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House & Home

Tile Inlay: Traditional Style Adds Allure to Your Home

Posted August 20, 2015

Tile is an excellent choice as part of your home decor. Affordable, durable, and handsome to boot, it will add sparkle and eye appeal to your property. And in case you still need to be sweet talked into loving versatile ceramic, porcelain, or stone tiles, here's another facet to this fascinating material. Tiles have been used for centuries to form attractive inlay designs. Try this technique to add panache to any tiled surface, anywhere in your home.

What Is Tile Inlay?

Tile inlay is a contrasting design set into a tiled surface such as a floor, patio, bathroom wall, or backsplash. It may range from a simple single-color, straight-edged border to an intricately complex piece of art. The inlay is composed of pieces of tile which have been cut to the desired size and shape, using a water jet or a special saw. They are laid using the same process as your filed (background) tiles. Usually a tile inlay is included as part of a larger home renovation, for example, a tile floor installation. However, the inlay may also be added later on. For the design, you may choose from a wide variety of stock patterns, hire a designer, or design your own for a truly unique look.

Figures - Abstract or Realistic

Many traditional tile inlays feature abstract geometric forms, which are often quite elaborate. It takes a skilled tile setter to install a highly detailed circular or octagonal medallion, but the dramatic results are worth it. If your tastes are more on the informal side, you will probably prefer another kind of inlay style -- amusing figures from nature, such as leaves, stars, animals, or even paw prints, which are used accent a tile floor, wall, or backsplash. Often these figures relate to a hobby or personal interest of the household's residents. To personalize a house still further, tile inlay could be shaped to spell out the homeowners' initials.

Tile "Carpet"

A trendy tile "carpet" is an exotic look, based on traditional floor tile design updated for modern homes. This rectangular shape can be purely decorative (adding interest to a bathroom floor, for example) or might serve as a visual separation between one space and the next. A tile carpet may have a more functional application as well, providing a water-resistant surface that can serve as a charming welcome mat for a home's entryway or mudroom, or as a larger kitchen rug next to the sink or under an island. Whichever room the carpet is installed in, make sure that the tile have a skid-proof finish to prevent nasty falls.

Tile Inlay Outdoors

With today's zest for open air living, tile inlay is often used to add pizzazz to a patio floor or swimming pool surround -- or even down at the pool bottom. Here, a relaxed mood and brighter colors tend to prevail. Design themes may be magical and larger than life for exterior flooring. But that's not the only place where you will find inlay used outside. Inlaid cafe tables or benches are both pretty and practical in your outdoor living room. Seal your inlaid tile so it stands up to changeable weather, and you will have yet another reason to enjoy your patio spring, summer, and autumn.

Laura Firszt writes for networx.com.

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