On the tiles; WM interiors editor Rin Simpson offers up her top tips for choosing tiles for your home.
IF YOU thought choosing a tile was an easy job, think again. There are hundreds, if not thousands of varieties out there, which could leave you floundering about for months trying to decide what's right for you and your home.
There are ceramic tiles and glass ones, ones made of stone or even shell. They can be matt, gloss, textured or bevelled. There are endless colours to choose from, metallics and patterns.
They can be oblong or square, big, small, or a mixture of all of these. Yes, there's definitely a lot of variety out there.
So, how to choose? Well, there is no one definitive rule, I'm afraid, just a lot of tips that might help you narrow your choices a little. Here are some of the things you'll need to think about: [bar] Set a budget. There's no point falling in love with Fired Earth's stunning Midas tiles (one of my all time favourite ranges) if you can't afford the pounds 325 a square meter price tag.
Think about the amount of wear your tiling will get. The floor in a high traffic area is much more likely to get knocked and chipped than a kitchen splashback, making the latter a better place to invest in expensive tiles or ones which build together to form an image.
In general, ceramic tiles are fairly hard wearing but porcelain ones are even stronger, and are also frost resistant so perfect for outdoor use. Natural stone tiles look stunning but can be porous and may therefore need treating.
Any tiles which are going in high moisture areas like kitchens and bathrooms should be sealed, so as not to absorb too much moisture. This is particularly important if anything could be spilled on the tiles which might stain. Unglazed quarry tiles, in particular, stain easily.
If you're unsure whether a tile you like is suitable for your planned purpose, look at the European Group Standard rating.
If it is in group one, it should be suitable for walls, as well as bathroom floors where any foot traffic is likely to be barefoot. For general residential use, group two tiles are acceptable, unless there is likely to be very heavy traffic. Group three covers pretty much any eventuality, while groups four and five tend to be used for commercial buildings and other public places. [bar] Safety is key, particularly with floor tiles which need to be non-slip. Don't be tempted to use your favourite wall tiles on the floor, as these don't have the right 'coefficient of friction,' meaning they will be too slippery.
Texture looks great on walls but these tiles are less practical on surfaces where they would make anything put down on them unstable, or on floors where they could potentially be a trip hazard, depending on the extent of the texture.
Of course, one of the most important things to consider is what you like aesthetically! Ask for samples and include these in your room moodboard so that you can see how the tiles blend with the rest of your furniture, fabric swatches and decorative accessories.
Visually, large tiles will make a small room feel bigger, as small tiles break up the space with lots of grouting. If your tiles aren't square, direction can play a part, leading the eye along the longest lines, so think about this when you come to placing your tiles.
If you're thinking about laying the tiles yourself, a good practical tip is that the larger the tiles, the less work there will be for you to do!
Don't be afraid to mix and match. Larger tiles with a border or a decorative midline of smaller mosaic tiles gives a more interesting look and is also a good compromise between the ease of laying the larger tiles and the attractiveness of the smaller ones.
Don't forget about grout, which can be used decoratively as well as practically.
There are many different colours available, so think about which one will bring your chosen tiles to life most effectively.
Finally, shop around. There are many specialist companies such as Welbeck Tiles which do incredibly beautiful and unique tiles, but hardware stores like B&Q are increasingly providing a fantastic range of products in all styles which work across a range of budgets.
[bar] A selection of hand painted tiles like these ones from Welbeck Tiles can be used to add a focal point to a room. Sea star tiles from pounds 12, Welbeck Tiles, 01736 762000, www.welbeck.com > MORE INTERIORS PAGES 22&23 [bar] Rectangular chamfered tiles are very 'now', and are really multifunctional, working as well in an industrial style apartment or a sprawling Victorian home, for example. Metro 6x3in tile in translucent Apple Green glaze 74p each, H&E Smith, 01782 281617, www.hesmith.co.uk [bar] White is the colour of the season, but it doesn't have to be plain - the texture of marble, limestone and quartz in this irregular mosaic tiling scheme really adds interest. Modernist Mosaic in Atsuta tiles pounds 24.12 per sheet, Fired Earth, 0845 366 0400, www.firedearth.com [bar] These tiles are made from stone, glass and shell in a range of grey shades to create a multi-textured look with both matt and gloss finishes. Classical Dahli grey brick mosaic tiles (28cm x 28cm sheet) pounds 24, Better Bathrooms, 0844 484 7678, www.betterbathrooms.com [bar] The luxurious glow of Fired Earth's Midas tiles is stunning, but the price tag would only suit a sizeable budget. Midas tiles pounds 325 per square meter, Fired Earth, 0845 366 0400, www.firedearth.com