Tile Countertops for Bathrooms and Kitchens

When you think of tile surface counters, it can bring 4x4” vintage-style nostalgia to mind. Many of us appreciate the cool feel of tiles - especially on bathroom countertops and floors. The introduction of solid surface countertops in the 1970s offered great choices that transformed many homes’ decor. Well, tile countertops are back - and better than ever.

Green and Yellow Vintage-Inspired Tile Kitchen Countertops

Move over laminate and slab, modern tile countertops are hot again! Large-format tiles in a range of widths from 24-126”, and their counterpart porcelain slab counters, can even be indiscernible from more costly stone slab counters. The selections are expanded from sources all over the globe, and beautiful bathroom and kitchen tile countertops can be made from diverse materials including ceramic, porcelain, natural stone, glass, and more. 

Do you love the customized look of a specific pattern, or the vibrance of a hand-laid design? For a master bathroom, intricately laid tile designs can look especially beautiful when paired with a vessel sink.

Bathroom stone tile countertop with two vessel sinks

In an older kitchen, tile can be an outstanding way to upgrade a worn-out countertop, and there are many beautiful options to consider. The variety of tile colors, shapes, and sizes is almost limitless!

So many choices, oh my!

The most common tile types are made ceramic and porcelain and both enjoy an enthusiastic realm of uses for many surfaces in the home. After installation, both types of tile look similar, but the difference is in their ingredients and how they’re baked. Both are made from clay, but durable, hard-working porcelain has a higher percentage of kaolin, the fine soft white clay also called china clay. This makes porcelain tile heavier than ceramic tile. Porcelain is baked at temperatures up to 2,000 degrees, compared to 1,000 degrees for ceramic tile, so it is much harder. 

Affordable ceramic tiles are more friendly for DIY projects because they weigh less and they’re easier to cut than the harder porcelain and stone tiles. Ceramic tile is not completely vitrified by the baking process and remains water permeable before glazing. Because these tiles are somewhat porous, spills can be a challenge. They work well for backsplashes or vertical surfaces, and low traffic areas. A ceramic tile chosen for a countertop should be well glazed to protect it and make it stain-resistant. 

Beautiful natural stone is one of the hardest surfaces for tile kitchen countertops, and marble or granite tile countertops are significantly less expensive than stone slabs. In fact, some homeowners look to match their kitchen counters using the same stone as tile for outdoor kitchen countertops. Quartz tile is made from engineered stone with many options for colors and patterns.

Glossy porcelain tile countertops

Handmade glass tile is the densest and most waterproof type of tile, with exciting shimmers that are integral to some artforms. While glass tile is beautiful, it is more fragile and subject to cracking and chipping. This could be used as a beautiful accent for bathroom vanity countertops, or around mirrors. 

What’s grout got to do with it?

Adhesives hold the tiles in place while grout fills the in-between spaces. The grout between tiles is exposed to moisture, which could be friendly to bacteria and germs. It is essential to use epoxy grout specifically designed for countertop use because its harder surface resists moisture. Grout has to cure before it can be sealed, but sealing the grout makes it easier to clean.

When selecting a cleaner for tile countertops remember that ammonia may discolor the grout, but bleach can clean grout for ceramic or porcelain tile. For stone tile, a designated stone cleaner or peroxide works well.  Specific tinting processes are used for the epoxy, to maintain its strength while creating a matching or contrasting line between tiles. For fewer seams, you might consider large format tiles (24x48”) or larger (63x126”). Some large format tiles are even made to interlock, and when installed and polished, present a look almost like a solid surface. 

Porcelain slab countertops in kitchen look like marble

How much does a tile countertop cost? 

Tile is available in a range of sizes, from tiny mosaics up to 126-inch squares. For DIYers, a smaller format tile countertop can be fairly inexpensive. Pricing based on square-foot of installed tile varies by product and availability. Ceramic tile countertops range in price from $18 to $35 per square foot. Porcelain tile generally costs about 60 percent more than ceramic options - $29 to $56 per square foot. Natural stone tile price ranges are from $45 to $75 per square foot. Large-format porcelain slabs can range from $80-100 per square foot, comparable to natural stone quartzite slabs.

Creating a great look 

You can have several different patterns of tile, coordinated to add interest. Like a mosaic backsplash inset within a larger tiled area, or complementary flooring tile and decorative edges - many manufacturers offer families of coordinating designs and colors for their popular tile products.

Coordinating tiles for kitchen countertops

Tile countertops can have different finishes, including smooth glazed, matte, hand-painted, crackled, leathered, and printed. The matte and less glossy finishes are less likely to show damage from accidents and use but may be more susceptible to staining. 

When you’re considering kitchen countertop ideas, tile offers an excellent value compared with natural stone slab counters. Stone tile or tile made to look like stone can give you the appearance of a marble counter for a fraction of the price. For ongoing maintenance of smaller tile countertops, it may be easier to replace one tile than an entire slab. When one area is damaged, those tiles can be swapped out with some replacement tiles. 

Leathered and Textured Tile Kitchen Countertops

Weighing the pros and cons

  • Pro - Tile comes in an amazing array of choices to create a custom-built look.
  • Con - Unsealed ceramic tile and grouts can be porous; they’ll need to be sealed for tiled bathroom countertops, kitchen areas or high traffic areas. 
  • Pro - Tinted grout can complement or contrast for interesting detail.
  • Con - Uneven grout or unlevel layout can make DIY challenging; using tile spacers is helpful. Large-format tiles or interlocking tiles minimize the seams. 
  • Pro - Many tile materials offer strong, hea- resistant, and water-resistant countertop options.
  • Con - Impact can scratch or chip the tiles, so it’s good to retain leftover or extra tiles for repairs. Also, consider the expected wear when selecting tile because some colors and patterns can mask damage better than others.
  • Pro - Tile is a hard surface that’s easy to maintain and clean.
  • Con - Grout may catch dirt and germs, so it’s good to wipe up spills and clean any stains with a mild cleanser. Sanitizing the tiles and grout can depend on the type of tile. Talk with the tile distributor about the best products to maintain your tile.
  • Pro - Tile can be an inexpensive DIY upgrade for worn countertops, and can be installed over existing solid surfaces.
  • Con - Cutting tile may require specific tools and some practice. Setting tile is a labor-intensive project that can take longer than anticipated if distractions interfere.
  • Pro - Tile is durable and heat resistant for lasting beauty.
  • Con - Who doesn’t love that?

Okay, let’s do it! 

If you’re a mighty DIYer planning to retile a whole room, say the counters, floors and walls in the bathroom, it’s probably a good idea to invest in a wet tile saw. It will be easier to use than a simple tile cutter, and a wet tile saw can be found on Amazon for under $200. That said, buying the tools and tiles is the easy part of the project. Having the skills and diligence to create a great outcome is the real deal maker. 

Practice makes perfect, and it certainly helps to move a project along faster! The professionals at The Good Guys have experience with home remodeling and upgrades - to assure your confidence in a job well done. Check out the comments from our customers, who’ve been pleased with our quality and value. We look forward to working with you, and we provide a free quote and consultation to help start the conversation!

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