Ceramic tiles come glazed and unglazed, plain as well as patterned, and in every color of the rainbow, according to Better Homes and Gardens Bedroom and Bath Ideas.

Typically, they are 41/4 or 6 inches square, but there are many sizes and shapes to choose from. Many manufacturers will glaze tiles to the color and pattern of a consumer's choice.Tile is generally sold by the square foot. As a rule of thumb, it's wise to order about 10 percent more than is needed to allow for tiles that have to be cut or replaced. Also, be sure to price all the pieces of tile needed; trim tile is generally most expensive.

There are two important questions to ask when choosing tile. Where will the tile be installed? How will the tile surface be used?

For floors, use tiles with slightly irregular surfaces and a non-gloss glaze that makes them less slippery; save the high-gloss, easy-care tiles for counters and walls.

Finally, look for a reliable dealer who can help find the tiles best suited for any given purpose. Interior designers and architects, too, have access to many lines of ceramic tile and have the training to help consumers make a practical selection.