Boy do we need to talk about proper tile installation!!!
For clean beautiful tile installations the first order of business is to consider FOCAL VIEW!
WHAT DOES FOCAL VIEW MEAN?
As you enter a room, your eye will go to what is in front of you first. Usually it will be a corner of the room unless you walk directly into a room centered on a wall.
Tile should start with full tile on both sides of that corner and work around the area from that point whether in a shower or a dado half wall tile. This will mean any tile that needs to be cut to fit the space will not be obvious from the focal viewpoint. Very important, especially with large size tile.
WHERE SHOULD I START THE FLOOR TILE LAYOUT?
In a small bath it is always most important to start with a full tile at the door opening! You never want a cut tile at the door opening.
It is also critically important that the tile and adjacent floor are perfectly flush with NO reducer. This usually requires planning ahead. With an existing wood floor adjacent, sometimes the floor base for the tile will have to be lowered. DO IT! It will be worth it forever for look as well as safety.
MOST PRACTICAL AND ATTRACTIVE TRANSITION PIECE:
Porcelanosa, as well as many other companies, supply a metal trim piece that makes a perfectly smooth transition between adjacent materials for a clean, classy look. NO thick obtrusive transitions please!
WHAT ABOUT TILE EDGE TRIMS?
If marble tile is being used, the edge can be polished so a trim piece is not always required. However, with porcelain tiles, the edge can not be finished. So I love to use the thin chrome trim pieces to finish around shower cubbies, on edges of shower curbs, around the outer edge of shower walls and ceiling.
WHAT ABOUT SHOWER FLOOR TILE?
I love shower floors that have no curb. This requires careful sub-floor design for the look, as well as for being barrier free. And it takes careful coordination with the framer, plumber, contractor, and installer to achieve proper drainage.
Because of the slop required for drainage in showers, large tile is not practical because the required drainage slope can not be easily achieved with large tile. In addition, large tiles when wet are much more slippery, thus dangerous. The smaller the tile pieces in the shower floor, the more grout joints, thus the more traction to prevent slipping.
One of my favorite solutions for shower floors adjacent to bathroom tile floors is to use a square drain. Then cut the same tile used in the bathroom in increments that exactly match up with the drain, so the drain becomes an intentional part of the floor tile design. This detail can make a huge difference in the look, and also provide a safer surface with smaller pieces of tile.
WHAT ABOUT SHOWER CUBBIES?
It is important to plan out the tile on a shower wall before framing for the cubbie, as it needs to relate to the tile design. If large tile is being used, I want to make sure that the cubby size will be consistent with the tile size, so the tile joint falls exactly at the edge of the cubby top and sides. Otherwise it is a busy, poorly designed and unattractive look! Pay attention to this detail!!!
Note that the tile is the same at both corners. With large tiles, this can be accomplished by trimming all the tile to the same size to fit the wall exactly with no small outer cuts! Great look and solution! You will have to assure the installer you really mean it!!!
WHAT ABOUT TILE FLOORS IN COMPLICATED ROOMS?
A tile plan drawing is essential for the success of a complicated space. I often will create simple center fields as shown on the drawing that makes the space seem to be simpler than the reality, and use mosaic fill tile around the edges to fill in all the complicated nook and crannies, so that focus on the center field creates an overall appearance that is clean, simple, and attractive, diminishing impact of all the busy nooks and crannies.
WHAT ABOUT SPECIAL FLOOR DESIGN?
For special complex mosaic designs, a drawing is essential. The drawing for the powder room above was printed full scale and laid out on the floor, so that all the individual pieces could be hand cut on the job-site by the installer and installed exactly as drawn.
For the mosaic design above, a drawing was created and sent to a laser cutter, who cut the pieces, numbered them, and sent them to the job-site to be assembled as shown.
Tile is one of the most complicated installations in the home, and requires a lot of thought and planning. But when done right, can be a pleasure to live with for many generations!