Ceramic tile has been around for 30 centuries. Which shouldn’t surprise you since it is such a durable material. However its use as an element of design has only been around for the past twenty years. The reason is the photographic technology that enables the reproduction of patterns and colors to appear on the surface of the tile during the process of glazing, allowing the replication of marble, limestone, slate looks at prices a lot less than natural stone.
Half a century ago, the most common tile size was the 4-inch square--it’s actually a little bit bigger than that but who’s counting. These 4-inch tiles were used on both floors and walls. Today, as part of the tile revolution, bigger sizes are both more commonly available and more widely used. 8- x 8-inch tiles are now almost the smallest laid on floors; and a lot of installations, particularly kitchens, use 12- x 12-inch and even 18- x 18-inch tiles, nor are square tiles the only choice. Rectangular tiles ranging in size from 6 x 8 inches to 8 x 12 inches are being used both for field tile and as border tiles that define specific areas in a room. In combination with square tiles, the contrasting rectangular shapes can create a wide range of graphically compelling floor designs.

At the other end of the size spectrum, mosaic tiles continue to be popular. The tiniest ones are around 3/8 inch square, with the most used size being a 2inch square. Because it is easier to install mosaics can be purchased in 1 ft. square sheets.  These tiles are fastened to a mesh backing that provides an even separation for grout lines. 

Today a wide variety of these tiles are pieces of marble and not ceramic. The marble has been tumbled so the finish will appear dull. Using mosaics of marble lets shapes and colors of irregular sizes to be positioned on the backing made of mesh in designs that can be used as graphic borders or frieze accents in fields of larger, monochromatic ceramic tile.