When installing new ceramic tile for counters or wall/surrounds in your Kitchen or Bath; there are a few things to consider. In this article (part 1 of a 2 part series) we will discuss the material options available.
Using ceramic tile for kitchen counter tops have long been an excellent choice for a number of reasons. Ceramic tile can easily absorb temperature ranges from extreme cold, to extreme heat without changing shape, losing color, or getting damaged. It won’t scratch, can be cleaned easily, and is available in hundreds of shapes, colors, and architectural designs.
When shopping for tile specific for countertops (not flooring) you will need to consider the number of corners on the counter, some may be ‘inside’ others may be ‘outside’ corners. Almost all Ceramic Tile manufactures produce tiles matching their ‘field’ tile with corner units.
You will need to know the exact length of the counters exposed edges, as there are specific ‘edge’ tiles manufactured for this as well.
Have an accurate calculation of the number of ‘field tiles needed for the counter over all and the number of trim (quarter-round) finishing edge tiles you may need if you build a back splash, or any wall surrounds.
Since you will need to cut an occasional tile to fit your area and design, be sure to purchase about 5% more tile than you anticipate using to allow for unsuccessful cuts, mistakes, or imperfect tiles which are common when purchasing in large quantities.
In Addition to the tile selection you will need to select the grout. Tile grout is available as ‘sanded’, or ‘un-sanded’ grout. Typically the narrower the grout lines between the tiles, the finer the grout must be (un-sanded). Wider grout lines (1/4” or greater) are usually filled with a sanded grout. Most sanded grouts are used in flooring, not counters. But ultimately it is up the design of the tile, and grout spacing employed.
For installation of the tile you will first need to have a solid structural base. Interior grade 5/8” or ¾” plywood is a good choice.
Additionally, you will need a material called ‘Cement Board’ placed on top of the plywood to provide a structurally solid, movement free, temperature resistant base.
Once you have constructed your counter base, set your tiles, and grouted the counter and walls, there is one last step, sealing the grout against moisture. Grout sealer is available in a spray, or sponge on method. This product will keep food and beverage spills from staining the grout, and prohibit the growth of mold or mildew on the grout and tile surface.
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