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When it comes to selecting tile for your home, it is easy to become overwhelmed. This article will help you learn all the ins and outs of choosing tile.

There are lots of things to consider when choosing tile. What is your style? Modern, farmhouse, traditional, etc. Look through magazines and online for images of tiles you like. Save them to a Pinterest or Houzz board.

Before you start

What is your style? Modern, farmhouse, traditional, etc. Look through magazines and online for images of tiles you like. Save them to a Pinterest or Houzz board.


What room will the tile be for? Kitchen, bathroom, living room, or other?

Room size

The size of the room will guide what size tiles you choose. Large format tiles probably won’t work well in a smaller room. Smaller tiles may not be suitable for a larger room.


Where is the tile going to be applied? Wall, floor, shower or other? Not all tiles can be used everywhere. Floor tiles can be used on walls, but wall tiles cannot be used on floors. Showers and kitchens will need tiles approved for wet areas. We will talk more about this later in the article.

Tile size

Large format tiles are great for larger rooms but don’t work well with small rooms. Smaller tiles are good for use in areas such as kitchens and bathrooms.


There are numerous tile formats. Do you want subway, textured, mosaic, seamless, natural stone, 3D wall, encaustic? We will talk more about this later in the article.


There are numerous types of tiles. Ceramic, porcelain, glass, natural stone, marble, metal, cement, granite, limestone, travertine, resin. We will talk more about this later in the article.


What is the general feel you are trying to achieve – serene and relaxing or fun and funky? Color choices will help generate this feeling.


Matte, satin, polished, honed, glossy, tumbled, brushed.


A contrasting grout will emphasize lines and the design, while a grout in a complementary color as the tile will give a subtle effect. Ensure your grouted areas are sealed to prevent staining.



Floor tile is an excellent choice for bathrooms, entryways, and kitchens. Durable and easy to clean, it is also a healthy choice, as dirt and germs generally don’t get trapped like they do in carpet. Floor tiles can be used on walls, if using tile on floors, you must use tile specifically designated for floors. Floor tiles come in numerous shapes, sizes, colors and patterns.

Photo: Tile Bar


Tile is a great option for kitchens, backsplashes, showers, statement walls. Wall tile adds depth, character, and dimension to your space. Wall tile is available in a variety of materials and formats.

Photo: Tile Bar


Backsplash tile is usually a feature and adds character and style to your room. Backsplash tile can be subway, mosaic, slab or any variety of shapes and styles.

Natural stone mosaics cost more and require more care, i.e., regular sealing. Natural stone is mined so each tile is unique. Glass, ceramic, and porcelain are easy to clean and can be installed quickly.

Photo: Tile Bar

Shower Walls

When selecting tile for shower areas, it is important to select tile rated for wet areas. Ease of cleaning is important as well. Ceramic and porcelain are the most water-resistant, durable, and easy to clean. As with natural stone mosaics, using natural stone in a shower requires more maintenance - sealing before use, resealing annually, and cleaners designed for natural stone.

For wet areas, matte tiles and textured tiles make slipping less of a hazard. Anti-slip tiles, specifically designed for wet areas, are also an option.

Photo: Tile Bar

Shower Floors

Opt for mosaic tiles for the shower floor. Mosiac tiles have more grout lines which helps with traction and preventing slipping. Penny, hexagon, chevron and staggered mosaics are all beautiful options.

Photo: Tile Shop



Ceramic is a broad category of clay-based tile. It is water, stain, and heat resistant, and is easy to cut & install. Ceramic tiles can be used anywhere. It is generally the most cost-effective tile.

Photo: Tile Shop


Porcelain is a denser type of ceramic. This means it is more water-resistant and scratch/chip resistant. Porcelain can also be used almost anywhere.

Photo: Tile Shop


Glass tile is waterproof and stain proof. It is very easy to clean and great for shower walls and backsplashes. It is not recommended for shower floors as it can be very slippery when wet.

Photo: Tile Shop

Natural Stone

Natural s tone has the largest increase in resale value. It does more maintenance than other tiles. It requires protective sealants and specialized cleansers formulated for natural stone. Some of the benefits of natural stone are that it is water, heat, stain & scratch resistant and can last for years. Types of natural stone include: marble, travertine, limestone, slate, granite, stone, quartzite, sandstone, onyx, bluestone, and flagstone.


Metal tile is becoming increasingly popular. As an accent tile, it can be used as a backsplash or feature wall. Photo: Porcelanosa


Large Format

Large format tiles are good for large rooms such as large living rooms, kitchens, and bathrooms Large format tiles will make the space feel larger.

Larger tile means less grout joints and subsequently, less maintenance. Less grout lines looks “cleaner”.

Photo: Porcelanosa

Small Format

Small format tiles are great for areas such as kitchen and bathroom backsplashes. Subway and mosaic tiles are great choices for these areas. Smaller format tiles make great accent and feature areas.

Photo: Tile Shop



Subway tiles are rectangular tiles. Typically, they are 3 x 6 inches, but other sizes are available. Subway tiles got their name because they were first used in New York subway stations. When the first subway station was designed in 1904, affordable, low-maintenance tile was desired. The glossy white design of the first subway tiles helped create a safe, sanitary feeling for subway travelers.

Today, subway tiles can be ceramic, porcelain, glass, natural stone. There are numerous colors to choose from and patterns are endless. The high-gloss finish on subway tile makes it easy to clean and works well for shower walls, kitchen backsplashes, and any area prone to staining.

Photo: Tile Bar


Textured have rough surfaces. They are ideal for bathrooms, kitchens, as well as outdoor spaces and pool walking areas. Textured tiles can be mosaic, waved, linear or have a wood effect, to name a few. They are great as a feature tile. Amongst the most highly rated for slip resistance, they make an excellent option for wet areas. They do require a bit more elbow grease when cleaning.

Photo: Porcelanosa


Mosaic tiles consist of small pieces arranged together to form a larger pattern. Mosaic tile will have more grout lines. They are perfect for backsplashes and shower floors, as well as accent and feature bands.

Photo: Tile Bar

3D Wall

3D tiles and textured tiles are very similar. They add texture and depth to your room. They are great to use as a feature or accent. There is a bit more cleaning involved as they are not flat.


Encaustic tiles are tiles with patterns made from two to six different colors of clay. Encaustic patterns don’t wear off over time. They can add stunning visual interest to floors and walls.


Photo: Tile Bar

Ultimately, you want tile that will be timeless and reflects your personal aesthetic. Blue Leaf Design Build can help you select tile with your interior design or home remodeling project.

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