Gone are the days when your only tile choices were 4"x4" solid colors or the hexagon black and white floor tile. I am like a kid in a candy store when I visit a tile showroom because there are so many great looks available today. Tile design is becoming more uncluttered and elegant.
There are four basic material choices in tile; ceramic, porcelain, stone, and glass. Ceramic is a mixture of clays and other natural materials mined from the earth, shaped, colored and kiln fired. Ceramic tile can be left natural such as a quarry tile or glazed. Ceramic tile is typically softer than other tiles and usually has larger grout joints. Porcelain tile has through body color and is made of fine porcelain clays that are fired at a high temperature for a hard finish. Porcelain tile is easier to maintain and often has rectified edges with minimal grout joints. Stone tile is a natural material that can be cut to a variety of shapes and sizes and finished either smooth or tumbled. Glass tile has become popular recently due to its natural beauty. It is easy to clean, resists stains and discourages mold growth. Not all tile is appropriate for all applications so make certain that a tile is designed for your use.
One trend that is gaining a lot of traction is contemporary water-jet cut mosaics. Traditionally, mosaics were laid out by hand with hand cut stone, beautiful yet very labor intensive and therefore expensive. The new mosaics are cut with high pressure water jets directed by a computer. These mosaics can have very intricate detail of any stone and are more cost effective than hand cut tile. The water-jet method is ideal for custom designed projects from floor medallions to kitchen backsplashes. New Ravenna Mosaics' Flight is one of my favorites
There is an explosion of shapes and sizes with everything from micro mosaics of 5/8" x 5/8" to oversized 24"x48". There are endless possibilities in combining the larger format tiles with smaller tiles. Mixing different finishes is also very popular. AKNO has a great line where glass tiles are mixed with stone. The combination of glossy and matte glass tiles is also very alluring.
Tile by its very nature is a green building material. It is made from clay or sand and is a low-emitting material that contributes to a good in-door air quality. Glass tile usually has both pre-consumer and post consumer recycled content. The availability of ceramic tile with recycled content is growing due to consumer demands.
Bella Ceramics Tiramola Mosaics photo by Dickson Dunlap