Choosing Countertops: Tile

Using larger tiles lets you cut the cleaning and the price of your countertops.

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Tile comes in a variety of materials, including ceramic, glass and natural stone. The most common tiles used for countertops are ceramic, porcelain and granite. Most homeowners are moving away from tile countertops of smaller tile because cleaning grout is a hassle. However, countertops made from larger tiles are coming into vogue. "Using larger tiles means fewer grout lines," says Sheila Tilander, of Showplace Design and Remodeling in Redmond, Wash. They also allow you to get to get a custom look at a lower price — especially with pricier stones like granite.

Design Tip: Colorful ceramic tiles go well in Southwestern and Craftsman kitchens. Colored grouts don't show dirt as easily and can be used to accentuate the color of the tile.

Maintenance: Clean tiles and grout lines with liquid detergent.

Cost: $10-$90/sq. ft., installed

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