Square or rectangular tiles: how to choose the perfect size and shape

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Use tile shapes to make the most of your home's interiors


Scrolling through a tile catalogue, you become immersed in an enchanted world: image after image it provides a sequence of different, stunning colours, styles, sizes and shapes. Given so much variety, it is very hard to choose.

But you can make sense of the many ideas that leap out from the catalogue's pages by concentrating on one aspect at a time. In this article, we will focus our attention on tile shape. In other words, what is the perfect shape: square, rectangular or hexagon tiles?

Rectangular tiles

The most distinctive rectangular tiles are the long block, plank and board sizes, generally used for wood-effect tiles.

By playing around with the installation pattern, or rather the geometrical layout, of rectangular tiles you can highlight spaces and, if necessary, mask irregularities, such as in a room where the corners are not right angles, or in a very long, narrow interior.

Long rectangular tiles can be installed diagonally, meaning at 45° to the walls, to minimise irregularities due to walls that are not perpendicular, very common in historic buildings, in particular. When installed straight, or parallel to the walls, long rectangular tiles make the room look longer in one direction. So if, in even a small room, they are placed with the long side parallel to the short wall, they expand the impression of space and restore balance to the proportions. Or, if aligned with the direction of the light from a window, they emphasise the amount of light in the room.

You can take inspiration from the small 10×100 and 13×100 cm boards of Treverkcountry, the wood-effect porcelain stoneware collection by Marazzi that evokes time-worn parquet in temporary style, with a subtle, sophisticated rustic touch. With the wood-look stoneware tiles of different dimensions you can give variety to surfaces by choosing an installation pattern that mixes the sizes.

Another size with great potential is 180×22.5 cm, offered by the Vero wood-effect porcelain stoneware collection, which marks a return to the traditional plank size. Thanks to the ground-breaking new technology that ensures absolute correspondence between structures and patterning, Vero is a perfect reproduction of oak, its natural material of inspiration.

Square tiles

Square tiles are a classic, and have never been out of fashion. While until a few decades ago the standard size was 20×20 or 33×33 cm, for years now the most popular square size has been 60×60 cm, which you can use in both large and small rooms. For modern interior design schemes, the trend is for large sizes.

In fact, large square tiles create fewer joints, so they give surfaces – floors or walls – an impression of continuity that expands spaces and volumes. You can emphasise this impression by making the joints almost invisible. This is easy with rectified square tiles, which have perfectly straight edges, for installing with minimal joints (2 mm), which can be grouted to match the tiles.

What's more, it is in the largest sizes that the tiles' lovely appearance can be appreciated to the full. The Marazzi product assortment includes Mystone Limestone and Mystone Moon, two stone-look stoneware collections available in various rectified square sizes, from the smallest 60×60 to the largest 120×120 cm. Both collections are produced by the innovative StepWise™ method, which gives the surface excellent anti-slip properties while maintaining its softness to the touch.

Square shapes also offer another material inspiration in Terratech, a collection that evokes clay and its powdery colours. Terratech is a very high-tech product, again produced with the StepWise™ technology, combined with Bodyplus. Thanks to Bodyplus, Terratech features the through-body inclusion of chips, giving an extremely natural appearance. The collection is also available in 60×60 cm and in the 30×60 cm and 75×150 cm rectangular sizes.

Hexagon tiles

Hexagon tiles – or honeycomb tiles – are currently very trendy, but they have quite a long history. In fact they date back to the period – the second half of the 19C – of the traditional Italian cement tiles, made simply from pressed cement.

Hexagon tiles also offer the potential for colour compositions that are not only decorative but also create optical effects that can expand or extend surfaces, balance a room's proportions or conceal its geometrical irregularities.

The hexagon is a shape that combines easily with many styles: minimal, vintage, classic, shabby chic or rustic. We find perfect examples in these 3 Marazzi collections of porcelain stoneware tiles with concrete and terracotta effects– Clays, Powder, Cotti d’Italia – and in Allmarble, a porcelain stoneware collection inspired by the choicest marbles.

The hexagon is also a very versatile shape because it can be combined with rectangular tiles in the same material or with tiles in different sizes and effects.