Design Business Strategy - 5 Tips from a Tile Expert

Tile is Tile....Easy Right? No. Be Informed  

Tile is a detail that adds beauty and function to a space.  It could be commercial or residential, in wet rooms or for floors or walls.  Tile is a big component in design when a designer is deciding finishes.  Tile is also labor intensive and there are important things to know about installations that an expert that you build a relationship with will be able to advise you on.

Walker Zanger has a long history of designing and curating the highest quality tile and stone and delivering on trend and forecasted trend products.  

Kim Bernard is the Executive Director of Facilities Design at Walker Zanger.  During her 25 years with the company she has been responsible for designing and building 22 showrooms and all Walker Zanger offices, as well as several of Walker Zanger’s Distributor’s showrooms.  She is charged with designing all of their 350+ plus vignettes and over 600 floor displays. Creative uses of materials is her specialty.  Walker Zanger’s award winning showrooms are known throughout the industry for their innovative display techniques and architectural detailing. 

Here are 5 Tips She Shares For Specifying and Purchasing Tile

 1) The most important information for the supplier is to know is where the tile is to be used.  Floor, walls, high/low traffic, steam shower.  If you do not provide them with that information then you (the designer) may leave with a sample of wall tile that cannot be used for the floor you are planning.  Make sure to provide your client with current samples. (You might want them to sign off on them as well)2) 

2)Learn as much as you can about the product you would like to specify.  Again; proper use but maintenance as well as installation requirements.  Educate your client about the product.  Know the amount of expected variation in the stone you have selected and how it is to be sealed.  Understand how shape and glaze variation are part of the beauty of handmade tile or that although porcelain is made in a high production setting, there still might be slight size variation.

3)Be  prepared with some basic understanding of the quantity you will need.  We can’t advise you of availability unless we know how much you need.

4)Arrange for your installer to verify quantities and determine types of trims needed. Be sure to place an order with a purchase order to avoid mistakes.  Give yourself plenty of time.  Don’t expect that everything is always in stock the minute you want it.


5)Develop a relationship with every vendor you deal with and try to be as loyal as possible.  They learn your style and taste and can assist and advise you better over time and will support you more if it’s a long-term relationship.

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Elizabeth Ribons is a creative entrepreneur and professional interior designer who has sponsored others into their own businesses.