How To Choose The Right Tile For Clients

marble tile with vine pattern in industrial chic kitchen

Choosing the right tiles in a design project can make or break the overall aesthetic. Yet, with so many options and stylistic offerings…How exactly do you narrow your selection down to find the “one” for your client? Today we help you navigate the path to ideal tile in your next design. Below we review the importance of knowing where to place the tile (bathroom or kitchen?), why that matters and the different materials available for you to fall for. Ready? Let’s dive in.

Consider the room placement

The first thing you need to do before anything else is determine the room placement that you’re designing for. The overall tile selection will be impacted greatly by this, so assessing the project needs before your tiles needs is a key driver for success. For example, a feature wall tile design will vary from a shower wall tile design in that one will be exposed to watery elements 365 days a year whereas the other will not. Also notable is the size of the space that you’re designing in (bathroom or kitchen; walls or floors?.) If you’re creating a master suite bathroom, your tile needs will be quite different than that of a powder room backsplash. Not only will you need more tile in the former, but you’ll more than likely crave a statement piece that wows. 

The Bathroom 

white marble pattern tile backsplash in bathroom

Stunning Art Deco marble backsplash tile (Taiping tile) in a master bathroom that’s both light, airy and classy.

Designing for the bathroom, you’ll want to consider where the tile will exist in the space. For some projects, you may just be styling a vanity backsplash; in others, you may be creating a floor-to-ceiling tile design. Each of these have very different goals and as such, you’ll need to have a handle on the types of tiles to present to your client. 

In the event that you’re just styling a backsplash, then you have a bit more range in terms of what types of tile you can use; from mirror tiles and stone mosaic tiles to statement porcelain tiles and handcrafted ceramic tiles, walls in the bathroom can be as creative as you’d like. The main reason? You don’t have to worry about slippery floors post-shower. 

This leads us to the floor-to-ceiling situation; floor tiles and wall tiles are needed for an overall bathroom remodel. In this case, while you will have more playing room with your wall tile, the floor tiles will need more assessment. When choosing a floor tile in bathrooms, the key measurement to look at is PEI rating. This will let you know how the tile will perform under slippery circumstances. The higher the PEI rating, the better. If you can add a textured tile to the mix, that’s even more sound.

Striking statement marble tile as feature wall in an elegant shower design (Fiore 11).

Finally, if you’re creating a shower design with tiles, you’ll want to keep in mind the wear-and-tear that comes about from water, soap and cleaning products. The goal is to create a design that’s beautiful, captivating and depending on the client, livable. Shower walls tend to do well with glass tiles since they are durable, easy to clean and light reflecting; shower floors can do well with textured porcelain tiles that add underfoot traction and has a wide variety of options to style.

The Kitchen

farmhouse chic kitchen with stone pattern backsplash tile

Farmhouse country done right in this statement making kitchen with color accents and a pattern stone backsplash tile (Pantheon Antico White).

The kitchen is a mainstay in the home; from guests frequenting it to pets running around, it sees a lot of foot traffic (not to mention, a lot of spills!) This unique space has its own requirements to making sure that the tile chosen is the right fit for the room. 

Fluffy, happy dog walking on floral marble floors in kitchen.

When you’re designing a kitchen backsplash with tile, the first question you should ask yourself is this: Who will be using this space the most? This will allow you to understand if the client has children (or teens) that may use the kitchen frequently. If the household does have kids, then this is definitely something to take note of. You’ll want to use a more durable, stain-resistant backsplash option like porcelain tiles to ward off any pasta sauce splashes or creative playtime messes. 

Cute pup on slate flooring in a residential kitchen.

Likewise, when it comes to designing the floors of a kitchen, in addition to asking if the home has kids, pets should be considered, too. Since pets are likely to be tracking in mud or running along the floors with their paws, the goal is to prevent damages (like scratches and stains) in order to ensure longevity of investment. In this instance, you may want to consider using a durable wood look tile made from porcelain or a patterned ceramic tile that hides spills and scratches easily. 

For Floors

floor tiles  

Gorgeous calacatta bluette marble floor tiles (Fiore 15) in a residential modern dining room

Now that we’ve covered kitchen tiles and bathroom tiles, let’s hop into floor tiles. When choosing floor tiles, you’ll want to keep in mind the aforementioned PEI rating. Traction will always be key when designing a floor for a client. 

The beauty of floor tiles is that you can use almost any material that you desire, so long as it makes sense with your overall design (more on this below.) If you’re designing a more upscale, luxurious residential home than you’d likely want to consider a stunning marble waterjet tile. On the flip side, if you’re working with a small budget in a family living room, a lower cost porcelain tile is the way to go.

For Feature Walls

mosaic mural on wall  

Custom mosaic tile mural in an upscale commercial common area with a gorgeous peacock and exotic flowers.

The last placement we’d be remiss not to mention is the ever-gorgeous feature walls. With their exuberant appeal and ability to add a covetable touch to any space, be it a living room, commercial lobby or bathroom, the goal is always the same: create an artistic focal point.

As such, it’s easy to play around with materials and ideas here. One of our favorite touches to a feature wall? Using mosaic tiles to create gorgeous murals. You can truly captivate the unique fingerprint of your client with mosaic tile art and have it be a permanent installation of artwork for years to come.

Size matters for the tile

The next area that we’re going to discuss that can make all the difference in choosing the right tile for your client is size. When it comes to designing with tile, size matters. It just does. You need to know the way the tile will work in a space. The end goal is to make sure that the appearance is seamless and complementary, not overwhelming. Below we’ll guide you on the 3 main sizes of tile available and considerations for each.

Large Format Tiles

white deco floor and wall tiles in bathroom

Cement look large format tiles (Stargaze collection) decorate a sleek modern commercial hotel bathroom with floating vanity.

Let’s talk large format tiles first. These larger scale tiles have become a modern tile favorite, and it’s easy to understand why; they offer less grout lines, more square footage coverage and a seamless appearance. Sounds pretty fantastic, right? 

Before you hop in and decide that large tiles are the way to go, you should definitely consider the overall size of the space that you’re designing with. If the space is smaller, large format tiles may overwhelm it or create less dynamic design than you’d like. For example, if a client wants a more midcentury modern design, you’d be better off mixing together different tile types (maybe a ceramic square tile with a marble floor tile) to give the space the quirk it needs. However, if your client wants a contemporary master bathroom, then using seamless large scale porcelain or marble tiles is a great idea! They can offer the sleek, stylish sophistication the space needs with little effort.

One more point to consider: Unlike some of the other tile options available, large tiles primarily are made in porcelain and stone right now, due to durability. So, for those that want glass or ceramic materials, this is not the ideal type to design with. 

Classic Mosaic Tile

white penny tiles on kitchen wall 

Thassos white marble penny round tiles (Cynthus tile) in a Scandinavian chic kitchen.

Next up are the ever-classic, time-defying classic mosaic tiles like penny rounds, basket weaves, or Carrara hexagons.These beautiful, varied tiles can work in nearly any space and design interior. There are myriad materials that you can design with, so the options are seemingly limitless. The only thing that you need to consider is the size of the space itself and the client’s tastes. 

For example, marble hexagon tiles do extraordinarily well in small spaces since they add character, a geometric intrigue and sophisticated style all at once. On the other hand, overusing such tiles or mixing too many sizes of marble hex tiles in one area may not be ideal in an entire master bathroom as it can become aesthetically overwhelming to the eye.

The other consideration is grout lines. Classic mosaic tiles require more grout lines than other tile styles. So, knowing whether your client wants a more seamless, sleek design or likes the look of grout (maybe even wants to use a color pop against white penny tiles!) is important to keep in mind.

Timeless Subway Tile

linen look glass tile subway

Stunning linen look subway tiles (Sierra Snow Linen) adorn a vanity backsplash in a transitional modern bathroom.

Subway tiles are our third size of tile to keep in mind. These traditional, beloved tiles are noteworthy in their ability to work in nearly any space that they are placed. Whether it’s a white subway tile backsplash in a kitchen or colorful subway tiles in a shower, they are chameleons of design and essentially a safe route to client happiness. 

With many size options; 3×6, 4×12 and 3×10, you can create a medley of tile layouts with these tiles. It really comes down, again, to client aesthetic preferences. 3×6 is the ultimate classic size of subway tile and looks great vertically or horizontally stacked. On the other hand, a more slim subway tile like a 3×10 can create a fun, chevron lay pattern in a bathroom or kitchen. Knowing the style of the space will help assess the size of this tile to be used.

Material/Texture of tile

The next thing to consider in your space when choosing the perfect tile for your client is the material or texture of the tile. There are a variety of materials in the world of tile, but not all will be the “one” for your design. Below we outline the major forms of tile and the best options of use!

Glass Tiles 

gorgeous blue tiles in bathroom behind vanity mirror

Swirling glass blue tiles (Blue 3×9) adorn a vanity backsplash in a transitional modern home.

There’s so much you can do with glass tile which is why it’s a covetable material and a go-to in interior design styles. You can add a bold glass feature wall tile to a powder bathroom (like above) and instantly create a focal point in the space. Alternatively, if your client is less comfortable with emboldened statements,  you can use a herringbone gray glass backsplash tile to evoke a sense of movement and make a creative design without the drama. Plus, they’re easy to care for, which means minimal maintenance for your client!

Wood Look Tiles

floor tiles with rustic Bianco

Wood look tile flooring in a rustic chic residential home (Oregon Rustic Bianco).

Another material option that works great in place of traditional wood is wood look tiles. These tiles are usually made from porcelain and are extremely durable. Thanks to printing advancements, the intricate details will trick the eyes into thinking the real thing lays underfoot. You can enjoy a large spectrum of wooden hues; cherry, mahogany, and oak. Plus, there’s specific attention given to replicating a realistic wood graining and knotting to create a beautiful result. Use on kitchen floors, commercial lobby entryways, living room floors and bathroom floors for a splendid twist on tradition!

Recycled Glass Tiles

blue and multicolor recycled glass tiles  

Sustainably chic glass tiles cover the vanity of an eco-friendly bathroom backsplash design (Verre collection).

For those that live an eco-conscious lifestyle, recycled glass tiles are a great option. Made from recycled bottles, these vibrant colorful tiles can make a splash in any design. Plus, recycled glass tiles are just as durable as regular glass tiles, which makes them the perfect kitchen backsplashes, bathroom feature walls and shower floors. We’re sure that your eco-friendly clients will love the suggestion!

Marble Tiles 

mosaic tile with vine pattern behind a vanity

Sophisticated vine pattern Carrara marble tiles (Leaf Carrara) decorate the backsplash in a transitional modern home.

One of the most decadent and sophisticated options for tile is natural stone. It’s with little wonder why this tile has been around for centuries. This material has a naturally chic appearance and can instantly create a classy atmosphere wherever placed. Plus, natural stone has inherent variations due to its veining. Carrara marble tile is extremely different from Nero Marquina marble tile, which allows designs to be tailored according to taste. Use natural stone backsplash tiles (like above) to create an exquisite experience in a residential home or use a calacatta bluette pattern mosaic tile on a feature wall in a hotel lobby.

Metallic Foil Tiles

shower with gold tiles

Stylish gold hex tiles ( Cordoba Gold ) adorn a bathroom’s shower wall design.

Metal-look tiles offer a sense of unequivocal beauty and refinement in design. With their sparkling, shimmering facades, they steal the show and stand out immediately. There’s a world of metal tiles that you can choose from; glass mosaic tiles with foil backing, metal look porcelain or ceramic tiles and metal tiles (made with steel, for instance.) There’s a true art to designing with metallic tiles, no matter the material they are made with, since they bounce light and exude a cool vibe. You can use metal look tiles in an industrial chic kitchen or use a penny tile in a luxurious shower design (like above.) There’s no limit, really.

Slate Tiles 

kitchen with slate tile backsplash

Slate tiles (Picasso Collection) in a cozy, rustic traditional kitchen in a residential home.

Slate is one of the more popular options in design since it has an intrinsically rustic and homey aesthetic to it. This natural stone comes in a variety of tones; black, dark gray, light gray and beiges. Known for its organic appeal and cool-to-the-touch surface, it’s without wonder why this tile is used in endless interior and exterior remodel and design projects. You can use slate tiles for patio designs, bathroom walls, and kitchen backsplashes. With its neutral color palette, it can be a design mainstay for years.

Porcelain Tiles 

feature wall tile in bathroom

Sleek, stylish and Japanese inspired bathroom interior with koi fish pattern porcelain tile (Kasai Carta Koi) feature wall.

Porcelain tile is the ultimate in versatility. This durable, low maintenance option can create covetable spaces in no time. Porcelain tile backsplashes can emulate the style of marble with stone look porcelain tiles or create trendy, terrazzo inspired floors of a residential or commercial space. This material can also create the appearance of wood with wood look mosaic floor tiles. This tile alone offers a large distribution of styles that can cover backsplashes, kitchen floors, bathroom tile needs.

Ceramic Tiles 

handmade square ceramic backsplash tile

Black square zellige ceramic tiles (Silk Daku) in a midcentury modern bathroom design.

 There are so many forms of ceramic tiles that are available to use; from zellige ceramic tiles (above) to patterned ceramic tiles. These beautiful tiles are a great option for kitchen backsplashes, fireplaces and bathroom walls; however, when it comes to using ceramic tiles in watery (or wet) environments, it’s advised not to. The reason is simple: They are a bit more porous than other tile options, like glass tile or porcelain tile, which means that over time they can chip or discolor.

Know the overall design and color scheme

You’ve made it to the last and final thing to keep in mind when choosing tile for your client and that’s knowing the overall design scheme. It’s especially important to define your overall design scheme before diving into tile shopping. The reason? You can end up with the wrong tile hue (yes, there are different shades of black, too!) or the wrong tile style for your design. To avoid that, it’s much better to define the design before and then decide on a tile.


Farmhouse kitchen with recycled glass tile (Epillet Beige) backsplash.

There are several reasons this is important; the first being if you’re designing a modern farmhouse kitchen. This interior design style is known for being airy, bright and welcoming. It tends to use mixed textures, white or earth-tone hues and wood fixtures. If you picked and ordered a tile before deciding on modern farmhouse, you can run into a clash of styles. Let’s say you ordered a stunning black statement tile, this would be a great addition to a modern design or an Art Deco design but not so much a farmhouse chic one. 

All white kitchen featuring Matrix Blanco large tiles.

Aside from just knowing the interior design style that’s being used, you should also acquaint yourself with your color goals. There’s good reason for this; if you’re creating an all-white kitchen or all-white bathroom design, for instance, you’ll want to keep in mind how the white tiles will work with the appliances used. You don’t want to select and off-white tile that will clash with classic white cabinetry or flooring.

Monochromatic black bathroom backsplash featuring Tuxedo Park mosaic tiles.

If you’re creating a monochromatic design (like above) it’s very important to define whether you want to mix up colors, like in the design where different types of bold black is used between the black vanity and black backsplash tile. Some people like monochromatic designs to be just one shade of a color, and build from there; others prefer using different shades of a color to give a space dimension. Finally, when it comes to colors, be sure that if your client is someone who wants one single bold statement in the bathroom backsplash or kitchen floor, you consider this in tile selection. Tile can make a flawless bold statement and the other aspects in a design can be parred down.

That’s why knowing before designing is the key to your happiness and your client’s happiness. If you ever need help finding the right tile or want to join our trade program to get a rep to help you on your endeavors; feel free to sign up here


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