Opinion on Toe Kick

motleydogJanuary 25, 2011

My contractor suggested that we continue the floor tile up on the toe kick on the cabinets and island. He thinks it is easier to clean and looks nice.

I had never thought of this for the kitchen. Isn't it more typical in a bathroom?

Should I tile the toe kick or use the typical wood trim?

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Seems a little odd to me. Toe kicks are usually the same wood as the cabinets.

    Bookmark   January 25, 2011 at 4:48PM
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I think that would look kind of weird, and actually make it harder to clean. Let's say little Timmy spills his glass of orange juice or red Koolaid. A regular toe kick would require a swipe, but things tend to cling to grout. Does your contractor have ANY cleaning experience? :o)

    Bookmark   January 25, 2011 at 4:50PM
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It doesn't look odd or weird, and the toe kicks are only the same as the cabinets if they're bought that way. Custom cabinets have whatever you want. I'm also always amazed at this pervasive canard that cleaning grout is difficult. It is traditional to use tile or lino or whatever the floor is made of for the toekicks. Most traditional is to use coves so there isn't a sharp angle.

I have tiled toekicks and they look great. I have tiled counters and they look great. So does the grout. And it's MUCH easier to wet mop if you don't have to stop short of of the toekicks and then get down on hands and knees and do the last bit by hand. I looked forever to find my tile, and they don't make coves, so I decided it was okay to have the sharp corner because we don't get a lot of dust or animal hair or anything like that.

I have bullnosed tile where there isn't any cabinet, as a baseboard. What do you do to finish your tile if you don't have tile on the toekick? Use molding? That would look odd to me, both in putting wood over tile and in not matching the toekicks, but to each their own.

It's hard to see the toekicks in this picture, but it's the best I have. You can see it best on the base of the island.

    Bookmark   January 25, 2011 at 6:21PM
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It can also give the cabinets a somewhat 'floated appearance' versus a furniture appearance. Imo, if it is a traditional cabinet it *may look better with a furniture appearance, while a contemporary kitchen could go either way.

As pllog has said, it is a traditional method, and I have seen a number of quarry tile kitchens that have the toe kicks done in a coved tile, and a number of *old vinyl, linoleum kitchens that have the flooring coved up onto the toe kick or as wall base similar to an operating room. (old because it doesn't seem to be done with sheet flooring anymore, its technique sensitive). And these were very easy to keep clean.

I think it depends on the tile, on the cabinet, on the tile setters ability to do it right, etc.

In plllog's tile-heavy kitchen, it looks perfectly natural.

    Bookmark   January 25, 2011 at 6:35PM
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Thanks for the opinions and the picture, plllog. Don't know why I haven't noticed toe kicks before, but it makes alot of sense to tile. I agree that it will provide a floating appearance and should work well with my transitional kitchen.

I asked the contractor again, and he said he does them all the time, including in some of the most upscale homes in which he has worked.

    Bookmark   January 25, 2011 at 7:41PM
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The joint between the floor and the toe kick needs to be caulked anyway.

It the toe kick is attached to the base of the cabinets a grout joint WILL crack.

Change of plane and substrate.

    Bookmark   January 25, 2011 at 7:52PM
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Another option is a third material, different from the cabinet or floor altogether. I'm putting in stainless steel toe-kicks. I like the look of cabinets "floating" above the floor, and I think they will be very functional.

    Bookmark   January 25, 2011 at 8:06PM
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I don't know why, but when you use the cove base tile it doesn'e seem to crack, there....

    Bookmark   January 25, 2011 at 8:46PM
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To me, toe kicks are the dead giveaway for a modern, fitted kitchen. Since I want a vintage, unfitted look, i was really tempted to forego them in some spots. I actually put a block of wood in my toe kick so i could see what its like not to have them, Youd be surprised how uncomfortable it is without them!

ANyway, to tile them would emphasize them. I would not do it in a traditional kitchen but might in a modern one.

    Bookmark   January 25, 2011 at 9:12PM
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I think it depends on the quality of installation. Mine have been in a year with all kinds of weather changes and no cracking. But then the floor was also well installed on a rigid surface with an anti-fracture membrane.

    Bookmark   January 25, 2011 at 10:29PM
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I want my cabinets to look like furniture. My cabinets are white and I'm going to have the toekick recess area dark brown/black so it does not stand out.

This cabinet has the toe kick painted the same color as the rest.

In this one, the style is exactly the same, but the toe kick is stained a dark brown

notice how much it receeds, and looks more like a shadow underneath. I was going to eventually paint the toe kick white, but I like this look so much I'm going to paint it dark instead - too bad I hadn't figured that out before I painted the other one white (it was made white, the other was stained and I changed my mind- gotta quit doing that!)

    Bookmark   January 26, 2011 at 11:19AM
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plllog, a picture is worth a thousand words. Thank you for posting.

I never meant to say that a tile toe kick looks odd as I've never actually seen one in a kitchen before. Only that the concept was odd to me as I was unfamiliar with it.

I hope I didn't offend you. I think your kitchen is lovely.

I had tile floors and custom cabinets in my previous home and the toe kick was wood. I don't think it looked odd.

Clearly there are many options for toe kicks as shown above. I am enlightened.

    Bookmark   January 26, 2011 at 12:03PM
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Thanks, Wendy, for the kind words. No, I wasn't offended! And as you say, wood toekicks don't look odd either. That's what I meant by if you buy them that way. You can match them to your cabinets and they look fine.

What I think looks odd is wood shoe molding on tile, which I have seen. It looks a little like "guy design" to me. I'm sure there are some people who have done it with intention and made it look good, but when I've seen it it's looked more like, "Well, they had this shoe at the hardware store and I can stain it to match the cabinets" type guy design. ("Guy" as in not-designed. Not a slam at all males.)

I've seen stainless toekicks like Sharonite is planning and they look really cool. So do Macybaby's brown toekicks.

The thing about tiled toekicks is that you can bang the mop into them with impunity. :)

    Bookmark   January 26, 2011 at 7:28PM
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It's fun to see how others have approached toe kick design. I have to say the durability of a tile toe kick sounds very appealing.

I'm laughing at "guy design." :) I can spot it from a mile away.

Totally OT, but I have to share a funny story from today. I took my 5-year old daughter to her piano class and she had to use the restroom which is a common bathroom used by several suites in the building. We arrived at the women's door and my daughter commented, "Why is the men's bathroom closer? A man must have designed it." So wise for five. ;)

    Bookmark   January 26, 2011 at 8:56PM
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