“Design versatility” speaks to the ability to use a product for many different kinds of projects under a variety of conditions, while also offering diverse design aesthetics to fulfill a wide range of needs. It’s a tall order. The advantage of design versatility allows for a consistent aesthetic throughout a space, the ability to use a product in multiple ways, and the understanding of a product’s suitability in different contexts.
The ceramic tile family of surface options are truly versatile and this versatility extends to every aspect of your design, including tile size, style, and application. In the image above, for example, ceramic tile surfaces are used on the floor and walls, inside and outside, surrounding a fireplace, as a backsplash, as pool tile, and even to create shelving and tables.
The different types of ceramic tile collectively make up what is commonly known as the “ceramic tile family.” A wide variety of options within the ceramic tile family are appropriate for different levels of use (residential to heavy industrial).
The ceramic tile family includes:
- Porcelain tile — defined as having a water absorption rate of 0.5% or less. Gauged porcelain tile panels/slabs are the largest tiles in the ceramic tile family, measuring as wide as five feet and as long as fifteen feet
- Quarry tile — a glazed or unglazed tile made by the extrusion process from natural clay or shale, often found in earth tone colors of red, beige, brown, and cream, known for low water absorption and strength in high-use areas
- Pressed floor tile — floor tile manufactured by having the body of the tile formed by pressing into a shape
- Wall tile — made specifically for use on walls and not recommended for flooring
- Mosaic tile — technically, any tile that is less than nine square inches in size, often available on mesh sheets for ease of installation.
While each of these tile subsets is ceramic tile and thus shares ceramic tile’s general benefits, they are each produced slightly differently and may consequently have additional advantages that lend themselves to specific applications.
Beautiful and durable design versatility is yours with the choice of “ceramic tile” (nonporcelain ceramic tile surfaces, such as quarry tile, pressed floor tile, and wall tile) or “porcelain tile,” referring to any tile surface that meets a water absorption of 0.5% or less.
Size: Go Big or Go Small
We often think of the ceramic tile family of surfaces as standard sized squares, but porcelain and ceramic tile options prove just how inaccurate this is, with sizes ranging from tiny to tremendous.
Mosaics typically involve tiles with a surface area of less than nine square inches and may be mounted in sheets for easier installation. You may find mosaics in areas such as showers, pools, and backsplashes.
On the other end of the spectrum, gauged porcelain tile panels/slabs are as large as 15 feet long. These extra-large panels/slabs reduce the number of grout joints in an installation, creating a sleek, minimalist look that’s perfect for everything from countertops to walls.
Size options mean that a wide variety of looks (and combinations of looks) are possible with porcelain and ceramic tiles of many sizes and shapes.
Style: Any Look You Can Imagine
This means that you can achieve the look of many different materials while also enjoying the low-maintenance benefits of the ceramic tile family. Wood, natural stone, concrete, terrazzo, terra cotta, and metal looks are all possible without the worry of damage from water, scratches, or fading from the sun. You can even create the look of precious gemstones without the sustainability concerns or expense of sourcing them.
If the look of natural or traditional materials isn’t for you, choose from seemingly limitless patterns that range from floral to geometric to Art Deco, and everything in between. Choose from bright colors or neutrals, monochromatic or multicolor tile designs.
For the ultimate expression of your personality, you can even custom-design your own gauged porcelain tile panel/slab to your exact vision. Your custom-designed look might be a piece of statement art, such as the photo below, or merely a combination of your favorite colors and patterns. (Consult your retailer for more information.)
Location: Anywhere and Everywhere
Create a feature wall, surround your fireplace, or even cover your entire building exterior. Design a countertop or table that matches your flooring, or install porcelain or ceramic tile shelving that matches your walls.
Specific porcelain and ceramic tile options lend themselves to certain applications that are great choices for countertops, backsplashes, showers, kitchen and bathroom flooring, pools, and other outdoor spaces. You can put porcelain and ceramic tile just about anywhere—even on the roof!
The options don’t end there! Just imagine what would look great covered in gorgeous porcelain and ceramic tile (what wouldn’t?).
[Related: Five Places You’ll Secretly Find Porcelain Tile]
The Sky’s the Limit
Showing you the design versatility of porcelain and ceramic tile may have you thinking of more fun possibilities. Explore our Design Gallery and Pinterest boards for mosaic examples, gauged porcelain tile panel/slab inspiration, natural look options, creative patterns, and interesting tile shapes — and then dream up your own unique porcelain and ceramic tile project.