2021 Wall Tile Trends: 11 Ideas for Stylish Accent Walls
Have you been hunting for wall tile ideas all over? Have you been searching Pinterest, Houzz and Google images for creative ideas?
While your Pinterest search may turn up the old, classic tile types you’re familiar with, the newest trends in wall tiles are so new that you’re not even seeing them online.
What is this new wall tile trend?
Texture, texture and even more texture.
How do I know this? Working in the industry, I get to attend fun trade shows such as Surfaces and Coverings. What I can tell you is that texture is all the rage right now, offering eye-popping visuals and a unique look. Most of these products didn’t even exist just last year. That is how new I am talking.
But those old classics are still just as popular in home design. Let’s take a look at where people are using wall tiles, what’s trending in wall tile types and, finally, the rise of textures and colors.
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Where to Use Wall Tiles
So where exactly do you use wall tile? Everywhere from bathrooms and kitchen backsplash to upscale tiled showers, fireplaces and accent walls, you name it. Basically, you can use wall tiles wherever your heart desires.
Most people use it as a way to accent a wall since it can look a little too busy if overused around your house.
Trending Wall Tile Types
Maybe it’s just me, but I feel like we are in the renaissance for wall tile. Just a few short years ago, the wall tile options were fairly limited compared to what is available nowadays.
Think about how when you were a kid and you would go down the condiment aisle and see three or four kinds of mayonnaise. Now you walk down that aisle and there are 50-100 different kinds of mayonnaise with all sorts of fun flavors – olive oil versions, canola oil versions, etc. It’s a regular Mayo-palooza now. That is basically what is happening with wall tile.
Let’s start with a little history.
Wall tile has been around forever. It probably originated as stacked stone or brick veneers, helping newer, more efficient buildings capture a more classic look with all the old-school character. Over time, tile manufacturers have created an abundance of new and innovative tile and stone variations to offer more style choices.
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Subway tiles were created in the early 1900s for subway stations. Today they’re used as a home wall design, available in a variety of rectangular sizes and colors and almost always installed horizontally. A few recent trends for subway tiles include laying them in a herringbone pattern and alternating sizes or colors.
Glass tile was born somewhere back in the BC era where early artisans used it for wall murals for the wealthy. In home design, glass tile has grown in popularity recently due to advances in technology that have led to the invention of mosaic glass tile.
Mosaic tile comes pre-assembled on sheets. These sheets can be easily cut to fit and installed by your average DIY warrior or tile installer. This advance in technology has effectively opened up the glass tile market to the masses.
Anyone can have a beautiful glass mosaic design nowadays without the need to hire an “artist” to create the wall. Today, mosaic tiles manufacturers are even combining many materials (glass, stone, ceramic, metallic and mirrored finishes) into one sheet to create endless new and unique designs.
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Ceramic and porcelain were originally used as materials for pottery; however, at some point in time, wealthy Europeans started using them as building materials. Porcelain tile in particular was created to offer a more durable and less porous solution than ceramic tile. Since porcelain is less porous than ceramic, it is ideal for use in wet areas such as bathrooms and kitchen backsplashes.
Porcelain and ceramic are the same materials that are typically used for making floor tiles. At some point in time someone must have had the idea to try using them as wall tiles too. It is impossible to know the exact origin of that idea, but I imagine it was while someone was in the shower. You know how sometimes your best ideas often come to you in the shower? Someone in the bath or shower at some point realized that the tiles on the floor would be great to put on the walls too so that the walls would not get damaged by the water.
Okay, maybe that didn’t really happen, but you never know. As the Mythbusters would say, “plausible.”
Today, ceramic and porcelain wall tiles are available in endless shapes, colors and sizes.
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Metallic-look tiles are another recent trend. I personally started to see these gain a foothold in the industry around 2005-2010. And while I don’t think they ever took off and became hugely successful, they are still popular today in contemporary and modern spaces.
One of the hottest new trends in wall tile that you will see dominating the covers of designer magazines are patterned wall tiles. These decorative wall tiles come in many styles including Retro, vintage, farmhouse chic, Moroccan wall tiles and more. Adding these to a room can take your decor from drab to fab in a hurry.
These tiles are often made of ceramic and are available in perfectly uniform machine-made designs or can come in individually artistic hand-painted tiles.
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Marble, Faux Marble and Other Natural Stone Looks
Marble and natural stone tile is the classic look you will find most often used as shower wall tile. When combined with accent tiles (more on those later), you can create eye-popping and luxurious-looking showers and bathroom spaces.
Marble tile has been around since ancient times and is a classic look that will probably never go out of style. If you are looking for a wall tile trend that will add resale value to your home no matter when you decide to sell, this is probably your safest bet. My general recommendation would be to stick with timeless colors such as grays and beiges.
Marble can also be used as a 4-inch backsplash that matches your countertops. This is a classic look that many countertop fabricators will offer you.
Recent innovations in manufacturing have yielded many faux-look marble tile options. These tiles are typically ceramic or porcelain that has a natural stone appearance. Some other natural stone looks include travertine, onyx, granite, quartzite, limestone, and more. There are also many name-brand stone-look wall tile options including Ceaserstone, Geoluxe, and Neolith.
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Wood wall tiles are super popular these days and are most often used as an accent wall. The look can be achieved with porcelain wood-look wall tiles or with actual pieces of wood. Many times when real wood is used, the wood is reclaimed and recycled into smaller pieces that can also create a textured wall appearance.
For ease of installation, many companies now produce mosaic wood panels or sheets. Depending on the species or varieties of woods used, wood wall tiles can work well with just about any decor including contemporary, traditional, minimalist, rustic, farmhouse and more.
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3-D Textured wall tile
Textured wall tile has also been around for years; you can probably remember classic wall designs such as stacked stone wall tile and brick and slate panel wall tile. These natural looks tend to go in and out of style and feature rectangular pieces of stone, brick or slate stacked on top of each other to create a textured wall tile appearance.
Recently there has been an explosion of innovation in the wall textured wall tile market with numerous 3-D man-made designs that are perfect for modern or contemporary spaces.
Another new and beautiful textured wall tile idea are glazed tiles that look timeless and classical. These products are perfect to add an upscale look as a kitchen or bathroom backsplash or as an accent wall.
Find pictures here: https://www.quemeredesigns.com/products-1
So now that we have brushed up on some basic wall tile info, let’s get back to this hot new trend.
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Wall Tile Textures
Texture is no stranger to wall tile. Just look at natural looks like stacked stone. marble, brick veneers, etc.
What hasn’t been around all that long is textured wall tiles that appear manmade, geometrical, and/or with cool new stylish patterns that make you feel like they are straight out of Vogue magazine.
These aren’t your average contemporary or modern design influences. These are works of art with visuals you might see on your latest Prada or Gucci purses or at the newest chic design studio. The patterns are lavish, luxurious and bold but also appear like they could have some staying power.
So should you consider adding some textured wall tiles? Here are some pros and cons:
Textured Tile Pros
- Eye-catching – Let’s be honest, what is more likely to stop you in your tracks?
- Unique – Using textured wall tile can help you separate the look and feel of your space from the masses. This is especially useful in commercial spaces such as restaurants and hotels.
- Looks amazing up or down lit – The textured surface combined with a properly placed wall washing light creates dramatic shadow effects on your wall that are guaranteed to Wow.
Textured Tile Cons
- Harder to clean – Adding texture to a wall adds ledges for dust and dirt to collect.
- Could be a fad – Remember glass block in the 90s? There is always the chance textured wall tile could go out of style in similar fashion.
- Can be difficult or expensive to install – Installing wall tile in general can be a tough task for the average DIY-er. Installing some of the more complicated textured products is often even more difficult if you are looking for perfection. I would recommend getting a professional installer if you want to ensure the job gets done right.
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Colors and Finishes
Matte or Honed Finishes
When people typically think of wall tile finishes, most people think of the shiny or glossy look that is typically found in subway tile or marble tile. Recently however there has been a trend to move to tile that is less reflective and more natural in appearance. This more natural-looking tile finish is commonly referred to as Matte or Honed.
In addition to being less reflective, matte or honed tiles are also more slip-resistant if used as a floor tile. These tiles are also more likely to mask any scratches or surface imperfections, making them a great option for use in commercial spaces.
Neutrals (grays, whites, and beiges)
The hottest color trends today in decorative wall tile are exactly what you think they are – the classic grays, whites, beiges and grieges (gray and beige blend). Some people might say gray is getting a little played out since it has been so hot recently, however, we are not so sure about that.
The neutral color palette is about as timeless as you can get. The classic, beautiful buildings of Italy, for example, have basically been grays, whites and beiges for thousands of years.
Pro tip: When installing wall tile, selecting grout color can make or break the entire appearance: Always get a grout color sample kit
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