Kitchen Remodel: Kitchen Backsplash and Kitchen Floor Tiles

Posted by Lydia Solis on Sep 21 2012


How Do Choose the Right Kitchen Tile?

Tile can be used anywhere in a home because it is durable, beautiful, and water resistant. With so many options to choose from, the tile selection process can easily become overwhelming.

These are a few things to consider while picking out your kitchen tile:

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Moisture Resistance

  • A key factor when choosing a tile is how easily it absorbs water. Tiles that are fired at high temperatures for a longer period of time are denser; making them both watertight and resistant to stains.
    • Most watertight tiles are usually made from glass and porcelain. They are called “impervious”, meaning they absorb less than 0.5% of moisture.
    • Tiles classified as “vitreous” are second to the least moisture, absorbing 0.5 to 3%
    • semi vitreous” tiles absorb 3 to 7%.
    • Soft bodied “non vitreous” tiles, such as glazed wall tiles, art tiles, and terra-cotta, absorb 7% or more. Only when treated with a sealer do they become water resistant, but even then it is only partial. Most people choose soft bodied tiles because of style despite moisture absorption.


  • Wall tiles do not have to be super tough. Most thin tiles are intended for floors and counters. However, floor tiles are rated for their strength.
  • The simplest scale divides floor tiles into four ratings: light duty, medium duty, heavy duty, and commercial.
    • Medium and light duty materials can be used for a bathroom floor.
    • Heavy duty tiles are usually used for kitchens and family rooms. 
  • Tiles are also rated for glaze hardness, in other words, their resistance to scuffing and abrasion.
  • Common tests include the abrasive wear index and the Mohs hardness test. You don’t need a high rating for wall tiles, but you definitely will for entry floors or kitchen counters.

Slip Resistance

  • Tiles dedicated for interior floors, stair threads, showers, and patios must provide adequate traction for safe walking, whether it is wet or dry. Generally, unglazed, textured tiles offer better traction than glazed ones. Although some glazed floor tiles include enough texture or abrasive additives for safe footing. Unglazed mosaics also work well because of their grout lines. It helps break up the surfaces. 

Stain Resistance 

  • Kitchen countertops, kitchen and bathroom floors, tub surrounds, fire place faces, and patios are areas with high potential staining. Dense and sturdy glazed tiles are your best pick to easily remove stains.  Keep in mind that sealers help protect porous tiles, but may be unsafe to use where you prepare or eat food.

Freeze-Thaw Stability

  • Tiles used for the outdoors in cold climates must be able to withstand water absorption and seasonal temperature fluctuations without warping or breaking the tile. In these areas, “impervious” or vitreous” tiles are usually the safest for fluctuating weather. This is less of an issue in mild climates where softer more absorbent tiles like terra-cotta can be used.

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Topics: kitchen, kitchen countertops, kitchen remodel, tile

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