Q: We are redoing my mother's house at the beach and plan to use ceramic tile all through the first floor, including the porch, living room and dining/kitchen area. Can we use the same tile outside as we do inside? Should it all match, or would it be too "busy" to mix-up colors since the three areas flow into each other?
A: There usually is a difference between indoor ceramic tiles and those that can take the outdoors, where the freeze-thaw cycle can cause grout cracking and crumbling. However, a number of manufacturers, such as Crossville (www.crossvilleinc.com) offer tiles designed for inside use to right out into the elements on exposed surfaces.
The advantage of matching flooring materials is that unbroken color carries the eye forward, making the space look larger than it really is. The disadvantage? A risk of being bored by too much of a good thing. Avoid it, not by using different colors on adjacent surfaces, which could add more jazz than you want underfoot. Instead, simply changing the direction in which the tiles are laid can make a subtle, visually interesting difference.