why you should always sample tile

by clé tile | published: Jun 17, 2020

simply stated, tile is not two dimensional. it breathes life and color and texture into any room, but our laptop or phone screens don’t allow us to truly appreciate the tile options we have at our fingertips.

let’s face it: purchasing tile an investment of time and money. it can seem overwhelming. but inviting some tile samples to live in your home will help you make a confident decision that will stand the test of time.

in fact, committing to a tile without sampling first feels downright risky to us. so make sure to make time for this important step and pay attention to what you receive. live with it. move it around, see how it works under different lighting conditions. order more samples if necessary. then–and only then–make your final selection.

here’s why sampling is such an important part of your process.


there is nothing like seeing handcrafted tile in person to truly experience the depth and power that color can bring to a room. tile is so expressive – blending color, shape, and texture into one surface – that online images, however beautiful, just don’t do the trick. there are a few reasons why color is the top criteria when our customers seek out samples as part of their tile decision-making process.

first, every computer screen, monitor and phone has slightly different color settings, and even the slightest difference can suggest tones and hues that may or may not be in the tile’s finish. ordering tile based on an online image can sometimes be misleading.

also, thanks to the camera everyone has on their phone, it is all too easy to edit and post a photo instantly. you simply can’t know which filters were applied or how much natural light is in the room you are seeing. if it is a professional photo, there could have been significant retouching or added lighting to achieve a certain effect. for example, the shower installation of architect’s palette in blotter, below left from studio mcgee, makes use of their photography presets and renders it whiter than it is.

importantly, in most rooms, light will change over the course of the day. natural light, assisted lighting, time of day, weather, all these will interact with your tile differently. with a sample you can experience your tile under any conditions before you purchase. this is particularly important when you are thinking of ordering a glazed tile, which will reflect the light (not to mention other colors in a room). 

lastly, some of our most popular tiles are known and celebrated for the variety of color they feature. for clé zellige, slight variations in color are one of its most prized features, and truly distinguishes clé from other imitators of zellige tile. these color variations are the result of natural elements that occur during the most critical part of the firing process, turning clé zellige into the highly-coveted gems that they are today.

in particular, clé weathered white zellige (see below) carries hints of other colors in the glaze: grays, creams and beiges, even some pinks and blues. these are never adequately represented in the instagram and pinterest images that made them famous. in fact, for all zellige, we strongly recommend that you order at least two tiles so you can be sure to get a fair representation of what color to expect in a full order.


because our products are hand made, most have a unique, and sometimes unusual, texture that a picture is unable to convey. in some cases the texture of the tile may be just as important as the color of the tile. again, this is especially true of clé zellige. from glaze cracks to olive pit marks in clé zellige, to the cool, smooth feel of clé cement tile under your feet, the texture is part of the DNA of clé tile. experiencing a matte or glossy finish in person will give you a better sense of how well the texture fits into your vision for your design–and how you will engage after it after it's installed.


it’s hard to convey the difference you notice in a tile that possesses substance. just as you can feel the difference in flatware and stemware, the weight of tile proves its worth. there is, of course, the practical matter of supporting a heavier tile in installation though an experienced contractor will be able to make this determination when they see your tile sample in person.


what makes clé tile’s cement collection so impressive is the artistic combination of pattern and color that deliver a grand yet inviting design statement to a home. but in matters of scale, our patterned cement tiles also take careful planning. designers will always make sure to sample patterned tile to review the scale of the pattern within the space while installation images can often convey the drama tile delivers to a room, again, placing a sample in the space itself is the only assurance that all the elements are working together.

if you are considering a patterned tile with multiple design layout options, such as radar, zenith or arc, ordering several samples will best help you plan your eventual pattern.

other advantages:

  • you can use the samples to help select other design elements, like paint color, cabinetry finish or even other tiles;
  • you can get the opinions of others so that you can confidently place your order;
  • with the important goal of waste reduction, you can also share them with friends that may be considering an order.

fortunately, ordering a sample (or two or more) is easy. so sample, sample, sample. you won't regret it.