time for tile
In addition to large format tiles which can now be used almost anywhere due to increased availability and improved installation materials and methods, homeowners are also able to select from porcelain tile closely resembling almost any natural product, according to Amy Balsimo of Louisville Tile of Nashville.
“Thanks to high definition and digital printing, porcelain can be anything one can dream of—hardwood, travertine, slate, or intricately patterned,” Balsimo says. “Another interesting trend is the use of ‘fabric’ look tiles and metallic effects for contemporary or transitional tastes.”
Sarah Higdon of Renaissance Tile & Bath agrees. “If you can imagine it, it can be found in all kinds of materials,” she says. “Current favorites include not only wood and similar patterns, but also leather, metals, mirrors, and natural stone. The availability of these materials allows unique and surprising combinations.”
Samantha Culbreath of Beckwith Interiors reports that as patterns in ceramic tile have increased, so have available shapes, including circular tiles and Moorish patterns found previously in textiles.
“Linear tile shapes and plank sizes such as 6×24 and 12×24’s are among our top sellers is floor tile,” says Bevin Nave of Natural Stone Distributors. “Our clients are also gravitating toward more unique selections in wall tile. Arabesque and cane patterns, and moroccan styles, are growing more and more popular everyday, especially for kitchen back splashes.”
Nave reports, “We currently offer these tile styles in materials like glass and hand-made ceramics.
White marbles, whether it’s Carrara, Venatino, or Calcutta are still the most popular looks in bathroom tile. We tend to mix these with classic subway tiles, basketweave, and hexagonal mosaics and perhaps a touch of glass, creating a soft, fresh and calming space.”
Jennifer Earnest of Kenny & Company says glass tile is still being used in kitchens and bathrooms, and adds that every year the sizes and shapes change, but that glass is a good material for adding depth, texture, and sparkle to a space.
For bathrooms, Earnest says the spa look remains popular. “I think the light creams, various shades of white, greys, and light browns will be colors that carry us through 2013,” she adds.
Balsimo agrees that greys, whites, taupes, and khaki are popular and can be effectively blended with warmer accessories and soft goods.
For back splashes, Lindsay Capps of Tile & Stone Design reports that she is seeing lots of natural stone, whether polished, tumbled, or honed, combined with glass, mosaics, and bronze. “Linear patterns are also very popular,” she says, “especially glass and stone linear blended mosaics.” It is often in a backsplash that homeowners are more likely to express their personality and sense of style, experts agree.
Emma Hepston of Traditions in Tile suggests that homeowners are being drawn to muted color schemes which yield a more spa-like space. “Clients are being very creative and open to new looks, such as linear mosaics and combinations of glass and stone as an accent in showers. They favor the eclectic style.”
“Due to its durability and aesthetic appeal, tile is being used in more areas of the home than ever before,” says Lindsay Meacham of Red Rock Tileworks. “People are selecting tile for bedroom accent walls and entryways rather than just the traditional wet areas of the home like kitchens and bathrooms.”
She reports that tile is available in ceramic, glass, stone, leather, wood, metal. and resins. “Neutral colors are always very popular, but we have seen a much higher demand in soft grey tones, burgundy reds, and pale blues,” Meacham adds. In addition, she says, environmentally-friendly is a popular. “Our tile is a ‘green’ product and is made with very minimal waste.”
Crossville Tile also offers a number of environmentally friendly products made from recycled ceramic from tile and bathroom fixtures. The company offers Limestone, a collection which simulates that stone on porcelain as well as Origins Glass which offers richer colors and luminescent effects.
For floors, large format tile and wood-look porcelain have grown in popularity, according to Meacham. A patterned field that references motifs used in the fashion and textile industry are popular for back splashes. In response to this appeal, Red Rock Tileworks is releasing three new shapes featuring detailed interlocking patterns that blanket a wall with a wallpaper look. “This look is perfect for steam showers and detailed areas above the kitchen range,” says Meacham.
And while 3×6 subway ceramic tile is a traditional favorite, Meacham says homeowners are choosing variations on this classic look by going with 2”x8” or 4”x9” sizes. “This is one trend that never goes out of style and can bring charm into a traditional or contemporary home,” she says. Red Rock Tileworks tile is handmade in Nashville and gives natural watercolor-like variation to traditional subway.
Earnest reports that in addition to smaller subway tile sizes, the 12”x24” and 9”x18” sizes that have been popular in the past few years are still being commonly used.
Lindsay Capps of Tile & Stone Designs reports she is seeing larger format tiles on the floor either on the diagonal or in a combination of sizes. “Recently the plank tiles have become more available and diverse, either staggered or in a chevron pattern,” she says.
Meacham reports she has seen home owners playing it safe with neutral color palettes and choosing relief patterns to add boldness to a project.
Tile is extremely low maintenance, so it is a great choice for families. Children can spill, scribble, and be as rough as they want with ceramic. Different finishes may help accentuate a homeowners style, while crackle glazes can give an antique look, satin glazes can diffuse light for a subtle look, and translucent glazes can highlight a handmade application.
George Carwile of Robert E. Henry Tile Company says the move from golden browns to grey tones has brought some nice blends in mosaics and within larger format tiles in the gray-brown tones. “This allows those who may be already committed to a brown scheme to do a few updates to achieve a fresher look by combining some grey tones. Some of the most interesting tiles in our showroom feature brown undertones with grey highlights, and vice versa,” says Carwile.
Like other industry experts, Carwile agrees the move to “cleaner,” straighter lines has brought with it the use of 12”x24”, 6”x 24”, and 8”x48” tiles, particularly porcelain tiles. However, “because those with the disposable income for building projects value ease of maintenance and durability, the result has been the introduction of incredible porcelain designs,” he says.
The trend, according to Carwile, is away from tumbled, heavily textured stone tiles in interior spaces. “We have just launched a large-scale porcelain collection with thin tiles in variable sizes up to 5’x10’ (yes, that’s feet),” he says, pointing out that these sizes allow shower walls with minimal or no grout lines. He adds that designs are in ink-jet versions of carrara and calacatta marble so the impression is that of expensive, maintenance-needed natural stone in a porcelain product.
Wood plank looks in tile are “wildly popular” according to Carwile and dozens of industry experts. “We have two series that look just like hand-scraped, reclaimed hardwood floors,” he says. “Two more series that look like more traditional oak and walnut-tones blanked floors. The 6”x24” and 8”x48” sizes are the most popular in wood-look tiles.”
In agreement is Jennifer Earnest of Kenny & Company, who reports the “faux hardwood” looks are very popular. “They are easier to maintain than hardwood, more durable, and can be used in wet areas where you need to avoid real hardwoods,” she says.
There are a number of sources for tile including:
& Cabinet Ctr.
Kenny & Company
Natural Stone Distributors
Red Rock Tileworks
Renaissance Tile & Bath
Robert E. Henry Tile Company
Traditions in Tile
Tile & Stone Design