There are many benefits to hiring a designer or contractor, but one that I really find helpful is extended knowledge of products and materials. It can seem like there is an endless list of possibilities when you go at it alone. And it can often lead to blindly selecting something. It can work out! But it can also result in spending too much money or having to fix something (which also costs money). Spending some extra cash on professional help for certain aspects of your renovations can end up saving you lots (dollars and headaches). I would share all of my tips and tricks, but then I would be out of a job. But here's a little insight on how to pick tiles:
Porcelain vs. Ceramic
Tile selection can be especially overwhelming because there are so many damn types! Glass, marble, slate, cement, metal, and the list goes on. I find most of them pretty straight forward, but porcelain and ceramic can be confusing. How I choose to remember the difference is referring back to my old ceramic white dish set that is all chipped with the terracotta colour showing. Ceramic tiles are made of clay with a decorative glaze. This makes them easier to crack and scratch. And when this does happen you will see the clay - making it a lot more noticeable. Porcelain though is through-bodied. So it's a lot more resistant to those annoying cracks and scratch. But, if they do happen they won't be as obvious.
Why do we bother with ceramic tiles if they're going to be dinged up easier? Moneeeey. Porcelain is generally more expensive, but definitely worth it in high traffic places. My rule of thumb is to normally go with porcelain on the floor and ceramic on the walls.
Once you know what type of tile you want, it helps to decide on a scale. This can really help narrow down your choices. By scale I mean size of the tile. Some things to consider when deciding this is what surrounds your tiles (ie. adjacent floor and wall materials). For example: I have brick in my kitchen and I am planning on installing subway tiles that match the size of the brick. This will give me a continuous look on the walls throughout the kitchen. I have chosen to bring in contrast with different elements, like using modern, high-gloss cabinets in my historic kitchen. Going for a contrast look? Try using large scale tiles in a small scale room. Like this fun example from Qanuk Interiors. If you're feeling too shy to commit to bold coloured tiles then you can accomplish making a statement with small or large tiles. Try looking at 8"x20" subway tiles instead of 3"x6", or 24"x24" floor tiles instead of 12"x24". Or small scale hexagons or penny rounds.
Not going to lie... this one is hard to give general advice on. It really depends on what you have going on in the rest of the space and what you want your tiles to achieve. There are endless style possibilities out there, but hopefully by selecting your material type and scale first it can help direct you a bit more. Don't be afraid to be bold though! I always say to stick to what you really love. It's easy to get hung up on resale value and thinking that people won't want to buy a house with a hot pink backsplash. But who says everyone loves white and grey?
One last chance to bring your tile game strong! Grout can seriously transform the look of your chosen tile. Using a contrasting colour will emphasize the size and shape. Matching them will give you a uniform look. And uniform doesn't have to mean boring.