Tiled Countertops - Pics and Info opinions needed.

movinginvaFebruary 25, 2011

I planned on painting my countertops, but now I am considering tiling them with granite tiles or any other tiles that look nice. I have looked for pics online, but have not found very many with granite tiles, or tiles that look really great. Has anyone ever tiled their countertops, and if so, how did you like it when it was all done? Also, if you know of a link to some pictures or if you have pictures, please post them so that I can see, I would greatly appreciate it.

Thanks!

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kitchendesigntips

I used ceramic tile on my countertops and they're great! They're durable and beautiful. I have a country kitchen and the ceramic countertops really helped achieve the look I was going for!

Here is a link that might be useful: Ceramic tile kitchen countertops

    Bookmark   February 25, 2011 at 11:47AM
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lavender_lass

Tile countertops can be very pretty and probably not too difficult for DIY, but I've read that the grout lines can be difficult to keep clean...and food loves to fall between the cracks.

I saw a kitchen with granite tiles in a 'home show' (the tiles were probably at last 8" x 8") and I didn't think they looked that good. Somehow, they looked a little cheap and I thought that a different material, with maybe a soid piece of granite, just on the island, would have looked much nicer. Of course, that might have just been that particular kitchen. They had to have the kitchen finished, in time for the home show, and may have been in a hurry, when they laid the tile.

I saw a 'painted countertop' kit at Lowe's and it looked like something that might be fun to try. Maybe try painting them and then if you're not thrilled, you can always tile or replace the countertops later. Of course, you may really like the painted countertops :)

    Bookmark   February 25, 2011 at 12:59PM
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debrak_2008

We are also planning on using granite tiles for our kitchen (unless we get a really good price on a slab).

I think the key is to have really small grout lines (use a penny). Someone here used large porcelain tiles and it looks beautiful. Plllog (sp?) also has tile counters you must see.

Most granite tiles come 12 x 12. You can get larger. Rectified porcelain tile is good because it has sharp clean edges for small ground lines. Some areas call it by other names.

Bill Vincent who posts here and it the bathroom forum has lots of pics on his website. Check it out.

    Bookmark   February 25, 2011 at 2:28PM
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ideagirl2

What looks bad in a stone tile counter, IMHO, is when you lay the tiles in a boring way that makes it look like the counter is trying (and failing) to "pass" as a solid stone counter, or like you were trying to get the benefits of stone in a much more frugal way. Not that there's anything at all wrong with frugality, but when you just lay parallel lines of big square stone tiles with contrasting grout between them, often you lose most of the beauty of the stone... You can do frugal in a much more beautiful way with counters where the tile is chosen and laid in a way that CELEBRATES the fact that it's tile, rather than conveying the message, "Look, I'm almost as good as a solid stone counter!"

What I mean by that is counters where the tile does things, through the angle at which each tile is laid and/or the patterns and/or the color variations between tiles, that solid stone just can't do. Counters that instead of saying "I'm almost as good as solid stone," say "I'm stone [or porcelain, etc.] with a beautiful twist that only tile can do!" A few examples:

http://kitchenbacksplashes.blogspot.com/2010/12/tile-countertops-pictures.html (second photo down, with man cutting bread on tile counter; also the fifth and sixth photos, i.e. the last two photos--the slate and the more "Mexican tile" looking one)

http://tileartcenter.com/ceramic-tile-kitchen-countertops-and-backsplash (both counters shown)

In contrast, I would say the way the tiles are laid on this island is not a good look--which is too bad, because if you look at the backsplash in the background, THAT pattern could have been a neat look on a countertop:
http://www.flickr.com/photos/10342320@N05/873990072/
And similarly, the first and third photos here don't look great to me: http://kitchenbacksplashes.blogspot.com/2010/12/tile-countertops-pictures.html

    Bookmark   February 25, 2011 at 5:09PM
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plllog

I have tile--handmade porcelain, i.e., anything but stone. I don't like stone tile for anything but floors, though some people are very happy with their stone tile counters. I disagree with tile being an easy DIY. DIY can achieve adequate tiling if the space isn't too challenging. You need to really know what you're doing to do a really great job, and I'd always leave it to a master tile setter. The most important tool if you want to try DIY is a level.

    Bookmark   February 25, 2011 at 5:15PM
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johnliu_gw

I did a bunch of tiling in a house back when. Counters are not hard, but you must have a good tile saw (rent a water-cooled one) and be very careful and detail-oriented.

Tile is nearly the perfect counter material. It is flexible, expressive, available in every shape and hue, repairable, won't be burnt or scratched, laughs at water, doesn't stain or need oiling. There is a thread going with a few pictures of beautiful '20's tilework, or you can go all psychedelic hippie queen artist like plllog . . .

The rub is, grout. It can be decorative in its own right, the looks aren't a problem. On most of the counter, grout is okay to keep clean, at least if you didn't choose snow white grout. But around the sink, I find it gets harder. Possibly, the solution could be epoxy grout - but I've no personal experience with that stuff.

Tile has been out of style for so long that I suspect it will get ''discovered'' again. I'm considering it myself now.

    Bookmark   February 25, 2011 at 6:46PM
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ideagirl2

Psychedelic hippie queen? Link please, John! I can't wait!

    Bookmark   February 25, 2011 at 6:56PM
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jejvtr

Here's a bunch of granite tiled counters

Bill Vincent is our resident tile guru - I suggest doing a separate post with his name in heading

John bridge forum is a really great resource - where all the tile people hang - Bill v turned us on there.

Here is a link that might be useful: granite tiled counters

    Bookmark   February 25, 2011 at 7:09PM
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plllog

I resemble that remark! Link provided above.

    Bookmark   February 25, 2011 at 7:09PM
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ideagirl2

Oh yeah! I remember your counter, Pllog! I forgot that was yours. It is AWESOME.

    Bookmark   February 25, 2011 at 7:22PM
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johnliu_gw

Plllog, how are you handling the grotty grout issue? Did you use epoxy grout? Or find a sealer that really works?

I have been really liking the vintage contrasty edge tile look that marcolo posted. Thinking hard about it.

    Bookmark   February 25, 2011 at 7:47PM
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plllog

John, I left the grout to the tile setters...except when I rebelled at having sanded grout on my counters. From the samples of the handmade tile, the master tile setter said I could have minimal (1/8") grout lines. Given the vagaries of large orders from artisans, that didn't work out and there are some really wide grout lines. I was willing to live with those, though if I'd known before I committed I might have chosen differently, but I wasn't having sanded grout on the counter. I didn't want it on the backsplash either, but didn't think about it and the blue grout was already done, as of course, when I saw it. I can live with that. It's up high. (And I have sanded with the glass mosaic in the laundry, which is what the maker recommends--but it's vertical.)

Anyway, what they figured out is that they could do sanded partway up in the grout channels, in order to have the security of installation that sanded in wider lines provides, and unsanded on a fairly deep top layer. This was done during cold and rain in mid-Winter, and there was no heat in the house, so the grout had a chance to cure slowly rather than cracking all over the place. There were a couple of small places he wasn't satisfied with and filled in, but it otherwise worked.

Sanded grout is nasty to clean. Smooth grout isn't. It is sealed with whatever they used. These are the experts, who wrote the book, and I wasn't going to second guess them on that and didn't pay such close attention to the sealer. I know a lot of people here like their epoxy grout, and it is required for hospitals and cafeterias, but there are some downsides too (wish I could remember more details), and I decided I was happy with what we used.

I've never had any trouble keeping grout clean in a kitchen. In a bathroom, I do sometimes have to fight mildew in a shower ceiling, and soap scum from mopping in the grout joins on the floor, both of which are fixable. Naturally It's Clean Mildew works well, though it takes a lot of product, and it doesn't poison the people. And a good scrub brush works on the scum. If I used a more detergenty something on the floor, instead of 7th G dish liquid, there wouldn't be scum either, though I've been thinking a steam cleaner might be good there.

For the kitchen counters? A little scrub with a plant fiber scrubbie is usually all I need to get up a spill. My grout hasn't gotten grotty in this last year I've been using the counter. I use hot water and soap, mostly, for the anti-microbes, and a little care when handling meats and eggs. If there's a particular concern, I could be enticed to a judicious application of a little bleach.

Something I learned in my old kitchen is that it's really very hard to stain grout. The old was a bad DIY job from the previous owner, but much as I tried, I never had any stains or grott.

One thing to remember is that ordinary white grout is really greige. It looks white until it's well cured, but it isn't. If you want white, bright white is colored white, rather than natural.

I hope you go for the vintage look! I almost bought a house with the original tiny '30's kitchen with yellow tiles up the walls and contrast trim. Planning how to fix it up without wrecking the old tiles was fun! (Turned out that it had riparian water issues that would have cost a fortune to fix. :( ) There were original bathrooms too. Sigh.

Tile is really fantastic in the kitchen. I don't know why so many people hate it. When I try to get specifics it seems to boil down to poor installation, unwillingness to repair and hating the unrepaired state, and sanded grout.

    Bookmark   February 25, 2011 at 8:18PM
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ernietd

Another benefit of tile is that you can buy extras and if one breaks, you can replace it.

    Bookmark   February 25, 2011 at 10:26PM
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marcolo

Well, my grout in my old condo must've been sanded, then.

I had unglazed quarry tile everywhere--floors, countertops. Only my mad decorating skillz distracted people from its wretchedness. The tile itself was bad enough. Once or twice a year, we were on hands and knees with harsh chemicals, and you had to mop up every drop of old sealer and dirt with a paper towel, otherwise it just settled elsewhere. The grout, of course, was the piece de resistance, a petri dish collecting and growing every piece of dirt in the eastern part of the state. On the sink run, I scrubbed with wire brushes and plastic brushes and bleach and detergent and ten types of cleaners, and it still looked like the floor behind a public toilet in the NYC Port Authority.

I may, possibly, insanely, edge a quartz countertop in tile, but I will never, ever have a tile countertop again.

OK, maybe it was the sand. Never thought of that.

    Bookmark   February 25, 2011 at 11:26PM
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johnliu_gw

I had sanded grout too, and it was a difficult thing in the area behind the sink. In the rest of the counter, it was okay. I will think about unsanded - maybe that will work for me. I am kind of a slob, so says SWMBO, but marcolo, I suspect, is not, and sounds like he had the grot problem too.

    Bookmark   February 25, 2011 at 11:54PM
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plllog

Marcolo, if it was bumpy, it was sanded. If the grout lines were more than 1/8"-3/16", it was almost certainly sanded. And if there was a lot of humidity and not much chance to dry out, there might have been mold/mildew. That's hard to kill (bleach helps but is an environmental nightmare).

John, the slob part is fine. One of the things that I didn't manage to stain the grout in the old kitchen with was red paint left for a week. We're not talking marble here. While grout can etch--the non-epoxy kind is based in portland cement--you'll never see the etching unless you positively dissolve bunches. The slob thing isn't important. The cleaning up once a day, however, helps a heck of a lot!

    Bookmark   February 26, 2011 at 12:06AM
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ironcook

plllog... your tile is AMAZING! i've seen hints of it in other threads, but "the tour" is truly wonderful!

johnliu/marcolo... i love that vintage tile marcolo posted in the other thread. i hope you'll both do something like it. it would look more out of place than the beadboard that i asked about for my home, but i'm sure it would be beautiful in yours.

movinginva...

i don't know if your home is appropriate for vintage tile, but check out the photo posted by marcolo in the link. you'll need to scroll down to see it. good luck with your counter!

Here is a link that might be useful: Vintage Design (scroll down for photo with tile)

    Bookmark   February 26, 2011 at 1:24AM
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sabjimata

mom2cohen has really nice tiled countertop. they are very large white porcelain squares.

Here is a link that might be useful: mom2cohen's kitchen

    Bookmark   February 26, 2011 at 8:22AM
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Circus Peanut

I used epoxy grout in my DIY tiled bath, and the stuff is FABulous. Stays clean. Doesn't mold. Doesn't pick up dirt. LOVE it and recommend it warmly for kitchen use, esp. countertops. The older versions of epoxy grout were apparently difficult to use -- not so the newer generation and I had no trouble despite being a novice tiler.

    Bookmark   February 26, 2011 at 11:00AM
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sabjimata

it is costlier :(

    Bookmark   February 26, 2011 at 12:32PM
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monicakm_gw

We used granite tile in our kitchen back in 2002. Wow, it's hard to believe it's been nearly 9 years! Anyway, the grout lines look like they did the day they were grouted. DH butted the tiles together. Sine the tiles are slightly beveled, it produced a very small grout line. We used a dark unsanded grout that matched the overall color of the Baltic Brown granite. Unless they knew before hand, no one knew it it wasn't slab granite...I personally think most people don't pay a whole lot of attention (g)

Macro shot of leading edge and vertical edge of the counter

    Bookmark   February 26, 2011 at 12:51PM
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plllog

Thanks, Ideagirl and Ironcook.

Sabjimata, I don't know if you were referring to the epoxy grout (which some might feel is worth the price) or the tile, but I can definitely attest that tile can be a lot more expensive than stone!

    Bookmark   February 26, 2011 at 2:32PM
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jenny1963

Not that anyone is considering a super-rustic countertop with handmade tile and WIDE grout lines (yes, sanded grout,) but, I heartily despise it, and have given up on it. I cannot wait for a solid surface (the previous owners were going for a European country look; don't get me started on the terra-cotta 3-D relief of a cherub holding grapes in the bathroom! Lol)

It's just too effing hard to clean. I like to bake with my 6 year old.

    Bookmark   February 28, 2011 at 7:27PM
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boxerpups

Jenny1963,

You make me laugh so hard!!!!!
I had the 4 by 4 white tile counters all over my kitchen.
DESPISED IT. I found cleaning smeared peanutbutter from
the tiny grout lines was a pia.. Trust me tiny is far worse
than wide.

BUT, I must tell MovinginVA,
my sister has granite tile (Actually it is a marble that
is dark called Emperador) large squares with tiny invisible
grout lines and it is BEAUTIFUL. This is in her lake
house. It was something her husband chose without her there
and at first she was really mad at him but it looks
wonderful. My sister is a clean freak and has no complaints
about the super thin credit card silver size grout lines.

I found a few pictures of tiles. I need to get some
pictures of my sister's place. It is winter right now
and no one is at the lake too cold. Her counters are far
prettier the the images below.
~boxer

Phoenix granite tiles by John's custom tile

PAGranite co.

google image

Smith Floor and Tile

Green White Kitchen 300

Toronto Home

Granite DIY

I still like the idea of painting. But maybe not over
your current countertop. Rather take the counter down
or out and get to the base layer. If there is nothing
than put in plywood and paint it like this...

    Bookmark   March 1, 2011 at 7:08AM
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steff_1

The Tile Shop is a great source for counters. They have matching trim for most of their tiles.

Check out the gallery for great ideas.

The grout can really made the difference, I had a rustic tile counter with wide sanded grout for a while and it was tough to clean.

Here is a link that might be useful: The Tile Shop

    Bookmark   March 1, 2011 at 10:46AM
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ideagirl2

**don't get me started on the terra-cotta 3-D relief of a cherub holding grapes in the bathroom!**

Oh, Jenny. I'm so sorry. I feel your pain.

    Bookmark   March 1, 2011 at 11:51AM
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movinginva

Thank you all soooo very much for your feedback and pictures. After reading all the posts, I think I will stick to painting the countertops for now. I thought I'd see some tiled countertops that I really love, but I did not. I feel so bad saying that because I know that some of you who posted have tiled countertops and they look great, I guess it is just not my style. If painting does not work out, then DH will have to break down and let me have new countertops. The countertops we have now are laminate and I have nothing against laminate, I just hate the color and it is hard to justify buying new ones since what is there now was installed just before we purchased the house 5 months ago. Wish me luck with painting!
Again, thank you all for your feedback :-)

    Bookmark   March 3, 2011 at 9:09PM
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boxerpups

movinginva,

Wise, wise, wise!!!!!

I know that painting will be difficult and you will need
your mind set to do the work.
Prep, sand, prime, paint, paint again and even seal it.
It will be worth it since it will one smooth surface to
clean. Trust me, my old tile came out and the tile in my
bathroom is begging to be torn out. My tile is the ugly
white 4 by 4 builders grade tile that was the rage in 95.
Painting laminate is cheaper and easier than tile.

If you can use a Melamine paint. It is the only way to
prepare laminate. Well for my experienc painting laminate
shelves.

~boxer

Here are some links to check out...

Contact paper to cover laminate it actually holds up
better than you think and if you buy enough you can
cover mistakes that might occur from a sneaky cutting
board mistake.
http://www.stretcher.com/stories/02/02jul29a.cfm

http://answers.yahoo.com/question/index?qid=20071020040930AAZCVpq

Here is a link that might be useful: What is Melamine Paint

    Bookmark   March 4, 2011 at 6:28AM
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movinginva

Any idea where I can find Melamine paint, or maybe a specific brand/paint store that I can find it from? I have called a few paint stores in the area and they all sound completely clueless when I ask for Melamine paint.

    Bookmark   March 4, 2011 at 1:22PM
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