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5 Secrets to Choosing Tile

By Leslie Eiler

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Last week I shared a few of our favorite tile patterns, which can be used for kitchen and bathroom backsplashes and even flooring. This week I want to tell you about a few concepts that we interior designers use to pick the perfect tile pattern. If you don't have a design background, some of these considerations will likely be new to you, but I guarantee you'll be glad you thought about them before your grout dries. You definitely don't want to make the wrong tile choice. Now let's get to work!

When deciding what tile to use in your new space, there are many considerations. At CRD, we start with three major features: function, aesthetics, and cost. Each project and client is different, so there is never one right answer. With those factors nailed down, we can get to the fun part—pattern and layout.

1. Choose the right scale

Most kitchen backsplashes are relatively small, so geometric patterns are best used with medium to small tile sizes. Any tile from a 1" mosaic to a large subway tile can work. If your pattern involves rotating tiles, as with a basket weave or Spanish bond pattern, we’ll need to make sure the grout lines meet up for a perfect installation.

2. Align your pattern

Where do we want the pattern to start? Usually the center line of the pattern will align with a major element in the backsplash, like the range or sink. We look at how the whole installation will work and decide the best spot.

3. Vary color or texture

Varying color or texture is an excellent way to design a geometric pattern that is interesting but not too busy. Mixing gloss with matte is a more subtle design, while contrasting white with gray or black creates a bolder statement. Don’t forget the grout! Colored grout can be a big element in a simple pattern.

4. Don't let waste catch you by surprise

Waste can become an issue with certain patterns, like chevron and herringbone. Any time tile must be cut, there is waste. We factor this amount into the cost of the install so that it’s not a surprise for our clients, but we are also aware that it impacts their budget. If you choose a pattern that requires cutting, make sure you order enough tile to account for the waste.

5. Cost

Cost is a no-brainer. We know our clients have specific goals for their project and sticking to a budget is usually one of them. With an exciting pattern, cost-effective tiles can be just as design-forward as expensive tiles. But don’t sell your project short. There are many expensive-looking tiles out there that won’t break the bank, so have an open mind when researching. For instance, this textile-inspired Italian tile from Mutina looks super spendy but is actually quite reasonable as an accent.

Now that you know a few of our secrets to choosing tile like an expert, it's time for the fun part. Get out there and start shopping for tile! You can always go online to sites like Houzz and Pinterest, but personally, I like to be able to see and hold tile in my own hands before making a decision. Here are a few places that we like to go in Seattle:

Art Tile
8511 Roosevelt Way NE
Seattle, WA 98115
206-284-2281
www.arttileco.net

Seattle Tile Company
7716 15th Avenue NW
Seattle, WA 98117
206-782-1985
www.seattletilecompany.com

United Tile
750 South Michigan Street
Seattle, WA 98108
425-251-5290
www.unitedtile.com

Pental Surfaces
713 South Fidalgo Street
Seattle, WA 98108
206-768-3200
www.pentalonline.com

Daltile
6020 6th Avenue South
Seattle, WA 98108
206-763-3004
www.daltile.com

 Get design help

Any of the above showrooms will be happy to help you explore your tile options. My interior designer colleagues and I here at CRD also love guiding clients through the process of selecting tiles, grout, and accessories for kitchen and bath remodels, big and small. To learn more about our interior design and architectural services, give us a call at 206-782-6959 or fill out our online contact form.

Register Now for Our Feb 24 Kitchen Remodeling Workshop