Custom tile: what kind of tile and finish should I use?
Customers frequently ask us what kind of tiles they should use for their new custom art kitchen backsplash, shower tile, tile wall mural, tile border or floor.
First, let’s talk about standard custom imaged tile sizing: the standard sizes available for custom-imaged tile are: 4.25″ square, 4.00″ square (tumbled stone only), 6″ square, 8″ square, and 12″ square. 6″ x 6″ tile is the most frequently used size for tile murals. One might consider using larger tile sizes for bigger spaces. I personally don’t recommend 4.25″ tile for mural work, unless you space demands it and you are not covering a large area–it will look way too busy. So your mural must mathematically be in increments of these numbers.
Invariably, the first thing I will ask my customer is where in the home the tile is going to be installed, because that will impact my answer to a certain degree. If the mural is going to be splashed with hot cooking grease and be installed in a busy area that tends to get dirty (like a backsplash behind a stove), my recommendation would be glass–and that’s because the cleanup is by far the easiest. Would other tile types work behind a stove? Positively. But they won’t be as easy to maintain as glass.
For full disclosure purposes, I must confess to having a preference when it comes to tile, especially tile with Color Bakery art on it. My first choice is glass. Why? A few reasons, the most compelling one being aesthetic. You can’t touch glass when it comes to beauty and jaw-dropping impact. Ceramic and tumbled stone are beautiful, but glass—glass sings on a stage all its own. Glass receives color magnificently, so it is the perfect choice for artwork that is rich with color.
In addition, unlike other types of tiles we custom print, the image is printed on the back–not the front–of the glass. That means you are looking through the glass to see the image, and the effect is reminiscent of gazing through a very still pool of water down to the art below. Glass also cleans up very easily–a regular glass cleaner will work just fine, and the image won’t be impacted at all, since it will never touch your hands or your cleaning fluid. Another powerful reason: glass does not require grout. No muss, no fuss, and no dingy grout to scrub.
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