How To Choose Tiles - Colour and Shade Variation

Abbas Youssefi
Abbas Youssefi
11th May 2017
“Variety’s the spice of life” they say and in general, it’s quite true; who doesn’t love trying out exotic foods or flying to faraway places? But when it comes to our homes, things are a little different. Your personal space should reflect who you are - a personal stamp on what you love. Are you a creature of habit, keeping your decor plain and simple? Or do you prefer things a little more distinct and different? As you probably know, ceramic and porcelain tiles can vary dramatically in shade and texture, so it’s pretty vital to get things right. We’re on hand to take you through shade variation and help you make the right choice so there’s no nasty surprises!

What is Shade Variation In Tiles?

Exactly what it says on the tin! Tiles can - and do - vary in terms of colour and shade from piece to piece. Rewind to the era of handmade tiles and much of the design was down to pot luck; with little control over raw materials and firing temperatures, there was an element of crossing fingers and hoping for the best! These days, thanks to improved glazes and cutting edge kilns, manufacturers are in complete control of the whole production process. The advent of ‘digital printing’ technology has opened up a whole new chapter when it comes to tile design. After all, if you’re after a wood effect tile that looks completely natural then you’ll want the perfect balance of shading; too little and your floor will look fake, too much and it’ll be screaming for attention.

The Guide To Shade Variation In Tiles

Entering stage left, the Shade Variation Guide - a simple but powerful too to help you in your tile quest. It’s remarkably obvious. Tiles are graded from 1 to 4, where 4 is a high degree of variation. There’s no such thing as the right shade variation in tiles as it’s all about you and the look you wish to achieve in your home. Let’s take a closer look at the guide and some examples.

V1 - Uniform Appearance

Tiles with very little difference between each piece are graded V1. But don’t confuse uniformity with boring design - in fact, these tiles are perfect for the utilitarian and sleek looks that are so in vogue today! Why not use a contrasting grout colour to add a little interest? Combine Elements White with a dark grey grout in your bathroom for an inexpensive yet timeless style.

V2 - Slight Variation

Tiles with slight differences are rated V2. Two great examples are our Cemento Light Grey floor tiles and Albert’s Olive Green wall tiles. When laid, they offer a subtle shading effect that feels natural but not too homogenous.

V3 - Moderate Variation

Tiles graded V3 are often inspired by natural materials such as wood and stone, so you’ll find a noticeable degree of colour variation. The images below show Bistrot Calacatta and Orchard Honey plank tiles. There’s rich yet balanced shading which make V3 tiles an attractive choice for larger floor areas.

V4 - Substantial Variation

If you’re after something distinct and eye-catching, you can’t ask for more than a tile rated V4. These tiles look great over a large areas where you can really appreciate the variation in colour and shading. They can also add a dose of personality to smaller spaces such as hallways and splash backs, especially if you opt for smaller patterned tiles such as Casablanca Mix.

But Remember - Batch Variation!

Whilst we’re the subject of variation, there’s one final thing to mention - the chart above is only for tiles from the same production run. Tiles are produced in batches, and these may differ slightly due to small changes in the ‘recipe’ used by the manufacturer. So if you compare the same tile from two different production runs, or batches, there’s a chance they might be a little different. Sometimes, you might not notice any difference, especially in the case of V3 or V4 tiles. However, with V1 or V2 tiles slight changes could stick out like a sore thumb. Either way, it’s vital that you order enough tiles to complete your job to begin with - and ideally be left with some spares, just in case!