Ceramic tile on the kitchen countertop

lavender_lassApril 15, 2011

I think we talked about this on another post, but I wanted to ask if anyone had ceramic tiles on their countertops. I want to do a cute backsplash, but now I'm thinking about two of the countertops being tiled, too. I think it would be easy to use around the sink, with marble or granite between the range and wall oven (baking center) and wood countertop on the island.

I like this look, on Laura Calder's cooking show. I love blue, although this might be a little too bright...I'm thinking more of a french blue, to pick up the little flowers in my inspiration tiles. What do you think? Good idea or not? Thanks in advance :)

Here's a picture of the kitchen (hard to find on the Internet) and the background should look much more creamy/white, not greenish. I also found a link, if you like the kitchen.

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

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In my very first kitchen update, I replaced a rotted ceramic tile counter top with one that had marine grade plywood that would not rot out (I had not heard of cement board yet) and cobalt blue 3" ceramic pool and floor tiles on the counter and the backsplash. We sanded down the cupboards and painted them a gloss white and got delft blue and white door handles for the cabinets. there was white wallpaper that had little blue dots in a triangle pattern on it. I made white Swiss dot curtains that billowed and gathered for the corner window, and had matching fabric to the wallpaper on two pillows on the corner wooden bench. When we finished it looked darling, except for the old and warped flooring. We did not know what to do about that, so it stayed that way at least until we were divorced.

We had the tile everywhere. It looked nice and we liked being able to just put hot pans on the counter. Our problem was the grout. DH had used the little plastic spacers for between the tiles. He placed them flat down on the counter between tiles. I have seen people use them since then, and they tend to use them differently. One leg of the "x" is used between tiles, the two arms on the opposite axis hold the spacer tight to the top of the tile, with the fourth leg sticking straight out, like this:

The way DH used them, they were not removable. My problem came when I grouted. The tiles had quite a "shoulder" on them. If I just used the grout float, the grout line between the tiles was really wide. Due to the curve of the tile near the edge, the grout made into heavy, thick lines. To get rid of that effect, "novice me" used my fingers to run down the grout lines and remove some of the excess grout. That left the lines smaller, but sometimes I took off too much grout, and ended up with the little grout spacers showing through! I really did not know what I was doing! I should have taken a class at Home Depot.

We liked the counters, but found that we tended to break a lot of things. Those tiles were HARD!

    Bookmark   April 16, 2011 at 9:48AM
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Nancy's caution about the waterproof board beneath is a good one. I think cement board for sure is even better than the plywood of ANY grade.

However, I was not impressed with a tiled countertop in the house of a friend. It was around the sink. The grout became slimy and it was not sanitary to put something like chicken on. It gave me the creeps, truly. It was a DIY job though.
If done properly, maybe it would be safe healthwise.

My personal choice around the sink, because of personal experience in DH's cape, is the Silestone quartz. It is antimicrobial and impervious to stains. I will have it in our AL kitchen, only around the sink run of countertop, and stainless steel on the stove side. Basically my kitchen is going to be a galley style, and my rolling "island" is also stainless topped.

Nancy, I had no idea that those crosses for tile spacing came in different sizes. Your information is quite helpful.

    Bookmark   April 16, 2011 at 10:20AM
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I posted some photos of countertops on your post in the kitchen forum. I think a quiet honed granite or soapstone would work well for you with a contrasting island. I think tiles with the grout lines would be even more difficult to keep clean or I would worry about chipping.

    Bookmark   April 16, 2011 at 1:20PM
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We have tiles and no problems with the grout in between them. I love tiled counters, such pretty colors are available. Our tiled countertops are 15 years old and look like new, very durable.

    Bookmark   April 16, 2011 at 4:01PM
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Not to wander off topic- but marine plywood (or any plywood except pressure treated) is not rot resistant. What makes it 'marine' is exterior glue, and a lack of voids in the inner plies. It's more of a structural designation than anything to do with it's appropriateness in a wet environment. You want cement board under tile in a wet location.

I've thought about tiling counter tops because it's cheap and easy, but I think keeping the grout lines clean would be a nightmare.

    Bookmark   April 16, 2011 at 4:05PM
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The more I think about it, the more I like ceramic tile. It can be hard, but it's colorful, heat resistant (I use potholders now, anyway) and very durable. That's what I really need!

I still would like to use wood for the island countertop, maybe with a marble slab in one area. I'm still debating about the prep sink...so maybe a baking area there, instead, with the marble. A small piece that I could replace, if it got really messed up.

I love the big sink in Laura Calder's kitchen and don't know if I'd need a prep sink with a sink that big! I think it looks great with the ceramic tile, too :)

    Bookmark   April 16, 2011 at 6:06PM
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On the John Bridge forum, they talk about epoxy grout quite a bit. I think it's more stain resistant than normal grout. I like the look of ceramic tile, but I hate cleaning grout. Bad enough on the floor, but I don't think I could handle the dirty grout on counters. My mil had 30 year old ceramic counters and they looked good - except the grout.

    Bookmark   April 16, 2011 at 10:35PM
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I always wonder why people say that grout gets dirty. Ours looks the same as the day it was installed. I wonder why that is?

I love it still.

    Bookmark   April 17, 2011 at 10:28PM
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We laid a large tile, porcelain in my daughter's kitchen. Used marine grade plywood, then cement board laid over the plywood & screwed down. The tile looked like natural stone & we grouted with a dark grout. Looks great & has held up very well. Sealed the grout & have had no problems with it. They love it.

    Bookmark   April 18, 2011 at 12:14PM
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Thank you all for the good reviews on ceramic tiles! I was thinking a darker grout would look better than white (blend in more with the tile) and sealing the grout, sounds like a good idea.

Cement board would be an easy fix, since they'll be new cabinets and I can use whatever surface I'd like. I don't know if I will do it myself, but it's nice to know I could with some practice, unlike laying stone. Also, tile seems more friendly and inviting, less likely to be babied and much more colorful :)

Still thinking of wood on the island, and if I lose the prep sink, much easier to maintain. I still think a piece of marble, rather than the sink, might be a better choice...and the island could move, if I decide I want to be able to slide it over a foot or so, for special occasions, with lots of people over. Can't move plumbing!

    Bookmark   April 18, 2011 at 12:21PM
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I have never had a prep sink in a kitchen so maybe speaking out of turn. We did have a house with 5 sinks once. Including bathrooms. What a pain to be cleaning them all the time. I really can not see a real need for a prep sink. But then that is me and my lazy house keeping ways.

    Bookmark   April 18, 2011 at 11:26PM
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Shades- I thought with the old layout, a prep sink might come in handy, but since I switched the fridge and oven/microwave...I would rather have the marble for a baking area. Now that the fridge is back by the sink, I think one big sink will be more than enough :)

    Bookmark   April 18, 2011 at 11:44PM
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