August 10, 2023

Trends & Styles

The Unique Qualities of Split Face Tiles

Nothing beats split face tiles to lend any room in the home a characterful makeover. The combination of organic materials and geometric horizontal strips creates a tile category of its own. Nevertheless, a category with numerous options for creating individual and characterful spaces.

The split face tile describes a finish that is rough-cut or textured. This category of tiles has a definite three-dimensional quality and is often associated with natural stone, like slate tiles, for example. The colour differentiation and surface multi-faceted texture combined with the way light is absorbed and reflected make for a unique decorative effect. Typically, the tiles are laid in long horizontal bands, either as individual rigid tiles or mesh-backed panel mosaics.

This article explains the best applications of split face tiles. It also includes some examples of how best to use them in and around the home. For their sheer character, split face tiles are worth a look. We guarantee that their versatility and beauty will surprise you.

Living room with split face tiles fireplace wall

Globe Brick Nepal 10x40x1.5/2.5 (Available in-store)

Criteria for Selecting Split Face Stone Tile

Split face tiles are not new; they have been popular in UK interiors down the decades. Except that nowadays we used them in a very different style. The split face tile was originally designed for the outdoors and continues to be popular as a patio or terrace material. Historically, local stones like slate and granite were popular but, nowadays, there are many other possibilities.

The beauty of split face tiles is that they look equally good outdoors as on different types of interior walls. Stone is a material that comes from the earth; in UK homes stone looks like it belongs. As if the stone was there before the house itself.

The angled tiles behave in a very different way in daylight compared to artificial light. Like stone, split face tiles will last and last. They can look traditional or, with a little know-how, equally can look avant-garde. It’s up to your own preference in style.


Contemporary Style Vs Rustic Style

The rustic look and feel of split face stone tiles add an authentic look to creating the country cottage style, traditional kitchen, cosy fireplace or outdoor deck. When added to a cutting-edge modern kitchen or bathroom, the effect creates a timeless texture that will always be trendy. The organic qualities of stone touch something deep within us, connected to our ancestors.

The secret to getting the most from split face wall tiles is the combination of materials. In other words, the background or adjacent wall and floor finishes that frame these tiles. The pairing options for split face slate tiles include the following:

  • Contrasting or similar stone cladding
  • Simple white painted plaster, or another complimentary colour
  • Ceramic or porcelain wall and floor tiles
  • Timber


Split face tiles exterior wall

Globe Brick Indira 10x40x1.5/2.5 (Available in-store)

Thanks to its organic qualities, the elegance of stone split face tiles is intrinsic to the material. No matter where you use split face tiles around the home, they give off an air of gravitas and distinction. The thickness of the tiles is evident, as well as the natural mosaic of colour tones, some more marked than others depending on the stone.

Stone will last a lifetime so be careful with the choice of stone, the laying pattern and the areas of application. The look is raw and somewhat rough, so it’s probably best to avoid it in a shower cubicle for instance.


Exploring Different Split Face Tiles Colours

The most common split face tiles colours are associated with the material, like marble, slate and other quartz derivatives. The natural organic tones are not uniform, and it is this variation in colour that lends the split face tiles their charm and unique look. We have organised the following categories under colour to help you make your selection:


Grey Split Face Tiles

The colour grey is trending in wall finishes right now and has been over recent years. Grey split face tiles, however, are timeless and provide a characterful take on the colour. The grey natural stone contrasted with white sanitary ware is elegant and guaranteed to lift bathroom décor. Remember that stone is a porous material and must be sealed if used in wet areas.

Black split face tiles wall


Entrance halls, porches and stairwells are also ideal for grey split face tiles. Not only does the stone protect walls and give a good impression, but the colour can reflect or absorb the light.


Globe Wall Burma 54.8x15x1.2-2.5 

(Available in-store)

White Split Face Tiles

One of the most striking features of split stone is its sparkling reflective qualities. This is most evident with white split face tiles; the addition of light lends the surface a glowing aspect.

When featured in a small room, white natural stone opens out the space, adding visual dimension. In a dark kitchen, the white split tile brings the space alive.

White split face tiles wall


Stone is also appropriate for chimney breasts where the white creates a focal point which works best if contrasted with other finishes. We recommend white split face tiles anywhere that could benefit from adding light in an interesting way.


Globe Wall White 54.8x15x1.2-2.5 

(Available in-store)


Black Split Face Tiles

Black is always dramatic when featured in home decor, no matter what the application or finish. With dark slate or granite split face tiles, the look is sophisticated and transformative. Either as a feature wall or 360° surround, the effect is remarkable.


Split face tile in lamp corner

Globe Wall Bhutan 54.8x15x1.2-2.5 (Available in-store)

Nonetheless, with black split face tiles in bathrooms or kitchens, we recommend softening the colour with accessories, bright metallics or whites for example. The combination of smooth with rough, dark and light adds emphasis to the more textured finish of the stone. These accessories and dressings will help style the space as either traditional or highly contemporary.


Split Face Tile Materials

Stone and ceramic are not the only materials that the split face technique can transform. Timber is becoming increasingly popular as a tile where the cross section creates a sort of layered mosaic. The look is also textured and highly three-dimensional and textured.

Living room wood split face tile wall



Wood Split face tiles


The end grain of timber offers an entirely different aesthetic than typical timber cladding. The finish evokes strength and warmth at the same time. Timber split face tiles are recommended as an accent wall in bathrooms or for a feature wall in a dining area.


Wood Modul 26×26.4×0.6-2.6 (Available in-store)

Best Uses for Split Face Tiles

Accent walls in key locations around the home help to define public and private areas and establish a hierarchy. The entrance hall is a great location to capitalise on the advantages of split face tiles. Especially when combined with a porcelain or slate effect flooring. Not only will the walls be protected but the overall look will inspire confidence and distinction.

Similarly, a feature wall in a dining room or a decorative backsplash in the kitchen adds just the right ingredient of designer chic. You should always consider lighting with the split face tile because the sparkly reflections and glints can add something extra to the space.


Split face tiles corridor wall

Globe Brick Nepal 10x40x1.5/2.5 (Available in-store)

We recommend using an experienced tiler for installing split face tiles. They are more complicated than other flat tiles and have an additional weight which must be factored in. Nevertheless, if you are an experienced DIYer then these tips will help:

  • Use an angle grinder to cut the tiles on a mesh backing. A Stanley knife will be enough to cut individual tiles off the mesh, however.
  • A standard adhesive will not be strong enough. Follow the tile suppliers’ guidelines and cover both wall and tile with the adhesive. Use a 6 mm notch trowel for the best results.
  • Some split face tiles will have special corner tiles. This is a critical area to get right. In principle, you don’t need to hide the corner with a profile if you use interlocking tiles.
  • For external use and anywhere there is condensation like bathrooms and kitchens, stone will require sealing to prevent stains.


Living Room Split Face Tiles

We traditionally spend most of our time in the living room, as a family or on our own, and the fireplace is generally a focal point. Providing contemporary fireplaces with the same decorative importance as traditional examples helps to centre the room. Black, grey or white are always good options for a split face tiles fireplace.

Split face tiles fireplace



We associate fire with rock, these were considered 2 of the 4 elements by the Greeks for a reason. The raw and three-dimensional character of cut stone draws the eye. And of course, stone is a fireproof material. We recommend sealing the stone for easy hassle-free cleaning.


Globe Brick Delhi 10x40x2 

(Available in-store)

Split Face Tiles Outdoors

For inspirational patio ideas, decks and garden terraces, split face tiles make the ideal backdrop for planting and landscaping. The organic colour variations and rough texture improve over time, unlike many other popular finishes.

The application of split face tiles to boundary walls, retaining walls or sunken fire-pits adds a softer reflective light and hard-wearing finish. We recommend that you choose a local stone for the most natural results. These tiles are long-lasting and require minimal maintenance; as you’d expect from a material formed millions of years ago.


Split face tiles terrace walls

Globe Brick Indira 10x40x1.5/2.5 (Available in-store)

Seeing is Believing

Few options can match split face tiles for their power to transform a space. We have looked at different materials, colours and treatments and where best to place them.

Whatever space you are considering transforming, we highly recommend visiting your nearest Porcelanosa showroom. There you can touch and visually appreciate all the unique choices. Split face tiles can only be appreciated properly when seen under proper lighting conditions.


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