To appreciate the sheer diversity of ceramic tile patterns possible, take a moment to imagine what can be done with the most basic tile of all, the 4 1/4-inch square. You can make a standard grid pattern, of course. Use two colors for the grid and you have a checkerboard. Rotate the tiles 90 degrees to turn squares into diamonds. Create a quilt-like effect with groupings of accent-color tiles. Simulate an area rug with a rectangular border of contrasting tile... The list goes on, and we're still talking about squares. The following is just a sampling of the many more ceramic tile patterns that can give your room the perfect touch it needs.
Picture a bathroom in a Victorian-era home with a clawfoot tub and vintage chrome fixtures. If your image is historically accurate, the floor might be covered with 1-inch-square white tiles in a pinwheel pattern or with black accents surrounded by white squares. Or maybe it's little hexagonal tiles running from wall to wall. The walls might be tiled, too, perhaps with subway tile in a brick-laid pattern, bordered along the bottom with ceramic or porcelain "baseboard" tile and along the top with a decorative tile cap rail. Similar floor and wall treatments also work well in traditional-style kitchens.
Looking away from Victorian (that is, English-inspired) ceramic tile patterns, there's a whole world of southern traditional styles ranging from Mexico to the Mediterranean. For example, handmade Saltillo tile (or a similar ceramic version) can be laid in grids, hexagonal and octagonal patterns, and with accent tiles placed randomly or in formal arrangements.
As with all things contemporary, ceramic tile designs can be a complete break from the old, a new take on the old or anything in between. Glass tile has certainly become a popular new standard for modern treatments. Glass tile patterns tend to be linear, like most of the tiles themselves, while surprisingly different effects can be achieved by switching from a horizontal layout to a vertical. Due to the apparent translucence of glass tile, color variations can be very subtle, allowing you to mix tile colors to create mesmerizing wave effects, in addition to standard alternating grid and accent patterns.
An art form dating back thousands of years, creating pictures with tiles is one of the most traditional types of ceramic tile patterns. Today, you can get a mosaic the old fashioned way, by hand-cutting the pieces yourself and arranging them into a custom design, or you can do it the modern way, using cash or a credit card. Pre-made mosaics come with the tiles already attached to a mesh backing, which you adhere to the wall or floor surface, then grout as directed by the manufacturer. With either method, a tile mosaic brings a custom touch and a bold focal point to any tile installation.
See For Yourself
Visiting showrooms at local tile dealers is a great way to get inspired to create ceramic tile patterns. Even the biggest home centers have nothing compared to the selection and ideas you'll find at well-established tile outlets. If you have an idea of what you'd like in a pattern or have seen it in a magazine, bring in a sketch or clipping to give the salespeople a good start on finding the right tile to complete your creation.
Read more about ceramic tile and the various ways to be creative with them.