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Tile Patterns: The Ultimate Quick Read Beginner’s Guide, Including Secrets of Tile Professionals Revealed!

Tile Patterns



Tile patterns can enhance the look, feel, and atmosphere of any room, but that is only if they are used correctly. To be able to choose the right pattern for your space you need to know the secrets of the professionals and how to apply them.  And with tile pattern names like Versailles and herringbone which might not be so self-explanatory to someone who is not a pro, you’ll also need to know what each one is as well.  So here are the the most useful and  popular patterns which everyone considering using tiles in their home needs to know, with of course the secrets to using them to their full potential.

Tile Patterns

 

The Straight Lay Tile Pattern

This is the most basic and easy to install of all the patterns.  For that and a few more reasons that you will soon read about, it is one of the most commonly used  wall and floor tile patterns around the world.  It works anywhere and everywhere.  The tiles are first laid side by side in a straight line.  The are corners matched up, and then grout is applied in straight, perpendicular intersecting lines. With its grid-like pattern, the straight lay is typically used for a simple, clean, yet modern look.

Tile Patterns

 

Tile Home Guide Secret Tips:

-Just because it is the most simple don’t skip over this one.  It’s a great choice for DIY enthusiasts and anyone who wants to learn to tile.  Best of all it simplicity can really add to it’s appeal which means its can work with every style of decor. It’s an easy “go to,” choice that is guaranteed to please, especially with so many materials, sizes, colors, and styles of tile available to choose from.

Tile Patterns

The straight lay is the most common of all wall tile patterns for bathrooms

 

-A great function of the straight lay tile pattern, especially with solid colored tiles, is that it can also be used in an area or room that has more complicated patterns, designs, or colors, without competing or clashing with them. This makes it a perfect, practical, solution for a busy room that needs the benefits of a tile floor, but none of the distractions of a complex pattern.

Tile Patterns

Simple solid colored tiles in the straight lay are sometimes the perfect choice

 

-This is one of the only tile layout patterns which uses very long, straight, grout lines. Why is that a good thing? It’s because the human eye naturally follows these straight lines when looking at this pattern. You can use this to your advantage by using the lines to lead the eye of the viewer through the room.  That could mean into another space or to an important aspect or highlight of the room, such as a stunning view, prominent feature or focal point.  You wouldn’t think such a simple tile pattern could be used this way.

Tile Patterns

Why not use these grout lines to help you with how your space is perceived?

 

-You don’t need something complicated to create style.  Simple can go a really long way.  Most people are often surprised at just how modern and stylish the straight lay can be with the right tile material.

 

The Diagonal Tile Pattern

Simple and easy to install, this is a great tool to have in your tile pattern arsenal. Similar to the straight lay, however in this pattern the tiles are laid at a 45 degree angle. instead of straight. This changes the square tiles into diamonds.  It is probably the second most common after the straight lay, and is ideal wall and floor use alike.

Tile Patterns

 

Tile Home Guide Secret Tips:

-The diagonal tile pattern can be a smart choice if you are looking to try something a little different than the straight lay.  It could also be an excellent way to improve on and reinforce your basic tile laying skills if you are doing the project yourself.

– This pattern is actually one secret decorators and tile professionals, use for making a room look bigger and wider than it really is. The key to this pattern is that the focus is taken off of the narrowness of the room, and shifted onto the wide angles of the tile borders. Because the tiles’ angles are in line with the viewer, they see the tile grout lines spreading out across the room. This makes them feel like they are in a much larger space they really are. It’s a great choice for floor pattern choice for a small bathroom or really any room that you would like to look bigger.

Tile Patterns

You can really see here how much more expansive a room can look when using the diagonal tile pattern

 

-On a kitchen backsplash is another very attractive way to use this pattern.  Diamond shapes can look very appealing on the way and make an interesting contrast or accent to other patterns in the room.

Tile Patterns

Accenting the existing pattern in the room and framed by pebble tile this stone tile bacskplash shows just how much the diagonal tile pattern has to offer!

 

-Tile borders too, can be a fantastic looking yet easy way to put the diagonal to work when used adjacent to other tile laying patterns.  It can really add that “extra something,” that you may be in need of.  That is why you will see it used this way on many bathroom walls and in showers that are using the straight lay as their primary wall tile pattern as it can help spice things up a little bit.

-Another variation of this pattern is to use large tiles and add accent tiles at regular intervals.  This can be very classy looking and is known as the diagonal with dots.

Tile Patterns

Diamond accent tiles work well with the diagonal pattern

 

The Running Bond Tile Pattern

Also called the brick pattern, because it is the most commonly used pattern in brickwork, it is also known as the running bond. You will sometimes but not as often, hear it named the brickwork pattern as well. Whatever name you choose to call it, this is another simple, yet good looking option. Typically used with rectangular tiles and subway tiles, the end of each tile is lined up with the center of the tiles which are both directly above and below it.  This creates a staggered pattern, yet a cohesive look.  It is another one of the easier tile pattern installations, however in doing so you should make sure that the tiles line up as well as possible because you don’t want this mistake to become apparent as you continue tiling further down the line.  And while tile removal is not difficult task, it’s always easier to get it right on the first try.

Tile Patterns

 

Tile Home Guide Secret Tips:

– So what’s the secret of using the running bond? It’s that it’s used to keep secrets! The running bond is one of the best tile layout patterns for hiding imperfections. Uneven surfaces, crooked walls, small differences in tile size and various other imperfections, are all easily covered up using this pattern. The fact that the tiles don’t line up in a straight line, tricks the eye by taking the focus off of individual tiles, and onto the pattern as a whole cohesive image instead. This makes it almost impossible to spot flaws.  Who would have thought?

Tile Patterns

All tile sizes can be used with the running bond

-Don’t make the mistake of thinking it is only a wall pattern because you see there so often on backsplashes and in bathrooms. The running bond tile pattern extremely versatile and can also be used outdoors on patios and walkways, not only because of its simple design, but because of its weight bearing ability and strength.  In the home they also make for a one of the least difficult and good looking floor tile patterns you can choose.

Tile Patterns

A staggered tile layout like the running bond can be used on the floor with great success

 

The Checkerboard Tile Pattern

This two color alternating pattern uses square tiles and looks just like a checker or chessboard, creating a truly classic look. Usually this pattern uses white and black floor tiles.  However,  the black is sometimes substituted for another color such as tan or gray.

Tile Patterns

It is considered easy to install because it uses either the  straight lay or diagonal pattern. Typically used as a floor pattern in living rooms, mud rooms, entry ways and kitchens, it is also one of the more commonly used bathroom tile patterns, where it can work well on the floor, wall, or both.

Tile Patterns

 

Tile Home Guide Secret Tips:

-To unify your space, use this pattern with white walls or white tiles on the wall, as they echo the white of the floor tiles. Incorporating black wall tiles in a border, frame, or evenly spaced among the white wall tiles will accomplish the same effect.

 

Tile Patterns

The matching black tiles used in framing the mirror and as a border helps to really bring the room together

 

-Never decorate a room that uses this tile pattern with complex colors or patterns. This is probably the biggest mistake most beginners make when installing this pattern in their home. Not only will these colors clash with this type of pattern, but they will take away from its simple classy look, making it look trashy instead. Not the look you’re probably going for. The checkerboard is an elegant and stylish pattern, but it must be used with solid colors and simple décor to work to its full potential.

Tile Patterns

A very intelligently put together kitchen with black wall tiles and white cabinets mirroring the checkered tile pattern on the floor. Note the contrast of the white grout and black tiles

 

-Instead of purchasing black and white tiles and alternating each color, you can often find ones which have the checkerboard pattern already printed on each individual tile like shown below.

 

Tile Patterns

A single vinyl tile with the pattern already on it, makes it look as if you have installed four separate tiles

 

The Herringbone Tile Pattern

A medium skill level at least, is required to install this more complicated looking floor tile pattern. Named for its resemblance to the skeleton of the Herring, a bony fish, this timeless option uses rectangular tiles.  The tiles are lined up at a 45 degree angle so that they are all parallel. This is repeated in reverse on the other side of the tiles, like a mirror image. This creates an imaginary line with tiles coming out on either side like a “V.”  It is aptly named because it really does look similar to the rib bones branching off of the spine of a fish! The herringbone tile pattern has been heavily used in Europe for hundreds of years because of its elegant yet intricate look.

Tile Patterns

Tile Home Guide Secret Tips:

– Using the herringbone pattern is a trick designers use to enhance the size of a small room. The eye tends to look at the wide “V’s” which are created by the opposing tiles instead of the narrowness of the room.

-While this tile pattern works wonders in small or narrow rooms, it sometimes tends to look too busy when used in large ones.

-Use this one in hallways (especially narrow ones) to not only increase how wide it is perceived, but to draw the eye of the viewer into the next room as well. The “V’s,” do this wonderfully as they are very similar to the points of arrows, pointing you in the right direction.

Tile Patterns

Mother of pearl herringbone mosaic tiles can be used to create a unique kitchen backsplash

-Another option are herringbone mosaic tiles, which make this pattern easy for the DIY homeowner. Each tile is made up of small pieces, usually of stone that are attached to a mesh backing that form the herringbone pattern on each individual tile. And when these individual tiles are all lined up they form the herringbone pattern but much more intricate looking than with larger tiles. Using mosaic tiles of this pattern allows you to use it on the wall, which is great news are looking for a unique kitchen backsplash.

 

Tile Patterns

A white marble herringbone mosaic tile

 

-The herringbone tile pattern is perfectly suited for floors of kitchens with islands. This is because it helps to keep the island from taking away from the size of the space and making it look cluttered. The herringbone pattern helps to maintain the appearance of the width of the room while allowing you to utilize it as well.

-If you are a DIY homeowner, unless you have considerable tile laying skills, or are using mosaic tiles, this is one project you should probably leave to a pro.

-Don’t forget outdoors, the herringbone tile pattern really shines on walkways and patios too.

Tile Patterns

An outdoor project using the herringbone tile pattern

 

The Basket Weave Tile Pattern

This wall and floor pattern looks like the stitching of a woven basket, and like herringbone, it also uses rectangular tiles.  It’s fairly easy to install. These tiles are lined up in groups of either 2 or 3 vertically or horizontally to form a square.  If the first square is made up of vertically positioned tiles, the adjacent squares will be made up of horizontally placed ones. This alternating between the horizontal and vertical creates the impression of the tiles being woven over and under each other just like a basket.

Tile Patterns

Tile Home Guide Secret Tips:

-Use basket weave if you want to create a classic and classy early 1900’s feel.  It works especially well when used with stones like marble.

-This is one of the tile layout patterns which can be used on the wall as well, and works perfectly to create a unique and stylish backsplash.

Tile Patterns

-Basketweave mosaic tiles are individual tiles which are made up of small vertical and horizontal pieces that form basket weave design. When placed next to each other these small basket weave designs perfectly line up to for a myriad of interweaving lines that looks amazing.

-Like the herringbone, this pattern is one which works best in smaller spaces and should avoid using in large rooms as it may look too busy. Basket weave one of most often used foyer and bathroom tile patterns.

 

The Windmill Tile Pattern

The name of this pattern comes from its resemblance to the blades of a windmill.  4 rectangular tiles are used to form the shape of a large square with 1 smaller square tile in the middle to make this pattern look like a turning windmill.  The look of square tile can make this seem like you are looking at a grid of dots and while it is normally thought of as one of floor tile patterns it can be used on the wall and some people even like it so much they use it in the shower!

Tile Patterns

This black and white windmill pattern shows how 2 colors looks great, but more than that can easily cause it to look too busy

 

Tile Home Guide Secret Tips:

-The windmill tile pattern can be used to created an interesting backsplash but also works great when used as a border pattern.

-There are many other materials you can use besides ceramic or porcelain.  So don’t be afraid to think outside the box.

Tile Patterns

Slate tiles can make quite an impression when using the windmill pattern.

 

-Using a different color for the small tile in the center can really make the pattern pop. Two contrasting colors or one neutral one used with a a more vibrant one is sure to get some attention.

-For this pattern to look proportionate it is imperative to use the correct ratios. For the rectangular tile this ratio 2:1. So if the length of the rectangular tile is 8 inches the width should be 4 inches. The size of the square tile is also determined from this and should be the same size as the width of the rectangle, so in this case it would be a 4 inch by 4 inch square.

-An easier way to do deal with the ratios is by using mosaic tile, although the pattern will be on a smaller scale.  It’s up to your preference.

Tile Patterns

The contrast of the black center and the white background of these windmill mosaic tiles shows up strikingly well

 

 The Versailles Tile Pattern

Unlike other tile patterns Versailles goes by 3 names as it is also referred to as the French or the modular pattern. The Versailles uses a combination of 4 different tile sizes: 8″x8”, 8″x16”, 16″x16”, and 16″x24”. Elegant and graceful, yet also timeless, this pattern can be used indoors or out to create a feel of randomness but without the chaos.  It is pleasing to the eye because while it appears random, but in reality the tiles fit together in a large repeating puzzle-like pattern which is perfectly balanced.  While Versailles works amazingly well indoors it is most often seen outdoors and almost always uses stone tiles like travertine.  It almost is exclusively a floor pattern and is very difficult to install as you could imagine.

Tile Patterns

A close up of outdoor Travertine tiles using the Versailles tile pattern

 

Tile Home Guide Secret Tips:

-This is another pattern which is probably better left to the pros for installation.  But if you do decide to take on a project using this pattern make sure you start with a dry layout (as you always should) and begin tiling from the center of the space and work your way out. You therefore must lay down the first few tiles very carefully because they will determine the placement of all of the other tiles.

Tile Patterns

The Versailles pattern using Travertine tiles can be used in a variety of appplications

-The best way to purchase tiles for this pattern is in kits or bundles which have the correct ratio of tile to cover: 8, 16, or 44 square feet. And while you may end up with a few extra tiles, you’re always better off with some to spare in case of breakage or damage anyway.

 

The Pinwheel  Tile Pattern

This floor tile pattern is sometimes also called the hopscotch. Many people confuse it with the windmill pattern which looks similar but uses larger tiles to surround a smaller one .  The pinwheel does the exact opposite. Four small squares placed around each of the four corners of a single large square tile.  This creates a shape similar to that of a spinning pinwheel.  While it is not overly complicated, it still needs to be planned out carefully so you should have some tile laying skills if you are going to get this one right.

Tile Patterns

In this close up you can see how the small squares convey movement and look like a spinning pinwheel

 

Tile Home Guide Secret Tips:

-While pinwheel can really be done with any 2 size square tiles, the best ration is 2:1 which means the larger tile should be twice the size of the smaller ones.

-Use 2 colors to make this pattern pop, but using more you run the risk of creating something too busy for your space.

Tile Patterns

Pinwheel tile pattern installation in progress

 

These patterns all work exceptionally well at their specific applications when used correctly. Let your creativity, style, and imagination run wild while keeping these tips in mind and you should be well on your way to transforming your space and getting the most from the pattern you choose!

 

3 Steps to Success BEFORE You Choose a Tile Pattern

Taking these three steps before committing to any one pattern, will guarantee you avoid the most common pitfalls involved when installing a tile pattern in or outside of your home.

Decide What You Want To Achieve

This sounds silly but you would be surprised to find out just how many people choose a pattern without really knowing what they want to accomplish.  Figuring this out first will save you money, time, and an enormous amount of frustration.  You don’t want to finish your new project only to decide it’s not what you really wanted.  This will mean having to tear it out and start again which equals lost time and money. Even worse, some homeowners decide to settle with the results and will have to look at them daily in frustration and regret for years to come.  Each pattern has a different function and different look, so take your time, look at examples and ask yourself what you really want?  A retro look? A luxurious one?  Simple yet chic?  Decide on the desired result first and you won’t have to rely on getting lucky to end up with it.

Tile Patterns

Peel and stick tiles in green, white, and brown glass in the straight lay pattern

 

Take a Realistic Look at the Space You Are Working With

If you want to get the most out of any tile pattern you need to really look at the room or space you are dealing with.  Is it big or small?  Wide or narrow? What is the existing style of the room or area you are working with? What style or feel are you going for? These are all things you need to take into consideration.  Each tile laying pattern has its own specific abilities to work in certain types of spaces.  This also means that they don’t work in other ones.  The herringbone pattern for example really looks fantastic in smaller areas but in larger ones is too busy. After looking at your space in a realistic way, you may have to change your expectations on what you want to achieve.  You may not.  It all depends on the unique area you are going to be working with.

Tile Patterns

A charming choice for this small bathroom the checkerboard pattern not only goes very well, but set at a diagonal creates a sense of space

 

Pick a Material That Can Work With Your Pattern of Choice

Just like all patterns don’t work with all spaces, some materials don’t work well with all patterns.  Others fit like a glove.  Each material is different.  Some are so heavy they can be used only as floor tile, while others are so delicate they can only be used as wall tile, and a quite a few can even be used as both.  While most tiles can be used indoors not all materials can work as outdoor tiles.  If you are planning an outdoor project you will have to choose a material that can handle the elements. Many patterns need to use tiles that are specific shapes or dimensions, which sometimes can’t be done with certain materials.  The running bond tile pattern for example needs rectangular shaped tiles.  And last of all, some materials just look better than others with certain patterns, like how the Versailles tile pattern goes phenomenally well with travertine.  So once you have  a pattern in mind choose a material that can work with it and make it look good.

Tile Patterns

Using the running bond these aqua blue and grey hand-painted glass subway mosaic tiles make this shower look simply amazing

 

Taking a few hours to  have some fun and look at your options will help you complete these three easy steps in no time.  You will end up saving your time, money, and anxiety.  And the best part is you will receive the end effect of the pattern, the space, and the material all working together to provide you with the ultimate result: a beautiful space.

 

An Extra 10 Tile Pattern Secrets:

1) Larger tiles tend to make a small room appear bigger! If you have a small room using a tile pattern with very large tiles will give the illusion that the room is bigger than it really is.

2) Another secret for making a small room appear bigger is using very small tiles, seeing so many small tiles tricks the brain into thinking the room is actually larger than it happens to be.

3) Using a focal point such as a motif or mosaic tile medallion at the far end of a narrow room will take the eye off of how limited your space is as well as make the room interesting.

Tile Patterns

A marble mosaic tile medallion is like adding a piece of art in your home.

4) Using the straight lay tile pattern in a narrow room  will make the room look even more narrow because our eyes will naturally pick up on the grout lines as parallel to the walls and see it as a smaller space. Using the diagonal pattern is a better idea.

5) While it can be tempting, don’t combine too many different patterns, it will look to busy. Keep it simple by choosing only 1 or 2.

6) Keep it simple when choosing tile materials, using 3 different materials or less will look much better and will add to affect of your pattern as opposed to taking away from it.

7)You can incorporate a tile border to not only define your pattern but also lead the eye into adjacent rooms.

Tile Patterns

A gorgeous white polished marble basketweave tile border

8) Using different tile patterns to define different areas of a room is a great way to incorporate the beauty of multiple patterns but also show the functionality of a space as well.

9) Choosing a color for your pattern that echoes another color in the room, or the color from a focal point (such as a view of the ocean or mountains) is a great way to get the most out of the pattern, material, and the tiles you choose.

10) Accent tiles are a perfect tool to use to add emphasis to the style you are trying to portray as well as to the pattern you choose.

CLICK HERE NOW to find the best tiles for your project!

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Outdoor Tiles Explained: A Quick And Easy Beginner’s Guide!

Outdoor Tiles



Just like the ones used indoors, outdoor tiles come in a dizzying array of colors, textures, styles, and materials. However, unlike their indoor counterparts, outdoor tiles need to be strong, hard, and durable enough to withstand the elements. Whether it be extreme heat, rain, snow, heavy use, or all of these, they need to be able to withstand them while providing us with a space that is both attractive and functional. Unfortunately, not all tiles and materials can be, or should be used for all applications. Some tiles fair better in different temperatures and conditions than others, so it would be wise to take your time, read up, and choose carefully.

4 Questions To Help You Immediately Get Started Finding The Best Outdoor Tiles For Your Space

In order to choose the best tiles for your own unique outdoor space, you need to answer or at least try to keep in mind the same questions the pro’s do, and these are:

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What is the style of your home, space, or garden?

The style of your home, space, or garden can have a big impact on your tile choice.  Matching the style of your space with a similar style of tile can go a long way in creating a great looking and cohesive space. That being said, the opposite is true too, choosing mismatching styles is an easy and too often expensive way, to make your space look awkward and unpleasing to the eye.  Thinking about what style you need to match or have to create will automatically help you to start to narrowing down your list of possible outdoor tile materials very quickly as not every material will work with the look you need to portray.

How much light does the area get?

This question is one which most homeowners never think to ask, but can make a huge difference in how your space is perceived.  Most people don’t realize that using dark tiles in an area with poor or dim lighting can really take away from the effect of your tiles, even great looking ones, making the space look dull and gloomy.    A simple rule to follow is:  Choose lighter colored outdoor tiles for areas with low light, and darker tiles with areas with a lot of light.

Outdoor Tiles

 

What color(s) is your house, and do you want to match it or contrast it?

Both matching and contrasting can look amazing, but keeping this question in mind can help you easily weed out the colors and materials you don’t want.

***How is this space going to be used?***

This is probably the most important of all the questions.  Answering it correctly will help you in not having to deal with many problems that can be a waste of money, time, and even cause injury. (If you are using outdoor wall tiles this is not as relevant.) Is the space going to be a high traffic area? If it is you need to choose outdoor floor tile that is durable enough to deal with it.

Some tile materials are super tough and can handle a ton of abuse while others are much more fragile and prone to being scratched, damaged, or breaking.  Laying the wrong type of tile  in and forcing it to endure things it wasn’t meant to can lead to dealing with constant tile removal and repair, which could have easily been avoided right off the bat.

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Is this an area that needs non-slip outdoor tiles to prevent injury?  

Some patios and walkways are in areas which are prone to moisture, or come into contact with a lot of water. This could be due to runoff, your local climate and weather, or maybe they are bordering a pond, pool, or water feature.  Moisture and water can mean slippery and dangerous.  A fall on hard tile can be very painful to say the least.  This can also be a very important question if you are going to be using your tile on steps particularly if you have children or older adults who are not as agile and more prone injury. However not to worry, there are many tiles suitable for outdoor steps, walkways, and patios with excellent gripping ability, just be sure to choose one if you think it will be needed.

Outdoor Tiles

 

Does this space need to be level or have a flat surface?

Many outdoor floor tiles like some of the stone options do not have a flat surface and are not level which is part of their natural looking appeal.  It’s up to what you like and what you will be using your patio or space for. Certain types of patio furniture will need a level surface to rest on as well so if you are planning on doing a lot of outdoor entertaining this is something to think about as well. Honestly answering this question along with all the previous ones will help you to rest assured you won’t have any hassle in the future, and also to quickly decide on the materials you realistically can and can’t use.

 

Types of Outdoor Tiles:

Ceramic Tiles

Ceramic tiles are made from clay and are one of the most diverse options as they come in many colors, patterns, shapes, and sizes. They are the most commonly used tile material indoors but they can also be used outdoors as well. However, if they are to be used outside they need to have a high PEI rating. This is a rating of hardness and durability made by the Porcelain Enamel Institute. The PEI rating can be anywhere from 1 through 5.

1 being the most fragile and likely to chip, and 5 being the most durable and used in commercial projects such as shopping malls. For outdoor use, you should choose a tile with a rating of 4 or 5.  While outdoor wall tiles can be glazed or unglazed, if you decide to use ceramic tiles on the floor they should be unglazed.  Glazed ceramic tiles can be very slippery when wet, and that can mean dangerous.  However, don’t forget that if you do decide on unglazed outdoor floor tiles they will need to be sealed to protect against stains.
Outdoor Tiles

 

Porcelain Tiles

Porcelain tiles are much more suited for outdoor use than ceramic tiles. Not only do they not mildew or stain, but they also have such a low water absorption rate, that they are near waterproof. This is because of the fact that when they are made, the porcelain is fired at much higher temperatures than those used in manufacturing ceramic tiles.  It is this high temperature process which makes them more durable and dense than ceramic tiles which means a better tile for outdoor use. The way they are manufactured also allows them to be produced with more intricate textures that so closely mimic those of stone tiles.  Some are so realistic that they are virtually indistinguishable from the real thing.

They also can be produced with non-slip textures, so they can be used safely in wet areas, a trait which makes them good outdoor tiles for steps. Porcelain tiles usually have a PEI rating of 5 making them more than tough enough for the job of being used as outdoor patio tiles as well. These tiles are also resistant to freezing. An extra benefit, unlike other types of outdoor tiles, is that they come in just about an unlimited amount of colors and just about every size imaginable. While, porcelain tiles are generally more expensive than ceramic tiles, they are cheaper and more durable than stone tiles, making them a great outdoor choice for the patio, steps, walkways, or anywhere you could think to use them.

Outdoor Tiles

 

Quarry Tiles

While not actually coming from quarried stone as they did in the past, these unglazed clay tiles are very tough and function extremely well as outdoor tiles for patio use. Unlike ceramic and porcelain tiles, quarry tiles are typically only found in a few colors. Most often they are seen in red, but sometimes also in brown or grey. It is these deep, rich, earth tone colors, that help quarry tiles portray a unique Mediterranean look that many homeowners love. These tiles are also much thicker than other types usually ranging from ½” to ¾”. This thickness and the fact that they are very dense, makes them an extremely durable and strong tile that can take the abuse of the outdoors.

Outdoor Tiles

A perfect quarry tile patio

Quarry tiles also have a very low water absorption rate, allowing the homeowner to use them in wet areas without any problems. This added to the fact that their unglazed surface provides grip, makes them a very effective non-slip tile surface. However, they do need to be sealed as they will absorb stains. Quarry tiles can be tougher to clean than other types of tiles though and sometimes require a good power washing. Because quarry tiles are so tough and also very attractive, they work great as floor tiles, countertop tiles, and even outdoor wall tiles.

Outdoor Tiles

Always make sure to use a good quality sealant

 

Sandstone Tiles

One of the most popular materials for construction and building since the ancient times, sandstone also makes for beautiful tiles.   As a sedimentary rock it is made up of tiny particles of other rocks and sand which have been displaced by wind and water.  Because these tiny particles have a huge range in color so do sandstone tiles.  However it is most often seen in white, tan, red, gray, and brown. It is considered one of the softer stones, easier to carve and cut, yet still strong and durable. It’s easiness to work with, and beautiful variations in texture and color are the reason it has always been so popular especially as outdoor tiles for patios.  The only drawback to sandstone is that it is one of the most porous stones and therefore will absorb a lot of water.  This is not a problem as long as it receives a proper sealing to keep it waterproof.  If it does not, it runs the risk of absorbing not only water but the salt which is in the water as well. Salt absorption can result in serious damage to the stone. If not properly sealed it will also easily absorb oil resulting in staining of the tile.

 

Granite Tiles

Typically found in the U.S., Brazil, and India, granite is the strongest and most durable of all the stone tiles.  It is also naturally waterproof and will not stain or absorb oils like other materials. This is true even without sealing.  It can easily take heavy traffic, is extremely scratch resistant, won’t chip or crack, is a cinch to clean, and is almost impenetrable to bacteria.

Outdoor Tiles

This black galaxy granite tile shows just how fantastic looking granite can be

These natural qualities make granite one of the most popular outdoor floor tiles and also the most commonly used stone for countertops in both indoor and outdoor kitchens as well. Because they are so heat resistant, they are also great fireplace tiles too! While usually gray in color granite can range to much lighter colors, even pink. It is more expensive than other materials,  but you really get what you pay for with granite as you will be able to enjoy these almost maintenance free tiles for possibly a lifetime!

 

Limestone Tiles

Limestone is formed underwater by shells, coral, algae and calcium carbonate. Another material favored by builders since ancient times, limestone is easy to cut and work with, yet still strong and durable.  Usually gray, tan, brown, or red in color this strong, heavy material was used to make castles and even the Great Pyramid at Giza.  Needless to say limestone tiles are very tough.  However, care must be taken as they can still scratch.  Limestone tiles need to be properly sealed as they are somewhat porous and highly susceptible to damage by acids.  They are easy to clean but must never be cleaned with acidic cleaners such as bleach or vinegar.

Outdoor Tiles

Very attractive limestone tiles

 

Travertine Tiles

Travertine is a type of limestone which is known for its small pits, caused by gas escaping during its formation giving it a spongy looking texture. These pits are usually filled in making cleaning easy however many people think it adds to their character and charm.

Outdoor Tiles

Large cream colored Travertine tiles

Travertine was used to build the Coliseum and many other famous structures worldwide. Durable and resistant to the elements travertine tiles are still limestone and therefore need to be sealed and cleaned with non-acidic cleaners. They are well-known for how stunning they look when used in the Versailles tile pattern.

Outdoor Tiles

If you look closely you can see the sponge-like texture of these travertine tiles

 

Soapstone Tiles

Soapstone originally got its name for its soft texture, which can feel almost slippery to the touch like soap. This comes from the fact that it is mostly made up of talc.  It was used by many native cultures to make pots, pans, and bowls because of its high heat resistance, the fact that it’s almost impervious to water, and the ease in which it could be carved. Soapstone is now very popular for kitchen countertops, backsplashes, and outdoor tiles.  Its high heat resistance and the fact that it’s naturally waterproof make it a great material for tiles in really hot, wet, or extreme climates.  Soapstone is typically is found in Brazil, India, and Scandinavia, and ranges from brown, gray, blue to green in color.  The only drawback to using soapstone tiles is that because they are soft, they are easily scratched.  However, scratches can easily be fixed with a light sanding and mineral oil application.

 

Slate Tiles

Slate tiles are natural stone tiles which are cut from metamorphic rock. They are usually mostly grey in color. But being natural stone, there is always variation in their color and markings, so they can vary from orange to purple. They also have surfaces which are uneven, making them look even more unique and natural. Their uniqueness, natural look, color, and feel make slate a great outdoor tile for patio use. Slate is also good in wet conditions and its uneven surface is very slip resistant.

Outdoor Tiles

You can clearly see the natural variation of colors in these beautiful slate tiles

However, you should only consider slate if you live in a warmer climate, because slate is not suitable for freezing temperatures. Also while slate is a very dense material, unlike other outdoor tiles it is easily scratched. Something you probably need to take into account if you are planning to use it in an area with heavy use or young children. Slate tile must also be sealed properly to prevent staining from oils.

Outdoor Tiles

A darkly colored slate tile

 

Outdoor Rubber Tiles

Outdoor rubber tiles are perhaps the easiest way to enjoy a soft slip resistant area without spending a lot of money. While they don’t have the beauty or natural look of other outdoor tiles, they have many other advantages worth considering. They come in a variety of textures, colors, and sizes, and are extremely tough. This makes them great tiles for children’s play areas, patios, around pools, and other places where you need a soft surface with tons of grip.

Outdoor Tiles

These rubber tiles form a safe non-slip surface making this patio a safe place to relax with the family

Outdoor rubber tiles can withstand elements ranging from freezing to extreme heat.  And they are also water proof and porous, which means that water will not pool on top of them but rather drain through the tile. They can providing a textured grip in even the wettest environment and really are excellent non-slip outdoor tiles. For this reason they the most popular choice for used around swimming pools.  DIY homeowners love these tiles because they are interlocking, meaning you can install them yourself, and with no adhesive or skills required. This combined with the fact that they are not as expensive as stone or porcelain tiles means you save money not only when purchasing, but on the fact that there is no installation cost.

Outdoor Tiles

The perforated pattern surface allows for drainage and a non-slip texture on this outdoor rubber tile

 

Outdoor Deck Tiles 

Just like rubber tiles, outdoor deck tiles are great for the DIY homeowner. They come in many textures, colors, and materials.  And conveniently they usually snap together or interlock and can simply be placed down on any semi-flat surface  with no messy grout, or installation fees.  They can even be placed right on top of your existing deck, patio, or even on top of the lawn.   You don’t even need screws, nails or adhesives.  Being extremely weather and climate resistant, these tiles can be used in any conditions.

Outdoor Tiles

These handsome Teak deck tiles snap together with no glue or skill required

They come in many types of wood, like cherry, teak, oak, and ipe just to name a few.  Many of  these are insect, heat, and moisture proof.  Wooden outdoor deck tiles usually  only require a once a year application of deck oil to maintain at most. Not only limited to wood, they are also available in other materials as well, such as plastic, stone, and concrete.

Outdoor Tiles

 

Outdoor Carpet Tiles

Carpet tiles are square pieces of carpeting. This is in contrast to your typical rolled carpeting. They can be a much more convenient way to go because sections that are worn, stained, or damaged can easily be removed, replaced, or swapped. While not normally thought of as in the same group as the other tile options shown above, outdoor carpet tiles are an ideal choice for someone looking to put down carpet on their patio, garage, workshop, outdoor work area, pool house, high traffic commercial location, or entryway.  They provide a non-slip grip and can be installed very easily because of their square shape and self adhesive peel-and-stick backing. Good quality tiles are odor and stain-resistant along with durable and easy to clean.  Carpet tiles that can be used outdoors will often be advertised as indoor/outdoor carpet tiles.

Outdoor Tiles

A typical outdoor carpet tile square

As you can see, there are many types of outdoor tiles to choose from. While all have their good points, some might not be the right fit for your space or function. However, if you take it slow and ask yourself the right questions, you will find the right outdoor tile for your needs, your space, and save money  and time in choosing correctly the first time around!

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The Basics Of Slate Tiles

Slate Tiles



With warm earthy tones and a texture that is unlike not other, slate tiles offer homeowners a chance to upgrade their walls, floors, patios and more in a way that will add serious value and looks to their home. Whether you prefer something rustic or modern, slate has options that will entice you with its refined yet natural looks.  Here are the basics you’ll need to know before getting started.

What Is Slate?

Slate is a metamorphic rock that actually comes from shale a rock that contains clay.   Extreme pressure and heat from within the earth causes the clay in the shale to transform into other minerals which in turn changes the shale into what we know as slate.

Strength From It’s Formation

During this change slate forms layers that are wide yet thin.  These layers can be cut out and still maintain their strength. Their toughness even when cut into thin slices makes them unique among other stones. It is the reason why you see slate roof tiles used around the world and often for up to fifty years or more at a time without having to be replaced.  Other applications such as their use as blackboards and as the surface of billiard tables when covered in cloth are perfect examples as well.

Slate Tiles

 

Many More Colors Than Just Grey

Most homeowners automatically envision grey slate floor tiles when thinking of slate. Yet there are a many more colors to choose from and of course they can be used for many different applications to help you enhance the look of your home both inside and out.  The color of the individual stone is influenced by the presence of certain compounds and minerals.

Slate Tiles

Typically you will see grey, blue grey, and black all which are result of carbon and graphite in the stone. In contrast, when iron is present during the formation of the stone the results are gorgeous tans, reds and even purples. Green is seen when there is the presence of chlorite.   Some slate is even pink or a rusty orange color.

Where in the world the stone comes from can also have an influence on its color since different places in the world are known for having more compounds and minerals than others.  Spain, Brazil, China, India, the U.S., Wales, and parts of Africa are all well-known producers of slate and slate tile.

Slate Tiles

 

Ideally Suited For Tiles

The strength and durability of this stone really makes it a material that is perfectly suited for use as tiles both inside the home and outdoors. The fact that not only is each tile totally unique in texture but also coloration makes any tile installation in which they are used a stunning example of natural beauty. By selectively placing individual tiles or even mixing them up you can come up with some really fabulous looking layouts.

Slate tiles are resistant to water and  this combined with their texture makes them a naturally slip-proof option that can work exceptionally well to help keep areas that are slippery when wet both safe and looking great. They are also very resistant to staining along and bacteria.

Slate Tiles

 

Calibrated vs. Gauged

When shopping for slate tiles you will notice that they come in two basic types calibrated and gauged.  Calibrated tiles are ones which have been ground down so that they are flat on both the top and bottom.  These are often used in more modern interiors or on floors and walls that need to be an exact thickness along with those that are minimalist in style.

On the other hand, gauged slate tiles are ground down so that only the bottom of the tile is flat while the top is left in its uneven original state. They are usually the choice of homeowners who are looking for natural slate floor tiles, or ones for the wall for that matter, to help create a more rustic feel but that don’t have to be so even. Since they are more difficult to install, the installation should left to a professional.

Slate Tiles

 

Finishes

While most other stone options such as marble, granite, or onyx tile are known for their polished finishes this is not the case with slate.  Instead the surface is for the most part left how Mother Nature made it. Here are your typical options:

Natural Cleft

Without a doubt this is the most recognizable of all finishes because the face for the tile is left in its natural state from when it was cleft or separated from a larger piece of stone.  It is uneven in texture and can hide dust and dirt very well.  Because it is uneven if a tile with this finish was to become damaged it would be very difficult to detect and most likely would not be noticed.  The natural cleft finish is this most rustic of all choices and can provide excellent grip.

Honed

This is a matte or dull finish that is accomplished by grinding down the surface of the tile. It leaves the face of the tile totally smooth and almost satin-like and can be quite modern looking.

Slate Tiles

 

Tumbled

To create a weathered or aged look on slate tiles, they are tumbled in a drum with aggregates and chemicals.  Tumbled tiles have a matte or dull look that will really look quite vintage in appearance.

Sand Rubbed

For a texture that is similar to that of eighty grit sand paper, water with sand is hand rubbed on the face of the stone.  This is a very popular choice for flooring installations in particular.

Split Faced

A favorite for use on walls indoors and out along with backsplashes and fireplaces split faced tiles offer a display of the rough natural texture that is so associated with this type of stone.

Slate Tiles

 

The Best Uses

There are many places you can use these tiles, and some of the best are:

On Floors

Slate floor tiles come in a variety of sizes and shapes to help you transform the floors of your home.  They are typically used in the kitchen because of the fact they are highly stain resistant and unlike other stone options like marble tiles, are not easily etched by acidic cleaners. Because they are less porous (absorb a smaller amount of water) than other types of stone they make an excellent choice for bathroom floors as well. So much so that many homeowners even choose to use them inside their showers.

Slate Tiles

Slate bathroom tiles are also a very smart idea because their texture gives them a highly efficient natural grip that can help to prevent dangerous slips and falls on wet bathroom floors that would otherwise be extremely slippery and painful. Their grip also allows you to use them on your stairs if you are more partial to stone than other materials.   An added bonus of using slate on the floors of your home is that most colors and many finishes tend to cover up dirt, dust, and grime making them much harder to see.

Slate Tiles

As for size, since larger tiles tend to make a small room appear bigger, they are often used in mudrooms and foyers to help make them feel more spacious. But of course this same principle can work in kitchens, bathrooms, or any room of the house.   Many homeowners also prefer using large slate tiles because they allow you to see and experience the true beauty of each individual tile’s texture and one-of-a-kind markings.

Smaller options such as mosaic tiles also are very popular especially in bathrooms because you get even more grip which is provided by their many grout lines.  Each mosaic tile is made up of many smaller individual tiles attached to a mesh backing for easy installation.  They come in many different shapes and even tile patterns that would be very difficult to install otherwise.  Whichever size you pick, it is very important that you make sure your tiles are rated for floor use and that they are properly sealed.

Slate Tiles

 

On Walls

Slate wall tiles again are highly sought after for both kitchen and bathroom installations.  They may be what you are looking for if you already have slate on your floors, but also really look fabulous when used with other stone options like travertine tiles and even hardwood flooring to complete a natural look.  On backsplashes they always are a treat for the eyes and can really make quite an impact visually even when the backsplash itself happens to be limited in size.

Slate Tiles

They are often used to create a feature wall in the home which acts as a focal point for whatever room they are installed.   Split slate tiles are an excellent choice for this use as well as for tub and shower surrounds. But of course mosaics works amazingly well too as do small slate tiles.  Wall tiles can even be used on stair risers to both complement slate steps, or even add an extra touch to wooden ones in this space that might otherwise go un-used and un-noticed.  

Slate Tiles

 

On Counters

Typically stone countertops are known for being expensive. However, using slate tiles you can have all the benefits of stone without the price tag of a slab or other more costly choices.  Many homeowners even decide to do the job themselves to save more cash.  Slate actually is perfectly suited for the counter as it resists bacteria, staining, can handle high heat, and you won’t have to worry about damage from acidic foods like lemons.

Just make sure to use slate floor tiles since they are thicker and more durable than those made for the wall.  With the proper sealing, cleaning can be as easy as wiping the counter down with a damp cloth. While it may take a little while to get used to working on an un-even surface, their texture is part of the whole appeal of slate, and a countertop will really go a long way towards helping to create the earthy feel you are looking for while matching other slate kitchen tiles or natural materials.

Slate Tiles

 

On Fireplaces

The fireplace is one of the most cherished features of a home.  It provides warmth but also a place for us to relax in front of with the family, or even alone.  Yet, it also can have a huge effect on the room it is situated in despite how few tiles are actually required to complete the project.  Slate not only works visually but it can also handle the extremely high temperatures produced without a problem.  Just remember that that while wall tiles can be used for the surround, slate hearth tiles need to be rated as floor tile because of the extra abuse they will receive.

Outdoors

Slate is easily one of the most favored materials used for outdoor tiles. They are a safe way to go for an outside space not just because they are tough enough to handle the elements but because of their grip too. You’ll commonly see them used on steps and also around wet areas like swimming pools and hot tubs where slips and falls are a major concern, but also on walkways and patios. They are a great way to add some truly unique colors to any of these places and at the same time to the look of your property as a whole.

Slate Tiles

When considering them for your patio it’s smart to remember that slate patio tiles will need to be installed over a concrete slab. Also depending on the type of slate you choose, some may be more porous than others. If you live somewhere with freezing temperatures  this most likely will be a concern as when freezing and thawing occurs it can cause water which has been absorbed into the body of the tile to expand and crack it. Generally Indian and Chinese slate are known to take in more water while Vermont slate from the United States along with the Brazilian variety are much less porous.

Slate Tiles

 

Sealing

Even though most slate is resistant to water it should be sealed properly to protect against staining, damage, and to make cleaning and maintenance easier.   An added bonus is that sealant will just about always work to bring out and deepen the natural colors and hues of your tiles. The sealant should be applied after the tiles have been installed and before applying the tile grout to prevent the grout from staining the tiles. Many homeowners like to use what’s known as a stone enhancer with their slate tiles, which are sealers that will give your tiles a wet look and enhance the natural color of the stone while protecting it.  A wet look is a good idea for protection in areas like outdoor kitchens where oil or grease staining could be a problem.  Typically you will need to apply a new coat of sealer once a year.

Slate Tiles

 

Grouting

When grouting, many professionals find that using a caulk gun to help them complete the job is a much easier and safer way than the traditional method of using a grout float.  All you need to do is purchase an empty caulk tube from your local home store, fill it with grout, and then load it into your caulk gun. After cutting the tip, place it in the joint and run it along the length while squeezing the trigger.

You’ll want to remove excess grout with a damp sponge when you are done.  Because the natural texture of slate has many small crevices some grout may get stuck in them.  Some people don’t mind and leave it in, taking it as a normal part of working with slate.  But, if you prefer your tiles to be totally clean you may need a toothbrush to help you get the extra grout out.

Slate Tiles

 

Cleaning Slate Tiles

Sweeping or dry mopping your slate tiles on a daily or regular basis will cut down on dust and dirt. A more thorough job can be done weekly using a stone cleaner made specifically for slate tiles. Although slate is more resistant to acids than other types of stone it’s always best to use neutral cleaners for example mopping them with a mild detergent. Do not use anything harsh such as bleach. For wall and countertop tiles a damp sponge or cloth with warm water is all you’ll need. To help prevent staining it is always wise to clean up spills as they happen.

Slate Tiles

 

Slate Effect Tiles

There are alternatives for homeowners who are not so concerned with having all the benefits of real slate tiles.  Options that look similar to genuine slate are known as slate effect tiles.  Most often you will see them in vinyl and porcelain.  Vinyl tiles will have a slate-like image printed on them, are extremely inexpensive and don’t require any skill to install since they are usually peel and stick. Also, they don’t require any grouting or applying of sealant.  They do need to be used indoors however, and in dry areas.
Slate Tiles

Porcelain slate effect tiles are much more realistic looking since they can be stamped with texture. Their colors look more like the real thing as well, because porcelain takes dye extremely well.  These are a durable option that can provide grip and be used outside in wet freezing areas and indoors in wet installations like bathrooms. Many are so convincing in appearance that they will fool just about anyone who sees them. Some homeowners will even use real slate on the floor and slate effect wall tiles in the same room or vice-versa which can save a few bucks.

Slate Tiles

The info and tips above are more than enough to help you to get started out right with slate tiles.  With traits and looks unlike all other types of natural stone they can last a lifetime with a little proper care. For your next upgrade make sure you keep slate at the top of your list!

Extra Slate Tile Tips

-When cutting tiles you’ll need a tile saw or grinder fitted with a diamond coated blade to cut through slate properly.   Tools like tile nippers that are used to take chunks out of other materials will simply cause slate to crumble.

-As you are using your tile saw to cut, the stone will most likely end up flaking off smaller pieces which is totally normal so don’t worry.  You don’t have to throw them away you can still use them in areas which aren’t as visible to the eye or simply as filler pieces.

Slate Tiles

-Black slate floor tiles can be framed with white grout for a dramatic and eye-catching contrast.

-Slate goes well with all sorts of other natural materials like stone and wood but don’t be afraid to mix it up a little, using it with stainless steel backsplash tiles or even stainless steel appliances can work too.

-When you have tiles of varying colors, you can use them to create a checkerboard tile pattern using the lighter colored ones as a substitute for white, and the darker colored ones for black.

-Don’t skimp on the quality of your slate, while it’s smart to shop around for the best deals you can save yourself a lot of disappointment and time by purchasing from a reputable dealer or company.

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