Tile Flooring in the Kitchen

Tile comes in many styles and can stand up to the heaviest use your family can dish out


Mixing tile sizes gives a sophisticated look to a kitchen floor.

Mixing tile sizes gives a sophisticated look to a kitchen floor.
By: Kim Hildenbrand

Tile floors are a great choice for kitchens. Tile can withstand heavy foot traffic, water, spills and doesn't absorb odors or bacteria. It can stand up to pets and children and it can go with any style decor. And tile can be arranged in a multitude of patterns.

The hardness that makes tile so desirable as a kitchen floor surface can also be a drawback. Serious cooks will want to wear comfortable shoes or put down floor mats or area rugs, because standing on tile for long periods of time can be tough on legs and backs. Its surface is cold to the touch of bare feet. And dropped dishes, mugs, and glasses can break on impact.

Tile Kitchen Floors

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What You Need to Know

The Lowdown: Tiles are manufactured pieces of durable material, such as ceramic, stone, metal, or glass.

Tough Enough? This ultra-hard surface won't be damaged by pets or kids, and it withstands stains from spilled food. But it requires proper sealing to withstand water.

How to Clean: Wipe up spills immediately to avoid staining grout. Sweep, dust, or vacuum regularly, and occasionally wipe the surface with a damp mop or cloth. Avoid abrasives such as steel wool and scouring pads. Reseal stone floors as necessary.

Considerations When Choosing Tile Flooring

There are three primary types of tile.

Ceramic. Made from clays. It's easy to install but slightly more prone to damage than porcelain.

Porcelain. Made from sands and minerals, it's harder and more dense than ceramic tile and water resistant. But it's harder to install.

Stone. Beautiful and durable, but requires sealing and is the most expensive.

The most popular tiles are large format styles that minimize grout lines and make a small kitchen appear larger. Squares are the most popular shape, but rectangles, hexagons, and octagons can make a statement. You can incorporate one or more styles to create a variety of patterns, from checkerboard to basketweave, and add accents for visual interest. Here are some considerations when choosing tile for your kitchen floor:

  • Durability. The Porcelain Enamel Institute (PEI) has established a rating system to designate tile durability. Choose tile rated Class 3 (moderate traffic) or Class 4 (moderate to heavy traffic) for kitchen floors.
  • Water resistance. Some types of tile absorb water like a sponge—not the best option for the kitchen. For moisture-prone kitchens stick with unglazed tiles with a maximum absorption rate of 0.5 % and glazed tiles with a maximum rate of 3%.
  • Texture. Textured floors make a floor less slippery and mask dirt, but they can be tougher to clean. If you're worried about slipping, consider adding mats in areas of concern, such as in front of the sink.

Underlayment. Tile must be installed on a subfloor that is smooth, flat, rigid, and clean. Depending on the existing subfloor, a cement tile backer board may be required beneath the tile.

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Alternative Kitchen Floor Ideas

Break away from traditional flooring materials and consider floor ideas like carpet tiles or rubber.

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