Choosing your ceramic tile might be the hardest part of a tile project. There are literally thousands of colors, sizes, styles, shapes and grades to choose from.
The trend in ceramic tile used to be to stay as neutral as possible. In fact, most of the tiles sold for home use were either white, almond or gray. Nowadays, white and almond are still the most common, but people are experimenting more with color. Colors are getting warmer and brighter, as well as clearer and cleaner.
Tile Sizes and Shapes
As far as size goes, the most popular tile sold is still the 4-1/4" square wall tile. However, the current trend is towards larger tiles, like 12x12s and even 18 x18s. It's tough for a do-it-yourselfer to install anything bigger than this because the underlayment has to be absolutely even and level.
Small one inch tiles are also common. These are called mosaic tile because you can mix different colors to create borders, patterns, and even pictures. These are usually joined together in 12"x12" or 12"x24" sheets to make them easier and quicker to set. You can even have custom patterns made.
The material that's used to make tile and the methods of manufacturing determine its durability and absorption. It's important to know what tile is best suited for your specific situation.
Most ceramic tile is glazed. Glazed tile is made from a mixture of clays that are pressed into shape. A "glaze" is then applied to the top and baked on. Glazed tiles are available in high-gloss, matte, and abrasive slip-resistant finishes. Glazed tiles also come in decorative styles with a pattern or hand-painted design. The glaze on the tile doesn't go all the way through, so if it gets chipped, you're going to see the color inside. Glazed tiles may tend to get scratched on frequently-used countertops, but they're ideal for walls.
Mosaic tile is made from different types of clay with color pigments added so the color goes all the way through the tile. Mosaics are suitable for almost any surface because they resist moisture, are stain-proof and will not chip easily.
Quarry tile is a broad classification for any tile made out of a mixture of clays. They are usually deep red in color and left unglazed. These tiles are used mostly for interior floors because they're usually porous and irregular in shape. The surface of these tiles can be sealed or left unsealed, although, they may stain if left unsealed.
Another hot trend is natural materials such as slate, marble, granite, and limestone cut into thin pieces and installed like tile.
Most lines of tile have special tiles for creating borders and accents. They should also have tile for finishing corners and edges. These will give your project a professional look.
You can get really fancy with your tile layout. One way is to use trim tiles for an accent strip in your design. These come in many different varieties.
Glazed tile that is used in the field will only have glaze on the top surface. This is so they can butt up to other field tile. Special tiles will be rounded at the edges to finish off the field tile.
Bullnose is a term used to describe rounded-edge tile. A single-edged bullnose tile is used to finish off the top of a wall, like a bathtub surround, or the edge of a countertop.
A double-out bullnose has two rounded edges for finishing off the corner of a tile section.
Edge tile is used for around the overhang of a countertop.
If your line of tile doesn't come with an edge tile, you can substitute it with a bullnose tile on top and a regular field tile at the edge.
When installing wall tile, you usually want to finish off the bottom row with special base tiles. These are flared at the bottom and make a nice transition to the floor. The top of the base is square to butt up to regular field tile. There is also a tile called a "sanitary base" which has a finished top. These are used in areas where there won't be wall tile.