13 Things You Should Know About Tiles

Posted by Bob Wiedenmann

When you’re contemplating building a new home or remodeling your existing Connecticut home, choosing new tile may not be the first item on your to-do list. But because there are so many different kinds of tiles—and applications—it’s a good idea to get a jump on collecting information. That’s why we posted our Updated Tile Guide: Types, Sizes, Patterns, and More some time ago. 


And while tile may sometimes take a backseat to items such as countertops, cabinets, appliances, and window treatments, the impact it can have (in an entryway, a kitchen, or a bathroom) is significant. With that in mind, let’s take a look at some fun and fascinating facts (along with a few tips) that can help you make the most of these geometrically shaped pieces of pottery or porcelain.

  1. Tiles have been around for a long time. In fact, the earliest known tiles were found in an archaeological dig in Egypt, and they date back to about 4,700 BC.
  2. Tiles are the number one choice of wall covering in bathrooms because they are easy to clean, non-porous when glazed, and mold resistant.
  3. Ceramic tiles are the most common type of tile and offer the widest variety.
  4. Porcelain tiles cost more than ceramic, but they are stronger, better for higher traffic areas, and available in large formats up to two feet square!
  5. Real stone and marble tiles are much more expensive and more difficult to work with. They can also be porous and may need to be sealed. There are, however, some very realistic and smart engineered faux alternatives out there.
  6. Bullnose refers to the edge of a tile, which can be either single bullnose (rounded on one edge) or double bullnose (rounded on both sides).
  7. Subway tiles are typically 3 x 6 inches, and, as the name suggests, were often used in subways in the US. They are often white, and can be laid in a variety of patterns, including herringbone!
  8. Mosaic tiles are small tiles that have been used to create decorative patterns for millennia. These days, mosaics are often supplied on a pre-made cloth backing, which makes applying them much easier than it used to be!
  9. Listellos are the Italian name for finger tiles. These are small, narrow, short tiles (often in a variety of shades or colors) that are used to create borders or decorative features in higher end tiling installations.
  10. Wall tiles are usually thinner, smaller and lighter. They are also usually weaker, and not designed to withstand significant temperature changes. That’s why you never want to use wall tiles on the floor.
  11. Tile cement is a premixed mortar that only requires the addition of water to create a thick, glue-like paste that is used to stick tiles to walls and floors.
  12. Grout is very fine powdered cement that can come in a variety of different colors that is used to fill the gaps between tiles.
  13. Tile must be installed on a flat surface, or it will crack or loosen over time. Self-leveling cement compounds can fix uneven floors, and walls can be filled or plastered if there are small holes or imperfections. For large issues, it may be necessary to re-hang new drywall.

Tiles can really change the look and feel of a room, and they’re a much bigger investment than paint! If you are building a new home or renovating, you probably want to spend a fair amount of time researching your options.

Bathroom Tile Trends

Bathrooms are one of the most popular places to showcase great tile work. Because installing tile is somewhat labor intensive it's not something you want to replace every few years. So how do you choose a tile that won't look outdated right away?  Here's a quick look at some current bathroom tile trends you may want to consider. As you review these options that are popular today, keep in mind that there is a big difference between a trend and a fad. Here’s a post that explores that comparison in more detail.


Neutral Colors

Current contemporary designs tend to lean heavily toward the use of neutral tile colors. They work well with the sleek and simple lines of contemporary design. Both beige and grey are currently popular choices for complementary colors.



New-Look Subway Tiles

Not that long ago, some designers predicted the death of subway tiles. They were seen as too boring. Today, subway tiles are a bit more interesting. There is more variety in size, color, and pattern in the current crop of subway tiles. Plus, some designers and homeowners are using contrasting grout color to achieve a more striking effect.



Marvelous Matte Finishes

Often people think of glossy finishes when considering tile. Matte finished tiles, however, create a soft and striking beauty that never looks “over-the-top. A nice feature of matte tiles is that they don’t smudges or watermarks nearly as much as tiles with a glossy finish.



Graphic Patterns

We already mentioned that the sizes and shapes of subway tiles have changed. That's something that's occurring with other kinds of tile as well. Depending on your situation (and your personal sense of style) you can get really creative with your use of tile with new graphic patterns that can be subtle touches or look like a piece of art.



New Dimensions

Patterns and colors aren’t the only things that are changing in the world of tile. We’re starting to see new shapes as well. If you browse through design sites (such as houzz.com) you’ll see traditional shapes (such as rectangles) alongside hexagons and other geometric shapes.

Tile may not be the first thing you think about before building or remodeling, but with all the choices out there, it’s never too early to start thinking about it!


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Tags: Bathroom Remodeling, Home Additions, Building a Custom Home


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