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Tips on Kitchen Tile Selection

Tips on Kitchen Tile Selection

Selecting kitchen tile is one of the most difficult processes of the home building or renovation experience. Kitchens are often the main feature of a home, a source of sustenance and a haven for family and friends. Their use runs the gamut from casual to fancy, family dinners to holiday parties. Typically, a kitchen will require the most design thought and the most significant chunk of your budget, so it’s important to know what materials work best. There is a slew of kitchen tile choices from quarry and stone to cork and vinyl to bamboo and ceramic to porcelain and glass. But how do you choose what material is best when buying kitchen tiles? Here are a few pointers.

Things to Consider

Wear & Tear 

The kitchen is the most used room in the house. The surfaces must occasionally withstand extreme temperatures, moisture from liquids and foods, cleaning products, food and drink stains, impact and sharp objects, and repeated use. Not only do you have to consider which materials can hold up under these demands, but you should also consider maintenance as well. For example, a natural stone tile is visually appealing but will require a yearly sealant update. Ceramic, however, is easier to clean and tolerates heat from hot pans well. Porcelain, once sealed, is surprisingly strong.

Size and Space

Martha Stewart says to “multiply the width by the height of the wall to determine the square footage, which will tell you how much material you need. Account for an extra 10 percent of tile just to be safe.” If you are working with a large space and have budget constraints, the tile you select becomes a bit more tricky. While glass, marble and specialty metallic tiles are beautiful, they add up in cost quickly. For many budgets, incorporating these elements as backsplashes makes the most financial sense.

Design with Purpose

Kitchen tile selection merits additional considerations as you assess the purpose of each tiled surface. Floor tile needs to be durable enough to withstand constant traffic (both human and pet), spilled foods and cleaning supplies. Between the four-year-old and the dog’s water bowl, slip resistance is a priority consideration of kitchen flooring. Tiles that naturally slip resistant are matte and textured tile (like quarry), or easily coated with a slip-resistant coating (like porcelain). That said, the counters will need to withstand heat and moisture well, while the backsplash is less likely to be damaged.

Grout Matters

Both the size and the color of your grout can greatly impact the appearance of your kitchen. Keep in mind that a necessary evil of grout is maintenance. Darker grout will hide [inevitable] stains much better than lighter shades, but light grout can brighten a room. Both will need regular cleaning. A tip from Martha: “Keep this in mind while budgeting — color and pattern trends come and go, but the grout is the backbone of your backsplash.”


Kitchens are prime for a mix-and-match approach and the sky is the limit for your design (well, the sky or your budget – whichever is higher). Still seeking inspiration? Check out these backsplashes to get the design wheels turning.

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