"Let's face it,ceramic tiletakes my breath away,” says Lori H., an interior designer in the Midwest. “It’s the colors,” she gushes. “Natural stone is beautiful, don’t get me wrong—but ceramic tile just has those colors.”
Aside from many agonizing decisions due to multitudes of color choices, Lori’s other big question is typically whether to choose simply ceramic, or a sub-category of ceramic often called porcelain. Non-porcelain ceramic is known to be more economical to purchase and install, though the finer-clayed, hotter-kilned, denser and stronger porcelain is less permeable and can be more durable in certainapplications. In addition to these two basic distinctions, a variety of glazes and treatments can also affect the durability and ideal usages of both types of tile. Yet Lori says her budget-conscious clients are grateful for the choices—in some areas of the home they can save money by using basic ceramic tile without sacrificingstyle.
“The effects you can achieve are infinite,” she says, noting that different juxtapositions actually seem to change the way the colors are perceived, brightening or subduing them according to the aesthetic needs at hand. “Some of my more artistic clients have just gone crazy with it,” she says. “They sketch these mind-boggling designs, like mosaics, that have been so exciting to bring into reality!”
She points out, “You can go vivid and Bohemian, or vivid and Southwest, or muted and Tuscan, or vivid and Mediterranean. It’s amazing how easily these tiles take on a life and personality of their own.” Which brings us back to color—the main aesthetic consideration to set man-made ceramic tile apart from stone. But then Lori pauses, and says, “You know, I don’t mean to sound like I’m against stone. It really is quite beautiful!”
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