5 Expert Tips To Choose Accent Tiles

Are you looking to define a specific area in your kitchen or bathroom? Want to add more depth to your shower? Or perhaps create a mosaic-style pattern on that painfully bare wall? Accent tiles can result in an instant makeover and allow you to showcase your impressive attention to detail!

Given their almost magical powers, you certainly don't want to pick them randomly. Imagine ending up with tiles that don't really pop or, even worse, that clash with your existing décor!

Follow our expert tips in order to choose accent tiles that can turn your wall into a fresco-worthy exhibition.

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1. What are the different types of accent tiles?

When choosing accent tiles, you'll find plenty of design choices, but deciding between these two categories can help you weed out lots of irrelevant options:

  • Decorative accent tiles: either in the same color or pattern, these tiles can be placed next to each other in a rather flexible way and as many times as you wish;

They're the best option to create a colorful contrast against the wall or your other more traditional tiles, or even to accent a specific part of the room that only allows for a small number of rows, such as the wall behind your sink;

Decorative Accent Tile in Pewter
Terracotta Decorative Accent Tile in Multi-Color
Ceramic Decorative Accent Tile in Green
Ceramic Decorative Accent Tile in Blue
Ceramic Decorative Accent Tile in Floral
Ceramic Decorative Tile in Blue
  • Decorative tile murals: they consist of accent tiles that must be arranged in a specific order to create a bigger picture;

These murals can help you fill your barest walls and, although they can come in smaller sizes, they're usually better suited for larger rooms and bathrooms that don't already feature lots of other attention-grabbing patterns.

Ceramic Horse Decorative Mural Tile
Ceramic Hot Air Balloons Decorative Mural Tile
Ceramic Colorful Birds Decorative Mural Tile
Sunflower Decorative Mural Tile
Ceramic White Flowers Decorative Mural Tile
Tropical Decorative Mural Tile in Multicolor

2. What is the best material for accent tiles?

Different materials can help you achieve a specific feel or effect. However, if you're planning on placing your accent tiles in a corner where they're likely to be exposed to humidity and water, you should also focus on practical matters such as durability and porosity:

  • Ceramic and porcelain are some of the most common wall tiles and can be extremely detailed; because they absorb water at a much slower rate, porcelain tiles are the safest option in high-moisture areas;
Ceramic Glazed Decorative Murals Tile in Grey
Ceramic Glossy Decorative Accent Tile in Pink and Red
Ceramic Decorative Accent Tile in Green-Yellow
Ceramic Nightingale Decorative Tile in Blue
Hand-Painted Ceramic Decorative Tile
Ceramic Floral Tile in White
  • Glass tiles are durable, solid and rather moisture-resistant; since their surface isn't as porous as other materials, they're also a breeze to wipe down and maintain (a blessing for shower walls!); they often feature bright colors with unique shades and veins or crystal-like designs: ideal for an elegant, luxurious feel;
Glass Decorative Accent Tile in Blue
Glass Decorative Accent Tile in Cream
Classic Glass Decorative Accent Tile in Gray
Colorful Leaves Glass Decorative Accent Tile
Glass Decorative Accent Tile in Red and Grey
Glass Decorative Accent Tile in Brown Leaves
  • Natural stone tiles (usually made of marble, slate, travertine or granite) are durable one-of-a-kind beauties that can help you achieve a sophisticated look, bringing a little bit of nature inside your home; however, because of their porosity, they're better suited for rooms or areas where moisture and water aren't a concern;

  • Not as popular as more traditional and decorative options, metal tiles are incredibly durable and impeccable at withstanding moisture or temperature changes, which makes them a great candidate for your modern kitchen backsplash; they're easy to clean, but keep in mind that you'll need to wipe them immediately to avoid stains.

3. What shape should accent tiles be?

Square is the most popular shape for accent tiles, as it's the most versatile and can easily help you define smaller areas as well as cover larger parts of the wall;

Rectangular tiles are another interesting option that can result in completely different looks simply depending on the tiles' orientation:

  • Horizontal or listello tiles can emphasize the length of the accented area, and are often used as kitchen or bathroom backsplashes;

  • Vertical tiles can help you open up smaller spaces and are therefore popular for shower walls.

Square Pink Glass Accent Tile
Square Colorful Floral Accent Tile
Square Blue Marble Accent Tile
Rectangular Natural Stone Decorative Accent Tile
Rectangular Marble Decorative Accent Tile
Rectangular Border Accent Tile

4. What size should accent tiles be?

To give you a starting point, the average square accent tile is between 4 and 6" whereas listello tiles are usually 4"x12", but there are plenty of smaller and larger options.

To find the right size for you, consider your accent tiles in relation to the rest of the room or, more specifically, the area that you're planning on decorating:

  • Smaller tiles can help you draw the eye onto their pattern and its repetition, and are particularly handy for Mediterranean-style designs;

  • Larger tiles will result in fewer grout lines, making your room look bigger.

Brown Rustic Metal Decorative Tile
Small Resin Pewter Decorative Accent Tile
Medium Blue Accent Tile
Medium Ceramic Mosaic Decorative Tile
Large Metal Decorative Mural Tile
Large Glossy Decorative Accent Tile

5. What accent tile pattern is best for my décor?

Whether you're planning on accenting an area in your kitchen, bathroom or an entirely different room, start by considering the colors of the wall as well as the room's palette:

  • Try and create a light and dark contrast against the rest of the wall or tiles in order to make these ones pop;

  • Pick the accent color from the room's existing palette if you want to keep it cohesive.

As for designs and patterns:

  • Solid tiles are great in modern or minimalist rooms and, depending on the material, they can help you focus on the natural veins or shapes rather than a specific design; they're a tasteful decorative choice if you already have lots of other patterns and textures in that area;

  • Pebbles or rocks can add to the coastal theme of your bathroom or bring a natural element into the room;

  • Accent tiles with food-related designs are a popular choice in kitchens;

  • Mediterranean-style patterns will result in an exotic but warm and cozy feel;

  • Natural designs are another classy way to inspire a connection between your house and the outside world, and they're rather popular for mosaic-style models; when choosing accent tiles, you'll find that the most common natural designs involve plants and flowers, but you can find anything from the four elements to animals and landscapes.

Jessica started out as an interior photographer, but her love of pretty settings took her to the field of interior design, where she can combine two of her greatest passions, creating and then capturing the beauty of homes.