When you’re choosing a new kitchen tile, it can be very hard to tell the difference between trendy advice and sound advice. Kitchen tiles of all types wax and wane in popularity. Even if you want to invest in the hottest kitchen tile options, you still want to have a clear idea about its true quality and how it will look years from now. For those who know they want kitchen tile that can handle the stresses of their cooking for years to come, assessing quality is especially important. What makes a good kitchen tile? Let us share our expertise.
In any kitchen tile material, you will have lower and higher quality options. Each individual tile product will match up differently to the quality expectations on this list. But, it is good to have a general understanding of kitchen tile material options and what makes them higher or lower quality options.
- Ceramic tile: Ceramic tiles are made of fired clay. True ceramic tiles will have a red backing and are considered lower quality than porcelain because they are less durable and more likely to scratch or chip.
- Porcelain tile: Porcelain tile is made of pressurized clay and sand. It is largely considered to be a superior material option to the others as it is denser, stronger, and less porous. Unglazed porcelain is also a superior material to glazed, as it won’t show scratches.
- Natural stone tile: There is a wide range of natural stones that are suitable for kitchen tiles. Almost all must have a sealant applied so that they are no longer porous and cannot harbor bacteria. Limestone, travertine and slate are popular options. Marble is popular too, but it should not be used for flooring as it is too slippery.
- Glass tile: Glass tiling is an interesting option that has unique light-reflecting properties. That said, they are prone to scratching and chipping and generally are not durable enough for flooring.
Flatness or Consistent Firing
Relying on just choosing the best material is not wise. You should also get your hands on the individual tiles and take a look at how well they’ve been made. Essentially you want to see a tile that is exceptionally flat. This means it has been consistently fired or, in the case of natural stone, properly cut. Avoid tiles with a large number of chipped tiles, unless the look or other features you’re getting outweigh the durability risks for you.
Smooth textures on ceramic and porcelain can end up causing slips and falls. Particularly in spaces for the elderly, you may wish to choose honed natural stone. This provides better texture for grip. Polished natural stone will be significantly smoother if that’s what you would prefer.
Not all ceramic and porcelain tiles will have the same hardness or durability. You can assess the tiles based on their Porcelain Enamel Institute (PEI) rating. The best rating is PEI 5, suitable for floors in commercial buildings. PEI 4 is suitable for flooring in your kitchen. PEI 3 and PEI 2 can be used on your kitchen as a backsplash.
The best tile for you is one that meets your design requirements. A professional remodeler can help you make the best decision.