Tile Kitchen Countertops

While many homeowners reserve tile for floors and backsplashes, tile countertops can be an excellent—and affordable—option. Ceramic tile is impervious to heat and water, and when properly glazed, it won’t stain. Proper sealant helps ensure grout won’t discolor or stain, and large-format tiles cover a lot of area with minimal grout lines. Still most popular out west, ceramic tile is a solid option worth a second look.

What Is It? Tile is a hard surface formed from firing clays and minerals.

Considerations When Choosing Tile Countertops

Hardness and Thickness. Tile for countertops should be a Class 3 hardness rating on the Porcelain Enamel Institute (PEI) scale. Standard countertop tile thickness is 5/16 inch, though a quarter inch is also used.

Tile Types. Two types of tile are most popular.

  • The most common and least expensive option, ceramic tile is crafted from pressed clays and finished with a glaze. The glaze is what gives the porous material protection from water and stains.
  • Composed of clays and minerals fired at higher temperatures, porcelain is a durable surface. It is pricier and more difficult to install than ceramic.

Design Details. Consider the following elements when choosing a tile countertop.

  • Choose from a variety of sizes, from tiny mosaics up to 48-inch squares.
  • Options include smooth glazed, matte, hand-painted, crackled and printed. Keep in mind that less glossy finishes can help mask damage.
  • Grout can be tinted to match or contrast, depending on the desired look.
  • Tile can be inlayed near the range as an integrated trivet or seamlessly installed up the wall for a matching backsplash.

Maintenance. Wipe the countertop with a soft cloth and warm water daily. Non-oil-based household cleansers are suitable. Avoid using ammonia, as it can discolor grout.

The Bottom Line. Tile complements a variety of styles, whether traditional, contemporary or Southwestern. The heat-resistant material is ideal around ranges and cooktops, but its uneven surface isn’t ideal for baking centers.

You’ve never considered tiling your kitchen countertop? Well, why not start now?! If you want to learn more about a tiled kitchen countertop, head over to PlumbTile to chat with our expert employees. They will be able to answer any questions you have. They will be there every step of the way to ensure that your kitchen, including the countertops, are what you always imagined that they would be. Don’t wait! Head to PlumbTile today!!!

Floor Tiles 101

Not all tile materials are created equal. Each type has pros and cons that need to be considered when planning a tiling project. Here are some popular types and their benefits and drawbacks:

Marble

Real marble tiles have a beautiful, unique look like no other surface, with all their whirling patterns and shade variations. But the same patterns that make marble beautiful can be a real headache to match from tile to tile. To ensure that patterns match, the Marble Institute of America recommends having your contractor lay out the tiles over the entire surface before installing so you can approve the result. All your tiles should come from the same original batch.

Marble, like most stone tiles, has high maintenance requirements. It must be sealed and cleaned regularly; for cleaning, use only a mild detergent solution or a product specially designed for marble. Never set your drink down on a marble surface (it will leave a ring), and wipe up any spills immediately, as they can stain or etch marble’s porous surface.

Terrazzo Tile

Terrazzo is traditionally a flooring material made by exposing marble chips in a bed of concrete and then polishing until smooth. Now, however, you can buy terrazzo in tile form. It’s often used in public buildings because it’s long-lasting and can be refinished repeatedly.

Terrazzo is quite slippery and can cause falls, so it may not be a good flooring choice for families with young children or elderly members. Ask your contractor about applying non-slip additives to the surface.

Terra Cotta Tile

Terra cotta is one of the oldest tile materials around, dating back before the birth of Christ, when it was sun-dried rather than oven-fired. It’s often used, glazed or unglazed, to create a rustic, weathered look.

While high-quality terra cotta will last forever, it’s difficult to assess the quality, even for pros. Buy only from a seller whose reputation you trust, though even then you may encounter problems.

For practical uses, it should be sealed, particularly in kitchens.

Porcelain

Actually a subtype of ceramic tile, porcelain bears a perception of high quality, but for residential applications its particular toughness is unnecessary. It’s nonetheless popular in the residential market because the manufacturing process makes for unlimited design potential.

The problem is that do-it-yourselfers typically install it with setting material designed for ordinary ceramic tiles, but porcelain’s low porosity means it requires a special compound for setting. Ask the manufacturer—not a salesperson—how to install it.

Ceramic

Ceramic tiles are thin slabs of clay or other inorganic materials, hardened by oven firing and usually coated with some kind of glaze. Ceramic is best known for its durability, with some installations in the ruins of ancient Rome and Egypt still intact.

Ceramic tile is a great choice for kitchens and bathrooms because it’s easy to clean and doesn’t harbor germs. It’s manufactured in production runs; because of variation among lots, make sure the caliber number (indicating size) and lot number (indicating color) are the same throughout your order.

Slate

Slate tile is a popular roofing material with an air of prestige and a reputation for longevity. Although individual tiles sometimes crack, an entire roof made of slate probably won’t have to be replaced for 50 years or more. Properly installed, slate also makes dependable flooring.

Choosing the best tile for your home isn’t an easy task. That’s why at PlumbTile, our expert employees are there every step of the way. They will help you choose the right type, color, and size of tile for your home’s floors.

Composite Decking

For an increasing number of us, a deck is as valuable as any other part of our homes. The number of decks built on homes in North America reached over 4.3 million units in 2004, and the construction of decks on homes has grown at roughly 5 percent per year since 2000, according to a study by Principia Partners.

But when it comes to maintenance, decks built with traditional pressure-treated pine or cedar can be a real pain. They must routinely be cleaned, stained and painted — a time-consuming and expensive process.

Recently, composite decking has grown in popularity. Over the past four years, the number of North American suppliers of composite decking has grown from 15 to more than 30 companies. Because builders and homeowners are beginning to see the benefits of composite decking, this alternative to wood-based decking now represents 10 percent of the decking market, up from 4 percent in 2000.

Composite decking is made from recycled hard wood fibers and recycled polyethylene fibers from items like grocery bags, milk jugs and PVC vinyl. The wood fibers protect the decking from UV damage and add stability. The plastic fibers help prevent rot and splitting, which are common in lumber-based decks. What’s more, composite decking never has to be stained or painted, so homeowners don’t need to invest additional time and expense to maintain its appearance.

Composite decking is often sold as an entire system, including the deck boards, attachment clips, trim and handrail material. The decking material is typically attached to a standard preservative-treated wood sub-frame. Many composite deck systems are designed to allow easy installation for do-it-yourselfers using standard carpentry tools. Composite decking can be drilled and cut just like lumber.

With more homeowners and builders choosing composite decking, manufacturers are offering improved decking products that have more realistic colors and versatile design patterns.

While the initial cost of composite decking is greater than that of traditional lumber, the investment pays for itself in long life and low maintenance.

Have you been dreaming about a new deck, but wanted to be eco-friendly? Now is your chance with composite decking. Still have questions? For more information about composite decking, visit the PATH website or head over to PlumbTile for all your remodel needs. Decks are an important part of a home. Our expert employees will answer any and all questions you may have when it comes to composite decking. Complete your home by adding that deck you’ve always dreamed of.

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