Question: You've talked before about tile floors in a kitchen, but I am wondering about doing it in the rest of the house. When is it appropriate to use large and small tile? I really like the small, beautiful mosaic style but I am fearful it might look busy. What do you think? Any other tips about tile flooring?
Phoebe's Answer: Choosing the size and style of tile is as much about the look as the function. It is really important to consider the size of the tile in regards to how that space will be used. We often use small tile (like in a mosaic pattern) in bathrooms because more grout means more grip on wet feet. Smaller tile is always required in a shower for slipping purposes and also so that it can slope properly for drainage. Bigger tile has less grout, so it is easier to clean and keep clean. We usually select the biggest size available in a particular tile—often 36" x 36". We use this size in foyers, hallways and kitchens as they have much more foot traffic.
We like to have as few flooring changes as possible from room to room. We like our breaks to be a different material. For example, we would do tile to wood to tile (never one kind of tile directly next to another kind of tile). Or if doing all tile, we just run the same tile throughout the space.
People often ask our material of choice. Right now, it is limestone. These things change with time, but lately, it has been our pick. Just as important as choosing high quality materials is hiring a good installer (or hiring a decorator who will do this for you). You get what you pay for with installation, and a good installer really can make or break a floor.
Don't just look at one piece of tile from a line. Ask to see multiple pieces to be sure the coloring doesn't vary more than it should. A good tile company supplies a more consistent look. You might be able to find a similar tile cheaper somewhere else, but there will be more duds mixed in with the good pieces.
Final tips: we usually have tile laid on a diagonal with a border of the same tile cut down. And keep the grout lines small. We try to match the grout to the tile or just a bit lighter.
Here are some tile floors from our projects: