What size tile is most appropriate?

What size tile is most appropriate?


Choosing the size of the tiles for a residential space is a critical design decision since it affects how large the room is perceived to be as well as setting the mood of the place... cosy, cool, spacious, busy? If your customer has a small space or a large space, what are the best sizes to choose? Should you advise smaller tiles to marry with the size of a tiny space? Will large tiles automatically make things look larger? It’s not entirely cut and dried but it really depends upon your personal circumstances and the room itself.

While it will certainly help in making a decision by offering samples, sometimes it’s difficult for a customer to picture exactly what those tiles will look like in the home. The amount of natural light, the location of our fixtures and fittings, ceiling heights and available wall space all play a role in how the finished space will look.

It's generally good advice to purchase tiles of a size relative to the amount of space. So a really large area, say an open plan kitchen/dining room, can probably handle really large format tiles or planks which will lengthen the room in the direction of the planks. If it's a medium size bathroom, a medium-sized tile will generally be suitable. The tiniest of guest bathrooms may look best with smaller, even mosaic style tiles.

However, one thing to bear in mind is grout lines as these will make an impact on the final result and whether the space will look smaller or larger. The more grout lines you have, the busier your wall or floor will look and this may have a tendency to make a smaller space look even more restricted. It may be good to go with a medium sized tile instead to reduce that grid-like appearance that results from grout lines and give the illusion of a larger space.

On the other hand a smaller bathroom for instance, might have some difficult angles which means, practically speaking, a larger tile is going to need more cuts to fit around those items. If the toilet is located quite close to the shower, for instance, those tiles running along both may require more work than using a smaller tile that will fit better around them.

One thing that will make a room look larger is to use a grout colour that is similar to the colour of the tiles. This will then make that grid appear less noticable and the tiles will look more seamless.

One area you can usually get away with smaller tiles is inside a shower cubicle. More grout lines actually mean better traction and less slipping so choosing a small or mosaic tile for this area with a larger tile in the rest of the space is a good idea.

Bear in mind as well, the more different sizes used within a space, the busier and therefore more compact it will look. So if your looking to visually expand a space, use a single style and size. Remember that tiles for the floor can be used just as easily on a feature wall.

Consider as well the placement of your tiles. If you lay tiles diagonally on the floor rather than in a grid pattern, the eye will be fooled into thinking it’s a larger area simply by the play of perspective on our eyes. The busier and smaller the pattern, for instance in a weave or thatch pattern. can make a room look visually smaller. Lay rectangular tiles opposite to a rectangular room’s shape. So a narrow room will look larger with the long side of the rectangle running perpendicular to the longest walls.

While sizes play a role, obviously also consider the colour and finish of your tiles in terms of how they will expand or contract in a space. Lighter colours and reflective glossy surfaces will make the most of whatever light there is and will thus make a space look bigger. Darker colours and matt finishes, while very trendy, can visually make for a smaller looking space. Not that there’s anything wrong with dark, dramatic spaces but if you are trying to make it look bigger, this might not be the best bet.

Ollie Behiels