Choosing Tile for Your Kitchen Backsplash

Your kitchen can become a dramatic focal point when you choose an impressive tile kitchen backsplash. Because of the vast variety of styles, colors, textures and materials now available, the choices seem endless! No longer a wasted visual space between cabinet and countertop, the backsplash area of your kitchen can now be the place to display your distinctive style and artistic sensibilities.

The most traditional tile for the kitchen is ceramic or porcelain tile, but while these tiles are though of interchangeably, they are not the same. Ceramic tile is made from clay fired in a kiln. It is finished in a colored or patterned glaze, which is what is visible on the top. They are easier to cut than porcelain tiles, but are slightly less durable.

Porcelain tiles are made from pressed porcelain dust, making it denser and stronger. The color and pattern is carried through the entire tile, from top to bottom. Because of this, they can be made in a matte, glazed, or high polished finish. Both porcelain and ceramic tiles come in many standard sizes, ranging from a 1″ x 1″ and on up. They are both installed using tile mastic, with grout used to fill in the space between the tiles. Today’s grout can even be color coordinated to you color scheme. A particularly striking and modern pattern uses white tile with red grout.

For either of these types of tile, glaze acts as a sealer, therefore no other sealer is required. Unglazed tiles should be sealed, as well as the grout between, to prevent staining. For kitchen backsplash use, either porcelain or ceramic will give a beautiful appearance and durability. Many manufacturers produce elaborate wall mosaics perfect for the wall behind the stove. Some manufacturers will even custom glaze tiles that you or your children decorate before they are fired.

Another type of tile recently being used for the backsplash area is glass tile. Installed with special white mortar or unsanded grout, glass tiles offer just as much waterproofing ability as ceramic tiles. By the very nature of glass, they reflect light like gems on the wall. Glass tile is often combined as an accent with other wall tiles for a beautiful pattern.

Metal tiles also make a striking design statement when used as backsplash materials. Available in chrome, aluminum and copper, they are available in both shiny and brushed finishes. Metal tiles can be installed with traditional tile grout and offer a unique look that can compliment kitchens ranging from country style to ultra modern.

With the popularity of stone and marble countertops has also come the use of stone and marble tiles on the kitchen backsplash. Marble can be used with its traditional veined look, or assembled into unique mosaic patterns and murals. Stone tiles can also be used in the same way as ceramic tile, the one caution being that some types of stone tiles may not be sealed and can therefore absorb water, grease and stains. Another consideration to keep in mind is that both marble and stone tiles will be heavier than traditional ceramic tiles.

Each variety of tile has its own special care and cleaning needs, but the main common caution is to never use anything abrasive to clean your tile kitchen backsplash, as abrasive cleaners can scratch, remove finishes, and dull the shine. The best thing to do is to consult the manufacturer’s directions and recommendations for cleaning and maintaining your tile backsplash and it will provide you with many years of durable and beautiful service.

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