When looking for tile flooring or backsplash tile, it can get a little confusing. There are many patterns, styles, sizes, and materials to choose from. What are the pros and cons you might ask? Well, we’re here to lay it out for your straight. Below we’ll compare all the top tile choices for tile flooring or backsplash tile.
Backsplash Tile and Tile Flooring Materials:
Ceramic tile is one of the most popular options for backsplash tile or tile flooring. Ceramic usually reflects the terra cotta color of it’s clay, or can also be white. Ceramic tile is sometimes glazed and occasionally has different patterns on it as a result. Chips can be much more noticeable in ceramic tile than they are in porcelain. If a ceramic tile has been glazed, the chip will reveal a different color internally. Ceramic tile is not as strong as porcelain tile due to the manufacturing process. This means that it cannot be expected to hold up nearly as well.
You typically don’t want to put ceramic tile anywhere that is a high traffic area or that will be exposed to a lot of wear and tear. Ceramic flooring in an entryway, for example, would be a bad idea. Not only will it much more easily chip or crack if you drop something on it, but those imperfections are going to be pretty noticeable. Backsplash tile works well with ceramic tile and you can also use it on countertops if you choose. The consensus is that ceramic tile is easier to install than porcelain tile. If you are a DIY tile installer or a novice tile worker, I would say choose ceramic tile.
The other top choice for backsplash tile is porcelain. Porcelain backsplash tile or tile flooring is almost always going to be white, grey or cream/tan. Porcelain tile is almost always left unglazed. Chips are not very noticeable. This is because porcelain tile is the same color all the way through. This is a big benefit for many people when choosing porcelain over ceramic.
Porcelain tile is denser and less porous than ceramic tile and doesn’t show its imperfections easily and it’s also more waterproof. However, you still don’t want them exposed to that level of damage from the elements. Because of the water resistance issue, porcelain is a better choice for flooring in bathrooms or on shower walls. Porcelain would be a better flooring choice for most areas that get a high amount of traffic due to their increased durability. Porcelain tile is harder to cut, especially when the cuts are not a straight line. Porcelain can also require special tools to install, so you may want to get professional installation.
There are many forms of stone tile, so we won’t go into detail about all of them, but will give you a gist of each. Most stone tiles will need to be sealed before and/or after installing and be kept up with sealing thought out the years. This makes it a little more high maintenance than the rest.
Pros: Beautiful colors and patterns, because its natural, no two tiles are ever the same.
Cons: Prone to staining, will show wear quickly from acid based products.
Travertine needs to be sealed before grouting and after installation. If it’s not sealed, it will stain easily. Travertine tile is a softer stone, which means it can be scratched much more easily.
Pros: Beautiful, unique tile. Can feel soft when used as a flooring. Looks great as a backsplash.
Cons: It can scratch and stain fairly easily.
Granite is very heavy. The subfloor must be completely level and have the strength to support such a heavy material. If the floor has bumps or even tiny valleys, granite will crack easily if used as a flooring. It can be used as a backsplash but needs to be installed properly.
Pros: Beautiful color, hard surface that takes wear and tear from normal family life.
Cons: One of the heaviest flooring choices, must have support in place.
Slate It is more stain resistant that most other stone, is water resistant and very durable. Slate can be cracked if laid on an uneven subfloor, or if a heavy object is dropped on it. It has been known to flake or peel because it’s formed in layers. This tile needs to be sealed.
Pros: Dark, earthy color works well with a natural, rustic look. Very durable.
Cons: Tiles can be uneven due to the layering quality of the tile.
Backsplash Tile and Tile Flooring Styles:
Subway Tile: Subway tile is a classic style. If you’re looking for something that will stand the test of time, this is it. However, just because it’s classic doesn’t make it boring. There are a lot of variations of subway tile. You have handcrafted that has a beautiful crafted finish, glass, which is more modern, colored for a pop of personality, large format to make the room look bigger, or a smaller format for a dramatic look. The options are endless. Subway tile installation can be very time consuming, so if you don’t have patience and tile skill, get a pro to install. This is more costly of an installation than some because of the time it takes.
Mesh Back Tile: Mesh back tile is great for several reasons. It comes in foot by foot sheets, so it can go up pretty quickly. Cuts can often be done without a tile saw and you can use tile nippers (depending on the project). It comes in some really amazing shapes and patterns that would usually be a pain to install as individual tiles. Very popular these days.
Ledge Stone: I wouldn’t recommend ledge stone as a tile flooring, but it does work great as a backsplash tile. It has an uneven surface that juts out in some area and is recessed in some areas. It is heavy, so it does require a special installation. It can be difficult to clean because of the texture and surface, so areas that won’t get very dirty would be ideal places to use this tile.
Patterned Tile: Patterned tile is becoming very popular. They are typically porcelain so they can be used in any area and are water resistant. You can use them for backsplash tile or flooring tile. They will definitly make a statement! They are typically perfect square tiles with the pattern printed on top. I love this look and hope it remains popular for years to come.
Large Format Tile:
Large format tile is a great choice for backsplash tile or tile flooring. Because it’s large, you can cover more space quickly, however, it’s still very important to take your time during installation because it can easily have lippage (edges sticking up) because of it’s size. Using a tile leveling system is always recommended with large format tile, which is classified as anything larger than 15″ on any side. Large format can make a space look larger, so it works well for small spaces! When using it on walls, you need to be sure that you’re using an adhesive designed for large tile, otherwise it could come down and take some of your drywall with it!
I hope we’ve been able to help answer any questions that you might have about backsplash tile or tile flooring choices. There are a lot of options out there so it’s good to have all the information before buying. Replacing tile is a large undertaking most of the time, so make sure you choose something that you will be happy with and that will stand up to the area you’ll be using it in for the next 20 years!
Builders Surplus is a full service renovation company with locations in Louisville, Kentucky, and Newport, Kentucky, which also serves Cincinnati, Ohio. We are the leading provider of Ledge Stone, wall tile and backsplash tile in Louisville, Newport, and Cincinnati. We specialize in interior design, kitchen design, bathroom remodel, building materials, and home improvement. Interior Design and measurements come as a free service to our clients. We sell building materials ranging in every price point, from unfinished kitchen cabinets to top of the line Wellborn cabinets. In addition to interior design, we also offer installation services. If you have any questions or would like to set up a free design consultation with one of our interior designers, we would encourage you to do so. We love sharing our knowledge with clients & potential home renovators. We write about interior design, home decor, decorating ideas, and home improvement. We hope you’ll check back in for our next article! Happy Renovation!
Written by: Allie Bloyd