Designer Answers: Tile

Today, Eheart designer Lela answers a few questions about tile–porcelain vs. ceramic, what’s trending, creative layouts and more!

Q: What’s the difference between porcelain and ceramic?
Lela: Ceramic tiles are generally made from red or white clay mixture, kiln fired, and are always finished with a durable glaze that carries the color and pattern. These tiles are often softer, more brittle and easier to cut than porcelain. Porcelain tile is made by a dust pressed method from porcelain clays, and they are nearly impermeable. Glazed porcelain tiles are harder than non-porcelain ceramic tiles, and are they’re suitable for any application–from residential to highest traffic commercial or industrial applications.

Q: Some porcelains are referred to as “through body” or “color body.” What does this mean, and why is it an important characteristic?
Lela: “Through Body” or “ Color Body” means the color or pattern runs all the way through the tile, rather than just on the face of the tile. This characteristic is important because if the surface of the tile starts wearing down or chips, it will be less noticeable in a through-body porcelain than it would be with other ceramic tiles (where the red or white clay would be exposed beneath the tile face).

Q: What are some examples of unique accent / decorative tiles to include in a tile design?
Lela: Accent tile allows the client to express his or her personality and add a punch to the design. A standard design I often use is the addition of an inlay of tile into a field of tile to make the design appear to look like an area rug. A while back, a designer asked Julie Anderson–a ceramic artist–to custom design fringe for an area rug inlay. The result was a classic, unique and timeless design.

Q: What are some factors to consider if a client is looking for sustainable tile products?
Lela: By choosing tile, the client has already made the first step to sustainability, because tile has a longer lifesplan than many other products. Ceramic tiles have existed for thousands of years. As a matter of fact, archaeologists have unearthed numerous mosaic floors beneath the ashes of Pompeii. Ceramic tiles are also free from chemical off gassing. I would recommend looking into where is the tile originated. Does the tile need to be shipped from a long distance? Many times, tile is shipped from other countries and just the fuel used to get the tile to your job-site is not sustainable. Another factor I would say to consider is to find out if the factory recycles unused raw clay and if they run the factory to conserve water and energy in production.

Q: What are some of your current favorite tile products, and what do you love about them? 
Lela: I am loving the trend of monochromatic tiles with a relief design! May I say, “texture.”








Q: What are your favorite creative tile layouts?
Lela: My new favorite layouts deal with color blocking and the non traditional way of having a tile set vertically versus horizontally. Color Blocking allows a designer to use bold color without over powering the room occupant. Tile set vertically in bathrooms is intriguing because it gives you the illusion of water falling.  

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