Anyone who’s renovated a kitchen or bathroom knows how confusing it can be to navigate the world of tile, so we thought we'd try and give you a map. This resource guide runs through the basics of buying tile, including size, style, and price.
Choosing a Tile Size
Larger tiles are easier to install; smaller tiles are better for surfaces that require more detail. Measure your area, then call a tile shop or take your measurements in for an exact breakdown of how much tile you'll need for your project.
For a mosaic pattern, try smaller tiles, like 1-inch squares (usually available in larger, mesh-backed sheets of 12 x 12 inches). Classic rectangular subway tile generally measures around 3 x 6 inches. Other popular standard sizes include 4-1/4 inch squares, 8 inch squares, and larger squares or rectangles (up to 20 square inches) for flooring.
Choosing a Material
Tile is widely available in ceramic, stone, and glass, with more and more companies adding high-tech synthetics and other materials to their lines.
Stone (like marble, slate, or travertine) is the heaviest and it's often used for flooring. Ceramic tile is durable, works for floors and walls, and offers the greatest range of options for color and pattern. Glass tile has a lovely translucency, and it's great for mosaics, backsplashes, and decorative applications.
High or Low?
Tile can vary widely in price, and it can be hard to tell the difference between high and low options. Generally, more expensive ceramic tile is richer in pigment, sometimes it's hand painted or hand glazed, and it may be denser.
When shopping for flooring, PEI rating is important, as it indicates the durability (or hardness) of the tile, Grade 1 being the least long-wearing (recommended only for walls and low-traffic spaces) and Grade 5 being the most durable (for flooring that experiences really high traffic). Price can also depend on the complexity of the design and the cachet of the brand.
Photo: Lush 3x6 Surf Tile from ModWalls