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Time to get your tile on at home

Designer Doug Wilson shares ideas on how to spice up those plain Jane tiles in the bathroom.
/ Source: TODAY

Today’s tiles are no longer designated to the bathroom alone. With an array of material available, new production methods, and abundant arrangement options, tile is finding its place throughout the home. Designer Doug Wilson of the new TLC show "Moving Up" shares some great ideas to bring glass, stone, and even faux metals to bathroom design.

Tiles come in a wide variety of materials: ceramic, porcelain (a harder, less absorbent form of ceramic tile, made using the same method), exotic stone (limestone, marble, slate, and granite to name a few), glass and real metals (stainless steel, copper, brass, etc.). Most common are the ceramic and porcelain types that have been around for centuries — think Pompeii. These are the tiles you find most often on bathroom floors. Stone tiles capitalize on geological properties: the natural variance in look and the durability of Mother Nature’s creation. It may seem fragile, but glass tile can hold its own against ceramic and stone in terms of resilience and function when properly installed. And there's no question that metals are impermeable, but due to a susceptibility to scratching, they function best as wall and/or accent tile.

New techniques and methods create unique colors, shapes, and designs, which means an astounding array of tile options and possibilities for homeowners. Today’s manufacturing plants are technology-driven dynamos that run 24/7 with little human intervention. Tiles are computer-inspected, tested, sorted, and conveyer belt-transported throughout the process. This reduction in labor has made ceramic tile very affordable. Also, modern manufacturing techniques permit the supplier to make tile in a variety of shapes, sizes, colors, textures, and designs. Water cutting allows curves to be cut mechanically rather than by hand, thus reducing the potential of chipping and cracking of tiles and lowering the price. Moreover, the tile batch’s properties are more uniform and predictable with the use of computer-assisted standardized methods.

Glass Tile
Glass tile combines form and function with unconventional decorative potential. Glass tile comes in an array of colors, shapes, sizes, and even textured patterns. Colored glass tiles look luminous as the light passes through them. But don’t be fooled by the translucency; these tiles can be just as tough as their ceramic counterparts.

Artful Composition
Single-colored tiles are the most standard and common type on the market. But form and function have come a long way from the monochromatic layouts, single-texture and generic-sized tiles of a decade ago. Nowadays, mosaics provide eye-catching designs and patterns. Varying shapes, color, textures, and even tile types work to create dramatic artistic effects, and mosaics lend themselves to a more personal, expressive feel. Today’s trendsetters combine the old-fashioned monochromatic tile with a new twist on mosaic: striation. The look is contemporary and can range anywhere from bold to sophisticated and subtle, depending on the colors and size of the tile used to create the streaked effect. Today, homeowner’s personalities and their stamp of originality are reflected in the designs chosen that suit their individual style.

Homeowner’s aren’t concerned only about aesthetics when choosing and designing with tile. These days, a home’s resale value is an important consideration when building or remodeling. It is becoming more and more common for the average person to make an investment in high quality flooring with the return in mind. Tile enhances the value of a home more than linoleum or carpeting. And because tile is considered a permanent fixture, new homeowners don’t need to factor the cost of refurbishing in their offering price.

Tile can be used in virtually any room in the home; from spaces that provide a visual backdrop to high-traffic zones. Each type of tile is either characteristically resistant or is engineered to withstand the elements. Natural stone and unglazed ceramic/porcelain provides the best option for high-volume, heavy-traffic areas. All materials — ceramic, porcelain, stone, glass, and natural metals — are stain- and fade-resistant. Each is long-lasting, but glass and metals are the most susceptible to chipping and cracking, and scratching, respectively. Due to ceramic and porcelain’s inherent durability and their wide-ranging applications, they are the most cost-effective of all the options. Tiles are easily maintained with little effort. Surface stains are usually nothing more than surface dirt. Furthermore, if installed properly, they can last for many years with little to no upkeep.

The key to achieving and maintaining the look of your tile design is with proper installation. This is best done by hiring a trained professional. For those DIY inclined, successful installation starts with the preparation. Because tile is permanent and you’d like it to stay that way, you must focus on affixing and cutting the tile right the first time. Some advice to get you going in the right direction: know the design before you begin, read how-to books so you have a clear understanding of what the installation entails, and take your time —precision is key. Also, make sure you’ve ordered enough tile to cover the area, plus some extra in case mistakes are made. Know that different materials are needed for optimal installation in different areas of the home. For example, Durock Cement Board or Green Board should be used in moist, damp areas as it is a mold-resistant substrate that provides a water-resistant base for the tile.

Whichever type of tile you choose, you can be sure that the marriage of form and function will be a lasting one.