Tile is a fantastic material for kitchens. Water, stains, odor, bacteria, heat, and heavy foot traffic are no match for ceramic tile. It’s easy to clean and maintain, it’s affordable, and comes in a multitude of colors, sizes, shapes, and textures. Kitchen tiles can be so much more than just a backsplash. And because the kitchen typically has more bacteria than any other room in the house, tile is ideal for use in that room. Here’s how you can incorporate tile into your kitchen.
Tile is perfect for kitchen flooring. Ceramic tile can look like traditional tile, or it can mimic almost any other finish, including natural stone, cement, fabric, or wood. You can have a floor that makes a statement or a floor that blends in. Something to note about tile is that it is cool to the touch, which is wonderful in warmer climates, considering the kitchen can really heat up while cooking or baking. When shopping for tile, make sure you look for options designed specifically for floor use (so you don’t have to worry about slipperiness).
Countertops and Islands
While ceramic tile may not be the first material you think of for your countertops, there are a few reasons why you should consider it. First of all, it is heat, stain, scratch, bacteria, and odor resistant. You can put hot pans directly on tile without worry, and cleaning is a breeze. Second, with large porcelain slabs (which are essentially huge tiles), you don’t have to deal with seams and grout, resulting in countertops and islands that can keep up with other counter options. Glenda Wright of HHCP Architects says “one of the strongest trends in tile and stone will continue to be large-format tile in a variety of sizes and thicknesses. Advancements in digital technology will continue to provide new and much-loved stone and wood looks, as well as bold patterns and graphics.” You can have a kitchen island that looks just like natural stone – without any of its drawbacks.
When it comes to ceramic tiles on walls, there are generally three options: entire wall, wainscotting, or backsplash. You would tile an entire wall if you want a statement wall or if you do not want upper cabinets. As far as what type of tile to use on your walls, you can’t go wrong with subway tile in 3”x6”.
Wainscotting is paneling applied to a lower part of a wall, and is traditionally made of oak. However, tiles are easier to clean than wood and provide an affordable alternative, and you can still go with a wood look… or not! Feel free to give a classic look a bold spin.
Backsplashes are the usually territory of ceramic tile, but with large slab porcelain, you can create a very fresh and elegant look.
Ceramic tile can also be used as decorative trim. For window casing, you can use tile on all four sides or just the interior window sill. It doesn’t serve a functional purpose on a window sill (although termites can’t eat or live in tiles!), but it adds a special decorative detail.
Baseboards may also be made of ceramic tiles. These are most frequently found in bathrooms, where moisture is a big factor. In the kitchen (and other rooms), consider the overall look you want to achieve and which material will best accomplish it.
Kitchen Tile Innovations
There are a few kitchen tile innovations just entering the market that we want to mention. Large slab porcelain has already been available for a few years, but is continuing to grow in popularity. This means the overall price will likely come down and there will be more skilled and licensed installers.
We already mentioned that a great benefit of tile is that it is easy to clean, and some companies are taking it further with tiles that are actively anti-bacterial. ACTIVE Ceramic products are anti-bacterial, anti-pollution, anti-odor, and self-cleaning. We’ll be seeing more of these kinds of products as the STEM fields continue to grow. Another innovation new to the market (and currently very, very expensive) is invisible stovetops. Using induction, a process that uses an electromagnetic field to heat up metal while the cooking surface remains cool to the touch, you can have a porcelain slab countertop that also serves as a stovetop. The technology is amazing and the look is minimal and gorgeous. These innovations and the many applications of ceramic tile make it an exciting and cutting-edge material in kitchen design.
For the last 16 years, Rachel Kinbar has been a writer of articles, blog posts, white papers, essays, infographics, web copy, sales copy, scripts, poetry, lyrics, and more. She has keen research skills that she applies to a wide variety of topics, and she especially loves topics related to design, history, and sustainable living.