The best tile size for your kitchen, bath, or other area will depend on your style preferences, the room size and shape, and other factors. Since tile floors, walls, and other surfaces are some of the most important features in your home, you’ll want to spend some time deciding on the perfect tile size for your tile installation project. Although there is no exact formula for choosing the right size, here are some important ideas to keep in mind.
The Basics of Tile Size
When it comes to tile size, homeowners are faced with a good problem: too many choices. There is a plethora of standard sizes to choose from, plus many manufacturers offer their own non-standard sizes.
- Square tiles range from 1/4″ x 1/4″ to 24″ x 24″
- Rectangular tiles range from 1″ x 2″ to 12″ x 48″
- Subway tiles range from 3″ x 4″ to 6″ x 8″
- Plank tiles range from 4″ x 24″ to 12″ x 48″
Custom tiles, including hexagon, octagon, star-and-cross, arabesque, and scallop, can range from 1/2″ x 1/2 ” to 9″ x 13″, and as previously mentioned, they can be smaller or larger, depending on the manufacturer.
Tile Size and Optical Illusions
Tile sizes can cause people to perceive the size and shape of a space differently than what it actually is. In most cases, homeowners want to make smaller spaces look larger. This can generally be achieved with fewer grout lines and larger tiles. This concept works in reverse, too. If you want to make a larger space look smaller, go with more grout lines and smaller tiles.
Tile selection can influence the appearance of oddly shaped rooms, as well. For long, narrow rooms, set rectangular tiles perpendicular to the longest wall to create the illusion of width. For rooms with low ceilings, set rectangular tiles vertically on the walls to create the illusion of higher ceilings.
Potential Problems Associated With Tile Size
Regardless of what size tile you select, the success of your installation will depend heavily on the knowledge, skill, and experience of your tile installer. Choose a tile installation contractor who makes it a point to consistently meet or exceed industry standards. Here are a few examples of potential problems associated with tile size.
- Large format tile. Substrate preparation for floors and walls is especially important if you decide to select large format tiles. Any tile with a side longer than 15 inches is considered a large format tile. A substrate that is not flat or stable can increase the likelihood of damage to the tile, such as chips and cracks.
- Mosaic tile. Although mosaic tiles come in sheets, you should not be able to see the lines between the sheets of tile when the installation is finished. An inexperienced installer might have a hard time achieving the desired results.
- Natural stone. Natural stone tiles in larger sizes can be heavy. If the substrate is not properly prepared, tiles can fall off walls, posing a hazard to anyone nearby. If flooring substrates are not able to support the extra weight, the tiles can crack or break. In extreme cases, a subfloor can sag or even collapse.
An experienced installer will know how to avoid these and other problems associated with tile size. To learn more, read our article, How Materials and Other Factors Influence Labor Costs.
Cleaning and Maintenance
The larger the tile size, the fewer grout lines there will be, and the smaller the tile size, the more grout lines. Since grout lines can impact the amount of time and effort needed for cleaning and maintenance, some people prefer to select larger tile sizes. For more information, read our article, Tips for Tile Cleaning and Care.
NOTE: Copher Tile and Stone can apply grout sealer to your grout lines as an add-on service.
As a standard practice, we use a high-performance cementitious grout that does not require sealing. These grouts perform as well as a standard cementitious grout does with a coat of sealer. They will accept a coat of sealer if you desire a higher performance, though. To maintain the higher performance, you will need to have your grout regularly resealed.Adam Copher, Owner of Copher Tile & Stone
Combining Tile Sizes
Using a combination of two or three tile sizes can help create interest. Design possibilities include:
- Tile rug. A tile rug is a decorative design or pattern reminiscent of an area rug. Since it is made with tile instead of fabric, a tile rug can simplify your cleaning routine. Tile rugs are usually installed in front of a fireplace, near an entrance, or as a focal point in a room.
- Tile medallion. Similar to a tile rug, a tile medallion is a strategically positioned pattern that is different from the surrounding tile. It usually is very prominent and ornate. Tile medallions can be created by a skilled installer. Very elaborate designs can be created and pre-mounted by tile artisans and then incorporated into your tile installation by your installer.
- Borders and inlays. Decorative accent tiles in a backsplash, along the edges of a room, or around certain elements in a room, such as a fireplace, tub, or niche, can add visual interest to your tile installation.
NOTE: If you decide to use more than one size tile in a room, be aware that other patterned elements in the room, such as wallpaper, curtains, rugs, or patterned upholstery, can interfere with the look you want. The more complex a room design is, the smaller the room will feel.
Since tiles play a crucial role in your interior design, selecting the perfect tile size for your installation project is well worth the time and effort. Keep these essential ideas in mind as you make your decision. Feel free to reach out to us to discuss your tile size or ask for specific recommendations.
by Alice Dean
Copher Tile & Stone proudly stays up to date on tile installation methods and the latest technologies in tile lighting with ongoing education with Mapei Technical Institute, Ardex Academy, the National Tile Contractors Association, Laticrete, and Schluter. Copher is a Certified Tile Installer (#1644).