They’re Not Just for Floors Anymore!
Shower walls, tub surrounds, countertops and fireplace surrounds are all applications that are appropriate for large format (16×16 and larger) ceramic tiles!
The larger tiles provide our clients more of what they are buying — ceramic tile — and less of what they generally don’t want — grout and caulk!
In many instances the quality of the tiles allow us to set them as close as 1/16″ apart. With grout joints that size, our clients are getting more than a full measure of ceramic tile with all the ease of maintenance and style benefits, rather than the maintenance concerns and distractions that grout can cause.
Many of our shower and tub surrounds have less than 1% grout in them versus the 5-10% that would be in the same area using traditional sizes.
We often, even in very small bathrooms, utilize the same large format tile on the floor and walls (in one recent instance we used the same large tile on the floor, tub steps and deck and walls up 14 feet!). The large format tile gives a very elegant marble and or stone like appearance at a fraction of the cost of marble or stone. The long term value for our clients is also increased as we have dramatically reduced the potential for scratching and or staining of the floors or walls that is a real concern should marble or stone be used in the application.
Often potential users of ceramic tile for countertops are concerned about cleaning the grout should it be stained during the normal course of use. This fear many times translates to the use of Formica, Corian or other seamless or near seamless countertops rather than ceramic tile. With the use of large format tiles, set close together and sealed the grout problem is much reduced.
When using large format tile we don’t split the tile down the middle of the countertop. Instead whether we are using sink rail or a brass or metal edge we install the full 16×16 or 18×18, etc. as the front tile and make our cut toward the back of the countertop. We do this for two reasons. We want the work area to have the maximum amount of tile as the work surface and we want the cuts toward the back were they are often covered up with cookie jars and toasters!
We similarly do not split fireplace hearths in half when we use large tiles. In our opinion the large tile set in the front with maximum exposure to it’s design gives a better appearance. We do often split the tiles when constructing the side legs and often the top half of the surround, particularly if a wood mantle and surround will be covering the end of the tile. We have also successfully utilized brass or painted metal edging to trim full size tiles as the full surround without wood mantles.
Our experience is that clients have some reluctance at first to consider larger format tiles in “unusual” applications. To overcome this reluctance we have a multipronged approach. First of all we remind them that it is their house and they should only get what they are comfortable with but they should at least check out some samples to “test the waters” with a couple of larger tiles. We also have many pictures of previous assignments and have CAD CAM capabilities to make them drawings of various sizes in the same area. Finally our former clients are always pleased to show off their new tile to potential “converts” and really do the best job of all in selling our new clients on the benefits of using large format tiles.
We have truly discovered and are putting into practice everyday the belief that large format tiles are not just for floors anymore!
Carlo Americo Odella
Carlo Americo Odella