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How To Decorate With Ceramics

How to Decorate with Ceramics

There are three features that must be addressed when choosing a ceramic tile. They are:


• Performance

• Aesthetics

• Safety


Performance Features To Consider

Durability is the first and foremost feature to consider. Will the product be tough enough to hold up? The wear rating classification on the product labels will serve as your guide in determining durability.

For areas subjected to light or moderate foot traffic, such as bedrooms or baths, almost any tile with a wear rating of III or more may be used.

  • Areas such as hallways and kitchens are subject to extreme abuse and should receive at least a III rated product.
  • Entranceways with direct access to the outdoors may require a IV rated product.
  • The wear rating for wall tile is unimportant as it receives no foot traffic.
  • The wear rating is also important when choosing porcelain tiles because they will differ in qualities from country of origin, full bodied porcelain, glazed porcelain, etc.

Frost-Resistant is a necessary feature when selecting a tile to be installed outdoors in a cold climate, or in an unheated environment such as an unused cottage during winter, or a seasonal room.

Tiles with a water absorption level of 3% or less are considered frost resistant. The information on your product label will indicate if the tile is frost resistant or not. This makes perfect sense as moisture will freeze and expand, causing cracking of tile.


Aesthetics Features To Consider

The true beauty of ceramic tile goes far beyond simply choosing the right colour. The other aesthetic features that must be considered are size, shape, texture, layout, and grout. Only when all of these variables are taken into consideration can the best choice be made.

Feature Colour: When designing with ceramics, selecting the right colour is the first and perhaps, the most important consideration. Colour is a matter of personal preference. Therefore, although you can ask for advice from your sales rep, the final choice is yours.

  • Ceramic tile is a permanent product. Therefore, it is wise to stay with conservative colours. This does not mean that accent colours should not be used. It means that the feature colour should be one that will remain popular for years.
  • Light coloured tiles will make smaller rooms seem larger, while rich, deep coloured earthtone tiles, such as quarries or terra cottas, can make a large room intimate and cozy.
  • It is important to note that, while solid coloured floor tiles are very appealing, they will readily show dust and dirt. Whereas, tone on tone shaded tiles and tiles with even a slight texture or design are easier to maintain. This is the same reason why most vinyl manufacturers stay away from solid colours.

Accent Colours

What is really unique about ceramic tile is its outstanding design flexibility. Many customers prefer to customize their installation by mixing in accent colours for excitement.

  • Accent colours can come from neighbouring colour families or, for maximum contrast, completely opposite families, such as white and black. However, when using bold accent colours, use them sparingly so that they do not overpower your feature colour.
  • Accent colours can be used to define separate areas of a room or as a border. They can also be used to accent a fireplace or create a pattern such as a checkerboard.
  • Many suppliers carry a wide variety of ceramic feature strips to add excitement to tiled walls and backsplashes. The feature strips are usually 1/4” to 6” wide and 4” to 14” long. They come in a wide array of beautiful, bold accent colours that can turn common wall tile installations into a masterpiece.


Focal Points

Clients are encouraged to personalize their tile installations by the use of focal points. These might range from the look of a tile mat in the foyer to a custom designed space above a stove or sink. These finishing touches will be admired by all for years to come. Our sales staff will be pleased to help create a design for those spaces.

Surface Finishes

Tiles come in a wide variety of surface finishes to appeal to the personal tastes of your customers.

  • The smooth, flat finish gives the area a formal look.
  • A textured surface is more suited to a natural setting.
  • Today, the most popular finishes simulate stones, such as marbles, slates, and granites.
  • Subtly designed surfaces with light embossing are also becoming popular.
  • The formal and classic look of polished marble or limestone has just been reintroduced into the market.




Tiles are also available in a variety of shapes, such as squares, rectangles, octagons, and hexagons. They also come with straight edges and cushioned edges.

  1. The straight edge is suited for, but not limited to, a formal area.
  2. The scalloped edge is suited more to a natural setting.
  3. The cushioned edge gives the product a popular pillow look similar to a handmade Mexican tile. It’s ideal for either formal or natural decor.


Generally, a tile is selected in proportional scale to the room. Most people are of the opinion that large rooms need large tiles and small rooms require small tiles. This is false. The size of the room has nothing to do with the size of the tile. Larger tiles will visually expand small areas as well as unify larger ones…and smaller tiles add a rich texture when used in large rooms. (The only exception is when working with a designed tile… In this case, a large design would overpower a small room.)


Many tiles — both unglazed and glazed — are deliberately produced with a wide shade variation to capture the natural beauty of the product. A certain degree of shade variation is inherent in all ceramic tile. The manufacturers limit the amount of shade variation within a carton by sorting the tile as it comes off the production line. Also, the shade and run numbers are marked on each carton. To minimize any noticeable shade variations, the installers work out of several cartons at the same time. By doing this, they are able to blend the tiles together.


Once the tile has been selected, you must decide on a layout. Here are some options to consider:

  • Generally, square tiles are laid in straight lines. However, they look great in some areas when they are laid out in a diagonal or staggered pattern. It is also possible to border the area with tiles laid on square and lay the interior tiles on diagonal or some other pattern.
  • Rectangles can be arranged in a single or double herringbone, staggered, or used to create some unique designs.

Long, narrow spaces appear wider and more spacious when floor tiles are installed on a 45 degree angle.

Note: The arrangement of tiles is virtually limitless. The following layouts are intended to give you an idea of various possibilities.


Grouts can also be an important design element to consider.

  • Grouts are no longer considered just a utility item needed for installation. Today, grouts come in a wide variety of designer colours developed to enhance the beauty of the tile.
  •  A grout matched closely with the colour of the tile will give a unified or blanket look, as it will blend into the tile.
  • A contrasting colour grout will emphasize the grid or pattern formed by the tiles and your eyes will be drawn to it.
  • Grout colours may also be used to coordinate with adjoining carpet or wall coverings to pull the entire installation together.
  • We even have ‘sparkling’ goods and ‘glow in the dark’ grout today.

Safety Features To Consider


Slip Resistant

While slip resistant surfaces are not mandatory unless specified, if you are installing tile outdoors or in any wet areas be aware that slip resistant tile exists. Here are some points to think about when considering safety:

  • Slip resistant tiles have either an abrasive surface or an embossed design. Be aware that the abrasive surface is more difficult to clean.
  • High gloss glazes are more slippery than ones with a matte finish.
  • Smooth surfaced tiles are more slippery than textured ones.
  • Unglazed or porcelain tiles are less slippery than glazed tiles and are recommended for use around pools, patios, and other outdoor areas. Smooth glazed tiles should be limited to vertical surfaces when used outdoors.


Estimating Your Ceramic Tile Project

Ceramic tile is ordered by the square foot. Trim pieces, decorative pieces, and border tiles are ordered by the piece.

Remember to increase the square footage of the job in order to compensate for breakage and cutting. Add 5% to 10% for tiles laid on the square, and 10% to 13% for tiles laid on the diagonal. Make sure you allow for a few extra tiles to keep for future replacement. It’s also a good idea to keep a little bit of the grout for future matching. Just keep it in a sealed bag in a dry place.

When estimating, please note that your particular situation may require additional considerations:

  1. Draw a layout of the area to be covered.
  2. Make a list of information pertinent to the project.
  3. Visit Star Tile Centre for a free materials estimate or call Star Tile Centre 905-892-5756 to set up a free in-home estimate!