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Ceramic Tile Sizes, Styles, & Textures

Posted: 01 JUL 2002
Shopping for ceramic tile can be overwhelming. There are so many variations and an unbelievable number of manufacturers.

Obviously, if you are just getting acquainted with ceramic tile, deciding which one will best suit your needs is not going be easy. But with the following information on sizes, styles, and textures, along with a few helpful hints, you should find the process a little simpler.
Sizes

Ceramic tile varies in size, from 1" X 1" to 24" X 24". The most commonly used sizes are the 12” to 18” squares.

Although choosing the appropriate size tile for your application may seem difficult at first, it’s really quite simple. It is just a matter of what type of look you desire. For example, if you are installing the tile in a 9’ X 9’ area, you would probably use 12” or 13” squares. Using larger squares in an area this size would give the impression of panels rather than tiles and make the floor overpower the rest of the area. In larger spaces, however, you could use any tile size and achieve an attractive, balanced look.

Using larger tiles gives any area a larger, less-busy look. Larger tiles also provide another benefit: you’ll have less grout to keep clean. The bottom line is that the floor should compliment the room and its décor, not detract from it.
Styles

When it comes to styles, ceramic tile has a selection that is practically endless. Even so, you can narrow the selection by concentrating on the look you want to achieve. Let’s say you wanted the room to have a warmer, rustic appearance then you should focus your search on tiles with a natural stone-look.

Stone-look tiles are among the most popular, and for that reason, there is a good selection available. Their appearance is so realistic that they are often mistaken for the natural stones they imitate.

As with natural stone, many stone-look tiles contain a mix of hues, while others may exhibit shades of a single color. Unless they are imitating a smooth surface, like marble, they will also display a very rugged surface.

To accent the finished look, many manufacturers offer coordinating as well as contrasting borders. However, these can be quite costly. So if you are considering such accents as an afterthought, make sure your project budget can handle the additional treatment.

If you prefer more of a formal, classy look, then perhaps you should focus your search on the high-gloss, marbleized tiles. These tiles will add a touch of elegance to any home. But there are things other than aesthetics to consider before deciding on marbleized tile.

If your household includes active children, anyone disabled, or elderly family members, high-gloss surfaces can present a problem. They can become extremely slippery when wet, and thus present a fall hazard. High-gloss surfaces also tend to show dirt more readily than a less glossy or textured surface – something else to consider if you have active children running in and out.
Textures

Ceramic tile texture is directly related to its style. The feel of a rustic stone-like surface will be irregular and somewhat rough, though the ridges will not be sharp. An imitation marble or granite, on the other hand, will have a very smooth, polished feel. In addition to the feel, textures also vary in degree of shine – from dull to semi-gloss to glass-like.

Just as there are many varieties of stones, there are many varieties of tiles faithfully duplicating them. An imitation slate, for example, will exhibit the real stone’s thin layers. Other natural stones may have random porous areas or cracks; features that you will also find duplicated in the tiles.

From a safety standpoint, one thing to keep in mind when deciding on a texture is where the tile will be installed. Remember: the smoother the surface, the greater the risk of slipping when it’s wet.

There are non-skid finishes designed for outdoor use. These are sometimes installed on patios, walkways, or around pools. But even though they have a gritty, sand-like surface, they could still pose a slip hazard under certain conditions.

Just as a car with all-weather tires can hydroplane if the water is deep enough, so can smooth-soled shoes slip on a non-skid surface covered by water…or ice, or a petroleum product. After all, ceramic tiles are glazed surfaces.

If you have any questions about ceramic tile or need help deciding which one is best for your application, feel free to give us a call. We’ll do our best to make sure you get the right tile – one that’s as functional as it is decorative.