Photo: SS Tile and Stone Toronto

The sheer variety of tile available to consumers these days is both a blessing and a curse. One scroll through the Instagram feed of I Have This Thing With Floors and you too will be floored by the overabundance of styles and materials. To help narrow down the top trends in tile, we turned to interior designers Rebecca Hay of Rebecca Hay Designs and Cynthia Soda of Soda Pop Design Inc. Here they share their top picks and offer insight on how to integrate tile into your own home.

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1. Porcelain

Photo: SS Tile and Stone Toronto

“Porcelain has become, I would say, the most trendy tile material in the last few years,” says Hay. “It’s an extremely durable material, and it now comes in so many different finishes.” While porcelain is often lauded as a cheaper alternative to marble, Hay says that’s not always the case. “There are new [porcelain] products out there that are so believable and well done that sometimes they are more expensive than natural stone. You’re paying for the durability, the low-maintenance and the technology.” While marble requires considerable upkeep to protect it from stains and chips, porcelain is “super durable” and does not need to be treated or refinished.

2. Carrera marble

Photo: James Bombales

“Marble is still super popular because it’s a material that’s been around for thousands of years,” says Hay. “It does stand the test of time, but requires a little bit more maintenance.” If you’re looking for a high-end look at a more wallet-friendly price, Hay suggests Carrera marble. “It’s so classic — you really can’t go wrong.” Got a little more wiggle room in your budget? “If you do want to splurge, there’s a really incredible trend happening now with marble mosaic tile that includes metal and brass inlay,” notes Hay (we’ll put it on our wish list).

3. Large-format tiles

Photo: SS Tile and Stone Toronto

“Oversized tiles, like 2×4-foot tile, are really cool and there’s not as much grout to worry about,” notes Soda. While they’re commonly used on bathroom walls, Soda likes to lay them on the floor, creating “a clean look” that closely resembles a single slab. “Grout always looks the dirtiest when the tile is on the floor, so why not use a bigger tile so there’s less of it to clean?”

4. Matte finishes

Photo by Stephani Buchman, design by Rebecca Hay Designs

Glossy finishes may be on the way out, but matte is here to stay. “You’re seeing it everywhere,” says Hay. “Matte subway tile, matte countertops, matte flooring.” On a recent kitchen project, Hay chose to combine finishes on the backsplash to add intrigue. “It’s a marble mosaic of hexagons, but some are matte, some are shiny and others have a ribbed texture.”

5. Non-traditional shapes

Photo: SS Tile and Stone Toronto

“I still love a hexagon, but what’s become a bit more popular is an elongated hexagon,” explains Hay. “Square is another great shape — I love a 6×6-inch square subway tile laid in a brick pattern.” If you’re using a singular tile style in your project, Hay says it’s best to pick one with an interesting shape as it “offers a bit of an edge.”

6. Metal finishes

Photo: SS Tile and Stone Toronto

“I love a metal accent,” admits Soda. “Using metal finishes that are mixed in with other tones lends a cool aesthetic.” While the tiles of yesteryear merely mimicked texture (think faux-veining on printed ceramic tile) today’s designs are “more three-dimensional.” According to Soda, metal offers “different sheens and textures” that catch the eye. There are even porcelain tiles that resemble weathered sheet metal, giving it an industrial-modern look.

7. Bright grout colors

Photo: witlof_design/Instagram

Fortune favors the bold, but if you decide to get playful with your grout color, Hay recommends using a “simple tile laid in an eye-catching pattern, like a pinwheel or herringbone.” Grout is now available in a wide range of colors, including red, blue, yellow, orange and pink. “It could work in a basement, playroom or laundry room,” adds Hay.

8. Unusual uses

Photo: blackbanddesign/Instagram

There are countless ways to integrate tile into the design of your home. “A really neat idea that I’m starting to see a lot of is tiling the back of a kitchen island,” says Hay. Anyone who has ever flown coach knows that kids are prone to kicking, and tile makes those sneaker scuff marks easier to clean. “Something else that’s fun is merging tile with hardwood flooring,” suggests Hay. “Instead of doing a straight line and cutting your tile straight, you let the tile end organically.”

9. Show-stopping mosaics

Photo: James Bombales, design by Soda Pop Design Inc.

“If you’re going to put the tile center stage, let it take center stage,” emphasizes Soda. In a recent kitchen remodel, Soda Pop Design Inc. installed a custom-cut mosaic backsplash that resembles “an art piece” with black, white, gray and gold fragments. To complement the design, rather than distract from it, Soda repeated the pattern in a single marble variety in the space below the upper cabinets. “It shouldn’t have to compete for attention — that muddies up the design.”

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