"It's no longer hip to be square"
Decorative ceramic tile, custom hand made tile for unlimited possibilities
Commonly asked questions and answers
All of our tiles are 100% handmade ceramic tiles that are made in the USA. Everything is 100% custom made at the time of the order, per our customers specifications.
You have the choice of loose tiles or film MOUNTED!
Yes, all of our tiles are safe for showers and floors. They are fully vitrified.
Yes and No. No tiles should be used in a cold climate on cement surfaces that are shovel. Snow removal will chip ANY ceramic tile. If you live in a warm climate they are fine because they are fully vitrified.
If you use tiles outside in ANY climate, ALWAYS seal the concrete where they are set. This protects the concrete from molds forming beneath the tiles, resulting in popping-off tiles.
A tile that is "vitrified" is considered "glass-like. It has been processed in such a way that it has extremely low porosity and water absorption. This means it stain resistant and very strong. By having extremely low porosity, this makes our tiles frost-free.
At Tiles with Style, I use mid-fire porcelain/earthenware clay-bases. These clays must be fired to a specific temperature to be vitrified. I kiln-fire to a slightly higher temp to assure that the entire load of decorative ceramic tiles are fully vitrified.
Vitrified tiles have better mechanical strength. They can be used in a variety of temperatures, are scratch resistant, resistant to acid, alkali, and chemicals, and resistant to staining. Stones, such as marble or natural granite, terrazzo, etc. can stain, scratch, and chip.
Most wall tiles, Mexican clay tiles, and decorative tiles are not vitrified. Tiles that are not vitrified can absorb water over time and possibly breakdown.
Tiles with Styles decorative ceramic tiles ARE FULLY vitrified to last for several generations.
Always use a "sanded grout." Sanded grout is basically cement with sand and coloring that has been added to it, to create a concrete like condition.
If you cannot find a specific color grout, for example blue, you can purchase a neutral tone sanded grout and some cement dye, mix them together and the result will be a custom grout color. Just make certain that you mix an ample amount of grout so you have overage. Otherwise you might not be able to mix up another batch that is exactly the same color.
I would recommend that you weigh the coloring agent prior to mixing, just in case you don't mix enough of the custom color sanded grout.
YES! Always seal the tile grout using a premium grade sealer. These can be purchased at any home improvement store. Buy a top quality sealant like a silicone or teflon sealer. Don't purchase a cheap water-base sealant. These need to be reapplied yearly; just too much work.
By sealing your grout, it keeps fungus and molds from permeating the grout. It also creates a watertight barrier and protects the grout from discoloration from various environmental conditions.
I recommend 501 Impregnator. It's a top quality grout sealer and is available from Home Depot. It's available in a small blue plastic container.
YES; for a couple different reasons. The first one being you do not get an accurate color representation of the stone / pebbles / micro-pebbles / rock until it is sealed. An example of this is shown below.
The stone on the left is sealed; the overlapping right stone is not sealed. If you look at the two speckled stones, you can see that the sealed one is darker and appears to have a variety of color(s) in the stone.
Gray stones can be tricky! If you were to mix paint to try to get a neutral gray it's very difficult. It's comprised of an equal amount of primary colors; blue, red, & yellow. There are a multitude of grays, based on the weight of color combination(s) which are infinite.
ALWAYS seal your stones to get an accurate representation of the color(s). Depending on the finish; glossy, satin, or matt sealer, the color of your sliced pebbles are going to change. They should look deeper and richer in color.
NOTE: You must seal your sliced pebbles PRIOR to installing them, or you will get mortar in the slice-marks or indentations in the stones, creating a hazy look to the rocks.
HOWEVER, you might want the grout to stain your stones; it all depends on your sliced pebble design idea and colors that you want to portray.
The picture below shows one of my 2-part fish and how you can butt one up against another to make it look like a fish is swimming above or below another fish. This makes for a very natural looking effect; love it, thank you Doris!
You can also see two different colors of grout that were used. This allows YOU to complete your work of art as the "painter." The art doesn't end at my tiles, but your own expression as a creator; so enjoy and create!
white/gray stone; unsealed
Last but not least; pressing in little pieces of shell and stones adds even more depth and realism to this sliced pebble tropical fish reef. It's those tiny little things that are rarely noticed to the human eye that are so important. You can find these types of things at your local craft stores, but check first a Family Dollar or BigLots to save some money. Family Dollar often has bags of turquoise glass gems for $1; awesome!
I prefer a glossy sealer for fish floors, because it lends a wet-, water-look, and appears very clean. If you are looking for a flat, dull appearance, use a matt. I use Glossy, TileLab from Home Depot, for sealing my stone/rock/sliced pebble installations for that wet-look.
Secondly, you MUST seal the stones before installation, to keep the mortar out of the tiny, porous cracks in the stone. When you are completely finished with the installation, and the sanded grout between the joints are fully dry, seal the entire installed floor / shower / wall. I seal my grout using the same sealer as the stone; my preference.
You CAN seal the tiles it will not hurt them! I seal my tiles with the same rock or grout sealer that I use, when I seal the grout. It adds some additional protection to any glaze cracking that naturally occurs during firings.
YES! Please do! Grout pigments are just that; pigments like paint, so you can mix blue and yellow to achieve green.
Nothing makes a nicer installation than using your grout color that coordinate with you design. The picture below shows an example of blue grout that was used to simulate water.
I want you to see an example of the studio layout, prior to grouting and the finished installation with grout. Look at the left picture; it lacks depth; the main focus is on the tree. This is because the background is the same color. Now look at the picture on the right; there is depth, unity, and a sense of peace. Breathe it in and enjoy.
Japanese Maple Tree of Life - "Hands of God"
This beautiful mosaic tile Tree of Life is made up of individual shaped tiles that comprise a Japanese Maple tree ceramic tile mosaic. It stands strongly alone in a green pasture with a flowing stream beneath it.
As you can see, this kitchen sink back splash ceramic tile design perfectly posed behind a sink/vessel, comes alive when installed; just like when our soul enters our vessel at birth.
The sky and tiled stream use a blue tile grout and the grassy area used a green ceramic tile grout to create depth.
Yes you can! Go to www.directcolors.com. You can purchase an additive there to use with White and Gray SANDED grouts. Specifically see their Concrete Pigment page. Blue colors are near the bottom of the page and include:
This is an example of a green concrete pigment that was added to a cream-based sanded grout...
The picture below show our "busy," Showroom bathroom floor. The Dark Ocean, sliced pebbles use a medium gray sanded grout, while the water area uses a sea foam green-toned, ceramic tile sanded grout.
When you look at the picture, the gray rocks almost look fuzzy. This is because a "like" color grout was used in the rocks; blending the colors together. I didn't want to emphasize the rocks, but the pond.
Another example of the showroom bathroom but standing inside the shower. Just a subtle grout color change makes the difference when creating a stream effect.
Because I no longer sell wavy water tiles, or round tiles, you'll have to create your stream using other materials. I've explained how to color grout (above) and use it to create water, but I have a few other ideas for you.
Don't be afraid to use non-conventional, or unusual waterproof things as an alternative to a ceramic tile installation. The trick is in the preparation of the shower itself, to make it waterproof. You could use your favorite bottle cap collection if you wish.
You'll want to use 1/4" thick materials; the industry standard for ceramic tiles.
Glazed porcelain mosaic tile pebbles
Please read my How to Order page. Buyer beware!
NOT 1/4" thick, but 1/8" thick.
So how do you use these with 1/4" thick tiles? You have to build up the mortar 1/8" more.
Glazed porcelain tile pebbles and polished mosaic tile pieces.
This is a fine example of another mixed-media, although they are both tile; not stone. The water tiles are the glazed porcelain tile (left picture) and the shore tiles (right picture below) are polished mosaic tile pieces.
A simple, cost-effective water stream ceramic tile alternative...
Glass gem water tile design idea for shower floors and walls.
Glass gems are a wonderful ceramic tile or stone pebble ceramic tile design alternative to a water effect. They are inexpensive and add a bit of sparkle to your shower. Do NOT use them flat side down with 1/4" thick or 3/8" thick stone shower tiles. They disappear under the grout.
ALWAYS put the flat side up on the gems!
NOTE: These can be found for $1 per bag at Family Dollar Stores. They are also available at most craft stores.
Penny round glass and resin mosaic tiles
A very natural, beach feel, but would look great with any of my fish shaped mosaic tiles.
Example of penny round glass and resin mosaic tiles
Another fun alternative is using a penny round glass and resin tile with shells embedded into the resin tiles. These ALSO appear to be 1/8" thick.
I do not know how the resin tiles will hold up in a shower. They are the same material that people use to cover bar tops.
DANGER! sharp-edged glass mosaic pieces
WARNING! DO NOT use any broken pieces of mosaic glass or broken tile pieces on your shower floors. They will cut your feet. You MUST grind the edges of each piece on a stained glass grinder to make them safe.
NOTE: make sure they say "tumbled." That way the edges are not sharp.
Mosaic tumbled cullet art glass
Tumbled cullet art glass mosaic pieces
TUMBLED art (cullet) glass is SAFE for your mosaics; however it is 1/8" thick. They are naturally tumbled by the water. You can also purchase beach glass online as a water alternative.
NOTE: Carefully examine each piece before using it to make sure none are chipped. A chipped piece of glass can cut your feet.
Agate gemstone slice geodes
natural stone agate slices
Pardon me while I wipe the drool off of my face. This is probably the most expensive tile alternative, but let's face it; WOW! There is nothing like natural materials.
Natural, geode gemstone agate pieces are costly, but you really get the wow factor.
Sliced, polished, micro-, glazed pebble tiles
Lets face it, this is the most cost-effective and common shower stream design idea on the market. If I'm creating a shower stream with only my fish tiles and stones. I like to mix either two types, or use two colors.
Micro-pebble shower stone tiles
Assuming that your micro-pebble stones are 1/4" thick, this will make for an easy tile installation. Smaller blue-toned pebbles will create a natural looking stream bed.
You can also mix a few of the glass gems into the micro pebble stones to add a bit of glimmer.
Change the color of your pebbles
The picture above uses a more traditional stone colors, but you can also use a blue green sliced pebble for water.
Blue square tiles
Simply using blue or green square ceramic tiles can create a water effect; or stream shower design. The trick is using mixed-media. It's perfectly acceptable.
Salmon in a blue square water tiles with polished pebble shoreline.
Manufactured tiles with stone
You do not have to use sliced pebbles for the land or shore. You can used marble, porcelain, or any other square manufactured tile.
natural stone squares with sliced pebble tile fish stream
As you can see, there are a multitude of design ideas out there; IF you think out-of-the-box!
This is an example of a dyed blue grout to simulate tropical waters.
"Our house remodel is almost complete and they finally finished grouting the coral reef today. www.DirectColors.com had the blue concrete pigment that you suggested on your website. It is a true work of art — probably our favorite part of the remodel! I really love it. Thanks for creating something we'll be proud of for a very long time!" R & M Hudson, Ft. Walton Beach, FL
Please visit my Design Process page in the left column.
No. All tiles are shaped; not square. Thus our slogan..."It's no longer hip to be square." I feel by eliminating the nasty horizontal and vertical lines caused by the grout lines, the overall appearance is more soothing to the eye; natural. The grout actually becomes part of the design.
I personally feel that my tiles are easier to install than square tiles, because you don't have to perfectly match up any straight lines. If you are doing a sliced-pebble installation, you remove some of the rocks, from the location where you want to place a fish, then replace the rocks around the fish. It's quite simple, so no special expertise is required.
NEVER push on any tiles with your fingers! This makes them uneven. ALWAYS level your tiles with a ceramic tile float or a small section of wood, like a 2x4.
Also, NEVER push too hard on delicate tiles like fish with thin tails. They can break. If this happens, and it is a clean break, I recommend white glue and pressing it tightly together. The line should completely vanish.
1/4" thick, or as close to that as possible. Being handmade and not manufactured, there are no exacts.
Glass mosaic gems are great to use in your 1/4" thick, ceramic tile mosaics. I use them quite often to fill the smaller gaps that are unavoidably made, when laying out a full mosaic.
You can also create movement and more sparkle, using glass gems buy placing them one-after-the-other as shown in the Cowgirl Bathtub design shown below.
You'll want to place the gems; ROUND SIDE DOWN, not flat side down. This provides more glass surface to be exposed. If you put them round side up, they disappear when you grout, or you'll end up with a divot around the gems in your grout.
I use an Ebay seller; Pieces of Me Mosaics, and have for many years. She's great and has a MULTITUDE of mini and standard size glass gems.