Are you intimidated by the process of selecting tile for your home remodeling project? It can be overwhelming walking into a tile store that has tile for miles. They all start to look the same. Also, it can be a high-pressure decision, because it’s attached to your home and not an easy thing to change if you don’t like it. On top of that, ripping out tile you just installed and redoing it can be a costly mistake. Have I got your attention?! Not to worry, Diana Crum with Florida Design Works answers questions about what to look for, what to avoid and what looks good. She is a seasoned pro who enjoys helping designers and homeowners alike.
1. What is the typical tile selection process you walk people through?
I like to give homeowners a brief overview and education on the different types of tile (ceramic, porcelain, rectified, appropriate sizes, etc.) and available looks. I give people a tour of the showroom and we have a conversation about what they’re seeing that they like. That helps me narrow things down for them. While I don’t know what the rest of their home looks like and I’m not their interior designer, I do know when a floor tile and a wall tile work together and when they don’t. If someone brings in photos of their home or a handful of inspirational photos, that is very helpful.
A woman once brought in a seashell and said she wanted it to guide her selections. That was awesome and made finding tiles in the steel blues, creams, whites and iridescent color families fun. It was a great road map that helped form a cohesive outcome.
2. Are there any new and exciting technologies and trends you’re seeing?
Large-format tiles are a huge technological advancement and something that people are really loving—less grout to clean! I predict that in 10 years, large tiles will be the only option, unless they’re decorative mosaics, like the top photo.
Large tiles take more skill to install and tile companies are addressing this issue head-on. There is a new clipping system that allows installers to install with ease, consistency and accuracy. They act as a self-leveling aid. Think of them as shims. You put them on, let them set and then snap off the part that’s above the surface.
Dimensional tiles, like the one we used on your project for HGTV Buyer’s Bootcamp last year, are still popular but the manufacturers are moving away from rigid geometric patterns to softer shapes and a wider variety of textures.
I am also seeing an uptick in porcelain slab tiles being used in vertical applications.
3. What is the best way to maintain brand new tile?
Tile is very durable but the grout is not. I recommend using a steam mop. A traditional mop uses a lot of water and the water typically collects in the grout lines. If you don’t change your mop bucket often while cleaning, you’re essentially letting dirty water sit on your grout to dry. A steam mop uses significantly less water, keeping your grout looking better longer.
4. Grout! I’m glad you brought that up. I often get requests on my design projects to have the grout sealed. Do you recommend that?
Yes and no. As with most things, there is a good, better, best scenario. If you are using the good option, a basic unmodified standard grout, then yes, I recommend sealing it. Alternatively, I would recommend using a high-performance grout, which most grout manufactures offer and it’s a nominal price difference. This would be considered to be in the "better" category. Typically, most of the high-performance grouts offer better color consistency and are stain-resistant and also offer antimicrobial protection. The “best” category belongs to the epoxy grouts. They offer all of the same benefits as the “better” option, with the bonus of being chemically resistant. Epoxy is typically used in a commercial application for this reason and has some pitfalls. In addition to being very pricey, it can also be difficult to work with. It sets up every quickly and if it gets on the tile and isn't wiped off immediately, you're out of luck. Additionally, due to its finicky nature, installers charge more to install it.
I must say, I have really enjoyed interviewing experts for this blogs series! Not only do I get to help you, the readers, learn a thing or two, I become better at my job as an interior designer. So, thank you to Diana for educating us all on the good, the bad and the ugly when it comes to tile!
In summary: Have a road map when making selections, small tiles are out, large tiles are in, buy a steam mop and spend a little more for a good quality grout!
Registered Interior Designer Lic # 5736, LEED AP
Chic on the Cheap