Cork Tile Backsplash

ayerg73January 31, 2012

Forgive me if this has been asked before - I've searched for info and can't seem to find anyone that is doing what I'm thinking about and that scares me just a little!

I've found a cork penny tile that I am really drawn to. The photos where I've seen it used are usually bathrooms. It seems like a nice way to bring the wood tones back to my creamy white kitchen but I'm not sure why noone else is doing it.

Here's the cork -

Here's it being used in a bathroom -

And here is a photo of a different type of cork backsplash with colors as close as I can find to what I will have -

My perimeter cabs will have the creamy white color. The island and window seat is going to be in a natural cherry. All the counters will be soapstone with lots of color movement...greens, rusts, creams and black/grey, of course.

Is there an inherent reason that cork makes a bad backsplash? I know that it will need an annual coat of polyurethane and that seems like a bit of a pain - but also an easy way to keep the grout nice a clean. Right?

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Seems like it might be hard to clean? Might not. Can't tell how rough it is from the photos. It's an interesting look. If you like it, why let us stop you. It's just a backsplash. If you hate it you can take it out and replace. Is it grouted?



    Bookmark   January 31, 2012 at 4:13PM
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Ayerg73, I really like the cork penny tiles and think the idea of using it as a backsplash is very intriguing. If it can work on a bathroom floor, I don't see why it can't be cleaned as a backsplash -- I assume the whole thing is polyurethaned and can be scrubbed like any floor. But I do not like the cork as it is used in the second picture you posted, with sort of old-fashioned-looking cabinets and hardware: to me the penny tiles would call for a very contemporary style in cabinetry. I might have concerns about combining the penny tiles with counters that themselves have a lot of movement -- too much going on?

    Bookmark   January 31, 2012 at 9:15PM
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Circus Peanut

I bet you can get by a lot longer than a year without recoating the cork - it's not like you're making spaghetti sauce ON the backsplash. ;-)

Sounds lovely to me, and if you have a great idea not everyone is doing, that's all the more reason to try it out. I think it would be lovely, warm, harmonize with the soapstone (there are many colors of cork to try!) -- and there's the added accoustic advantage of softening the kitchen clinks and clanks.

    Bookmark   February 1, 2012 at 11:58AM
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If you can tolerate smaller circles, why not cut your own from wine corks? Imagine the project...very "green," very DIY, almost Girl Scouty, or more like Martha Stewart. At my house I'd probably have sufficient circles for the first wall in a year!

    Bookmark   February 1, 2012 at 12:12PM
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I'm with circuspeanut...what a unique idea and opportunity to express yourself via design!

I doubt this will help, but I have had numerous cork FLOORS and found them to be stain resistant if you manage the upkeep. I say go for it, Ayerg73!!!

    Bookmark   February 1, 2012 at 3:31PM
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Doggone - I have a sample of the tile. It is cut smooth. Of course, there are pits but I'm hoping the polyurethane would take care of that. The penny tile would be grouted. I think I'd want to keep the grout a color close to the tile to make the it feel less busy.

Farmgirl - I had the same concern about the tile with the soapstone. That seems to be my biggest issue - finding something that will work with a busy counter. My hubby is not a fan of subways or the all white tiles. So, marble is our plan B but I don't think he's so crazy about that idea.

We tried to photoshop the tile with cabinets like what we will have and our range-I'm interested to know what you think.

CircusPeanut - Thanks! :) I hadn't considered the noise dampening that might happen too. On the other side of that main kitchen wall is the master bedroom, so that is a nice benefit!

Florantha - That would be a wonderful idea if I were that patient. One of the reasons I love this tile is because it's made from the ends of wine cork stoppers that are being recycled instead of thrown away. Love that!

Melsey - That's good to know. I was worried about staining since it's so porous. I'm glad to know it will hold up!

Ok - so here is our attempt at photoshopping. I used a picture of thisoldhouse's kitchen because the cabinets are similar in color and style to my perimeters. I added our Berta range (still considering the hood) and did our best to put the tile in there. There won't be any cabinet above the range - just the hood...stainless probably..

Here are the samples I have so far of my colors together -

And here is our slab of soapstone. Lots of color changes in the veining from one end to the other.

And, then, of course, I'm still stuck on the floor. Any ideas there?!

    Bookmark   February 2, 2012 at 8:42AM
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It was oldhouse1's kitchen photo I hijacked for my photoshopping. Just wanted to give props where props are due!

    Bookmark   February 2, 2012 at 9:09AM
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To me, it fights with the counter, but I love the idea.

    Bookmark   February 2, 2012 at 4:11PM
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Think about it...the cork is very much like tile; once the viewer has identified that, yeah it's cork, then it stops being a novelty and simply becomes tile. So what is the "tile" like?

The cork color will read as a near-solid color, surprisingly bland unless there are many off-color corks in the mix. Is there a second item or substance that can be added within the backsplash to introduce some personality and a uniting line to act like a listello in tile work?

Hmmm. How about a line of mere painted wood about an inch or two wide--in an accent color OR a color that matches the countertop? Or a line of stained wood to match the cupboards? It will require a little finessing to install it into position, but it could be the making of the larger design.

Or make the line out of stone like the stone in the countertop--strips of stone tile or discards from the stone shop?

I would think that you need something that is the opposite of pointilist, something that has length and continuity.

    Bookmark   February 2, 2012 at 5:13PM
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florantha -
Thanks for the ideas. I have to admit, I had to look up a few terms and reread a few times to get your point. You obviously have a much better grasp of this stuff than I do! ;)

I'm having a hard time finding a happy medium between not clashing with the soapstone and not being boring. I like some of your ideas a lot. Maybe I'll play with that a bit in photoshop.

What if I did the grout in more of a light cream color of the cabinets to break up the cork?

I'm also wondering what I could do with the area behind the range. I was planning originally to do an recessed niche/shelf area behind there (I'm sure there's an official name for it, but no idea of what it is... :) Maybe I can break up the monotony of the cork there and continue something from that recess for the rest of the kitchen.

There's not a huge amount of tiled area because the kitchen is going to be almost an 'open galley'. Do you think I need to do a lot to break it up considering that?

Here's our layout if that helps...

    Bookmark   February 3, 2012 at 9:39AM
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I love the cork backsplash in the fourth photo in your first post. I've been looking for something similar. where did you find this?

    Bookmark   February 5, 2012 at 1:28PM
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DoubleOhHoya - I'm not sure which photo you mean... The penny tile I found is from modwalls. It's called CorkDotz. I'll post the link below. The 3rd photo of the corks I believe is someone someone did on their own. I got it from a google search for 'cork backsplash'.

Hope that helps! :)

Here is a link that might be useful: CorkDotz from Modwalls

    Bookmark   February 5, 2012 at 8:09PM
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that was my fear. thanks.

    Bookmark   February 5, 2012 at 9:29PM
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