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Style Magazine

Get Off the Floor

Apr 30, 2009 05:00PM ● By Super Admin

There’s nothing new about using tile for a flooring surface. For years, homeowners have enjoyed tile’s durability in handling foot traffic. But more and more designers are receiving requests from homeowners to get creative with their tile designs: on backsplashes, fireplaces, even walls.

Kara Grannes, interior designer with Interiors by Decorating Den and BrushStrokes, Inc. in Folsom has seen this increase in alternative uses for tile over the past eight years as a member of the National Kitchen and Bath Association. “Especially living in California,” she says,  “there are wonderful influences of Spanish, Italian and Moroccan styles,” toward which homeowners gravitate – styles that lend themselves to tile work on surfaces other than floors.

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“Many homeowners are using ceramic tile and natural stone in areas of their home where they want to make a statement,” says Michael Bennett, owner of Bennett Tile Company in Roseville, and member of both the Placer County and Sacramento Builders Associations. He says that he’s tiled baths to give the aesthetic of a Roman spa, and even tiled the walls in his own laundry room. “I will never have to paint that room again because of scuff marks from coming in and out of the garage,” he says. Decorative kitchen backsplashes and tiled wall mosaics have also gained popularity over the last few years. 

But homeowners aren’t just sticking to tiling indoors. Outdoor projects like backyard kitchens counters, fireplaces, and even exterior walls allow people to show off their design taste. “Use of unique color combinations, sizes, and textures can create a design that fits a homeowner’s personality and lifestyle,” says Joe Pestoni, a 20-year licensed tile installer and owner/CEO of Elegant Tile in El Dorado.

Why Tile?
In this economy, it is important that home improvement projects be cost effective and long lasting. As Pestoni points out, unlike other design mediums, “repairs and replacements [of tile] are easy. If there is a crack in the countertop, no problem! Just replace the cracked tile(s) rather than the entire countertop.”  
Besides easy maintenance, ceramic tile can be considered a “green” product. The products used to make ceramic tile and the products used to install it do not emit VOCs or harmful vapors in the environment, which pleases earth-conscious consumers. “Installed properly, ceramic tile lasts a lifetime, which keep future replacement costs down and landfills clear,” says Bennett.

Plus, the variety of aesthetics is endless. “There are tiles made to look like wood, without the maintenance of wood. There are ceramic tiles made to look like natural stone. This can keep the cost down, [and] the ‘wow factor’ in,” Grannes says.