from 0.5 – 3%.
Semi Vitreous – The associated tile has a water absorption rate ranging from 3 – 7%.
Non Vitreous – The associated tile has a water absorption rate equal to or greater than 7%. Generally speaking, a tile with this rating is not recommended for floor use.
Ensure Slip Resistance
As with any other projects that you complete in your home, you need to be mindful of safety. Introducing new flooring tile is a great way to add beauty and durability to your home, but the wrong tile installed in the wrong room can lead to injury. As you might expect, tile (particularly wet tile) can be slippery so it’s important to choose a tile that boasts some degree of slip resistance if there’s a risk of slipping. A tile with a high coefficient of friction (COF) is ideal for bathrooms and other rooms located near sources of water to ensure safety is maintained.
When it comes to slip resistance, there are a number of solutions to consider:
Porcelain or ceramic: Best to choose a tile that features a textured surface or one that has had a slip resistant coating applied.
Slate: This type of tile contains a natural slip resistant surface.
Pebble stone: Highly textured, ideal for slip resistant applications.
Wood Tile & the Wood-Look Approach
There are some truly remarkable things being done with modern tile, particularly pertaining to those that mimic natural materials. For example, if you like the idea of hardwood but aren’t too keen about the upkeep, wood tile is a great alternative. It is highly durable and is resistant to moisture and scratching (something that many hardwood types cannot claim). Taking this wood-look approach is the perfect way to pair the durability of tile with the aesthetic of wood; many brands offer a variety of wood styles to choose from. As a final nod to wood tile, this product can be installed in your bathroom; something you could never do with real hardwood!
Stone Tile for Ultimate Luxury & Warm Kitchen Tones
When luxury and durability are at the top of the list of must haves, stone floor tile might be exactly what you need. Stone tile,generally made using marble, granite, or travertine, are unique in appearance (so much so that no two tiles are alike). One thing to remember about stone is that as beautiful as it is, it will require a bit of upkeep to ensure it retains its beauty over the long term. To maintain durability and its stain resistance properties, stone needs to be periodically sealed (every 5-10 years or so). If you choose not to seal stone flooring, there’s a chance that it will remain porous making it more susceptible to water absorption. Over time, this could cause the stone to crumble. Chances are that if you invest in this type of tile, you won’t be afraid of a little upkeep but as the saying goes, forewarned is forearmed.
Stone is a great option for the kitchen but only if the colour compliments that which is already in use. You can also pair the “coolness” of stone tile with a warm colour pallet in the rest of the kitchen for a little juxtaposition.
Make a Space Appear Larger With Light Colour Tiles
Black may be slimming when it comes to clothing, but for tile projects, the goal is usually to make spaces look bigger. Incorporating light coloured tiles create the illusion of space, an illusion that can be heightened in spaces without an abundance of natural light. Pallets of white, beige, and cream will help you achieve the look of more space in tight quarters and, when paired with marble or porcelain, can really add some haute couture to your home. Here’s another tip to make a small room look bigger by using tile: use bigger tiles. Bigger tiles have an elongating effect especially when the same material is used on the walls and floors. Using a matching grout colour creates a seamless, continuous effect that will complete the illusion.
Create a Modern Aesthetic and Custom Designs with Concrete
A concrete floor in a residential space may seem cold and industrial, but this material is now being widely used to create a modern, upscale aesthetic. Versatile as is may be (concrete is being used in kitchens, bathrooms, and living rooms) the sky’s the limit in terms of selecting the colour and textured to be applied. As trendy as a product as it is, it won’t break the bank. In fact, this type of custom flooring application is among the most affordable. In terms of durability, concrete will stand up to just about anything, but it should be said that this material can be seen as lacking when it comes to comfort.
Choosing a flooring material can be difficult given the sheer number of options available, but having a wide selection of durable and beautiful selection is a pretty good problem to have. Everything else being equal, all you really need to consider is how it will look in your space, and whether or not it will be able to stand up to daily life. Once you check these style and function boxes, the rest should come easy.