Top 5 tips: Selecting a tile package full of functionality and WOW-factor while staying on-budget
With 35-years in the business of sourcing and importing premium porcelain and ceramics, exclusively from Spain, Italy and Portugal under our belt, it should be no surprise that Centanni Tile is THE place in Burnaby to select the hard surfaces for your next project.
We have always lived the mantra; "Less is More" when it comes to curating our collection. One of the chief complaints we hear from homeowners and project designers alike is that upon entering a showroom, there's just too many options to consider and it's easy to get overwhelmed when selecting tile. We try very hard to avoid this experience for our clients by taking the time in our selection process to not only ensure that we have only the best options in each look, but also that each series in our collection has multiple coordinating options in scale, texture and tone.
Our favourite task is working with our clients to put together a cohesive package for their project that is unique to their style, meets the demands of their use-cases and will provide evergreen style for the life of their property. So let's dive into our TOP 5 TIPS for selecting your tile package for your project.
Select your tile early in your design process!
Like, preferably during the structural design stage. Ceramics often get lumped into the material/finish selection process well after construction has started - let's be honest... usually when it's mostly completed!
While ceramics are a part of the surface skin of a space, there are a multitude of reasons why you should be selecting it earlier in your project's lifecycle.
A) Tile is getting bigger and if you want to take advantage of larger formats (especially slabs and panels) optimizing your finished dimensions to minimize cutting these large formats on site can greatly reduce your installation time and cost.
B) Sticking with large-formats for now, early selection also lets you know your allowable substrate deviation tolerances (how flat the surface should be) so that you can build those tolerances in for your other contractors. This lets you prepare for prep-work in advance and proactively minimize the amount of it required. Doing so also makes sure your finish-heights are all correct given product and assembly thicknesses and allows for optimal scheduling and workflow to further keep expenses down and avoid costly surprises.
C) And this one might be the most important... Tile is so much more than a skin!!! The inherent benefits of tile have the potential to be transformative to the way a space operates, supports its users and consumes both energy and resources. You can use the huge thermal-mass (ability to accept and store energy as heat) of ceramics to optimize radiant heating systems. But even more, thinking about placement and color-choices of tile to harness passive solar-gain to add a net-zero heating/cooling supplemental strategy to your home, office or skyscraper. Using the native inert qualities and impervious surface of ceramics to strategically create a space that is at once hypoallergenic, environmentally benign throughout its lifespan (which is longer than yours) and actively inhibits the growth of bacteria and other contaminates.
D) This one might be a little controversial because it throws the status-quo of job site timing and coordination out of whack. If your tile is selected early and ready for you when your trades need it, you can get your tile installers into the site when it's OPTIMAL for them to be there. That's a lot sooner than most people do it. If your tile installers have the run of the site even before boarding, the cuts are minimized and mostly hidden, they can tile effectively in one pass without getting hemmed in by walls and can get the product where they need it easily.
Everything in this first tip is about getting you what you want in your project, getting all the roadblocks out of the way for you, your tradespeople and the tile assembly itself. Implementing any of these strategies will make your project run smoother, and most importantly, save money so you can afford exactly the tile you want in your space.
Do the quick math.
It sounds stupidly simple - but don't decide that you don't have the budget for something until you know how much of it you're needing to use. It's so common to see people (end users and design professionals alike) hold to a preconception of an acceptable price-per-squarefoot that bears no relationship to the actual scope of true costing impact on the project. This is true for premium setting materials and tile alike.
You want your family, co-workers or customers to have your space make them feel like this....
Do yourself a favour and think critically. Really do the math before you make that snap-judgement.
If, like Lebowski's rug, whatever you're considering is really going to pull the room together, isn't that $50/square-foot tile worth it for the few square-feet required to cover a backsplash or the niches in the shower?
In the scope of the overall cost of a project, what do you have to carve out elsewhere to be able to afford that extra few hundred or so? The truth is, those little details are truly the things that make the difference between falling in love every time you open a door on your space and a sort of blasé, passive acceptance. Ask yourself what you'd rather feel every time you enter? What about in the case of a commercial space - what impact does it make for your employees or guests?
Creating an index card or post-it note for each aspect of the project and then moving them around and putting them in order of importance can be an enlightening exercise to do. If you're a designer, leading your clients through this makes the whole design process easier for you and your client as you are both aware of what's sacrosanct and where you've got some wiggle-room to make concessions.
It's going to be there for a decade or more... don't you want to LOVE it? Same thing goes for setting materials or even floor warming - being critical about what's really important is what sets a truly stunning job apart. What's going to play a role in adding to your joy of your home, evoking your brand ideals or building your employee culture? Allocating your budget accordingly to support those aspects of the space is vitally important to maximizing your ROI for the investments of time, effort and capital this project is costing regardless of your product selections.
Pick the tile systematically and tackle the largest area expanses first.
No, I mean it. Walk away from the backsplash tile. I know your eye goes there first in a showroom filled with neutrals and greys and your Pinterest boards are full of all the decorative eye-candy...
Whatever is going to be the largest expanse of the space, is going to be your canvas and set the tone of your composition so give it the attention it deserves. First. Don't fall in love with product for a small area or decorative element and then try to fit things in around it if you can help it. In a residential house or commercial space, we're likely talking your flooring, then counters, paint, cabinets/millwork and finally decorative accents. In that order. Make sure to have samples with you each step along the way and adjust previous steps as necessary.
Keeping a contextual relationship between colors on the same plane will help to narrow your choices and combat showroom overwhelm. By that we mean, at least as a starting point, working with analogous tones for your horizontal surfaces. This gives you a harmonious place to start building your scheme. Using multiple analogous tones creates a layered effect with a lot of depth. Once you've got your horizontal planes narrowed down, you get to decide if you want to double-down on analogous layering or branch out to complimentary tones with your vertical planes. Because color is so subjective, we'd suggest going to color.adobe.com for an illustrative view of these concepts to get a comprehensive feel for what they really mean in color rather than words - it's also an amazing tool for all kinds of design.
Use scale as a form of contrast and tension.
This one's a little tricky to describe but let's give it a go shall we? Tile, by its very nature, is a paragon of scale. However, we only recognize and interpret scale if we have a point of reference to compare it to. That's why architects so frequently use human-scale silhouettes in their renderings to fix the scale in our mind. It's also why a 24x48" tile can look small once installed if there are no other formats within sight to compare against. So mixing up scale of modules is an effective way to add texture, contrast and interest within your compositions. Foreshortening can mess with this a bit so changes in scale are even more effective when they are on the same plane.
A simple recognizable reference makes a sense of scale immediately understood for the viewer.
The greater the variance in scale, the higher the contrast and the more it draws our eye. For inkjet programs that recreate stone looks, like our Imperium or Antique Marble collections, using smaller scale modules also increases the stonalization (vein patterns) and variation without switching materials. Especially with stone-looks like these, using multiple formats is an effective way to direct focus and add interest without losing the overall aesthetic.
Pro-Tip: If you're using multiple formats of a product, even if they are from the same manufacturer or collection, always ask if the formats are modular. That means that the sizing of each format is appropriate (with the recommended uniform joint-width) to be used in the same installation. Asking if the tile's rectified
We introduced our Calm Collection mosaics this year for this very reason. Their benign color palette goes with just about everything and the micro-scale of the 4 formats is a highly effective way to add texture and contrast of scale with our mostly large-format ceramics and porcelains. Picking out a few elements in the space with Calm mosaics is a great way to add some layers of interest and making those large formats look even bigger without stealing all the attention.
Hire a great installer. No, really... if there's only one tip you heed in this list - make it this one.
Find an installer that has the time in their schedule to give your job the proper time and attention it requires and ask for references of their work. Most good installers will have an Instagram or Facebook account if not a full-on website. So have a look at the quality of work they've posted, read any reviews you can find on them and take the time to find and hire a good one.
This is the one area you don't want to skimp on. You're in a FAR better position for a positive end result by spending what you need to on a quality installer and finding some lower-cost product options for some strategic areas of the project than the other way around. In our 35 years of experience, we've seen infinitely more jobs fail because of installation issues than product issues so don't let all your hard work in design and construction go for naught because the budget wasn't there for a quality installer and installation assembly.
There are plenty of great installers around and we're always happy to recommend anyone on our Installer's Hotlist. Each of these crews are frequent clients with plenty of experience working with our tiles and Laticrete's setting materials.
We hope you found something of interest in this short list of tips and would love to help you in person with creating a stunning package for your next project. Our Burnaby showroom is open Monday to Saturday without need for appointment. We also offer digital presentations, sample delivery for design firms and curb site pickup with touchless payment options. If you have special needs or concerns at this time, please call in advance and we'll do everything we can to accommodate you.
-The Centanni Tile Team