Ceramic tile counters in the kitchen

lavender_lassApril 16, 2011

Does anyone have ceramic tile counters, in their kitchen? Are they vintage style? Do you like them?

I'm thinking about putting in ceramic tile counters with backsplash for the perimeter countertops and wood for the island...maybe with an inset of marble for a baking area.

Thanks in advance...and if you have any pictures, that would be wonderful :)

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Be ready to spend a lot of time cleaning the grout joints.

If you use epoxy based grout at least the staining can be limited.

    Bookmark   April 18, 2011 at 1:17PM
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I had tile counter tops and back splash in our AZ house and loved it. It was easy to keep clean.
The grout was well sealed so staining was not a problem.
I'd seriously consider having it in this house if we ever get to the kitchen redo!

    Bookmark   April 18, 2011 at 4:09PM
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Also be ready to always set glasses and plates down gently, particularly fragile wine glasses. When I bought a house 25 years ago, the builder was going to put tile counters in the kitchen. I said no and got Corian instead. Tile is a very hard surface and I've never liked it as a counter top in the kitchen. When I redo my current kitchen I'm going for a wooden counter on the perimeter and a copper one on the island and in the butler's pantry.

    Bookmark   April 18, 2011 at 5:25PM
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my house had tile on the counters when I bought it. I broke a ton of glasses (and Im really a gentle glass and dishes kind of person) and the grout cleaning was nightmareish. replaced with hi-end formica in granite pattern and love it.

If you get tile, set them very close so the grout lines are thin. then glasses wont be as likely to wobble or topple and they may be easier to maintain.

    Bookmark   April 18, 2011 at 5:34PM
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Fori is not pleased

I grew up with nothing but tile. I thought it was normal!

Let me show you what NOT to do, along with some besureyoudothises.

Inset sink, drip edge--you want these. These are one reason tile is so wonderful. (Big old farm sink is acceptable too, but that drip edge is priceless elsewhere. It keeps eggs from wandering too far, for example.) If you do an inset sink, see about getting the counter ever so slightly tilted so water drains into the sink.

But don't have nubbly tile. Get flat stuff, even if you go handmade on the backsplash. Don't have big grout lines. ANd don't let it get this icky. (See how the grout on the wall is a different color than the stuff by the sink?)

I love the 40s-50s tile schemes, and with your style, you can come up with something perfect. Like, say, BLUE, with a fabulous backsplash.

Here is a link that might be useful:

    Bookmark   April 18, 2011 at 5:51PM
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Thank you for the responses. I think a narrow grout line in a darker color is a great idea. I'd like to get a sink like this, but with two bowls...if possible :)

Fori- Beautiful color...and I'm thinking about a shade of blue or green, to go with my backsplash tile. This is a great color...or maybe a little more green or a french blue. Here's my backsplash tile inspiration with these colors and a branch/vine style...bunnies optional LOL

    Bookmark   April 18, 2011 at 6:28PM
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check out kmickleson's kitchen in the finished kitchen slideshow:

I have tile "landing pads" on either side of my stove. i would never have thought of doing it but I enjoy them. It is just 10 4 x 4 bathroom tiles on either side, somehow attached to the formica and grouted. I spray the grout with a mild bleach/water solution once in a while; no problems. My kitchen is 50 years old and it is a testament to the practicality of the people back then that it is still going strong. It is not ideal for us, but it is very functional.

actually now I notice there is a category page on the finished kitchens blog. You can filter by various things like countertops. here is the filter for tile countertops:

gotta love starpooh!

Here is a link that might be useful: link to the categories list page

    Bookmark   April 18, 2011 at 9:51PM
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We did a ceramic tile countertop in our last vacation house and I loved it. We used the Laticrete grout from Lowes with a stain resistant additive. It works!

My DH spilled tea one morning before heading out around 5 am to go fishing. I found it around 8 am. Cleaned it up and had no stains.

I was working on our inkjet printer getting an error on the cartridges. Gave up and brought another printer up 2 weeks later. When I picked up the old one there was magenta ink spill all over the counter under the printer. I was scared to death. But the dried ink all wiped away with no ill effects.

Getting ready to do another kitchen and yes we are doing a porcelain tile countertop and backsplash.

    Bookmark   April 19, 2011 at 7:51AM
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Yup. Here's a photo that includes the whole kitchen but shows the tile. The cabinet panels are temporary while we figure out a new wall colour and maybe cabinet colour, so pardon the colour scheme.

We laid the tile and it is laid flat enough (and maybe the tile itself is flat enough) that glasses do not wobble appreciably - no breaks other than when something gets dropped right on it. Even with kids, and my kids grew up with this kitchen.

As for maintenance... this kitchen is now 20 years old and it has WORKED - see remark about kids, above. And also, after I took the photo I realized it shows dark spots on the drawers from where I push them shut... definitely time for an overhaul!! But they're honestly not as noticeable in real life :-)

So I can tell you that the grout lines are indeed the weak link in the formula. Worst is definitely around the sink, and also where I do the majority of food prep. Where the counter has mostly stayed dry the grout is absolutely fine (it's blue plus painted with blue sealer). But where it regularly got wet and stayed that way for too long, the grout is literally worn away; we can see the spacers. We did re-grout one section with some success.

If I could do anything differently I would go back and just wipe the counter dry twice as often (not my strong point). Sink is overlayed and again, something you just have to wipe regularly, more often than I did which should not be hard. That's just caulk (probably latex) you can see from this angle.

I love having the bullnose at the edge. But if you look closely at the corner near the front of the photo, you can see a chip where I banged against it with a milk bottle. DARN. Lesson: the tile itself is also fragile, and even the field tiles can break with a severe impact, say if a jug falls out of a cupboard.


    Bookmark   April 19, 2011 at 2:13PM
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karinl that is a pretty cool tile job! Grout is easy to replace too. Use a tool to get it out without hurting the tile and then regrout. I use bleach cleaner on my grout and have no problems with it.

    Bookmark   April 21, 2011 at 2:41PM
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Four and a half years ago, we tore out our kitchen and dining area clean to the dirt in the cellar below and put it back together again. It was the perfect opportunity to do it exactly as I wanted it and modify the floor plan to improve the traffic flow and then decided what materials and appliance I wanted. Yes, we put in tile counters on one sink and the large island and at first I thought 'uh oh' what did I do? It's been in long enough now it has had a chance to prove itself, and every morning when I get up and come into my kitchen, I fall in love with it all over again. I clean grout occasionally and it spiffs up like brand new and has shown absolutely no wear whatever. No, I've never broken a glass on it. LOL.

    Bookmark   April 21, 2011 at 5:17PM
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Have 'em. Hate 'em. Grout is perpetually dirty unless I scrub and scrub with purple cleaner, or pour full-strength bleach on the counter (yuck). Even then, it's dirty again in a week.

They're utterly unforgiving. Any cup or glass dropped on them, or sometimes even just tipped over on them, is a goner.

PO put them in. I would NEVER. I'd rather have generic big-box store Formica.

    Bookmark   April 22, 2011 at 1:07AM
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Thanks, Powermuffin! Calliope, what you say is so true, and whether our counters are everyone's taste or not, there is something about tile that goes beyond being serviceable, and actively gives pleasure. Maybe it's like having an artwork on your counter. Or something about the fact that the tile has a pattern and a frame.

I think perpetually dirty grout may be a function of grout that's a bad colour for a kitchen? We chose blue for a reason beyond aesthetics. Or is the grout sealed, DavidR?

This variety of breakage experience is just weird to me. I'm no more careful than the average person, in fact probably less so, be we do not have much breakage - I can't think of anything that's tipped at all much less tipped and broken. My sink, now that's unforgiving. But the counter, no.


    Bookmark   April 22, 2011 at 12:16PM
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KarinL - Your counter is gorgeous and perfectly shows why ceramic tile is my favorite. It looks rich and the variety of possible designs and color combinations are endless.

Yes, for me the grout has been a sometime problem. After sixteen years of use, we should have it replaced and sealed with a more modern sealer. But I have never broken anything on it! And if we ever get a new counter, it will also be ceramic tile.

    Bookmark   May 4, 2011 at 10:05PM
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I'm still thinking about ceramic tile on the L-shaped perimeter of the kitchen. I'd like to do the blue, so I'm thinking about a little darker grout...but the backsplash is going to be white, with white grout.

Here's the bunny tiles I like... From Lavender Lass farmhouse pictures

And I was going to use the blue arborite, but it's been discontinued...so I'm back to tile :)

From Lavender Lass farmhouse pictures

And I've always liked Laura Calder's kitchen! The blue tiles are gorgeous, but I can't decide if I want dark blue or more of a french blue. From Lavender Lass farmhouse pictures

My other question...I won't have the big windows (but I would like to have plants/herbs on the ledge and hanging in the pass through) and I'm wondering...should I bring the blue up to the bottom of the pass through? Maybe carry that around the other side, with the white backsplash tile, above? What do you think?

Here's the kitchen plan...with butcher block on the island, marble in the baking area (other side of pass through) and stainless steel around the sink/pantry area. I like lots of finishes, for a more unfitted look...and I'm planning to do a bit of a vintage style. We have an old sink with drainboards, for the pantry area and I'd love to find something like Laura Calder's sink for the main kitchen!

From Fairy tale cottage

So...any other suggestions, ideas, recommendations? Thanks in advance :)

    Bookmark   February 16, 2012 at 10:01PM
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I just removed my ceramic tile counters with an air chisel and will be going with quartz in our kitchen renovation. the tile looked real cheap even though we paid alot. if you want your kitchen to look "upscale",forget the tile.


    Bookmark   May 12, 2014 at 10:31PM
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Thanks. Upscale is just not me (LOL) probably flea market/vintage would be more appropriate. I find some great antiques that way and fun stuff, too :)

    Bookmark   May 24, 2014 at 12:25AM
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