WORDS: ANNE SCHAUFFER IMAGES: SUPPLIED

Step into a tile warehouse, and the vast selection is literally mind-blowing – the multitude of shapes, sizes, colours and applications is overwhelming. Globally, tiles are no longer simply a tile. They’re not only visually mimicking other materials such as wood, but now, there’s textured tiles too, to satisfy our tactile senses. More and more tiles are popping up with three-dimensional or etched surfaces, so they’re textured and touchable.

Nicole Russell, marketing manager, Italtile, says with social media, print and online, consumers are far more savvy than before. “They’re eager to keep up to date with international trends, and implement them.”

Fact is, there isn’t a single immutable trend and some have been around for many seasons. Take those who still love the timeless black, white and grey, they’re there on the shelves, but in many more shapes, sizes and patterns. Their application, too, can be entirely different from yesteryear – intricately patterned, even vintage, black and white patchwork tiles run into a block of solid grey tiles, or on the floor, patterned tiles meet an irregular block of concrete, emulating a weathered old floor.

Size matters

Russell says, “We’re going BIG. Gone are the days of 300×300, even 600×600 tiles are fading away. The bigger the better – 900×900, 1200×1200 and slabs as big as 1200×2400. Bringing large slabs into the home is a growing request, tiling fireplaces or kitchen islands, allowing a seamless look to mirror the wall or floor tiling, initiating the perception of a bigger area – with the added benefits of the longer lifespan of a low-maintenance tile.”

That doesn’t mean little subway-style tiles have disappeared from our pools, bathrooms, kitchens, and so on – on the contrary, they’re there, only slightly elongated. For tiny bathrooms or loos – as our living spaces become more compact – lay them on their side rather than horizontally, and you’ve instantly lifted the ceiling visually.

Shapes and colours

Geometrics are still a great favourite. Des Armstrong of Hadeda says the hexagonal look on floors is very big, and increasingly, the weathered, washed and aged look. Armstrong’s decorative encaustic cement tiles – also known as Moroccan, Victorian, Spanish, patchwork or hydraulic tiles – are an ode to colour, and when the going gets tough, many want to lift their world with colour. She says there’s a strong pull towards the handmade, artisanal type tile, and even if it hasn’t actually been handmade, the machine-made ones are working hard at emulating that aged or weathered look.

Mosaics, too, are still on trend, but with the oodles of patterns, motifs and colours, those tiny tiles can become a work of art. Available as small squares, herringbone, hexagons and chevron, you can transform a non-descript space into something extraordinary.

Russell suggests that, “Matt black is the growing colour trend in bathrooms and kitchens, and increasingly, a rose gold and brushed bronze. These colour trends aren’t going anywhere anytime soon.” She says Italtiles’ top colours are beige, greens, charcoals, and earthy focus colours. Many tiles now replicate wood, and you’ll find oversized faux-oak planks or white faux-oak planks.

Outside

“With recent technology, the slip-resistant option is growing in varied ranges of tiles,” says Russell. “From wood to stone to screed – from the patios to tiling around the pool, it’s teamed up with a matching indoor tile for a cohesive look throughout your entertainment area.”