Given that humans have been decorating their homes with tiles for thousands of years, you'd think there would be no room left for innovation. But changing design trends and changing technology have created a generation of new tiles that combine hard-wearing utility and bold new looks.
Tiles aren't limited to smooth surfaces; expanding into three dimensions can create complex patterns with an effect similar to three-dimensional wallpaper. Metal skins over ceramic surfaces create an interesting crinkled effect that reflects light throughout a room, while modern 3D tiles present ridged, organic-looking surfaces ranging from smooth patterns that evoke sand dunes to densely ridged patterns like flower petals. Obviously, these tiles aren't right for every application; they don't make very good floor tiling or splashbacks, for instance. But as decorative tiling, they produce unique visual images that change as light moves across them.
Upcycling vintage materials produces tiles with a unique, colourful character. Mosaic tiles with coloured glass from old bottles or tiles faced with metal from classic tin signs give a room an eclectic vibe. Tile manufacturers have ranged further afield in their search for new materials to incorporate; you can even buy tiles decorated with colourful art from recycled skateboards.
An exciting variant of the three-dimensional tile is the functional tile. These tiles fit in with similar plain tiles, but contain useful features such as integral lighting or projections. Splashback tiles with hooks for utensils or shower tiles with integral soap dishes are only a few examples of these unusual tile types. Some even include vintage-inspired accessories, like teacup-shaped toothbrush holders or sconces.
Photo-printed tiles allow you to make your memories a permanent part of your home or customise the look of your business with your own art. Just provide the manufacturer with your digital photos and you'll receive tiles printed with the images. These are typically smaller tiles, and the cost can make covering large areas with them pricey, so consider integrating photo tiles into an existing mosaic layout.
These seem like plain black tiles until they're exposed to heat. When warm, they shift through a rainbow of colours, changing and flowing as the temperature fluctuates. A set of colour-changing tiles can turn an ordinary shower into a beautifully colourful experience or change the tone of a room as the sun passes over it during the day. These high-tech tiles probably aren't ideal as floor tiles unless you want to see the fading tracks of any people or pets who've passed by before you.
These innovative tile styles show that there's more to tiling than simply choosing a pattern. For more information, contact companies like Tile Warehouse (Newcastle) Pty Ltd.