Tile Design Principles & Ideas Color, Patterns & Texture
Tile Design Principles & Ideas Color, Patterns & Texture

The word “tile” brings to mind a variety of materials and installations — from the hard, durable finish of ceramic tile found in kitchens and bathrooms to the soft, versatile surfaces of carpet and cork tile used on living room and playroom floors.

In fact, the word “tile” has a long history, originating from an old European word for ‘covering,’ and perhaps first applied to hard-bodied, fired clay products — ceramics. As new materials have been developed, people constantly find new applications for the word, using it most often to describe any material manufactured for covering surfaces, made and applied in individual, modular units.

For many homeowners ’tile’ also means a material that requires installation by a professional, someone with years of practice and on-the-job experience. Although that may have been true in the past, new materials and techniques make tile installation well within the reach of any homeowner with moderate skills. Installing any kind of tile does take patience, but armed with the right information, most homeowners can install a professional-looking project they will be proud of.

That’s where this site comes in. It contains all the information you’ll need for virtually any kind of tile project: ceramic, parquet, resilient, or even cork and carpet tile. You’ll find tips for designing your project, as well as inspirational examples you can use in your own home.

You’ll learn about the different kinds of materials and what each is best suited for. You’ll discover methods for making specific plans. Perhaps most important, you’ll find everything you need to know about installing and maintaining the material of your choice so your project yields years of service.

You may think of tile primarily as a covering for kitchen floors and baths, but you can use almost any kind of tile in any room of the house. It functions just as well in family rooms, dining rooms, bedrooms, and home offices. Installing tile is cost-efficient; its initial expense is paid back in the form of reduced maintenance and replacement costs.

Large floor installations can add to the resale value of a home.

Designing with Scale, Pattern and Texture

Turn your attention to the design aspects of your tile project, taking a look at scale, pattern, and texture.

Designing with Scale, Pattern and Texture
Designing with Scale, Pattern and Texture

After you have chosen the color scheme for your tiling project, turn your attention to the size of the tile (its scale relative to the room size), the pattern in which you will set it, and the texture. All will affect the atmosphere you create.

Scale your project to the size of the surface for balance. Tile size and pattern can dramatically alter the appearance of a room.

Choose patterns consistent with your style and textures that will enhance it. The rough, uneven surface of handmade pavers, for example, can impart a rustic feel to a Southwestern or colonial design. For a more formal effect, set machine-made pavers with a smooth surface and precise edges.

Use glazed tiles on your countertop and walls to brighten the area. Vary the texture within wall designs with embossed floral accent tiles interspersed in the field. Or cap the layout behind a formal cabinet with engraved border tiles.

 

Squares

Kitchen Square Tile Backsplash
Kitchen Square Tile Backsplash

Squares create a formal appearance, but that doesn’t mean your design has to be stiff. The lemon-tree insert on the back wall of this range breaks up the uniformity of the glazed wall tile with color and texture. Do-it-yourself accent patterns like this are available in kits.

 

Patterns

Ceramic Tile Patterns
Ceramic Tile Patterns

Patterns can define the mood of a room as effectively as color. Like color, they require careful application. To avoid being overly repetitive, alternate rows with tile of a slightly varied pattern and tone. Patterns soften hard corners and make decorating nooks and crannies easier.

 

Texture

Designing with Scale, Pattern and Texture
Designing with Scale, Pattern and Texture

Texture helps define the mood of a room. The rough textures of this floor tile are complemented by the herringbone pattern and enhanced by careful placement of different color tones. Such textures soak up light, enhancing the informal mood of this family room and home office.

 

Safety First: Texture and Safety

Texture contributes to the design of your tiled surface and is an important safety feature as well.

Make sure that tiles used on bathroom and kitchen floors — areas that are likely to get wet and slippery — have a nonslip surface to reduce the risk of falling. Avoid high-gloss glazed tile in these areas, or choose a glazed tile that contains carbide chips or is otherwise designated as nonslip. For stair treads, install a tile with a built-in tread.

 

Glazes

ceramic tile glazes
ceramic tile glazes

Glazes present a smooth texture that brightens a room, regardless of the color of the tile. Rectangular wall tiles set in a horizontal running bond pattern lend elegance to this bathroom. The look is enhanced by the embossed border tile, which is capped with a curved trim.

 

Slate

slate tile interior
slate tile interior

Slate makes an excellent floor for all rooms, especially entryways. Its neutral color creates a background for any design scheme, and its naturally rough surface provides a nonslip safety feature. Slate is also durable. Hard slates are easy to maintain; softer Indian slates require sealer.

 

Alter the Appearance of a Room

Both scale and pattern can have dramatic effects on the perceived size of the room and on its ambience. Large tiles tend to attract attention and can make a room look smaller. They look best in large rooms. Small tiles tend to get lost in a large room. They look more appropriate in a small area.

tile patterns and styles
tile patterns and styles

A diagonal pattern distracts the eye from the perimeter of the room and works wonders in making a small area seem larger. Small patterns can add an air of informality. Large formal and informal patterns can function as decorative accents.