It seems to me that there is a renewed interest in remodeling kitchens and baths and that makes a lot of sense in this type of an economy. Most folks figure they have to stay put so why not spruce things up a bit. An important element in a kitchen and bath design is the selection of tile and one that should be chosen carefully.
I asked Maureen Savage at Village Tile to explain what types of tiles are in the marketplace right now. She said that in Vermont, natural stones such as granite, marble, slate and travertine are commonly used because of their earthy quality. Another popular choice is glass tiles in a wide range of color, often made of recycled glass. In the manufactured tile category there is porcelain and ceramic tiles. Ceramic tile is made of clay mixed with various minerals and water, then processed with heat and some are sealed with a glaze. The glazed ceramics are best used as wall tiles because they would be too slippery for floor applications. Porcelain tile is made of finely ground sand, then processed under pressure and extremely high temperatures resulting in a very dense, glass-like material. Some are ‘through body porcelains’ with the color showing all the way through. Chips won’t be as obvious and installers can cut the tile to use as bullnose edgeing.
There are so many choices that selecting tiles and creating a design can be a bit daunting. I find it helpful to bring with me an inspiration piece such as wallpaper, fabric or a photo torn from a shelter magazine. This is helpful in determining the style and feel of the room. One trick is to select a tile collection, then use different sizes of it within a room. For example, a larger tile on the floor of a bathroom, a small mosaic for the shower floor, and a medium sized tile as the walls of the shower. For an upscale look on a budget, use an expensive mosaic tile judiciously as the shower floor and as an accent border in the shower.
Grout has improved greatly with a new epoxy variety that resists mildew and staining. Previously a sanded grout was used, which is a cement-based grout. Cement absorbs water leading to mildew. Choosing a grout color needs to be considered as part of the overall design scheme. You can match the grout color to the predominant tile color or you can contrast the grout with the tiles to create a checkerboard effect.
A proper installation is the most important aspect to tiling. A professional tile installer will take time to consider the layout to figure out how all the geometric pieces will fit together.
Maybe this long winter is a good time to do your research, visit tile stores and dream a bit about a beautiful new kitchen or bath.
-Feathering Your Nest