Timeless Tile

By Diane Schlindwein

June 20, 2008 5 min read


With so many styles, the choices will floor you

By Diane Schlindwein

Copley News Service

When it's time to remodel or build, many homeowners are turning to tile to cover not only floors, but other surfaces, too. Sheryl Daugherty, who co-owns The New Arizona Tile Company with her husband Cary, agrees and says customers are getting more creative with tile.

Tile is available in a variety of materials, shapes and sizes and can be used in many ways. That's why it's up to the homeowner - often with the help of professionals like Daugherty - to identify just what aesthetic is desired. "People are using tile for kitchen backsplashes and fireplaces," Daugherty says. "We're starting to do more custom showers and bathtub surrounds."

Of course, tile has been long popular for floor use. It remains a top choice for floors in kitchens, breakfast areas, entryways, baths and laundry rooms, Daugherty says. Although ceramic tile has been one of the most popular choices for floors over the past 15 years or so, porcelain tile is growing in popularity.

"Porcelain was historically used industrially, but it is now used for more residential work. And porcelain has also come down in price, so it is more affordable," says Daugherty, whose business is based in Springfield, Ill.

"Porcelain is made from a different kind of clay and it is very dense. It doesn't absorb water, so you can use it in any climate. We can use porcelain outside ... with all the freezes and thaws," Daugherty says. "We couldn't use ceramic outdoors, although ceramic is fine to use anywhere inside." In milder climates, terra cotta can be used outdoors.

"Basically, the rule is you can put a floor tile anywhere, but a wall tile only goes on a wall," Daugherty says. "One of our jobs here is to ask the right questions, so people get the right tile for the application."

Glass tiles are becoming more popular for indoor use, Daugherty says. "Typically, glass is used as an accent to a backsplash. You can't use it on a horizontal surface, only on a wall. We have done a couple of all-glass showers."

Glass tiles can be as small as a half-inch and as large as six inches in diameter, she says. "They come in tons of colors and they give you a clear or opaque finish - it isn't so shiny.

"However, metallic tiles are very popular, particularly for use in backsplashes or in baths. We're seeing it used more and more often as an accent," Daugherty says. Metallic tiles come in nickel, bronze, silver or copper finishes.

Homeowners are also using tiles to decorate fireplaces. "Some people use big wall tiles and some use smaller tiles for mosaics," Daugherty says. "Some people want the fireplace to be the focal point of their room. We've done some 'period' Victorian fireplaces and some in the Frank Lloyd Wright style."

No matter what tile homeowners choose, they will find it durable and easy to care for, she says. Ceramic tile usually needs only to be damp-mopped and grout should be resealed every few years. It's always best to follow the manufacturer's instructions so that tile will look beautiful for decades.

Finally, homeowners need to seriously consider the room and its colors before committing to having tile installed. Even the grout color can change the way a floor or other tile project looks, as homeowner Michelle Villere discovered. She had a floor installed in a large master bath after seeing a similar project in a magazine.

"I knew something was different. The grout in the photo was off-white," she says, pointing out the darker grout she picked for the project. "So I found out that grout matters. I didn't know that, but now I've learned that lesson."

No matter what you choose, you'll want to pick something you can live with for a long time, Daugherty says.

"Once in a while we get a fun customer that wants to try something different," she says. "However, a lot of people still pick neutral colors, especially if they think they may be selling the home in a few years."

? Copley News Service

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