How to Choose the Right Tile for Your Kitchen

The kitchen has become more of a family room as people like to gather while the cooking is being done. This means most kitchen remodels not only have to meet utilitarian requirements but also create a beautiful gathering place. Also, customers each have distinct styles and tastes that can be integrated into kitchens with unique results. If you want a kitchen that not only works for your cooking needs, but also wows your guests, then you need to pay close attention on how to choose the right tiles for your kitchen. Consider these specific tile design dilemmas ahead of time to get the look you want and love.

#1 Where Do You Want Tile In Your Kitchen?

You can have tile all the way up to the ceiling, even covering venting hoods, if you desire, like in this design

This can create a feeling of height and luxury. However, if you want just a splash of color, you can also just put the tile as a splash guard band across the top of the countertops, either reaching to the bottom of the first cabinet or somewhat below it. You can choose tile on your countertop, on your floor, on the walls, and even on kitchen islands. This example has glass mosaic tiles acting as a splash guard and stone tiles on the floor of the kitchen for a less fragile walking surface.

Decide where you want tile laid down first.

#2 How to Pick Your Tile Material for Utility

Different tiles offer different porosity and attributes. Ceramic and porcelain tiles are hard and very water resistant. Glass is fragile, but lustrous in the right light and it is also waterproof. Water resistance is important in an area like the kitchen, where you can get all manner of soluble cooking liquids on the tile. Ceramic tiles are ideal for above the stove and as a splash guard, as in this design. Here the smooth finish of the splash guard square tiles acts as a nice border for the piece de resistance, a fruit mural above the stove created with softer finished ceramic tiles.

However, don't think you can't use marble or stone. As long as they are sealed and properly maintained, they also make an excellent choice. When sealed the stone is protected from its natural porosity that would typically soak up liquids which creates stains. Sealed stones, however, are more water and stain resistant and make a grand statement when used as a backsplash. Take a look at this stunning Herringbone Mosaic Pattern.

#3 Deciding Between Matching, Contrasting, or Neutral Aesthetic Choices

Your countertops and cabinets may not be part of your remodeling plan, having been there first. So, whatever tile color choice you make it needs to work well with these existing elements. The dark brown of this floral tile pattern contrasts beautifully with the all white cabinetry and matches the flooring.

The netural beige of Travertine is an excellent choice for contemporary kitchens.

#4 Opting for Different Sizes, Shapes, and Layout Patterns

You don't have to choose square tiles only. You can choose subway tiles laid out in a herringbone pattern, like this design.

You can even have intricate curved shapes now, due to modern waterjet cutting techniques. Here's an example of waterjet curved mosaics above the stove with more traditional subway style laid horizontally above the sink.

Mix and match different sizes, shapes, and layout patterns to get a unique design.

#5 Add Some Interest with Colorful Grout and Different Joint Sizes

Adding a darker grout to the tile patterns make the joints pop. This design offers more interest along the large joint lines that uses a darker grout than normal. The joints become more interesting than the neutral face of the tile. Your eye tends to travel directly to the joints as the main feature. It even offers a sculptural relief

#6 Textural Surfaces: Non-Slip or Polished Shine?

If you opt to do the floor in tile, whether plank or otherwise, you will have the option to create either a matte or polished surface with the stone you choose. In this design, the stone has been somewhat polished, to give a dull shine, so that it may actually be a little slippy when wet when compared to a matte finish. However, the semi-polished surface also makes it more water resistant and thus less likely to stain easily.

Stones like marble are highly porous, but once polished to a high shine, the surface can be treated to make it more impermeable to liquids. The same design could have been created with a rougher surface on the stone for more grip capability by honing it down to an even level without the fine polish. This makes the stone more durable for traffic and is an excellent choice for flooring, but it reduces the shine factor, as in this brown stone tiled floor.

#7 How Much Maintenance Do You Want to Do?

Tile work does require maintenance over time, stone maybe a little more than ceramic tiles. If you want your marble to stay looking good all the time, you need to be vigilant about spills. Citrus and vinegar can etch the stone surface. If the stone is sealed, it is somewhat protected, but leave any acidic liquid on the surface long enough and it will etch the stone. However, if you want stone and are worried about future staining or etching, just pick a stone that tends to hide these imperfections with dark veining, like this design has on its countertops.

Remember to keep the stonework in your kitchen in good shape by always having a damp rag ready to wipe up spills. Also, don't use abrasive cleaners, like you might with ceramic tile, and instead opt for special cleaners made for stone. With a high quality sealant, you can delay the resealing of the stone surface for up to a year.

Choices Galore Make Kitchen Remodeling Fun

While this is sort of a technical guide for how to choose the right tiles for your kitchen, don't forget that ultimately it's about your personal choice and style. The more choices, the better likelihood you will find something that thrills you personally and meets your remodeling constraints.

Do you think I covered the most important options available for kitchen remodelers? How would you use this guide to pick your own tiles for your next kitchen remodel? As always, if you found this article helpful, like it and share it with your friends and followers.

About the Author

Nelson Londono founded Artsaics in 1998 after learning the ins and outs of designing custom artistic tiles and stone mosaics. The New York-based surfacing company specializes in producing stunning artistic tiles & stone designs with fine natural stone from around the world. Nelson and his team's passion lies in working with their hands, heads and hearts to make each and every space a unique reflection of self expression. You can learn more about Artsaics here.