When choosing kitchen wall tiles

The thinking behind tiles

There are a myriad of advantages of tiling a kitchen. This is especailly important for the wall areas behing your cooker and kitchen tap. The kitchen of your home is subject to staining and splashing that other areas are immune from, and a wipe-clean tile surface is ideal. In addition, the colours never fade. Well-chosen tiling can augment the character of an area or alter it entirely. Tiling is a task that you can accomplish in stages. This is in contrast to painting or papering, which look "unfinished" until the last roll of paper or patch of paint goes onto the wall. All of these are reasons why many householders choose wall tiles for kitchens, when moving into a new home.

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Buying and applying tiles

Any surface that is even, clean and free of mould or grease is suitable for tiling. Treat unsuitable areas before beginning the process. Sand the walls, fill any small holes with plaster and leave to dry. Before purchasing, measure the area so that you know how many tiles to buy. The general rule is that big tiles are suitable for large kitchens, while smaller or even mosaic tiles work better in small areas. These rules, like all others, are made to be broken. One attractive way to tile a kitchen is to place a large, patterned tile in every functional area, like above a hob or in an alcove that will collect the steam of a kettle, and then tile the remaining area in smaller, plain tiles of a matching or contrasting colour. A scheme like this will theme and unify the most eccentric of kitchens, for example, a willow-patterned tile surrounded by small blue or white tiles.

Creating pattern with colour

Neutral colours like grey, pale pink and honey work beautifully in a kitchen, since they do not hide dirt and will not clash with brightly coloured accessories, like cloths and dishes. Most homeowners want to fill the kitchen area with light and make it appear larger. In this case, these colours are ideal and it helps if you choose tiles that match the colour of the floor. One popular scheme is a kitchen area with walls tiled in bright red, against a black and white tiled floor. The chequered wall is popular, also. Black and white always look good against one another but for a less stark contrast, try offsetting pale green against lemon, grey against cream. Very creative householders make patterns with three or more colours. Another idea is to tile the walls in white, and run a "stripe" of tiles in another colour around the area at the level of power points, a superb unifying device.

Caring for your tiles

Pale kitchen furniture will sing against darker tiling, while dark fittings will stand out starkly against pale walls and floors. Used creatively, black and white tiling can add an art deco feel to any kitchen, a great surprise for guests visiting an older house. The only rule is to not buy tiles that are difficult to maintain. Marble, glass and porcelain tiles are beautiful, but most of these are not suited to the rigours of kitchen life. Ceramic tiles are the most robust and hardwearing. Follow manufacturers' maintenance instructions from day one, and walls and floors will remain as bright and clean as the day you laid them down.