What to Consider When Shopping for Stone or Tile for a Home Design Project

Choosing a stone or tile for your home design project can be difficult, confusing and overwhelming. There’s so many varieties and so many attributes to keep in mind while shopping for the perfect materials.

Our Chicago designers and showrooms have put together their top 6 things to consider when shopping for stone and tile to make the selection process easier, less confusing and even enjoyable.

Interest & Aesthetic

Create interest. Mia Rao Design is not afraid of texture, pattern and color when choosing tile.  A patterned tile on the floor can make a small powder room become the hidden jewel in any home.  A great backsplash can add a layer of interest to an otherwise simple kitchen design.

Design by Mia Rao Design

Studio41 recommends carrerra marble for a more classic or subtle look. For those who value natural materials and don’t mind the extra maintenance and cost, it is a no brainer. However, if you have space, time, or budget constraints, many brands offer porcelain tile with the same look. 

When selecting a tile, Sarah Jacquelyn Interiors goes for that WOW factor. She loves going for something that is unexpected and sparkles. Something that gets your guests talking and telling others “you have to check out the bathroom or the bar, the tile is incredible!”

Design by Sarah Jacquelyn Interiors

Application & Durability

When choosing a stone or tile, Cosentino suggests you start by considering the application, where is this going – wall cladding, countertop, flooring, furniture – this will help determine the right material, durability (tile or stone are great for high traffic areas), and maintenance – is it easy to clean? How will it look over time?

Dekton Bromo, Kovik, Laos, Trilium via Cosentino

Natural stone is a stunning addition to any space, but it has its limitations. Marble is not made for high use areas that will be exposed to certain foods or harsh cleaning products. Mia Rao Design suggests porcelain tile for those applications, and the options are endless!

Design by Mia Rao Design

And Studio41 encourages you to think about the many years after the tile or stone is installed, what do you need to do to keep things looking as good as the day it debuted? Porcelain and vinyl tile flooring are the easiest to upkeep. While natural stone may need to be resealed every few years, porcelain and vinyl are durable with no extra maintenance. In addition, vinyl flooring is scratch resistant, and won’t absorb smells from kids or pets.

Correct scale

A large scale patten in a small space will not do the pattern justice. It needs an adequate amount of space to be seen. A small pattern or mosaic on too big of a wall may feel busy. 

You can “cheat” space by using long linear tiles on the perpendicular of a narrow space. That optical illusion will make a narrow mudroom of bathroom feel wider and more spacious as proven in the bathroom below designed by Mia Rao Design.

Design by Mia Rao Design

Installation

One of the biggest pieces of advice Studio41 offers their clients when it comes to installation of stone and tile is that not all materials are installed the same way. Natural stone and porcelain, especially with slabs, require special equipment and trained contractors to install. Natural stone also needs to be sealed once it is installed to prevent water damage, all of which increases installation costs. Vinyl flooring is cost efficient and can be DIY’d by the interested renovator.

Image courtesy of Studio41 & Daltile

Sarah Jacquelyn Interiors agrees.

I can’t stress this enough, if it’s a complex tile, hire a quality pro to install the tile. Mosaics, glass tiles, large format tiles with large grout space, mother of pearl, paper facing tiles, all of these really require an expert tile setting. This is not basic subway tile with 1/8″ grout lines. While a handyman may quote the job cheaper, you’ll be paying for it in headaches, incorrect installations, messes, and possibly even redoing the work. Go with the expert and you won’t regret it. 

Sarah Schwuchow, Owner and Principal Interior Designer of Sarah Jacquelyn Interiors

Don’t forget to make sure your installer knows what type of tile you are going to be using, this will affect the labor price, installation time, and setting materials needed to properly complete the job. 

Design by Sarah Jacquelyn Interiors

Grout

Get the grout right. Design doesn’t stop when the tile is selected. Sarah Jacquelyn Interiors believes the grout color is just as important as the tile itself. You can blend the tile and grout to minimize contrast, or you can play it up like a white tile with black grout. Also check with the manufacturer on the type of grout, sanded or un-sanded, epoxy, etc. 

Warranty

Think long term. Don’t forget to consider the warranty on your materials!

Silestone Quartz and Dekton, available through Cosentino, offer a 25 year transferable warranty, and Sensa natural stone, also available through Cosentino, offers a 15 year transferable warranty

Sensa Vancouver via Cosentino
Silestone Ethereal Glow via Cosentino

Bonus Tip: courtesy of Sarah Jacquelyn Interiors: Don’t forget to order extra tiles! Add at least 15% for overage, damage, mis-cuts, etc!

Design by Sarah Jacquelyn Interiors