For style-savvy homeowners, modern tile kitchen countertops offer the opportunity to get creative. As an inexpensive solution to replacing kitchen counters, tiled kitchen countertops make for an attractive and often artistic addition to the kitchen. While many homeowners reserve tile for floors and backsplashes, tile countertops can be an excellent—and affordable—option. Ceramic tile is impervious to heat and water, and when properly glazed, it won’t stain. Proper sealant helps ensure grout won’t discolor or stain, and large-format tiles cover a lot of area with minimal grout lines. Still most popular out west, ceramic tile is a solid option worth a second look.
If you’re particularly drawn to the look of granite, for instance, granite tiles offer a much cheaper alternative than a thick slab. Even ceramic and porcelain tiles, though, have designs that mimic the look of stone and metal finishes, or even the feel of leather and other textiles.
Despite their low cost, tile countertops are quite durable—though if cracked, a tile must be completely removed to be replaced. Homeowners looking to forgo a complete countertop replacement might consider laying tiles on top of their existing laminate surfaces for a low-cost refresh.
Thinner, natural stone tiles offer similar aesthetics and durability—but for a fraction of the cost, when compared to a solid granite or marble slab. And, in the case of granite tile countertops, grout lines may be practically invisible thanks to the material’s straight edges. (And, in general, using larger tiles equates to fewer grout lines and larger squares to work on.)
Ceramic tile countertops offer similar benefits, though the man-made material makes it easy (and fun) to get creative with color and pattern. Think mosaics, mismatched, recycled or hand-painted tiles that are versatile enough to go from the counter to the backsplash—or even an entire wall.
Considerations When Choosing Modern Tile Countertops
Hardness and Thickness. Tile for countertops should be a Class 3 hardness rating on the Porcelain Enamel Institute (PEI) scale. Standard countertop tile thickness is 5/16 inch, though a quarter inch is also used.
Tile Types. Two types of tile are most popular.
Ceramic. The most common and least expensive option, ceramic tile is crafted from pressed clays and finished with a glaze. The glaze is what gives the porous material protection from water and stains.
Porcelain. Composed of clays and minerals fired at higher temperatures, porcelain is a durable surface. It is pricier and more difficult to install than ceramic.
Design Details. Consider the following elements when choosing a tile countertop.
Size. Choose from a variety of sizes, from tiny mosaics up to 48-inch squares.
Finish. Options include smooth glazed, matte, hand-painted, crackled and printed. Keep in mind that less glossy finishes can help mask damage.
Grout. Grout can be tinted to match or contrast, depending on the desired look.
Accents. Tile can be inlayed near the range as an integrated trivet or seamlessly installed up the wall for a matching backsplash.
Maintenance. Wipe the countertop with a soft cloth and warm water daily. Non-oil-based household cleansers are suitable. Avoid using ammonia, as it can discolor grout.
The Bottom Line. Tile complements a variety of styles, whether traditional, contemporary or Southwestern. The heat-resistant material is ideal around ranges and cooktops, but its uneven surface isn’t ideal for baking centers.
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World-renowned Interior Designer, Josie Fratantoni is the founder of Fratantoni Interior Designers which was established in 1987. Her firm is fully staffed with many teams of highly experienced Designers which are the most respected and sought-after in their industry. Fratantoni Interior Designers offer an extensive portfolio with a broad range of styles from simply elegant to intricately detailed.