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How do I choose the best tiles for my home?

Updated: Oct 17, 2022

A home is a reflection of the people who live in it. Building and owning beautiful spaces that reflect one’s personality means a great deal to everyone. With regards to the interior or exterior of the space, the areas that require attention are the walls and floors of the house, which not only play key roles in the overall design of a home but also influence how bright the house is.

Using the right tiles while decorating homes has a host of advantages over any other type of flooring or wall solution. The right tiles can make spaces look bigger, more cohesive, or cozy while being cost-effective and easy to maintain.

Ceramic and porcelain tiles are known for their longevity and will remain to look new for years to come. Tiles are also a great choice for people concerned with allergies as they are less susceptible to the build-up of dirt and dust. In addition to this, they are easy to clean with largely harmless products, as opposed to the chemicals that are necessary to clean other materials used as flooring.

Tiles will also hold up very effectively in high-traffic areas of the home as compared to other types of flooring. There is additional importance to choosing the right size of tile. Tiles that are too small give a chessboard look and over-large ones look cluttered.

How do I choose a tile for my living room?

Choosing the right tiles for the living room is a crucial step, as the rest of the rooms can be modeled along with the living room, to create a flow in the space. In hot and humid weather like in India, having tile flooring in larger spaces will go a long way in making the space feel cool.

The best way to zero in on the right tile is to check if it ticks all or most of the boxes-

  • Does it make the room look spacious?

  • Does it add light or brightness to the room?

  • Does it suit the furniture?

  • Is it durable?

  • Does it fit my budget while buying?

  • Are the maintenance costs high?

Tip: Porcelain and glass tiles are the most recommended tiles for living spaces.

Glossy tiles will reflect natural light and make the room feel larger and airier. Living rooms generally do well with larger light-colored tiles that complement the furniture in the space. The design options are practically endless, bringing the possibility to buy a tile that replicates the rich and cozy look of natural hardwood or real stone, hence giving the advantages of tile alongside the design of other flooring materials.

- Tile for small living room: A small living room can be decorated with terracotta tiles. Terracotta tiles add character and warmth to space. Moreover, terracotta tiles are touted as being more eco-friendly than other types of tiles and lend an elegant, old-world charm to the space that they are installed in.

Match the interiors while choosing the tiles for the living room. Ivory and grey-colored tiles work well for the flooring and, at the same time, remain in harmony with the rest of the décor, since most living spaces are painted using light shades of colors such as beige, ivory, or even white.

It is also important to choose a tile that matches your furniture and curtains. Dark flooring combined with dark furniture could make the living room an unwelcoming space that looks too dark. So, it is usually a good idea to choose light, glossy tiles that reflect light, so that wooden furniture fits in well.

Since the living room is a less private space than the bedrooms, choose a tile that is water and stain-resistant. This would help to keep the living room looking new for a longer period of time. Cleaning would also be an easy process with a glossy tile.

If you are choosing light, wicker furniture, or contemporary shades like white or beige, then wooden tiles would be the optimum choice. For easier maintenance, tiles that come with a wooden glaze finish can also be an option- you get the rustic look, but save on maintenance and resealing.

How do I choose a tile for my kitchen?

A kitchen being a high-traffic area, it is suggested that you chose a tile with high hardness and low porosity.

Some of the considerations when choosing a kitchen tile may be outlined as follows.

- Durability: Since a kitchen is a high-traffic area, the tile is chosen will have to classify under at least Class IV on the Moh’s scale of mineral hardness (a test of tile durability). Class IV tiles are for moderate to heavy footfall areas and Class V are for heavy to extra heavy traffic.

Ceramic and porcelain tiles are highly durable and not as expensive as rubber or quartz tiles. Cement tiles are also an option for those kitchens that deal with extra heavy traffic.

- Water resistance: The more porous a tile is, the more prone it is to staining from spills. This is not suitable for a kitchen. For kitchens prone to moisture, like the ones in India, it is best to go for unglazed tiles with a maximum absorption rate of 0.5% and glazed tiles with a maximum absorption rate of 5%.

Porcelain tiles are the best option because they retain only 0.5 % moisture, while ceramic, rubber, quartzite, slate, and granite tiles can also be used, depending on the budgeted expense.

- Texture: Adding textured tiles to spill-prone areas like near the sink will make it less slippery, but tougher to clean.

Slate, pebbled and rubber tiles protect you from slipping, while marble and quartz can be extremely slippery. Cork and wooden tiles would be a bad option near the sink, as they absorb and retain moisture.

Ceramic tiles may also be installed on kitchen walls as they make for easier cleaning, and will not stain as much compared to walls due to splashing and spillage, thus increasing the longevity of the design elements.

The most expensive of the lot, stone tiles are made from natural stone, giving the kitchen a very old-world charm. They are more porous compared to the other two. They need to be refinished every three years for the beauty to shine through. They can be polished or honed. Honed tiles provide more traction, but have less vibrance.

The most popular looks for kitchens are large tiles that make a kitchen look larger, and minimize grout lines. Grout is susceptible to absorbing spillage in the kitchen and thus minimizing grout can make maintenance easier. Any spillage on the grout has to be taken care of immediately to avoid staining.

How do I choose a tile for my bedroom?

Like the living room and kitchen, tile sizes will influence the way the bedroom looks. A bedroom usually does not have as many pieces of furniture as in the living room. It also does not have cabinets as in the kitchen to spruce up the look of the room.

A small bedroom may appear larger by adding large tiles to it. Therefore, you should choose the tile sizes based on the size of your bedroom. These may be laid out in regular squares or rectangles. Laying tiles in patterns will bring character to a bedroom. Bedrooms are lower traffic areas, which means that tiles that are Class II or above will be enough from a durability perspective. Being a bedroom, it is also less prone to spillage and splashes, hence even slightly porous tiles may be considered.

Porcelain tiles come in a variety of designs and something that looks like wood can go a long way in creating the perfect look for a bedroom. Porcelain tiles can also mimic all kinds of natural stone finishes and can bring an old-world charm to the bedroom. Ceramic tiles also come in various finishes and colors and are easier to install as compared to porcelain tiles, which work better while creating patterns and more modern finishes. Ceramic tiles are available in finishes that mimic terra cotta, which can enhance the cozy look of a bedroom further.

Another type of tile that is gaining popularity in the bedroom space is cork tile. These types of tiles are durable and easy to install, so easy that they can be laid over existing flooring. Cork tiles go the extra mile as they provide extra cushioning for your feet, which is radically different from the hard surface of a regular tile, which adds a nice touch to the bedroom, also negating the need for carpeting. Cork is an environmentally sustainable product. From a maintenance standpoint, cork floors have to be swept to prevent pitting, and a fresh sealer has to be applied to it every few years. Mopping cork floors is not a great idea as they retain moisture. Therefore, they are considered as requiring high maintenance.

Ensure that whatever you choose suits the overall theme of your house. Light, ease of cleaning, texture, and durability are the factors that should help you with the decision.

How do I choose a tile for my bathroom?

Tile has been the choice of flooring for wet spaces for centuries, dating back to the age of the Roman Baths. Durability and the waterproof nature of tiles make it an ideal choice for bathroom flooring, walls and shower surrounds.

Bathroom tiles have to be the highest water-repelling tile of the lot, as moisture levels are the most in these spaces. So these have to be the least porous and have high durability as well. Bathrooms are considered low traffic areas, so Class II or above tiles are preferred in terms of hardness. Bathroom tiles also have to have high levels of slip resistance, as they are prone to being wet most of the time. Textured tiles are preferred for this.

Vinyl tiles are a popular choice for bathroom floors, owing to their low cost and high practicality. It beats every other kind of tile in safety, comfort, and durability. Vinyl tiles have evolved in terms of aesthetic appeal and are very easy to install as well.

Ceramic and porcelain tiles are good choices for bathroom floors as well. Smaller tiles of these can be installed to create mosaic and lattice patterns. Bathroom ceramic tiles are coated with a high-grade glaze, in order to resist scratches and also provide higher water- repellency. Ceramic tiles may also be used on countertops such as the sink area. Stone tiles are also an excellent choice for bathrooms.

Glass tiles hold up well in bathrooms, giving an illusion of depth as the tile is covered with a thin layer of glass. Make sure to get a textured glass tile so as to prevent slipping. Tiny glass square tiles can be used in the shower or the walls to create a mesmerizing effect in the bathroom. Linoleum floor tiles are also an option in contemporary or retro settings and the material’s ability to repel dust and dirt make them a good choice. Linoleum floor tiles are relatively more expensive as compared to the other types of tile, and the look is complete only in certain scenarios.

Rubber tile flooring is also an option in bathrooms as they are not slippery. However, they can retain moisture and could lead to fungal buildup, if not cleaned properly. But, there are modern solutions to this, because of the demand for these tiles, especially in homes where old people reside. Therefore, rubber tiles that are bacteria-resistant are available in the market now and can be chosen.

In short, the type of tile you choose for each space in your house depends on space, light, aesthetics, and the type of use of that space.

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