How to Create Style with Tile
Tile is a magic material. What you select for your kitchen backsplash tile will bring the kitchen to life. Although a relatively small part of a whole kitchen, the backsplash tile is the place to add color, pattern, and texture to tell the story of the design. When you take a visual walk through my portfolio, you will find photos filled with beautifully designed kitchens and baths. The one constant is the dramatic use of tile to create the style.
Just imagine you are looking through a magazine filled with images of gorgeous kitchens. There is always that one eye catching feature that makes you think, “I want to live in that place”. I always say the hardware is the jewelry, but the back splash tile is that feature.
How do you create a story with backsplash tile?
The materials combined with the color and pattern of the tile you choose create the tile story. Selecting kitchen backsplash tile can be an overwhelming process. With so many choices and possibilities how do you know where to begin? As I always say, knowledge is power so let us start with the basics:
What are the different types of backsplash tile?
Ceramic Tile: One of the most common types of tile. Durable, easy to install and a great budget price point. This type of tile has been around forever. Think Delft Dutch Tile. Ceramic tiles have a clay base with a coating of color on the top which provides the color and pattern.
Porcelain Tile: Like ceramic, porcelain tile is a common material. Porcelain tile can look like wood or natural stone. It comes in a variety of colors, textures and patterns and the color goes all the way through so chips are not as noticeable. This tile is exceptionally durable, and many materials are frost proof and can be used outdoors.
Glass Tile: One of my favorite materials, glass is easy to clean, recyclable, and available in many colors, patterns, and styles. I have used glass in combination with other materials like stone and mirror. Not an easy installation so a good tile contractor is a must. There is nothing like a luminescent tile for beauty and elegance.
Marble Tile: A natural material that adds instant luxury to any installation. Marble tile and mosaics have been around for centuries. “Waterjet” technology, an extremely hot trend in tile, has expanded the amazing variety of design options for marble kitchen backsplash tile. This system allows you to combine softer edge patterns with other materials like glass, metal and even mother of pearl. Scratching and staining are possible as marble is porous. A great sealer and quick clean ups are a must.
Cement Tile: Cement tile has been around since the 19th century. They come in beautiful colors and patterns but are very porous and must be resealed monthly. Carefully consider where you use these beauties.
Other Options: Granite has become a more utilitarian material known for its durability. Limestone and travertine are natural materials which will require maintenance. Metal tiles are great accent pieces that can provide a beautiful aesthetic but can scratch and patina over time.
Consider the Quality
- As with all materials, quality is an important factor. Ceramic and porcelain tile all have rating systems from 1 (normally for use on walls) to 5 (heavy foot traffic rated). Make sure you know what you are purchasing.
- Natural stone, just like most things, comes in a variety of price points. Lower quality tile will be thinner and have more “fillers” to hide imperfections.
- Glass tile also comes in a variety of price points and quality. Personally, I love this material.
- Think about the installation. Make sure the installer is up to the job at hand.
For my clients, I have created the outline of the story with the kitchen design. We select the finishes and details to move the narrative along. Working together with my tile showroom and my client, we complete the story of their kitchen.
How will you know what to select?
If you are not working with a designer, find a tile showroom in your area who can help you. Know yourself and be honest. For example, will you be diligent about cleaning up splatter when cooking? Do you love a big bold pattern or prefer a focal point for the design. Are you looking for sleek and luxurious or rustic and textural? What story do you want the tile to tell? Finally, by taking the time to really think about the story you want to tell, you will always make the right choice.
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Sharon L Sherman ASID CID CKD is the founder of Thyme & Place Design, Thymeless Home Decor and Thymeless Well Being. Ms Sherman is a business owner, designer and Reiki Master located in New Jersey. Her award-winning designs and editorial comments have been featured in Kitchen & Bath Design News, Woman’s Day, Country Decorating, Design NJ, New Jersey Home Magazine, 201 Magazine, The Best of Bergen, Savvy Living, The Vue, The Record, The Star Ledger, Bergen Magazine and Aspire as well as several books. Her Blog “Tips from the Trade” appears in digital form on Sivanaspirit.com,DesignNJ.com and KBBonline.com, She has also appeared on HGTV’s My Big Amazing Renovation and episodes of House Smarts with Lou Manfredini.
This came just in time! We just decided to remodel our kitchen. Thanks!
You are welcome. Who is the designer?
Great round-up of tile options. I love the images you used to illustrate. It’s great to have a visual to see the style of each product.
Thank you Lisa
Great information and you have inspired me to get with it and put some amazing tile in my own kitchen!
Hope you share photos of the finished product.
What fabulous inspiration! And terrific information. Great post.
Always happy to inspire.
Spot on, Sharon! The backsplash is such an important feature in a kitchen as it is so immediately visible. This primer on the pros and cons of the options will be so helpful for homeowners choosing a material!
Thank you Janet. Really appreciate the note.
Such fabulous inspiration! A backsplash adds a lot of value to the kitchen area! Thanks for sharing this useful information to choose the right material for the backsplash!