Introduction of TileSince ancient times, tile has been used for both construction and decorative purposes. It's been an essential component throughout the history of building and design.As early as 4000 BC, glazed tiles were used for decoration in Egypt and ancient Mesopotamia. From China and the Far East, to the Near East and throughout Europe, tile became a prominent art form as well as a beautiful and durable building material.Tile fabrication methods and patterns have long had meaning to different regions of the world, and varied designs from different countries are now easily recognizable. Consider for example Delft from the Netherlands, Majolica from Italy, or Mexico's intricate, decorative Talavera tiles. In each region, fabrication and decorative techniques have been carefully guarded and passed down through generations.While handmade tile is still available, machine-made tile dominates the industry today. With the wide range of tile types available, guides and ratings for porcelain versus non-porcelain ceramic and natural stone tiles can be very helpful and informative, for both designers and consumers alike. The National Kitchen & Bath Association (NKBA) website offers an an excellent summary for the beginner.Knowledge about different grout types and applications is critical, and can help one avoid last minute confusion that arises all too often during installations. Grout can be a blended background color that allows the tile to shine, or it can become part of the overall design, creating a pronounced grid and strong graphic effect. The Tile Doctor website is an excellent resource for learning about installation techniques such as surface preparation, joint types, and grout types and uses for flooring, shower and bath, countertops, and more.From natural materials to high-tech innovations in tile, the range of options has expanded greatly in recent years. Glass tile, metal tile, tumbled natural stone tile, and even light-emitting tiles have all hit the market and are widely popular today. Mixing and matching different tile types has become popular recently. One such example involves the incorporation of metal tiles in stone or other natural tile designs.The huge assortment of tile types and materials available today enables designers and their clients to create unique and personalized bathrooms, kitchens, sunrooms, floor designs, and more while carrying on the tradition begun many thousands of years ago.