Tile Countertops (Part 5)
In the past month we have covered the attributes, pros and cons of granite, quartz, solid surface and concrete countertops.
This week our focus is TILE COUNTERTOPS.
As it is with all types of countertops, the countertop is a part of the décor of the home. Tile countertops probably have the greatest design flexibility and has the possibility of adding some very unique touches to the room.
Tile is a much less costly alternative to solid surface products. It has a luxury feel, yet typically has a much lower price tag than other countertops. Other than price, its greatest feature is its unique look. Perhaps the homeowner wants a mosaic or certain pattern. Such a wide variety of color, style, size and shape can be used within the same countertop to give that special flair and design. Small tiles can be matched or coordinated with large tiles, or large tiles might have designs painted on them.
The choice of the type of tile is quite varied. You can choose from ceramic, porcelain, natural stone (for example, granite), glass, metal and more. (Ceramic and porcelain are the most common because they are more durable and less porous.) Your goal is to enhance the beauty of your home while maintaining functionality, so you will want to think about the style of the room or the home, and then choose a type of tile that fits it.
Tile countertops, unlike granite, solid surfaces and quartz, are put together piece by piece. This is part of the fun, and it's because of this that you can come up with so many different ways to coordinate with the floors, backsplashs, shower walls, or whatever it is you are trying to tie together and coordinate.
Another nice feature of some of the tile countertops is that they are heat and stain resistant. (The tile is stain resistant, not the grout, as I will later explain.) Some tiles are also scratch resistant, but not all. We still recommend using a cutting board because some tile will scratch, plus using a cutting board is easier on the knife. Keep in mind, too, that matte finishes are less likely to show scratches.
Perhaps the greatest drawback for tile countertops is the grout that holds the tile together. The tile itself might be nonporous and might clean up quite easily; however, grout is porous, and will absorb grease, bacteria and stain. A high quality sealant should be used when the countertop is first installed, and then resealed periodically. Once grout becomes stained, it is almost impossible to get clean. If water does not bead up, then it's time to reseal the grout. Otherwise any moisture caught in the grout may turn to mold and mildew, and then you will have bigger problems under the surface of the countertop or the wall that the tile is covering.
Over time you will probably get some chips and cracks in your countertop. These can usually be filled, repaired and refinished quite easily and so well that it will not be noticeable.
If you are a Do-It-Yourself kind of person, installing tile countertops is not so difficult, and for some it can even be considered fun! There are a lot of good resources and guides available online, and YouTube has some very helpful videos that take you through the process step-by-step. Most of the major home stores offer a good variety of product and will have everything you need. Just remember to place the tiles close together and use tinted grout.
If you want to know more about the difference between ceramic and porcelain tile countertops, here's a GREAT ARTICLE.
We'll be back next week with our last countertop article: LAMINATE COUNTERTOPS.