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Style comes in many shades and finishes with tile

By Kathryn Weber
Tribune Content Agency

Tile was once coldly utilitarian and blandly oblivious to any kind of real style. Fast forward to today’s tile, and the choices and varieties are limitless. Perhaps the biggest news is that tile is being used in more ways than ever. Tile’s fresh look makes for easy upkeep, too.

From metallic materials to natural-looking stone to glass, you can create a beautiful room by using one style or, better still, combining a variety of tile styles and sizes.

Tile is being used more on walls outside of the shower. Instead of sticking with small 4-inch-by-4-inch or 6-inch-by-6-inch tiles, you can decorate showers and bathrooms with 12-inch and larger tiles; tiny, intricate mosaics; glass strips; and even pebbles. Adding tile to bathroom walls creates a spa-like look at home.

Set the style

Tile can also be used to reflect the style of a home. The pattern can be especially powerful. For example, using certain tile patterns on floors and walls can create a period feel. A running bond pattern in a long, rectangular-shaped tile will create a turn-of-the-century look. Add tile with a crackled glaze, and the look can become more authentic. Take that same running bond and apply it to large tiles with a stone look, and you can recreate the look of a castle floor.

Mix tiles

Tile manufacturers carry a variety of sizes, as well as accent and trim pieces to match. If you want a cleaner, more contemporary look, limit the variety of tiles used. If you want an opulent look, mix them.

Try adding a stone pebble finish in a wave pattern in the middle of a shower wall or on the floor of the shower. Mix finishes, such as metallic or glass, with your tile to give it a burst of interest. Instead of wood trim in the bathroom or kitchen, add a tile baseboard. The look is updated, and tile can withstand more wear and tear than wood can.

Be picky

The main concerns with tile are where to use it and which grout to choose. Many kitchens today feature rough tile backsplashes. While they look fantastic, they also can be tough to clean grease splatters on this type of finish.

A particularly wonderful look is metallic tile behind a stove. These smooth-surface tiles dress up the area and are easier to clean.

Grouting material has improved, especially those made for wet environments, such as a bathroom. Grout needs to be sealed, and with new grouts that contain sealer, this problem is taken care of.

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