FOLLOW US >


Choosing Tile for Your Timber Home

Choosing the right tile for your space starts with knowing your options.

The finishes you choose for your flooring, countertops and backsplash will have a major impact on the look and feel of your spaces. And no finish is quite so versatile (see what we did there?) in allowing you to set the tone you want as tile. Depending on the type you choose, tile can inject color, character and unexpected personality into a space. But it also can play the background, blending into a scene seamlessly so that a room’s other elements take center stage.
 
To help you find your tile type, here’s a rundown on five popular options for bed, bath and beyond.
 

CONCRETE

 
 
If you think that cement-based concrete is only for the areas outside your home (driveway, sidewalks or patios) or underneath your home (foundation), here’s an update: Concrete tiles are a solid choice for your home’s interior, too. Envisioning expanses of gray? Colors and patterns abound, so you can get all of the durability and longevity of this once-industrial application without sacrificing style.
 
Where to use it: Flooring, backsplashes, shower, fireplace surround
 
What’s to love: Able to withstand wear and tear, even under heavy use; water-, stain- and scratch-resistant, easy to maintain when properly sealed
 
Reality check: Concrete tiles can have a cold feel, figuratively and literally, and are unforgiving to dropped items. They must be coated with a sealant to resist staining and moisture.
 
Price point: Moderate
 

GLASS

 
 
More luminous than their porcelain or ceramic counterparts, glass tiles are ideal when you want to add instant sparkle to a space. (Their reflective properties naturally move light around a room). For an outside-the-box alternative, consider lesser-known glass terrazzo tiles, which are made by pressing jewel-like recycled glass chips into a resin material.
 
Where to use it: Backsplashes, showers
 
What’s to love: Easy to clean, water-resistant, non-porous surface that resists staining and microbial growth
 
Reality check: Installation must be done by a pro who specializes in glass tile, so DIY is not an option.
 
Price point: Splurge
 

CERAMIC

 
 
Walking through the ceramic tile section of your local kitchen and bath store is like peering into a kaleidoscope. The colors! The patterns! Whether you tend toward the traditional or prefer a playful, eclectic look, you’re sure to find a design that fits your space and personal taste.
 
Where to use it: Flooring, backsplashes
 
What’s to love: Heat-resistant; the most affordable option on the
market, wide range of styles
 
Reality check: Tiles are prone to chipping, cracking and scratching
 
Price point: Bargain
 

PORCELAIN

 
A close relative of ceramic tile, porcelain is its uptown cousin. It has a finer appearance due to fewer impurities, a result of being fired at a higher temperature for a longer time. It is technically distinguished from ceramic tile by its water-absorption rate. (Porcelain is impervious to water.)
 
Where to use it: Flooring, backsplashes, countertops
 
What’s to love: Visually limitless size, shape, style and color options (many mimicking the look of high-end stone); durable; heat- and water-resistant
 
Reality check: All porcelain is not created equal. Many imported tiles marketed as “porcelain” have the same water-absorption rate as ceramic tiles. Look for the Porcelain Tile Certification Agency (PTCA) marking on the box to be sure you’re getting the real thing.
 
Price point: Moderate
 

NATURAL STONE

 
For years, stone surfaces have ruled the kitchen and bath scene. Stone tiles, which can be had at a lower-price point than their slab counterparts, are available in everything from luminous marble to earthy granite, limestone, slate and soapstone. While the types fluctuate in the tone they set , they each give off an organic feel particularly suited to timber homes.
 
Where to use it: Countertops, backsplashes, flooring
 
What’s to love: Rich, organic colors and textures; a wide range of styles to fit any design and decor; an array of finishes, including polished, tumbled, leathered and honed
 
Reality check: The strength, water-resistance and maintenance needs of stone varies widely. Some are easy to care for; others are more finicky, requiring regular sealing to keep the surface pristine. To choose the one that best suits your space and lifestyle, pay close attention to long-term durability and maintenance requirements while shopping.
 
Price point: Varies, from moderate to splurge
 
 

More on Timber Home Finishes: