The Ins and Outs of Specifying Tile with Anthony Carrino March 1, 2020

Home > Blog > The Ins and Outs of Specifying Tile with Anthony Carrino

One of the most exciting moments as a homeowner is when it finally comes time to start a room remodel. Whether you’re sourcing tile for a new build or updating an existing, there is something special about selecting the material that makes a space all your own. Although exciting, it’s no secret that remodels aren’t always as easy or glamorous as they appear on TV, and with so many sizes, colors and formats available it can be difficult to know where to start. Garden State Tile sat down with design/construction expert Anthony Carrino of HGTV’s Kitchen Cousins, EllenTube’s The Build Up and TheBuild.TV to discuss all things tile specification.

When starting the tile specification process, where is the first place to start?

AC: Everyone’s process is different, so there is no ‘right’ answer here. I like to break everything down by room so it doesn’t get overwhelming, and then I look at the overall aesthetic of my project to make sure the tile fits with my overall look and feel. Design is a series of layers; each should build upon the one before and bring something new and interesting to the space while still working with the layer that is under it.

If you’re not a designer and the above only gives you anxiety, then the best place you can start is by hiring a design professional to give you confidence in your decisions. Remember, a good designer will help you realize your vision (even if you can’t verbalize exactly what you want), not just impart their own.

And regardless of whether you are a professional or not, there is no replacement for a great tile supplier. They know their product well, have a huge selection and they listen to what you are trying to accomplish in order to show you tile collections that will achieve that goal.

How does a homeowner choose between ceramic, porcelain, natural stone, glass and all of the other hard surface options on the market today?

AC: Ha! Great question! I like to pick the things I like, and I work with a good supplier because I know I can depend on them to tell me when my choice and my use conflict. With so many product options out there today it can be really tough to stay on top of each and every detail. To combat this I make sure to tell my supplier all the elements of my design this way they are informed on my intended use. By doing this they will likely show me things that are intended for said use, and if I just gravitate towards something I see in the showroom they can advise on whether or not it will work for what I’m trying to do. You don’t always need to have all the answers – you just need to know where to get them!

What are some of the technical considerations that homeowners should think about when choosing tile?

AC: The big thing that homeowners don’t think about when they are choosing tile is the additional cost of install. Yes – different tile material has different install requirements (i.e. more or less labor intensive), and different tile formats take more or less time to install. Time is money, and if you have a complicated tile pattern going on a large floor it is going to take a loooong time to install, as opposed to a larger format tile that can be laid faster because each tile takes up a lot more room.

What are the important characteristics to look for in a good tile retailer?

AC: A good selection goes without saying. They need to have an incredible selection across a wide range of aesthetics. Beyond that, it’s about professionalism, responsiveness, and a general enjoyment of working with someone – and Garden State Tile brings all those things to the table in spades for me, and after working in this field for nearly 20 years, I can tell you that EVERY project has its hiccups. Whether it’s the tile, light fixtures, inspections, etc., it’s a complicated job with a ton of moving parts, so there are bound to be problems. It’s how those problems get solved that makes all the difference! I choose to work with people who understand that and are proactive, communicative and just plain good people.

What are some fun tile trends that you are seeing in homes today? 

AC: A lot of bold patterns and bright colors, but not necessarily together. For example, we are going with a beautiful cement tile for our vestibule that is a vibrant blue with a white geometric pattern on it. Doing something bold in smaller spaces allows it to be very impactful, but not overwhelming to any space, as it is a limited amount of square footage that is getting that treatment.

Also, metal inlays. Actual strips of metal that are inlaid along with the tile. We are doing this as part of our bar backsplash and the samples we have looked at are absolutely stunning. We are using a dark, textured hexagon tile with a brass inlay that wraps one edge of the hexagon….you’re gonna want to see photos of this one!

Thank you, Anthony, for sharing your expert insight with us! Be sure to follow TheBuild.TV online to see how Anthony is utilizing Garden State Tile in his Jersey City firehouse renovation, and for more information on all things project planning and construction.