Sure, reading about all things bright and beautiful is (we hope) one of the best bits about scrolling through the Ca’ Pietra blog and Instagram grid. But there comes a time where you need advice more so than inspiration, especially if you’re about to embark on a renovation project be it retiling your bathroom walls or switching up your hallway floor from laminate to charming Victorian-esque chequerboard floors. Advice like, what should you be mulling over first before you get deep into tile samples and brochures? Without further ado then, here’s the Ca’ Pietra team’s top five things to consider early on in your tile-related project – matters to do with thinking head-first rather than heart…
A question of role – what do you need your tiles to do most of all?
When you’re redecorating, it’s important to analyse your space first to understand its strengths to highlight, its weaknesses to mask and what you might be able to do via decor to let it be the best it can be.
For example, is your home largely neutral and you’re wanting to find a way to inject some colour without it jarring with the whole look and feel of the rest of your interior? Perhaps tiles in a downstairs boot room could be your answer such as any from the Marlborough Terracotta collection that introduce a natural, earthy colour, or encaustic Field collection where you could blend an off-white like Ivory with a deeper colour like Denim or Marine for a gentle introduction to colour that will still have real impact.
Perhaps your space is a small one and you want interesting tiles to distract from that to help it feel larger (patterned tiles are your best friend here as they entertain the eye and move the focus away from the reduced square meterage). Perhaps you prefer for the floor to feel seamless, in this case opt for large format tiles with a similar grout colour. Or maybe the case is the other way around and your room is large with lofty ceilings and so you’re likely to want your tiles to accentuate that height.
Point being, by thinking first about the role of your tiles in the room rather than just about how easy they are on the eye will narrow down your search and ensure your final pick is one that looks the part but that also plays a leading, game-changing role in the room too.
A question of performance – and how do you want them to act when they’re in-situ?
Role settled, now it’s time to consider how your tiles are going to play out in the room. You know what you need them to do but it’s no use choosing a tile that will score 10 out of 10 at enlarging your room’s footprint but that shows up marks when you have toddlers, ten cats and two dogs under your roof.
Performance is essential in determining which tiles make your shortlist. Are they going into a busy kitchen where you’re cooking every night of the week but equally don’t want to run for the hills when you see just how many crumbs are littering the floor afterwards? If so, think about whether more weathered tiles are better suited to your way of living like the limestone Farley and Neranjo seasoned tiles. Or a patterned tiled splashback behind the stove (like the Parisian Cafe collection or the Art Deco Atlantis Scallop tile that creates a pattern through its arc shape) that isn’t going to show every spit and spatter of Bolognese sauce that will have you wanting to mop it constantly while cooking.
Similarly, in a bathroom, do you want your tiles to be able to withstand sitting water because you know in your heart of hearts not everybody will dab them clean like you will? If so, easy-going porcelain could be just the one for you.
Tiles are there to look lovely but to also make your life easier, so be strict with yourself before your tile hunt begins. That way, you know exactly what character profile your tile needs to have to suit your lifestyle.
Money talk – the smaller the tile, the more costly the labour
Budgeting for your tiles always has to consider not just the cost for the goods themselves but the labour and the add-ons (adhesive, grout and so forth).
If you’re looking to keep costs down, an easy rule to live by is that the larger the tile, the cheaper it will be to install – less grout required and less time intricately placing each one down. Likewise, large, square tiles will be cheaper than tiny hexagonal ones because any cutting needed to fit with the contours of your room is far simpler to do with a far simpler tile shape. And finally, an easy layout reduces costs too – compare laying a herringbone wooden floor to a straightforward linear plank.
Remember that doesn’t mean all less-than-standard shapes are ruled out. Many tiles come in ready-made mosaics so that one large square tile is in effect made up of lots of smaller ones already, reducing the amount of work needed on your tiler’s part. The Long Island marble collection is a prime example, where they’re sold by the sheet rather than the tile so that you can create that forever elegant, all-marble herringbone bathroom but in a more budget-friendly way.
Reading between the lines – where does grout come into the equation?
On the subject of grout, you’d be wise to factor that into your thinking pre-project not just because of costs, but because of the effect grouting can have on your whole room’s aesthetic.
Gone are the days of simply picking white or dark grey for your tile’s grouting (though these are still two worthy options). There’s a whole host of colour options from warming neutrals to bright turquoise should you be wanting to cause a stir. The latter more so can really determine what tiles you may want to choose depending on how subversive you want your scheme to be. Perhaps that’s the way you bring colour into the space, pointing you towards a classic white metro tile in the end with a burst of colour coming through the grouting instead.
The small print – from slip resistance to underfloor heating compatibility
Saving the boring bit until last, you really do need to enter into any tile-based project ready to read that small print. Linking back to point one, for your room to have the effect it needs, do you need your tiles to be on your walls as well as your floors? If so, make that decision early-on so that you know you’re looking for tiles that can go on both surfaces.
Linking to point two, if they’re going into a wet room, you’ll have decided your tile’s performance is likely to need a high slip resistance rating. That will need to be fundamental in your search and so the all-important small print comes to the fore to prevent you from picking out a tile that doesn’t tick one of your essential boxes.
Are you going to be having underfloor heating? Not every tile is compatible with that system so you’ll need to look at that checklist and compare it with your tile’s small print to make sure they’re a good match. Or, you’ll have a heating system that will go entirely to waste.
So grab a pen and paper, make a list of everything your tiles need to do for you, your home and your lifestyle and you’ll find your search far more fruitful and far less frustrating.