8 tips for choosing the right tiles for your home
Deciding which tiles to use for your upcoming home renovation may feel overwhelming. Ballast Point director Mat Wilk and architectural assistant Stephanie Dodd (who previously worked in a tile shop) share a few pointers to help make the process easier.
1. It’s not about price, it’s about what you do with it
As with any finish, tiles need to be considered in context. How they fit in with everything else in the home is important. Laying patterns can also change the aesthetic significantly. In the bathroom of a house we built in North St, Balmain, we used simple terracotta tiles for around $25 per square metre, and they looked amazing.
2. Timeless over trendy
As with clothing, trends in tiling come and go, so beware of following the latest fad too much. Instead, aim for class and great design. Great design is enduring. After all, it’s a lot easier to throw away those skinny jeans than it is to retile your living area! Opt for neutral tiles that are in harmony with other materials in the space. Neutral greys in a slate or concrete look can bring a sophisticated look and stand the test of time. Another option is to use terrazzo tiles that give the visual impact of a terrazzo floor without the price tag – also the busier the tile the more dust it hides! A recent trend has been timber tiles, which are just confusing. Imagine walking barefoot on what you think will be floorboards, only to be confronted with cold tiles!
3. It’s hip to be square
Look for tiles that have a ‘rectified’ edge — that is a square edge rather than a rounded edge (or ‘cushion’ edge). These tiles can be laid closer together, minimising grout and affording a more polished look.
4. Encaustic is fantastic
Patterned tiles, like the ones we used on the verandah of the house we developed in Llewellyn St, Balmain, are a great way to be respectful to a home’s heritage feel without trying to recreate it.
5. Size matters
The format (or size) of tile varies depending on the space, as well as your budget. Small tiles can make a large space look too busy, but in a small room (such as a bathroom), smaller tiles can give the illusion of a larger space by visually ‘fitting more in’. Mixing large and small tiles is common when a client wants to have the same tile over the walls and floor – usually opting for a square floor tile and rectangular wall tile. Laying larger tiles is generally more expensive as they are dearer to manufacture and you usually need at least two tilers to install them, which increases the cost of labour. An interesting size of tile that has emerged in recent times is the ‘plank’ rectangular tile, which can look interesting without being too trendy.
6. Turn up the heat
Tiles can be quite cold to walk on, so you may want to consider underfloor heating. It’s an efficient way to heat large spaces, and creates a cosy feel in winter.
7. Light changes everything
Be aware that the same tile will look darker on the wall than on the floor as there will be less light reflecting off it. When choosing a tile to cover both floor and walls, make sure you hold it up vertically to see the difference between how the light hits the tile. Get a decent sized sample, even if that means you buy a few tiles. Small samples don’t always give you a true indication of the final look.
8. Types of tiles
Porcelain tiles are more durable than other types of tiles as they are fired at higher temperatures, so it’s worth spending a bit more for longevity. Avoid using ceramic tiles on floors, but they are usually OK for bathroom walls and kitchen splashbacks.