Design WiseShelagh Duncan

When Bigger is Better

When bigger is better header

Chair on large tilef loorWith stately presence and fewer grout lines, this versatile material brings elegance and style to walls and floors.

Large-format tiles were originally limited to commercial venues like hotels and restaurants but they have crossed over and are now being widely used in residential settings. Thanks to their large size and minimal grout lines, they create a smooth look and a feeling of spaciousness, bringing unexpected drama to your home. Side perk: less grout to clean!

What Are Large-Format Tiles, Exactly?

Kitchen and dining roomLarge-format tiles offer a clean, sleek, modern aesthetic, but they can also work well with traditional decor. They are available in a variety of materials, including natural stone, glass and porcelain. Thanks to advances in digital printing, porcelain tiles can be made to look like natural stone, concrete, metal, wood and even fabric.

Large-format tiles can be installed on both walls and floors. When used on a wall, they can be a durable alternative to paint or wallpaper. There’s no repainting or worrying about staining the wallpaper in your future. Since it is tile, you can just wipe it clean.

Tiles are considered large format when one edge is greater than 15 inches. In the past, 12-by-24-inch rectangular tiles were the most popular large-format size. Today, 18 by 36 inches is common, though, thanks to new technology, tiles can be manufactured as large as 5 by 10 feet.  The most popular size here according to Porceramica in San Jose is the 60 x 120 cm (24 x 48 inch), but they offer sizes up to 120 x 240 cm and have a wide variety of designs.

Royal Palm Interiors

Great roomThings to Consider

The benefit of using large-format tile is reduced visual interruption – a particular consideration for homeowners choosing patterned tiles. Larger tiles also mean fewer grout lines. Fewer grout lines require less grout cleaning, which in my book can only be a good thing!

One consideration when purchasing large-format tiles is that installation could be more costly than for traditional tiles. This is because of sheer size, which means that special care must be taken during transporting to ensure minimal breakage. Labor costs may be higher since some tiles could require two people not only to lift, but also install them.

Another consideration is that walls and floors must be perfectly flat to accommodate large-format tiles. A maximum one-eighth-inch discrepancy over 10 linear feet is acceptable. If there is a greater discrepancy, lippage – meaning that one edge of a tile is higher than the adjacent tile – may occur.

So before you commit to this dramatic tile size, have your contractor assess the viability of installing them based on your floor conditions. Some floors may to be too irregular and out of level for a large-format tile to be considered.

bathroomWhere Large-Format Tiles Work Best

Large-format tiles look great in open spaces. The larger tiles give the eyes relief from distracting grout lines. Imagine this same room with 12-by-12-inch square tiles—the amount of grout lines would quadruple and the eye would find it visually busy.

Matching the grout color to the tile visually expands a room and makes it feel more spacious by giving it a cohesive appearance since there is less contrast. Conversely, a contrasting grout color can make a large room feel disjointed and choppy. That said if you would still like a hint of contrast, select a grout color that is just slightly darker or lighter than the tile.

great roomDon’t be afraid to use large-format tiles in small spaces. Using the same tile on the floor and the wall creates a unified look and visually elongates the room. Another optical illusion to enlarge a small room is to paint the walls a similar color to the tile, which creates the feeling of one continuous space.

Keep in mind that busy patterns can make a small room feel smaller and that lighter-colored tiles reflect more light and can make a room appear larger.

Small areas can appear larger with the right size tile, but be careful to get the proportions right. If the tile is too large, it can overwhelm a room. Consider a tile too large when there are too many undersized cuts (less than a half tile) needed to make it fit the room. If this is the case, it’s time to downsize your tile size.

Another feature of this material is that it comes in so many finishes and looks. Here, bronzed porcelain tile adds a dramatic accent to the fireplace feature wall. Each tile is 60 x 120 cm.

great roomIn this great room, the large-format tile creates a spacious, seamless and cohesive backdrop that pulls the different areas together as one, lending a contemporary feel to the room. Think about how different the room would look with much smaller, alternating black-and-white tiles for example. These would chop up the space and make it look smaller.

Maybe large format tiles will be the right way to bring drama and unexpected glamour to your next home project. Our design team can show you how!

Until next time…

Royal Palm Interiors – Uvita  – 2743-8323
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