Butcher block or tile counters?

Ashe42May 23, 2013

Priced out what I REALLY want for about 85 sq feet of counters and it's too high for this house. Don't want laminate. So...I'm struggling with the alternatives that I'm OK with. I'm nervous about our messy family and butcher block (pomegranates! Coffee!) although I like the look, and I hear so much negative stuff about tile. Does anyone have any strong opinions about either? My cabinets are white and the floor is maple. If I go with tile I'd go for minimal grout lines, and possibly even those huge 24 x 24 tiles.

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Is there not a strong sealer you can put on the butcher block?
I have seen some tiles that are cut so that they can be laid very close with hardly any grout.
I like the bb idea personally.

    Bookmark   May 23, 2013 at 12:02PM
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I have BB and with a messy family would suggest tile. Yes, it can be well sealed, but not against cuts and bangs, and the seal does wear off and have to be redone.

Do tough tile for serenity. Nice big sharp-edged stone tile, very closely set, with grout as dark as you can go and still blend with the tile. BTW, if you like old-fashioned, someone once posted a really good looking retro-version counter here--24" stone tile for the flat surface, edged with old-fashioned ceramic tile.

    Bookmark   May 23, 2013 at 12:14PM
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I have tile countertops and I love them. Much of the so-called problems with tile are from the olden days and can be corrected. The beauty of tile is that there is such a huge selection and can mimic any look you want (everyone walks in and asks if my counters are slate - which is what I wanted without dealing with natural stone)

I would recommend rectified porcelain tiles - these are the ones with the sharp squared edges that were referred to and therefore can be installed with as little as 1/16" grout lines (which is very, very difficult without experience however). Safe for any temperature (which is wonderful for setting hot pots and pans anywhere) but also hard - if you drop glass on it, the glass will probably break, but that applies to many countertops.

I also recommend using epoxy grout. This is also very, very difficult without experience, but doable. Just do very small sections at a time because once it's hard, it's done. This makes the grout impervious to staining, bacteria, germs, etc, and allows the overall countertop to be more sanitary than natural stone, which is better when sealed but still not as good as impervious.

Also, if you're not a fan of bullnose, look around for other options. We ended up using Schluter systems stainless steel edges and I love them, but they work for us because we have SS appliances.

What I really really wanted were those recycled glass cement resin countertops, but they probably would have cost us in the tens of thousands with our 30" deep counters for about 20+ feet.

    Bookmark   May 23, 2013 at 12:53PM
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Thanks for the responses! I'm definitely leaning towards tile. C9 pilot, do you have a picture of your counters? I love slate, too!

I wanted soapstone, and found leathered or riverwashed granite would be a better alternative with the same look--then had a heart attack at the quote.

    Bookmark   May 23, 2013 at 2:12PM
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I'm so glad to see you thinking about tile! I get weak in the knees looking at some of these. But I don't want to put a countertop in our kitchen that future buyers will hate, and I worry that everyone dreads cleaning grout. Still, the brightness and affordability (not to mention the better grout sealers, tiles, etc.) makes me contemplate it.

It can look quite modern too, as in Benita Larson's (old) kitchen. Since I have a 1930 bungalow, I'd probably stick with the vintage layout like this but all white save a thin black stripe...

    Bookmark   May 23, 2013 at 4:41PM
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Large format granite or porcelain tiles.

    Bookmark   May 23, 2013 at 5:48PM
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Granite tiles!

    Bookmark   May 23, 2013 at 6:25PM
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My friend has large granite tiles, Verde Butterfly, with thin lines of very practical dark grout. It's lovely. But she said that while the tiles are economical, the trim pieces are more expensive.

    Bookmark   May 23, 2013 at 6:38PM
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If you're interested in soapstone, you can get soapstone tiles from Dorado Soapstone. I once saw a DIY countertop using them, and it looked great.

Here is a link that might be useful: Dorado Tiles

    Bookmark   May 23, 2013 at 6:39PM
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A trick to use for granite tile edge is to use ceramic edge pieces. Of course it depends on the color of the tile but using white or black edging may work. Its cheap at HD or Lowes.

I'm having deja vu on this thread. Did you start another thread about tile counters? If it wasn't you, I know there is another thread floating about and had alot of info posted. You might want to look for it.

    Bookmark   May 23, 2013 at 7:12PM
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Okay - I've posted a picture from 2007 of the counters, but don't look look too closely at the surroundings!
We've since replaced the DW with a SS one, and the backsplash is on order (6 years later...will post pictures when installed - it's pretty crazy),
and we hope to get the ceiling and the rest of the remodel around the house done by the end of the summer because we have a new project arriving soon (a Velocity XL RG kit plane).
A new project has motivated me to get the clutter out and the remodel DONE. I've got a ton of stuff listed on eBay, given away literally van-loads of stuff, and still have donations gathering in the foyer. Purge!
Anyway, hope the picture helps a little. I really don't like granite so the forum gets pretty tedious after a while. Even if you say you don't like granite, some folks will try to convince you that you should.
We did 1/8" grout lines because we didn't feel confident enough for 1/16". They are fine. I don't really bake, but on the occasion that I'm rolling out pizza dough, I have a plastic thing I use under the dough (with circles on it, to help me shape) so I don't need a perfectly smooth countertop.

    Bookmark   May 24, 2013 at 3:22PM
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amy, I love those kitchens that make you weak in the knees. I just got rid of 6" white tile with dark gray grout in my 1991-built house. It was very meh and, although the dark gray grout looked really good itself, I didn't love the strong contrast of the lines criss-crossing through the white. But, the right tile in the right kitchen looks great, esp. a vintage look.

    Bookmark   May 24, 2013 at 4:39PM
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Both are excellent choices, so why not mix and match. Use tile for the hard use spaces and a little butcher block for an accent. Butcher block will require maintenance, tile almost none. If you use butcher block around a sink, prepare for a lot of maintenance.

We use ceramic tile for almost all of our premium kitchens since the invention of urethane grouts (Epoxy also works, but is much more expensive). Here are the tricks:

- Use a large format tile.
- Use a thin grout line -- rectified tile (tile that has been cut after firing to an exact size) will permit a 1/16th inch grout line. But wider lines up to 3/16" without the more expensive rectified work perfectly well
-Use urethane grout.
-Install over a cement board backer
-Use a tile-in style of sink (available from Kohler, among others)
-You do not need porcelain tile. Much less expensive semi-vitreous tile will work just as well.

Butcher block requires initial sealing, and then resealing about every 3 months -- more in heavy use areas.

There are two kinds of butcher block - end grain (the true butcher block) and top grain (no cutting on these -- they're just decorative). Choose end grain if you have the option.

For more information about the type of counter tops materials available and the pros and cons of each, see the link below.

Here is a link that might be useful: New and Traditional Countertop Choices

    Bookmark   May 26, 2013 at 6:08PM
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More great suggestions, links and pictures--thank you all so much! c9pilot, your kitchen looks FABULOUS!

The deed is done; I've told the contractor that I'm going with tile and I appreciate all the help that has given me the confidence to say so (he doesn't approve). I'm hoping that the sense I get--that people who hate tile just haven't had the new style grout lines and grout-- is accurate. I'm fixing to find out. Now I just have to pick a tile....will check out the soapstone tiles. So far my better half and I haven't agreed on anything as he likes light countertops and I want dark countertops, to balance all the other lightness.

    Bookmark   May 28, 2013 at 1:53PM
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Soapstone? I suggest you will probably be happier with ceramic tile that looks like soapstone. Much, much less maintenance. Try Dal-Tile.

    Bookmark   May 28, 2013 at 4:15PM
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Geesh I wish there was urethane grout when we did our kitchen counters because the epoxy was a pain in the behind, and we use epoxy all the time (for composite/fiber work). At the time, we didn't find it significantly more expensive than regular grout, nor did we find porcelain tiles more expensive - that depended on the brand and look more than the construction.

Is there unsanded urethane grout for glass/marble?

    Bookmark   May 28, 2013 at 6:51PM
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