pairing paint with your tile

by clé tile | published: Jul 24, 2020

restaurant with clé tile cathedral black and white pattern cement square tiles on the floor

In a cast of design characters, tile almost always plays the lead. But that’s not tile’s only function. Even more than the lead character in a design project, tile can be the design element capable of bringing the disparate cast of characters in your project together… things such as budget, pre-existing architectural conditions. Things you love versus items you need to incorporate.

Deborah Osburn has helped homeowners and designers look at tile this way for years, long before the inception of clé as a tile company eight years ago. But for some designers/buyers, this recognition has been a bit of an evolution.

Tile as the Design Centerpiece

Forward-trending designers know that each room is designed around a central element. For those not in that mindset, approaching a project from the ground up rather than the top down necessitates a design mind flip.

While other design elements–like paint and paint color–are all part of the final masterpiece, tile is really the design driver of any project. We’ve found that starting with tile, instead of other design features, really takes hold when customers order our samples. Even our most loyal designers, who are very familiar with our tile, use the samples to inform other design decisions.

We’ve also seen this phenomenon grow thanks to images on Instagram or Pinterest. In the past, the average customer’s accessibility to designers’ artistry was a bit limited. Now, they can use the images of those completed spaces as their own inspiration—again, with tile as the design centerpiece.


Yet, Paint Still Matters

Pulling together all the different design elements comes natural to some. Designers, of course, have a special ability to envision beautiful spaces from even the tiniest fragment of inspiration. They become trusted advisors to their clients, which makes it a little easier for those clients to open their minds to non-traditional ideas.

Others may need a little help. Retail customers operating on their own might need a little encouragement to be courageous in their design decisions—especially with tile that features natural color variation (like our cement collection).

We’re more than willing to provide that encouragement. We want our customers to be inquisitive. To enlist our expertise. We actually get a lot of questions about paint colors. And, we’re glad for them. What a travesty it would be to spend all that time laboring to find the perfect tile, and choosing the right contractor to make sure the installation goes seamlessly, only to stumble on a paint decision.

For our cement tile collection, we’ve already done the leg work for our customers. Our Benjamin Moore Paint Pairing Guide for clé tile provides corresponding paint color codes for each cement tile color and finish—all 49 of them. It’s a comforting feeling to have confirmation that this tile and that color fit together so well.

Why Benjamin Moore? It’s high-quality paint, with a vast variety of color options. From our own personal experience, we continue to use it, love it, source it, and recommend it—because it works so well with the clé brand.


The Sheen Spectrum: A Quick Note on Paint Finishes

Just like there are different finishes to tiles (think: matte versus silky versus glazed), paint comes in different finishes as well. Your designer will certainly have the perfect option in mind for beautifying your space, but it’s helpful to know the background of the different functions of paint finishes.

For example, kitchens often feature a high-gloss or semi-gloss finish–based on its durability and ease of cleaning. What is a kitchen, after all, without a few grease splatters? Kitchens are also the space most likely to be the victim of sticky or Cheetos-stained fingers.

Other high-traffic areas such as family rooms, laundry rooms, and kids’ bedrooms do well with a satin luster. Still easy to clean, but not as shiny/sheeny as the gloss varieties.

Eggshell, the next on the sheen spectrum, is a bit less durable than the previous two. But, it also holds the benefit of being able to cover wall imperfections better than shinier versions. It’s best for less-traffic areas like dining rooms and formal living rooms.

Finally, the flat/matte finish is perfect for low-traffic areas like (adult) bedrooms and well, any other interior room that kids won’t frequently infiltrate. An interesting point about this finish is that it soaks up light, rather than reflecting it. So, if you really have something to hide, this is probably the best option.

Again, your designer will likely have their own interpretation of what fits best with your tile. Still, having this information can help you look further down the road to when they’re not around to help you remedy your rogue toddler’s Sharpie art.

Don’t Just Complete a Space, Create It

With any design, you’re not just completing a space, you’re creating it. When tile is involved, it often represents a large portion of the space. So, why wouldn’t you start with it? Putting tile as the design feature, the focal point, doesn’t diminish the importance of other design features. It just sets the tone for the artist’s canvas.