Tips to Select the Right Tile for Your Remodel

Beth Orr Schroeder
Updated February 2, 2016
bathroom glass accent tile backsplash
Using accent tile for a backsplash creates another layer of drama in a bathroom. (Photo courtesy of Dover Home Remodelers)

When choosing tile for your kitchen or bathroom remodel, consider these factors before buying.

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Whether you’re adding a new backsplash or installing new flooring throughout your home, choosing tile can be an overwhelming task. Do you want natural stone or porcelain? Diagonal or herringbone installation? Colored grout or no grout line?

As a designer at Dover Home Remodelers, I advise customers to think it through. Don’t simply choose a tile based on a photo you found online. Of course, it should be a tile you love. But before you commit, take a few steps back and consider how the tile will be used, how it will flow within your existing space, as well as its maintenance requirements. Here are a few items to consider:

Tile design style

Tile is an easy way to add designer flair to your home and to complement your design style. Stainless steel tile works well in contemporary spaces; natural marble is a great accent for traditional homes; and a mix of glass and stone tiles accent both contemporary and traditional décor.

Tile design goals

Think about what you’re trying to achieve. Tile can be used to:

• Make a space look larger by using light-colored, larger-sized tiles set on a diagonal to draw the eye through the room. Similar to the tile, light-colored grout also helps to create that seamless look.

• Add drama — create added dimension by using an accent tile or by installing tile in a complimentary/opposing pattern around the shower, as a “picture frame” on a shower wall and in niches or even on the floor to create the look of a rug. There are many great pre-fab inlays out there, but don’t be afraid to get creative and choose your own mix of tiles for that custom look.

• Bring color and/or texture into your kitchen or bathroom with seemingly endless options: Stone, metals, glass, colored porcelain, a mix of stone and glass. If you have a neutral canvas with your cabinets and walls, a tile backsplash is ideal for adding a pop of color or creating a focal point.

bathroom floor tile
Picture-framing tile on a bathroom floor showcases the space’s uniqueness. (Photo courtesy of Dover Home Remodelers)

Functionality of the tile

Consider how the tile is going to be used in your home. For example, if you’re installing a tile countertop in your outdoor kitchen, think about a stone tile, such as granite, that can stand up to heat and steer clear of porous stone that might soak up oils and cooking spills.

Right now “hardwood” tile is having a moment. It offers variety in size, color and texture — and gives the desirable hardwood look, but without the maintenance. This durable tile is an especially good choice for homes with pets because it doesn’t scratch like hardwood.

If you’re concerned about the tile feeling cold under your feet, you can install a heat mat under the tile. Again, it’s important to explore all of your tile and installation options to get the right fit for your lifestyle.

Tile maintenance factors

In general, porcelain and ceramic tile require less maintenance, while natural stone and marble require sealing. To reduce everyday maintenance, consider using a grout like Power Tec, which is an indoor/outdoor product that is already sealed.

Longevity of your tile selections

If you want to be on-trend without the worry of your renovated space being outdated in two years, think about adding a twist. Subway tile is popular right now, but don’t be afraid of going too trendy, as there are so many different ways to use it. Think oversized subway tile, colored subway tile varieties and different colored grout, or add in colored glass tile. Take the trend and tweak it.

subway and glass kitchen tile
Using subway tile with colorful glass tile accents can add timeless yet trendy style to a kitchen or bathroom. (Photo courtesy of Dover Home Remodelers)

So whether you’re going big or small, bold or understated, tile is an excellent design option for your renovation project because of its versatility and variety. Just remember to take your time, make lists of pros and cons, gather photos, have fun making your choice — and then enjoy your hard work!

What tile are you considering for you kitchen or bathroom remodeling projects? Share your tile ideas in the comments section below!

As of Feb. 2, 2016, this service provider was highly rated on Angie's List. Ratings are subject to change based on consumer feedback, so check Angie's List for the most up-to-date reviews. The views expressed by this author do not necessarily reflect those of Angie's List.

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