Tiles tend to be a permanent fixture in your house, they’re not easy to change so you want to get it right when you choose them. Therefore while trends come and go, with tiles you want something timeless and something that you are confident you’ll still love in ten years time. I got together with Sonya Watsham from Fossil Stone in Ballymount to talk tiles, she explains what’s what in the world of stone as we go through some of our favourites.
The great thing about stone is that it can be cut to any size or shape. Certain tiles can also be coloured to customise your space. Despite tiles being around a very long time (think dinosaur fossils) they can have both classic and contemporary feels
Marble is the most popular tile we see at the moment. It’s a very dense, smooth stone with little tonal variations in colours. It's a metamorphic rock, formed by heat or pressure on limestone. However unlike its sister metamorphic rock slate, marble has a very dense crystalline structure, which gives it a special luminous quality when polished and can be cut to the finest detail. Very popular at the moment is book-matched marble. This is when neighbouring slabs of marble are polished on opposite sides. When these slabs are placed side by side they’ll create a near mirror image of each other, veining can then be matched up to create one unbroken pattern. Overall it’s so popular as it’s a timeless material which can be both classically opulent or understated and modern.
Limestone dates from the Jurassic Period approximately 90 million years ago (this is why we see the most amazing fossils in limestone). The nature of the material lends itself to being easily worked so it has a wide variety of applications. Limestone is beautiful, elegant, and smooth; and can again offer both a refined contemporary look or a classic appearance depending on the finish you’re looking for. Colours range from pale creams to cool greys offering an instant feeling of permanence to any setting. It’s very popular at the moment in large format flagstone style, try it in dusty pale greys.
Travertine rock was very popular in the noughties, it’s unique in that it has a honeycomb feel, and can be used both indoor and outdoor use. Left unfilled we’ve seen it used more frequently outside, filled it provides a very smooth feel underfoot that is more popular in interiors.
We have to mention the classic ceramic subway tile. It debuted in New York City’s subway train stations in the early 1900s and from there it captured the public’s imagination and moved quickly into interiors of bathrooms and kitchens for both practical and aesthetic reasons. It’s easy to clean, stain-resistant, light reflective, and most importantly gives a feeling of cleanliness. Now available in larger sizes and a huge range of colours at affordable prices making it versatile and easy to use.
Porcelain tile is ceramic that has been dry pressed into molds under high pressure, hence it is a very dense and strong material. Unglazed it looks raw and earthy, glazed it appears flawless and clean. The tile itself comes in a wide array of colors and sizes, hence it is suitable for walls, floors, the house, and commercially. An important note is that porcelain is not a conductor of heat as it is man made, whereas natural stone (which includes marble and limestone) offers a unique feeling under foot and releases the heat during the day.
Encaustics are hand made cement tiles that can lighten any space, they have a Moroccan or Spanish feel when laid. You can use a classic pattern, or they can be made in any pattern and using any Pantone colour so can be designed for your space exclusively. They are also sealed on installation like stone but very hard wearing and can be used internally or externally.
Be sure to hit Instagram for tile inspiration under the hash tags #ihavethisthingwithfloors and #tileaddiction. Whilst there you’ll see some lovely shoes too.