Happy National Tile Day!
Why Tile is celebrating National Tile Day by counting down to Coverings, the preeminent event of the North American tile and stone industry. Every week until Coverings, we’ll share one of the tile trends experts expect to take off in 2023 (and that we are likely to see a lot of at Coverings).
We’re starting off our trends tour with a look that was foreshadowed in 2022 by our organic textures trend — undulated tile.
There’s a trending desire for goods made for a human, by a human, and that holds true for tile. Subtle undulations in the surface emulate manually applied thick glazes. Gently uneven surfaces draw your eye and create the sense that a skilled artisan intentionally crafted each tile.
Hand-pressed or not, the visual is so authentic, you’d expect a hand-written note from the maker to accompany your order.
Let’s take a closer look at what undulated tile is and explore our favorite undulated tile applications and designs.
Undulated Tile Meaning: What Is Undulated Tile?
The term “undulated” refers to a smooth rising and falling. Undulated tile, then, refers to any tile with a surface that’s gently uneven. Handmade tile and zellige tile are both tile types that’d fall under this trend.
Because of its uneven surface, no two undulated tile installations will be the same. Each will have its own unique variations. What’s more, surface undulation enhances the glaze’s color and reflects light for added visual interest.
Undulated Tile by Application
So, where should you use this style of tile? Here are some of our favorite spots.
Hands down, the best spot to show off handmade or zellige tile is a backsplash, where everyone can admire it.
If a backsplash doesn’t provide enough real estate to do your undulated tile justice, consider creating a feature wall. With the right design, a feature wall can set the tone for your whole space.
A half (or partial) tile wall is a unique way to add as much undulated tile as you want to your space. Continue tiling as high as you like!
Undulated tile is a popular choice for kitchens — not only for backsplashes, but walls, flooring and countertops as well.
Did you know that you can tile the sides of your kitchen island? And here’s another hint: It’s a great place for undulated tile because the undulations help reflect light in a space that can be in shadow.
This photo showcases that undulated tile looks great in bathrooms — especially if you want to create a nature-inspired getaway.
Imagine showering surrounded by inspiring zellige-look tile like this. We can’t think of any better way to start the day — so the shower is definitely making our list of the best places for undulated tile.
Who wouldn’t want to see flames reflected off of a gorgeous undulated tile surface? If you agree, a handmade fireplace surround might just be for you.
Undulated Tile Designs
So, you have an idea of where you might install tile with this type of texture. But what design will you go with?
There are limitless designs to choose from, but to get you started, here are some of our favorites.
The natural look of undulation goes well with white tile — especially off-white and cream shades, which have a more earthy look. Together, the qualities create an organic vibe that is soothing.
Undulated Subway Tile
An absolute favorite is undulating subway tile with a hand-made look — especially undulated white subway tile. The pristine precision of subway tile combined with the organic texture creates an inexplicably calming look.
Of course, white is by no means the only color that looks good with tile undulation — nor do you need to choose an earth tone. Bright colors also look great with undulated tile, such as the backsplash above.
Why choose just one color when you can incorporate multiple?
Undulation is to your tile’s surface what variegation is to its color. The subtle shading differences of variegated tile go hand-in-hand with an undulated surface.
When it comes to shapes, we often see these types of tiles in neat square grids, such as the one above.
Rectangular tiles are another option. Which do you prefer?
Why not offset the gentle rising and falling of your tile surfaces with the sharp zigzag of a herringbone layout? We have a soft spot for this seemingly contradictory combination.
Embrace Undulated Tile
The surface of this tile may be rising and falling, but its popularity is solely on the up.
However, in case you’d like to explore more styles before making your choice, we have six additional tile trends coming your way. Remember to check back each week leading up to Coverings for a new trend!
Are you part of the tile and stone industry? Come see these and more undulated tile looks on display at Coverings 2023 from April 18-21 in Orlando, Florida.
Planning on using tile like this in your own home? Explore more undulated tile ideas on our Pinterest channel. Then be sure to share your project with us on Instagram using #WhyTileStyle!