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Stone Tile Inlay

by Jon Nunan

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Though many homeowners already know the practical and aesthetic benefits of having a stone tile floor installed in their kitchen or bathroom, there are even more options available to increase your floor's appeal. Accenting your existing floor with a stone tile inlay is a great way to beautify your home, and even increase its market value. Since many homeowners might not know exactly what goes into creating a stone tile inlay, doing a little research on how they are made and what can be done with them is a good idea if you want to get the most out of your project and give your contractor an accurate description of what you want.

Stone Tile Inlay Basics
Inlays are basically a design, or strip of a design, creating a border or separating two floor types that is made by setting pieces of different color material (commonly stone or wood) next to each other forming a pattern. The best time to install stone tile inlays is, of course, when you're remodeling your whole floor, but an inlay can also be installed on an existing floor to change the look and feel of a room.

The individual pieces of stone tile inlays can be created by cutting individual tiles with a saw or high-powered water jet, but newer computer and cutting technology can also be used to make the process faster and less expensive. You may be able to find individual companies or craftsmen that will create and install your inlay in the traditional fashion, however, you should prepare yourself for a higher price tag if you choose this path. Similar to creating a mosaic in how the tile pieces are individually placed, an "inlay" usually refers more to an abstract or geometric pattern rather than a picture made out of small tiles.

Stone Tile Inlay Design
When it comes time to create the design for your inlay, you can discuss options with your contractor (he or she will most likely have a portfolio of designs to choose from) or you can create your own design. The combination of ultra high-pressure water jets and a computer guidance system cuts pieces so precisely, that almost any design can be achieved. This technology provides us with intricate floors with up to hundreds of perfectly fit pieces, with tight turns, and swirling scripts.

Using a variety of color hues to obtain striking effects of light and shade, your contractor will bring whatever design you choose to life. Once the various pieces for the inlay have been cut, they are then laid in the desired pattern or design in a manner similar to that of installing conventional tile.

Hiring an Interior Designer
Another route you can take to getting a stunning effect with your stone tile inlay is to hire a designer. Not only will he or she be able to help you pick out or design a pattern, but they'll be able to provide you with some very useful information on inlay placement, as well as decorating and design ideas for other areas of the home. They may also be able to give you further information on what you can do with an inlay and how much it will cost (or raise the cost of a traditional tile installation).

Jon Nunan is a freelance writer who draws on his experience in construction, ranging from landscaping to log home building, for his articles on home improvement.