Both stone and ceramic tile can have patterns on their surface as well as color variances. Ceramic tile is often manufactured with patterns imprinted on the surface and color or shade differences. The patterns may be identical on each tile or the pattern can repeat every so often. If too many tiles are placed with matching patterns and identical color shades in the same field of tile, the installation will not balance.
In the case of stone tile, both veining/grain and color variance can be present.
In the case of patterns, the design may call for the patterns to repeat. Generally, the installer will ensure that the patterns are not repeating to adequately balance the installation.
In the case of shade variance, careful blending is mandatory. If not done properly there will be dark and light patches in the field of tile. It may be necessary for the installer and or customer to open several boxes of tile and decide what are the maximum dark and maximum light shades within the variance. Then decide how to blend/arrange the tile so a balance results within the field.
Tile Doctor Tip: When faced with pattern, alternate it so that no pattern repeats in an adjoining tile. For color variance, open up various boxes to ensure that you have all of the possible variances at your disposal when you start to set the tile. Make stacks of presorted tiles near the area where they are to be set. By stacking and presorting, you take the guess work and running back and forth out of the project.