The right tile for the project

Tiles have long been the go-to option when it comes to the bathroom, but today the demand for trend-led tiles throughout new builds is on the increase. Liam Poole of British Ceramic Tile explains how to select the right tile for the job.

Tiles have evolved in recent years. Once seen as a purely functional product, tiles are now a style statement, bringing colour, pattern and designer style to walls and floors. Still incredibly hard-wearing, tiles are now as much about design as they are practicality, with designer collections and fashion-led ranges readily available to appeal to the brand conscious consumer.

With so many different materials, sizes and finishes to choose from, tiles can add a point of differentiation in new builds, capturing the imagination of prospective buyers, but knowing what tiles to choose can be a challenge.


Ceramic and porcelain tiles are both frequently specified by developers. One common dilemma is which material is best, and where can it be used. Both ceramic and porcelain are manufactured using natural clay and sand, but the differ- ence between the two materials occurs during the manufacturing process.

Ceramic tiles that are twice-fired provide a greater range of designs. The second firing process allows for more decoration on the tile, with glazes, lustres, patterns and metallic effects added. It’s this process that makes all the difference, and allows manufacturers to push the boundaries of design. Stone and wood effects, for example, can be printed onto a ceramic base to give the impression of natural stone or timber, meaning they can be far more hard-wearing and water-resis- tant than some of their natural counterparts.

Ceramics are known for being much easier to cut and install when compared to porcelain, and don’t require any sealing or special maintenance, making them a lower cost, practical option. Hard-wearing and waterproof when correctly installed, they can be installed within wetroom environments or just about any room in the home as they will easily withstand regular use. They are not, however, advised for outdoor use.

Porcelain tiles are fired once, but at a higher temperature, which makes them incredibly hard-wearing and well suited to high traffic areas such as hallways and kitchens. Denser than their ceramic counterparts, they’ll withstand wear and tear, but can be more difficult to cut and install, something to be factored in to labour costs.

Another advantage is that porcelain tiles are less porous than ceramic and are equipped to deal with freezing temperatures, so can be used outside. This works well in developments that have outdoor patios and feature areas. The tiles can flow from the outside in, a look that remains popular with homeowners wanting to bring a sense of the outdoors into their homes.

Size & format

There are no hard or fast rules when it comes to selecting the size and format of a tile. There is a movement towards larger format tiles on walls and floors, with 25×50 cm, 33×33 cm and 50×50 cm tiles often specified for projects as they are simple and quick to install. Large tiles can be creatively installed within small spaces, as less surface breaks deliver a more streamlined aesthetic, with less grout lines to maintain.

Metro format tiles are not limited to the kitchen either. They work equally well in bathrooms or living spaces, especially when several different colours are brought together into a chevron pattern design. Glass splashbacks should also be consid- ered and factored in to any kitchen design. Hygienic and easy to clean, these stunning light-reflecting glass splashbacks are full of contemporary style, and provide a practical surface covering for the area behind the hob or sink.

Where to tile

Kitchens, bathrooms, living areas, conserva- tories, cloakrooms, ensuites, hallways, the options are endless when considering where to tile. As ceramic tiles are water- resistant and hard-wearing they provide a durable surface solution for all rooms.

Such is the choice of designs now avail- able that developers can create feature walls and floors with ease, creating modern wallpaper and rug like effects that will stand the test of time.


Design, trends and the latest style direc- tions all play their part in the creation of today’s tile collections. The days of plain beige and white tiles are now gone, with developers looking for surface coverings that add an extra dimension through texture, colour and pattern.

Fashion very much continues to influence our interior spaces, with tiles now echoing some of the key trends filtering through from the catwalk. This appeals to homeowners looking to reflect their personality through their homes.

Key trends for 2018

Texture is in abundance this year, with tactile surfaces a key look for 2018. The trend sees character, texture and depth brought to surfaces. Discreet, natural stone effects are sought after, with wood, stone, concrete and marble finishes tapping into current looks. Raised surfaces are also popular in the style stakes, with surfaces becoming three-dimensional to offer a tactile quality.

In terms of colour, the traditional neutral colour palette of beige and grey has been updated with dove greys and charcoals, alongside soft clay and putty shades to appeal to homebuyers across all demographics. Pattern is also a key trend that shouldn’t be overlooked when it comes to selecting tile collections. Sales of feature floors are soaring, becoming a key growth area as developers turn to patterns to add an extra dimension to floors.

Liam Poole is head of specification marketing at British Ceramic Tile.