With its bargain price tag, it’s no wonder the simple yet effective metro tile has become the wall décor of choice in countless homes. But how best to lay it and to what effect? Offset? Herringbone? Or simply stacked? We enlisted the help of our Interiors Panel to help you decide.
For a really on trend look opt for eye-catching herringbone. Mel Massey, Interiors Designer tells us how...
How do you do it?
First of all, make sure that your surface is flat and that you have spirit level on hand so that the tiles aren't wonky. Since herringbone is quite a complicated pattern, you're best off getting an expert to actually lay the tiles for you and work out all the maths.
Where would you buy metro tiles?
The beauty of metro tiles is they can cost as much or as little as you want. You can buy them bog-standard from Topps Tiles or reclaimed caustic ones from Bert & May.
What kind of grouting works best?
Gone are the days of white grout and nothing else. Today, depending on the colour palette of your tiles, you can choose from the likes of coral red or violet or charcoal grey.
How do you best maintain them?
The tiles should be pretty hardy but it's the grout that causes problems as it's porous so picks up direct particles. People often forget to seal the grout and doing so makes them easier to maintain.
And what about cleaning them? Any tips?
Always use a mild detergent so that the grout/sealant isn't damaged by the chemicals. Remember to wipe up any spillages on your tiles as quickly as possible so that it doesn't stain – a toothbrush does a great job.
Where do they work best?
Herringbone tiles work well in different areas – kitchen, bathroom, as a fireplace hearth – you could even use them on an upcycled coffee table. There are no hard and fast rules. Tiles just introduce a different texture which is hugely important in design.
Are the better in a small or large spaces?
Larger areas will obviously make a bigger impact, although it can be very time-consuming to create. If you have a small space, you could consider using smaller metro tiles to give you a great visual.
Think metro tiles and most people think offset. We asked Debra Kacher, Founder of DKInteriors for her tips…
How do you do it?
For an offset metro it’s best to ask a specialist tiler to do the job as they need to line up and follow the same tile set throughout the space. They also need to be installed on a flat surface.
What kind of grouting works best with offset metro tiles?
A contrasting grey grout is best to define the overall look.
Should you stick with white?
White is great in certain areas such as kitchens but the use of grey or celadon tiles in bathrooms creates an urban-cool, industrial look that’s chic and contemporary. Even dark colours such as a deep blue look good in an offset formation.
Where's best to use this look?
In small spaces they create interest and in large they create impact. For added edge to an offset pattern opt for a metro tile in an unusual finish like a crackle or glaze, or opt for a bevelled edge.
This more minimalist approach to the metro tile sees them stacked in neat formation. Letty White-Spunner, Assistant at Jane Churchill Interiors tells us more...
How do you do it?
It’s best to get someone in to help as they will need to prep the surface, cut the tiles, line them up and grout. A couple of squares above a basin might not be too hazardous to do on your own but a bigger space will certainly require an expert, especially considering how well lined-up these tiles need to be.
Can you tell us more about cost?
Plain painted tiles will cost around £20-£30 per metre squared; a satin finish falls within the region of £60 per metre squared and something hand-painted or decorated will set you back upwards of £80 per metre squared. Of course, as with anything that should stand the test of time, the more you’re willing to spend the better the tile quality you’ll get.
What would you advise when it comes to grouting?
For subway chic, team your stacked tiles with grey or brown grout or go for the wow factor with vibrant coloured tiles (that you can get in a plethora of colours) and simple white grouting. Consider contrasting colours and surrounding interiors; it’s not dissimilar to deciding which sort of lampshade works best on your lamp.
When would you choose stacked tiles over say offset?
The stacked white tile is very popular for simple interiors and spaces like kitchens and bathrooms to give an industrial, underground look.
Straight tiles work well in a kitchen with wood and granite elements. You can get quite creative with them in a bathroom, too; they look especially good wall-to-wall in dark blue in a smart wet-room. Consider also using them on or around fireplaces and in cloakrooms or utility rooms for an alternative to paint you can style however you want.