Style on the square

Beauty of tile encompasses many types and colors
By: Susan Belknap, Gold Country Home & Garden
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Whether you’re buying your first home, remodeling a vacation residence or keeping your current home up to date, there are many choices and decisions to make regarding the type of flooring, countertops and cooking range backsplashes. For homeowners who enjoy the look and feel of tile, the sky’s the limit as to the style, durability and price. Corky Young of Granite Bay Tile & Marble company has been installing tile for 20 years. The homeowners of many of his recent installations have gravitated away from ceramic and porcelain tile to the look of natural stone such as travertine and limestone. “I think people these days want a more natural look for their home,” Young said. “Many natural stones feature more neutral colors like brown and beige that people seem to prefer.” But Young said natural tile also has its drawbacks in terms of wearability and durability. If it is not sealed properly, natural tile can be a magnet for permanent stains. In many cases, it depends on how much the homeowner is willing to spend and how much traffic the room to be tiled receives on a regular basis. “I’ve done some very high end 7,000 to 8,000-square-foot homes where there are no children and not a lot of activity that request natural tile,” Young said. Alex Arriaga of Shane Alexander Custom Tile and Stone in Loomis has also witnessed the popularity of tile in the last seven to eight years. “I’ve seen tile become much more than a functional product for just the floors,” Arriaga said. “People are using it in more decorative ways with liners intermixed with the tile design to give the project more of a three-dimensional look. “I even did a home in downtown Sacramento recently that featured a type of retro-looking tile and slate on the floors,” he said. The texture of natural stone is what is making it in such demand, Arriaga said. A tile’s texture can give any project a more natural look as opposed to a flat appearance that is evident in many ceramic or porcelain tile jobs. “Color and texture are associated as closely as smell and taste,” Arriaga said. But the natural look is not without its price. Young and Arriaga agree that the price of travertine and limestone is usually higher than manufactured products, but it’s the extra labor involved on the part of the tile installer to get the right look for natural tile that makes it so much more expensive. “It just takes longer and requires extra fabrication,” Arriaga said. Mark and Pat Ostroff of Citrus Heights were aware of the higher cost of natural tile, but were thrilled with the end result of some work Arriaga did in their home. “We are now considering using Alex’s company for tiling in our second home in Truckee,” Mark and Pat said. “We know the job will be done with professionalism and are counting on his design sense to help us do something special.” With the trend toward natural tile, Arriaga said he’s noticed many homeowners requesting larger tiles, especially for flooring. “I’ve been doing 18-x-18-inch tile with 1/8-inch grout joints,” he said. “Many people want something that is easy to care for and the smaller the grout size, the less maintenance is required.” Floors aren’t the only location in the house where tile is making a splash. Young and Arriaga are both busy installing tile on kitchen counter tops and behind cooking ranges. “Tile is being used decoratively these days,” Arriaga said. “There are so many different designs and patterns to use.” In trying to make a statement, many homeowners are going for a variety of tile sizes when installing tile in the kitchen area according to Arriaga. He said many of his customers prefer a solid surface for the countertops and a rougher, pitted design especially for the backsplash of the range area. “In many cases this is the focal point of the kitchen,” he said. “People want that sort of hearth look.” Besides wanting that extra pizzazz in the kitchen, Young said he’s noticed his customers requesting glass tiles for bathroom remodels or new construction. “This is very labor intensive,” Young said. “I did this one house with 1-inch by 4-inch tiles all over the bathroom, including the ceiling.” No matter what style or budget you are contemplating, Young and Arriaga agree choice are plentiful.