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5 Ways to Personalize Your Kitchen with Unique Countertops

by msiblog 23. April 2015 10:50

Without a doubt, countertops can make or break a kitchen. But they’re not just there for chopping veggies or to house your appliances. Gone are the days when the only choice you had was ceramic tile or Formica. Countertops made from unique – often unexpected materials – can add beauty, as well as a sophisticated style to your home. Whether you just want something fresh and exciting, or you are selling your home, new countertops add significant value and make your home more appealing.

Here are some ideas to get you started on your new kitchen:

Make a Statement

Sometimes less is more in a kitchen. Clean lines, modern cabinetry, and a neutral perimeter set the stage for a stunning centerpiece – the statement island. Of course, an island with a second sink serves a functional role as a prep station, storage unit, and gathering place for friends and family.

Featured: Nilo River Granite

Whether you’re working with a designer or have your own eye for design, the rule of thumb is to choose a material that complements yet contrasts the cabinets, such as granite. A statement island can be the jewel of the kitchen. A bit flashy, it may evoke a “Wow!” from everyone who enters the room.

Go Clean and Modern

Waterfall countertops – or risers – are a modern kitchen trend. However, they work well with a traditional home as much as a contemporary home. With a waterfall countertop, the stone continues down both sides of the cabinet, giving a visual continuity, as well as connecting with the other countertops and the floor. Although granite or marble are commonly used, another popular material is quartz that can work as an alternative statement option for your kitchen.

Featured: Fairy White Quartz

Mix It Up

One of the hottest trends in kitchen design is the use of mixed materials to create an ideal space. Just as a chef would combine ingredients to craft a delicious meal, designers love to mix and match textures, colors, and materials in design. Combining contrasting cabinets and cutting-edge countertop materials together, like quartzite and metallic-flecked granite, creates an interesting look that partners beautifully with natural stone mosaics & wood-look floors. This type of unexpected partnering can make a big impact.

 Featured: Madreperola Quartzite & Metallica Granite

Kitchen Chameleon

Usually you think about porcelain as the go-to material for floor tiles or bathroom walls. Well, think again! Porcelain is a perfect material for your stunning kitchen. It’s durable, beautiful, and very low maintenance. You can go for classic black or white, simulated marble, or even mirror the look of vintage wood. Porcelain’s versatility is what makes it a unique choice for homeowners, designers, and builders.

 Featured: Salvage Brown Porcelain

Like granite, porcelain is heat and scratch-resistant – plus it is non-porous like quartz. If you’re looking for an easy-care countertop with endless design possibilities, consider this durable option.

Create Drama with Contrast

Nothing makes a statement like using contrasting colors in your design. Bright white countertops that cover dark cabinetry create a clean – yet dramatic – statement in the kitchen. Combined with modern stainless steel appliances, you can have a showpiece kitchen. Or mix it up with dark countertops and white cabinetry for an equally dramatic and beautiful space.

 Featured: Arctic White Quartz

With its striking solid color options, quartz is an excellent choice for adding contrast. It comes in a range of colors, as well as with sparkles and veining for the look of granite, marble, and even limestone. And the beauty of quartz is that it requires little to no maintenance, and is easy to keep clean even in the hardest working kitchens.

If you are longing to freshen up your kitchen, there are so many premium surfaces to choose from that weren’t readily available just 10 or 15 years ago. Our personal design styles have evolved too; no longer are avocado colored refrigerators cool. Today, we design our kitchens to reflect our personal style and for easy care and maintenance. Beautiful kitchens with durable surfaces are what we expect today, and with the wide range of materials available, we can create a distinctive space transforming our kitchens from daily drab into interesting and unique.


Backsplash | Countertops | Granite | granite countertops, | Kitchen | Mosaics | Natural Stone | Quartz

Show Stopping Bathrooms: Unique Takes on Tile

by msiblog 10. April 2015 12:30

You don't have to be an interior design pro to create a stunning bathroom. Bathrooms are functional, but also offer a place to decompress and relax — and should reflect your personal sense of style. Not only is natural stone and porcelain tile easy to maintain and keep clean, its beautiful colors, textures and patterns make it simple to create a fresh and exciting bathroom. Whether your style is classic, rustic or contemporary, you can use the following designer tips to transform your boring bathroom into a showstopper.

Classic Design with a Creative Twist

In your bathroom design, don't settle for traditional bead board. Marble and other natural stones — available in slabs, mosaics, and various tile sizes — create a solid, upscale ambience. Try a pop of pattern in a classic hexagon shape; geometrics are a hot trend in home interiors, familiar yet updated for today's designs. Using the same type of stone in varying sizes and shapes creates a cohesive look and feel. In this bathroom, the hexagon backsplash blends flawlessly with the subway tiles, the matching baseboards, and the rail moldings.

Featured: Greecian White Marble Collection

Rustic/Modern Mash-Up

Mix it up to create a look that's all your own: Try pairing traditional materials that, together, aren't traditional at all. For example, combining wood plank tiles with metallic mosaics seems unlikely… but it works to create a showstopper. This design features 6x40 porcelain tile planks. In addition, the floor tiles are used to wrap both the bathtub and the sink, for a more cohesive look. This surprise pairing contrasts the refinement and modern aspect of the mosaic accent wall with the rustic feel of the wood-look flooring. 

Featured: Salvage Musk Porcelain TileMadison Avenue Mosaic

Contemporary Design with Down-To-Earth Accents

Mix creative design elements to make a sleek, contemporary look feel cozy and down-to-earth. This featured room combines the warm, rustic look of wood with the easy-maintenance durability of porcelain tile. Placing the wood-look tile on the wall instead of the floor offers a unique take on the "cabin in the woods," and perfectly complements the focal point of the luxury bathtub. The soothing color and intricate texture draw you in, unifying the space perfectly. 

Featured: Forest Natural Wood Pattern Porcelain Tile 

Mosaics add the Playful Touch

Mosaic tiles break up the stark, ultra-modern look of this luxury shower, adding a playful feel and lively visual interest. Continuing the dramatic black and white pebble meshed-back insert from floor to ceiling brings a cohesive look to the space, contrasting with the linear pattern of large format tiles. The seamless glass enclosure makes the space look larger while allowing the combination of these tiles to be the showstopper of the room. 

 Featured: Focus Porcelain TileBlack and White Pebbles Mosaic 

Timeless Elegance

The key to creating a timeless design is to use a variety of premium surfaces in traditional formats and materials — mixing and matching with flair. This bathroom is the perfect example. The light large format tile flooring displayed here contrasts with the traditionally styled cabinets in a dark rich finish. The classic, polished 1x1 Italian marble mosaic tiles in the shower continue to the recessed arch above the bathtub, and the quartz countertop bridges the divide between the lighter tiles and the cabinetry.

Featured: Pietra Pearl Porcelain Tile, Lagos Azul Quartz Countertop, Calacatta Gold Marble Mosaic

Embracing the Dramatic

Combining three different sizes of green tile can create a dramatic bathroom design. It requires careful planning to ensure the proper balance, but the result is stunning — the ultimate retreat, reminiscent of a walk through the rainforest. The "wow" factor in this bathroom comes from the 1x1, 4x4, and 12x12 Multi Green Onyx tiles.

Featured: Multi Green Onyx Collection 

With today's natural stone and porcelain tiles, you can create the perfect bathroom. Start by creating an "inspiration board" of your favorite colors, textures and patterns. Large format tiles work great for accent walls or flooring. Combine tiles from the same family of stone in different sizes to add interest. Most important of all, embrace your own creativity and think "outside the box" when brainstorming that design; sometimes the most unlikely elements combine in the perfect way to create the ultimate showstopper!












Bathrooms | Mosaics | Porcelain | Quartz

Bold Interiors Focus on Natural Stone

by msiblog 2. April 2015 13:23

Stunning architectural designs and stylish room décor fall flat without one crucial element: A Focal Point. This statement feature is the first thing you notice when you walk into a room; it brings all of your design elements together, communicates your personal style and livens up your space — and natural stone makes it easy.

Center of Attention: Rockwall Fireplaces

The fireplace is a natural focal point of any room. Take full advantage of this feature by using a neutral surrounding palette so as not to compete with your focus on the accent wall. The natural quartzite stones in this room are Golden Honey Ledger Panels with great variation and warm tones of gold and white. A rustic mantel in a wood tone that complements the room's décor adds even more visual interest. Coordinate with rich, textured fabrics and leather, and your space will be cozy and welcoming.
Stunning Stone Accent Wall

Turn your space from boring to spectacular with a richly toned stone accent wall of California Gold Ledgers Panels. This artistic element is complemented by neutral colors that enhances its natural beauty, but does not compete. Keep your furniture, walls, flooring and accessories in lighter tones, and let the wall's texture and dimension speak for themselves. This look is the perfect design element for a living room or home office.

Bold, Custom Waterfall Islands

In the kitchen, the center island is the perfect place for a bold statement that brings the room together. Waterfall islands continue the granite to the floor; the high variation and dramatic color contrast make this feature truly pop. A simple quartz countertop and tonal mosaic backsplash remain quietly in the background, letting the island shine as the star of the room. In this kitchen, Aruba Dream's white background with the high contrast veining of dark grays with hints of reds lends sophistication along with its stunning visual interest.

Subtle, but Striking, Statement Island

Softly toned, soothing kitchen spaces can also benefit from a bold focal point. In this kitchen, Statuary Venato Marble from Italy turns the center island into a statement piece. The creamy white background of the marble is echoed in the cabinets' colors, and the gray veins pull in the color of the Shadow Gray Quartz which is used as a backdrop. The effect is sophisticated and timeless, with all design elements working perfectly together as a whole.

Contemporary Elegance: Mosaic Tile Accent Wall

The architecturally rich bathroom below has its focal point built in with the use of trendy graphic pattern mosaics and wall tiles. Here, our Tundra Gray Basketweave Mosaic is used to create a stunning backsplash that adds elegance and style while still maintaining the neutral feel of the room. The darker tones of the wood, along with the light ceilings, match the high and low points of color within the mosaic.

Exterior Focal Point

Natural stone can add dramatic, bold focal elements to exterior design as well. Driveways, patios and landscaping are all excellent places to add one of these features. Yellow Polished Pebbles, used in this landscaping project, highlight the beauty of the sculpture. These could also very easily be adapted for water features and other exterior projects. These smooth polished marble pebbles are perfect for aiding in drainage around plants and trees, while creating visual interest. MSI offers polished pebbles in a variety of colors to complement the beauty of all your outdoor spaces.

Don’t be afraid of creating a dramatic focal point in your home or yard. Being bold with natural stone accent walls, statement kitchen islands, backsplashes, and in landscaping can transform your home into a reflection of your own personal style and personality. Accentuate architectural features including fireplaces and interesting walls, bring the eye into the kitchen with custom granite or marble islands, and provide your home’s unique design elements with a neutral surrounding palette to keep them at the forefront of visual attention for years to come.





Backsplash | Countertops | design | Fireplaces | Flooring | General | Granite | Hardscaping | Kitchen | Marble | Mosaics | Natural Stone | Outdoor Landscaping | Quartz | Tile

Stretching Small Spaces with Tile

by msiblog 20. March 2015 13:17

You don't need to physically increase square footage to make a small space live larger than its dimensions. Strategic color choices, thoughtfully selected furnishings, and expertly designed premium surfaces visually expand the tiniest of rooms. When creatively laid out on walls and floors, natural stone and porcelain tiles can open up a room to create an airy feel.

General Space-Stretching Strategies

Contrasting colors and patterns, dissimilar materials, and massive furnishings create visual breaks that stop the eye, which in turn make small spaces feel smaller. So, when decorating spaces too petite for your tastes, amplify the perception of space by using light or neutral color schemes, compact furniture, and tiles similar in color and texture to adjoining surfaces.

Alter spatial perceptions by setting light-colored floor tiles in diagonal patterns that draw attention into and around a space. Install flooring designs that use large tiles, which require fewer grout lines (the fewer the grout lines, the more seamless the visual flow). Keep tile patterns simple, tone on tone, and borderless to ensure eyes will move freely through the room.

In addition to creatively designed tile floors, tile installations/layouts can create the illusion of more space in small bathrooms, kitchens, and living areas. Here's a look at ways to use tiles to stretch a room's measurements.

Install Mosaics in Bathrooms

While large format tiles remain popular inclusions in kitchens and living spaces, smaller mosaic tiles are the go-to material for enhancing the sense of space in bathrooms. Cover walls, shower enclosures, and even ceilings with Polished Multi-Green Onyx 1x1 tiles that reflect light, which in turn makes a small shower or powder room appear deeper, wider, and taller.

Stretch it Horizontally with Glass Subway Tiles

Install glass subway tiles rendered in soft neutral colors to build dimension on accent walls and showers. Our Arctic Ice 3x6 Glass Mosaic tiles can stretch your room when installed from the floor to the ceiling and bring on the perception of increased height to the space.

Add Interest Underfoot in Bathrooms

Marble mosaic floors, like the one below created using Greecian White Octagon mesh-backed tiles, draw the eye down and into small spaces. This timeless flooring option blends well with a variety of styles and coordinates with large format marble tiles used to decorate showers and accent walls. In small bathrooms, match floor and shower floor mosaics to make the structures appear as one component; the fewer things the eye has to process, the larger a room will look.

Another option for using tile in the bathroom? Go big by installing our 12x24-inch Pietra Calcatta porcelain tiles on the floor and shower walls. With its waves of white and cream accented with darker elegant veins of gray and browns, this large format tile makes this bathroom feel bigger and walls to feel taller. Adding a fashionable mosaic band in the shower will increase interest without lessening the illusion of a spacious environment.

Keep it Light and Bright with Textural Kitchen Backsplashes

Bold backsplashes continue to be the trend; however, they can easily overpower a space, and make it feel smaller. Selecting backsplash tiles that are similar in color to your kitchen cabinets will create greater visual depth and will allow you to include different flooring materials, colors, and patterns. In this kitchen, the Antique White Arabesque shape adds interest, without being busy. 

Lay Large Format Tiles in Living Spaces

Large format tiles, generally those measuring 12x24 and larger, create the illusion of increased space because they require fewer grout lines. In this room, 24x24 porcelain Pietra Lagos tiles provide a good-looking anchor for lighter finished cabinets. With the grout closely matching the tile color, the nearly seamless floor magnifies the sense of space. A contrasting grout would stop the eye and make the space appear segmented and smaller.

While you cannot add actual square footage to a room just with the installation of tile alone, you can add to the perception of a more spacious feeling environment. Whether you select mosaics for walls and floors, large format tiles, or a combination of tile sizes, choose the proper grout color and pattern design and your room will "grow," spatially and stylishly, turning your small, quaint space into a large living area.


Backsplash | Flooring | General | Marble | Mosaics | Natural Stone | Tile

Palmetto Porcelain: Wood Look Without the Wood Worry

by msiblog 13. March 2015 16:23

Porcelain has been a popular tile material for many years, but it is only recently that modern production methods have made it more accessible to the average household. There are porcelain tiles that resemble marble, some made to look like natural stone, and now, one of the hottest trends in the industry, tiles that look like real wood!

Our newest line of wood-look porcelain tiles, the Palmetto Collection, adds the warmth and character of patina with an intricate natural wood design that will add a unique look to any room. Fashioned from the latest high definition ink jet technology, these gorgeous planks have over 30 different faces with exceptional realistic wood texturing and colorations. They are pressed to provide soft pillowed edges and are ideal for contemporary, traditional, rustic, and modern designs. And, because they are made from porcelain, they are durable and low maintenance, requiring only regular cleaning with water and a damp cloth, unlike real wood. 

Palmetto is offered in four distinct colors from traditional earth tones, like Chestnut and Cognac to Smoke and Fog, which gives the appearance of time worn, gray washed wood. The MSI Design Team has done a remarkable job in replicating this popular weathered look that works well in both commercial and residential applications.

No matter what color you choose, or what look you are trying to achieve, the popular 6x36 plank size tile offers style and flexibility making it an ideal choice for walls, floors, backsplashes, or anywhere a premium surface is desired.


Flooring | Kitchen | Porcelain | Wood Tile

Behind the Scenes: Creating Mosaics with MSI’s Design Team

by msiblog 3. March 2015 10:28

Here at MSI, our design team is constantly on the lookout for inspiration to create exceptionally striking mosaic designs. Our designers travel the globe trendspotting, researching, and tracking trends. We put decades of hard-surface know-how into play, partner with industry experts, and consider design trends when we create custom mosaics crafted to bring distinction to new-construction and remodeling projects. In business since 1974, MSI has kept its fingers firmly on the pulse of an evolving global marketplace to ensure our premium surfaces present classic motifs, fun shapes, and progressive patterns in innovative ways and high-fashion materials. One of the most important things our team, and our company as a whole, focuses on is producing unique and stylish creations that are on-trend yet timeless. We offer our customers stunning products they will love for years to come! 

Our Mosaic Design Team is headed up by Trend & Design expert, Emily Holle, who finds much of her inspiration from her travels and study of textiles. Her strong background in textile design and love of ancient handmade techniques continues to influence her personal style and design aesthetic. She spends much of her work time musing on her next design while creating product collages and mood boards. Some of her latest inspirations are pictured below.

Creative Combinations

Our design team, a diverse group of people with backgrounds in textiles, interior design, and graphic design, takes inspiration from fashion, architecture, and nature. They attend and monitor international and domestic industry trade shows focused on new kitchen and bath products, hard-surface materials, textiles, and furnishings meant for use in residential and commercial installations and watch fashion runways to determine developing design trends. The team takes note of color forecasts, hot paint palettes, new textile patterns, and up-and-coming popular decorating styles to ensure our mosaic and backsplash designs complement and coordinate with the latest looks and design ideas trending on the horizon.  

With the latest and greatest in mind, our skilled design team works with an array of manufacturers to create a diverse inventory of mosaic designs. They travel to international factories and spend days tweaking and perfecting their designs, playing with colors, hues, shapes, sizes, patterns, textures, and materials, paying attention to the very last details. 

This attention to detail is illustrated by Emily's description of how the team created one of their newest mosaic designs: Diamante Brick.

"I wanted to create a contemporary mosaic look for our White Oak collection," Emily explains. "The initial mosaic design was inspired by mixed materials we had seen in the furniture market and featured varying pieces of white oak marble and metal. We created more texture and dimension by adding metallic silver resin chips imprinted with a basket-weave texture. And for more contrast, we inserted molten-textured glass pieces with metallic grey-painted backgrounds." 

What This Means For You

You'll find mosaic designs that suit every design preference. From gem-like Ambrosia glass tiles to handcrafted Highland Park subway tiles, our mosaic designs fashion captivating compositions in cottage-to-contemporary kitchens and bathrooms. 

Everest Interlocking mosaic design combines design's newest and most-favored neutrals, gray and white, in a mix of crackled porcelain and metallic painted slate. MSI's Henley black-and-white marble hexagon tiles remain a favorite for the high-impact compositions they create. Stained-glass Mochachino tiles provide a streamlined twist on hexagonal shapes and appeal to buyers with a modern sensibility. Though shine, color, and shape are important considerations when buying tile, dimensional tiles, such as our Silver Aluminum collection, and ledger-inspired mosaics, like our Rustique 3D Interlocking tiles, grow ever more popular as they play into designers’ interest in handcrafted looks and materials.

Our creative crew consistently produces eye-catching mosaics that allow you to compose artistic statements that reflect your personality. Although all of our mosaics can simply stand alone, we specifically design them to coordinate with other product offerings in our countertop and flooring lines, enabling an array of easy kitchen and bath options for a cohesive and stylish look.  Check out our Perfect Pairings and Color Therapy blogs for more inspiration on how to create a beautiful space that reflects your personal style! 



Backsplash | Countertops | Kitchen | luxury | Mosaics | Natural Stone | Porcelain | Tile

Perfect Pairings: Designer Combinations That Inspire

by msiblog 24. February 2015 11:41

Like most things in interior design, there are no hard and fast rules. And if there are, some rules were just meant to be broken. When taking on the new design of a kitchen or bathroom, how does one approach selecting and coordinating a backsplash, countertop and flooring? Hiring an interior designer might do the trick, or, you could start by creating your own inspiration boards with samples and swatches readily available at many retail locations.  Begin by selecting colors and tones that reflect the feel of your home, and build from there. Here are some of our favorite combinations of patterns, colors, and materials that will ensure a gorgeous, well-put-together space. 

Coordinating Shades of Gray

There is no doubt that gray is the most popular “new neutral”. MSI is on-trend for color by offering a wide array of premium surfaces including slabs, tiles, and mosaics in shades of gray. Our new Palmetto Collection offers the look of time-worn, gray-washed wood in durable porcelain, perfect for flooring but can also be used to accent walls. The white background and dramatic gray veins in Arabescato Carrara marble gives timeless look and partners beautifully with our large format Eramosa Gray porcelain to give it a more updated and modern edge. Adding a backsplash or accent wall in Triton, our newest interlocking pattern, or our new graphic Henley Hexagon marble brings visual interest and depth. Grays can go warm or cool; the solution is to select styles and tones that can standalone in their beauty, but work together in harmony, to create a stunning space.   

Creating a Soothing Palette

Cascade White Quartz slabs feature white and cream undertones, with darker shades of tans and browns; this soothing pallet blends beautifully with our White Quarry Chevron Pattern or Carrara White 3D Marble Mosaic tiles. Patterns and textures are rapidly gaining popularity and can make for a stunning accent wall or backsplash.  For flooring, our new 16x32 Statuario Porcelain Tile has a soothing cream background with warm tan veins, reminiscent of natural stone but with the durability many homeowners desire. Or try our 12x24 Dimensions Glacier, which brings a concrete-look urban edge to any room but with the ease of maintenance of porcelain tile. Our 16x24 Sygma Ice Ceramic Tile also creates a striking space with its hand-scraped wood-look appearance. These large format versatile tiles can be used to coordinate flooring, as well as backsplashes, to give the visual illusion of a larger space. This collection would be beautiful to create an inviting and spa-like bathroom retreat. 

Striking Design with Earth Tones

Granite countertops are still the most popular surface with homebuyers, and Bordeaux Dream from Brazil is simply stunning. The undertones of cream and white are beautifully contrasted with darker shades of bordeaux and brown. This lends itself to a wide variety of design aesthetics from traditional to modern. Partner with Antique White handcrafted ceramic tiles for a more traditional look, or with Manhattan Blend glass metal mosaics to create a more modern result.  Roman Veincut Travertine tile floors add a modern background while our large 6x40 Salvage Musk Porcelain wood-look tile planks would lend themselves to a more rustic effect, as would a wall decorated with our new Rustique 3D Interlocking Slate Pattern. The natural earth tones in this collection bring warmth and a bit of visual drama to any space. Mix and match any of these styles to create your ideal kitchen or bath.  

Harmonizing On-Trend Looks

Wood-look porcelain tiles are very popular right now and are not expected to decrease in popularity any time soon. Our Capella Stable Porcelain Tile is available in 6x40 planks, allowing for creative installations on floors and walls. When paired with our large format cotto-look tile, Capella Silt, will bring rich patinas and modern flair to any room.  Both of these tiles partner beautifully with our new Mochachino hexagon glass mosaic, made from stunning stained glass. The pop of color from the earthy blue glass mosaic brings out the rich browns and creams of this trendy hexagon pattern.  Or try our Carmello 2" Travertine hexagon, with its beautiful brown hues, perfect for bathrooms, kitchens, showers and even fireplaces! For a stunning countertop, add durable Madreperola Quartzite, available in both polished and brushed finishes. This trendy palette will be the envy of all of your neighbors yet still stand the test of time. 

We hope these perfect pairings have been helpful and have inspired you to take the next step in your remodeling design project. For more ideas, visit our MSI Kitchen and Bathroom Visualizer tools, where you can experiment with a variety of tiles, mosaics, and countertops. Mixing and matching colors, patterns, and surfaces will add drama and style to any room and bring new life into the place you call home.  





Tile 101: Installing Large Format Tile

by msiblog 14. February 2015 15:17

Are you considering using large format tiles in a home or commercial property? In this Tile 101 article, we will cover the benefits, the beauty, and highlight the best practices for successful installation.

Large format tiles come in a wide range of colors and designs, making them suitable for a variety of design aesthetics. Large format tile is considered to be square or rectangular tiles larger than 12x12, including popular wood look porcelain planks in sizes like 6x24 and 6x36. They are durable, and because of their size, fewer are needed per space, meaning fewer grout lines making cleanup and maintenance a breeze. For flooring, accent walls, shower and tub surrounds, countertops, backsplashes, and kitchen islands, large format tiles can help visually expand your space, and create a cohesive feel.

While large format tiles are appealing because they are durable, easy to clean, and come in a wide array of colors and designs, it is important to address installation as these tiles require special handling to insure a professional finish.

Large Format Tiles Must Be Supported Properly

Obviously large format tiles are heavier than smaller tiles. However, what many people fail to realize is that even though the overall weight of the floor remains the same, heavier tiles require a stronger substrate. In addition, with smaller tiles installers may be able to disguise floors that are less than level, but with larger format tiles, that becomes a challenge. A high point in the floor can cause the tile to slope, creating a tripping hazard, as well as being visually disruptive. It is recommended that the variation for 10 feet of horizontal and vertical installation not exceed 1/8 of an inch.  When installing large format tiles on a vertical surface, it is important to support the tiles as the mortar sets to ensure gravity doesn’t pull them out of place.

Level Floors & Plumb Walls

For proper installation, floors and other horizontal surfaces need to be level and vertical surfaces must be plumb. Height and depth variations will be noticeable. For floors that are not level, consider using a self-leveling underlayment. As mentioned above, it is important to keep the variation less than 1/8 of an inch. For walls that are not plumb, the walls may need adjustment prior to installation.

Planning the Layout

Laying out the tiles prior to installation is important. It helps you to select a pattern that best suits the room. Large format tiles allow for a variety of intriguing patterns including traditional brick patterns, herringbone, straight joint, chevrons, cobblestone, basket weave, and circular rectangular.  For plank sized tiles like our Capella Birch Porcelain Tile (above), it is important to use a 1/3 offset pattern, as shown in the illustration below, instead of a standard 1/2 offset pattern often used for smaller tiles. This helps to prevent cracking and lippage, as well as creates a more beautiful end result. Choosing Grout

As with all tile floors, the color of the grout needs as much consideration as the tiles themselves. When installing large format tiles and planks, it is vital to adhere to the recommended grout line widths, recommended patterns, and all installation guidelines. For all of MSI's rectangular tiles, a minimum of a 1/3 or more off set with 1/8 grout joint size is recommended for rectified tiles and a 3/16 grout joint for non rectified. If you want a more cohesive flow to the room, it is recommended to use grout that is as close to the color of the tile, as possible. This creates a more seamless appearance, and helps to visually expand the room, allowing the beauty of the tiles to shine.

For a contemporary look, Focus Graphite Porcelain Tile (above) has a matte finish and, when partnered with a lighter colored grout, is perfect for a 1/3 staggered offset pattern. This creates a graphic linear pattern and helps to bring attention to the floor. To produce a more seamless look, select a grout that is closer to the color of the tile, or perhaps one that is even just a shade darker to add subtle dimension.

If you love the look of reclaimed wood, but are hesitant about the durability and upkeep required, Salvage Red Porcelain Tile (below), available in 6x40 planks, is a great option. Planks in these dimensions are perfect to create a traditional wood-look floor when installed in a 1/3 offset pattern. They can also be installed in a herringbone or chevron pattern for additional visual interest. It is highly recommended that you layout a variety of patterns in the room to determine which design best suits the room.

Safeguarding Against Cracking with Proper Mortar

Due to the weight, and the size of large format tiles, it is imperative to use mortars or thin-sets specifically formulated to support the larger tiles. This is important for all installations whether vertical or horizontal. Polymer modified mortars and medium-bed mortars help tiles adhere to walls better, and shrink less keeping tile from moving and cracking. Medium-bed mortars are often used for flooring to help prevent lippage and slumping into the mortar bed. It is important to note that this type of mortar is more difficult to handle, and it is important not to add additional water as this will adversely affect the mortar’s ability to support the tiles.

As more and more large format tiles come to market, more specially designed mortars are developed to support the weight. Some of the new formulations contain microspheres that help to keep tiles level and plumb. When purchasing tile, discuss the various types of mortars available to ensure a beautiful result that will endure decades of wear. Cracking is also a concern with large format tiles if they are not installed as recommended. Shrinkage of the mortar and uneven surfaces are often the cause. Crack isolation membranes help to prevent this problem and are installed directly to the substrate.

Installation of large format tiles may require special handling but their beauty, durability, and low maintenance make them well worth the additional upfront planning and extra time it takes to install them. Browse through our porcelain collection, which includes our large format tiles, for inspiration on how you can transform floors, backsplashes, showers and tubs, and create stunning accent walls to enhance the beauty of your home.


Backsplash | Countertops | Flooring | General | Kitchen | Porcelain | Tile

Tile Flooring: First Impressions Start with the Foyer

by msiblog 9. February 2015 08:33

Have you neglected your foyer while the rest of your home has undergone a makeover? Your entryway sets the tone both in design and personality and welcomes guests into your home.  Small entries and grand entrances alike both need some attention to detail. The addition of interesting tile patterns, aesthetic lighting or the use of vivid colors can make a great first impression!

Neutral in color, natural stone tile, like our Angelica Gold travertine, defines an entryway and greets your guests warmly. Wooden doors, stairs, and wrought iron railings partner beautifully with lighter floors while a medallion in the center of the room welcome visitors properly. These complimentary color and design choices work well for a foyer in a traditional home.

For an elegant and sophisticated entrance, highly polished Florence Beige porcelain tile, with its rich cream tones, lend itself to a variety of decors where clean, smooth and subtle is the goal. Contrast with medium to dark tone wood trim, and the result is simply stunning. Subtle veins in the tiles produce depth and movement, and help to create a near seamless look.

A warm and welcoming atmosphere is also attainable with the addition of a marble floor, with a pop of color on the walls that is echoed in accessories. This setting gives visitors a spot to slip off their shoes, or wait in comfort. Timeless Carrara White Marble used in a foyer brings an air of sophistication, without stuffiness to the space. The sweeping gray veins create visual interest, and will partner with a variety of design styles, and color changes, through the ages.

Looking for something a bit more interesting? Laying tile in an intricate design can add depth and dimension to any foyer and impress your guests at first sight!  Our 6x12 Crema Cappuccino polished marble tiles are perfect for herringbone patterns. The warmth of the creams with lighter veins are accented with just small touches of light brown. The result is entryway that cannot be mistaken for anything but gorgeous! 

To bring a bit a nature inside, our Tuscany Walnut Onyx can create the perfect cozy ambiance with a rustic feel. These travertine tiles are honed and unfilled, with chiseled edges; perfect for an interesting and inviting entryway. With the use of varying sizes, the swirls of cream, white, beige, and darker tans together can create a gorgeous Versailles pattern, producing a unique and dramatic floor.   

Both natural stone and porcelain tiles are available in a wide array of colors, sizes, materials, and patterns that will adapt to any design or décor you choose for your foyer in order to make that important first impression.  Whatever you prefer, your entryway should be inviting and intriguing and create an environment that best reflects your personality and style.



Flooring | General | Marble | Natural Stone | Tile | Travertine

Color Therapy: How Colors Affect the Mood in Your Home

by msiblog 30. January 2015 13:05

Do the colors in your home reflect your personal style and support the mood you wish to inspire in each room? Color therapy, or chromotherapy, is an ancient practice that identifies how colors influence human behavior, and even wellness. A beautiful home isn’t about conforming to the latest trends; it is about creating an inviting space that reflects the personalities of the family that lives there. From flooring to countertops to accent walls, and backsplashes, you can add color to create the mood you desire.

So what is the emotion behind colors? White, soft tones of blue, gray, pink or green can soothe raw nerves, and support a calming environment. Brighter tones of red, purple, oranges, and even black, can stimulate creativity, thought, energy, and passion. Create your own personalized space by setting the tone of each room in your home, while incorporating your own tastes and preferences. The result: a beautiful home that reflects your personal style and stimulates the feeling you desire in each room.

Bold, Dramatic Colors

While not for everyone, pops of red in a kitchen encourages action, and can actually stimulate the appetite. Suitable for a variety of cabinetry colors, Sparkling Ruby Quartz countertops create a dramatic statement. Quartz never has to be sealed, is durable, and great for busy kitchens.

To emphasize reflection and ground a room, black is another bold color to consider. Contrary to popular belief, using black does not have to make a room dark or depressing. A touch of striking color added through cabinetry, furniture, countertops, an accent wall or flooring can add a sense of balance, while allowing other colors to shine. The use of a dynamic granite countertop, like our Supreme Fantasy, with its beautiful waves of grays, creams, charcoals and reds, gives movement to the room and meshes well with black cabinets or flooring to create the perfect dramatic statement in any kitchen or bathroom.

Cool, Serene Colors

Metallic tiles, glass mosaics, and graphic patterns come together with cool shades of blue and beige to create a serene space, perfect for unwinding at the end of the day. Patterns can be brought into the mix with a mosaic accent wall or uniquely installed floor tile. The use of our Cityscape Interlocking Pattern can add texture and dimension and bring about a tranquil, spa-like atmosphere.  Sticking to a palette of neutral colors, like tan, beige and cream, and highlighting those with your favorite tones of blue and green, will add a sense of calm to any room.

Earthy, Casual Colors

Bring a bit of nature inside with an accent wall composed of California Gold split face slate ledger panels or a floor covered with earthy large format cotto tiles from our Capella Porcelain Collection. Lighter accessories and darker floors can complement the range of warm tones producing a combination that lends itself to a welcoming and casual space, perfect for a lazy afternoon with your favorite book, or a delightful conversation with friends. 

Neutral, Soothing Colors

The use of neutral color palettes in your home creates a comfortable and inviting place that will make your guests feel at ease. While neutral tones may be considered boring or bland by some, their versatility makes them a designer's dream.  The use of tan, beige, white, gray, and even black can be used to create contrasting tones and textures, bringing visual interest and a soothing atmosphere to any room.  Accented with a muted color for a pulled together look, these classic shades will never go out of style.

Available in every color imaginable, slabs, tile and mosaics are a great way to incorporate a little color therapy into your home. Looking for something specific? With a few easy steps, you can search our online Material Selector for help in choosing just the right natural stone or porcelain for your project.


Backsplash | Countertops | Flooring | General | Granite | granite countertops, | Kitchen | luxury | Marble | Mosaics | MSI Material Selector | Natural Stone | Quartz | Slate | Tile | Wood Tile