Picking the Perfect Tiles

How to pick the perfect tiles

The right tiles can turn a humble place for ablutions into a highlight in your home, or give a shabby and old fashioned space a face-lift. Here are some tips to help you choose your tiles:

Size and shape

While there are no hard and fast rules, generally most times the size and shape of your bathroom layout will have the most influence on the size and shape of the tiles you choose.

Generally, the larger the room, the larger the tile and vice versa, but it really comes down to the design, style and layout of the room.

While many might feel large tiles in a small bathroom will make it seem even smaller, this isn’t always the case. Large tiles in a small bathroom can create the opposite effect and make quite an impression, as long as the majority of tiles can be applied without any cuts.

When thinking of the size and shape of tiles, consider which surfaces need tiling as each is an individual plane which interacts with other planes in the room.

Where do each of these planes begin and end? What is the area where they meet like? Are edgings needed, or can the lines meet cleanly? Are there niches which need to be considered in larger wall planes? What about windows? Which planes accommodate the vanity basins, shaving cabinets, mirrors, toilet, bath, taps and shower?

Thinking this way should help you to choose a shape and size of tile that best complements your space and flows with the lines created by the design.

Because tiling large areas in any room requires a sizable investment since tiles are not cheap, and also requires a commitment since tiling isn’t something you only do for a short term, it’s worth taking the trouble to get it right.

Try to experiment with samples from your tiling store.

Have fun playing with samples to see how tiles of different sizes, shapes and patterns work together.

Samples will also allow you to test the tiles by soak testing them to see how they react to water and moisture which can prevent you choosing a tile which will warp or lift once it gets wet, avoiding costly mistakes later.

Tiles 1
Tiles 2
Tiles 3

Proportion

If you’re using a couple of different sizes of tiles within the bathroom, be extra careful to ensure their proportions are harmonious. It’s essential for tiles to line up properly everywhere they meet and this can only happen if you consider the proportions when planning. For example, if you’re using a 300 x 300mm tile on the floor, the wall tiles should be sized in multiples of 300mm – 100, 150, 600, or 900.

Another factor to keep in mind while planning and working with proportions is to remember that grouting space needs to be factored into the size of tiles when planning the final layout. Double check your tile sizes when selecting them. Many times tiles are marked as a specific size with grout joint factored in which needs to be taken into consideration. Going back to step one and experimenting with samples can help prevent this type of mistake.

Ask for advice

Never be afraid to ask the friendly people at your favourite tile outlet for advice and tips. Many a time the right question can save you a lot of stress and possibly even a few costly mistakes. While getting advice on the internet might seem very helpful, nothing beats asking the experts who work with these materials everyday. After all, part of what you are paying for when you buy tiles is the time experience and expertise of the people who work in tile showrooms.

Many outlets have good training which keeps their staff up to date on the latest tiling techniques, and those who have worked with tiles for many years will be well versed in how trends have changed over the years.

Colour and finish

You need to consider if the colour and finish of your future tiles suit the style of your bathroom and existing fittings. If not you will find yourself unhappy with the new tiles or feel the need to update your fittings. Another factor well worth considering is how quickly a trendy colour or finish which seems “cutting edge” right now, will date in a few years time. Since tiling is not something for a short term change, bear in mind that trends change and your taste will probably change too, no matter how much you love the tiles you are drooling over in magazines and online right now. Cast your mind back to the 80s if you need convincing of how many trends and fads seemed like a fantastic idea but today seem completely ridiculous.

Classic simplicity is probably prudent when making longer lasting changes, keep up with the trends in smaller touches like curtain rails or door knobs, hanging mirrors, shower curtains or by using bold colours in towels or bath room accessories.

Use the natural light as a cue to what colours might work best. If your bathroom is dark with minimum natural lighting use lighter coloured tiles with a more reflective finish to help brighten the space and maximise the effect of any light you do have.

Conversely, if you have large windows and the room is bright and gets a lot of sunlight, bright reflective tiles might make it too bright, creating a glare. In this case, a semi-matt or even satin finish might be better. Matching colour between the walls and the floor can also create the illusion of more space, making a small bathroom seem larger.

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