Tile companies are not exactly encouraging you to install tile on countertops. Go through any company's listings and you will find no tiles specified for counters, only a grudging suggestion that a certain type of tile just might work for counters. Yet homeowners gravitate toward countertop tile for one reason: It is the only all-new surface material of reasonable thickness that they can install by themselves.
01 of 11
Colorful, Whimsical Kitchen Counter Tile
The tile on this kitchen counter comes from an artisan manufacturer, Nemo Tile, based in New York, NY. This is one of their more distinctive and color-rich tiles, Color Blox, which they describe as having colors such as "deep red and midnight blue" and including "proprietary cross-sheen finish that repels dirt and stains." This is a wonderful tile that would fit just right in a Craftsman-style kitchen.
02 of 11
A Blue, French Look
A gorgeous glossy blue tile at six inches square for this rather shallow kitchen counter. From American Olean, this is Cache in Smoky Sky. But what really gives this counter its flair is the 3x7 inch Botanical Cap Accent trim.
It's a showy tile for any kitchen emulating French or Italian styles.
You may want to avoid high-gloss finishes, as they easily scratch. American Olean recommends "double glazed like [our] Crystaltex or glazes fired at higher temperatures, such as glazes on vitreous and porcelain bodies."
03 of 11
Large Beige Tiles
Larger tiles mean fewer seams on your counter—a bonus when it comes time to clean up.
Natural stone, these 12-inch square tiles from American Olean evoke an Old World look. This treatment is bordered by a simple but effective matching edge treatment. This same stone covers the peripheral counters at a depth of two tiles. Stone and grout need to be sealed before they can be used for counters.
04 of 11
Multi-Colored Mosaic Tile
This large cooking/eating kitchen island gets mosaic tile treatment from Bedrosian's, a major tile retailer. Some tiles try to be serious and imposing; this tile is the opposite: its light beiges, tans, and pinks provide a friendly welcome for visitors to come and sit with a glass of wine while the cook whips up that evening's fantastic creation.
Continue to 5 of 11 below.
05 of 11
A Tile Bathroom Counter. And Tile Everywhere Else.
This application from Bedrosian's uses six-inch porcelain tile from their Vineyard line to create the entire vanity—sides, legs, and front.
06 of 11
Bathroom Counter Mosaic
A nice, unusual mosaic tile (1x2 inch) from Dal-Tile's Coastal Keystones line installed on both the front and top of this bathroom counter. This is a glass tile with shimmers of gold and purple to give your bathroom the feel of an oceanside sunset. The one-inch dimension allows for greater flexibility with countertops of varying depth.
You will want to install small tiles with caution. The issue is the seams between the tiles. Seams tend to act as little valleys that accumulate crumbs and, if you're not careful, dirt and grime. As such, you'll tend to find this type of application in bathrooms more than in kitchens. One solution is to lay larger tiles. The only issue with that: larger tiles tend to look ungainly in small spaces.
07 of 11
Long and Narrow Modern Italian Look
From Delconca, this is their dry pressed ceramic tile called HMC Mulini Di Canepa. At dimensions of 6x18 inches and classified as porcelain, it is well-suited for counter installation. They also have a rolled-edge 12x13 inch which, when doubled-up, would cover half of the countertop depth as well as obviate the need for edge pieces.
08 of 11
Stone-Look Italian Countertop Tile
If you like the look of stone on your counters but not the work associated with installing and maintaining stone, look for porcelain that has a stone look. Delconca's HBT Alpi comes in both the beige shown here or in a charcoal gray (which they call Black). This line has matching quarter-rounds and caps to finish off your installation, making it look totally professional.Continue to 9 of 11 below.
09 of 11
Travertine-Porcelain Tile Island
You probably won't be installing real travertine stone on your countertops anytime soon. With its distinctively pitted surface, it's not the best material for counters. Even filled and hone, travertine doesn't make it onto kitchen counters very often. But you can get the feel and look of travertine with this Eleganza porcelain in Mocha color. Shown are six-inch square tiles with matching six-inch quarter rounds and quarter round corners.
10 of 11
Light Green Square Bathroom Counter Tiles
A light green-brown porcelain tile from Bengali Verdi/Florim USA wows this bathroom with six-inch square tiles that run nearly four rows deep. Note the 12-inch vanity overhang made of the same tile. This product goes all the way up to 18-inch squares for floor installation, too.
11 of 11
Tumbled Stone-Look Porcelain Tiles
The significant thing about this tile is the edge. Its ragged, crumbled edges make it look like tumbled stone (a process by which natural stone is tumbled—imagine that!--until its sharp edges and corners are broken down). Except this is porcelain three-inch square tiles set on 12-inch mesh mats. It's Florim USA's Cumberland Plateau series, and in addition to the countertop, it runs up the backsplash, side walls, and the sink overhang. It is shown with its matching 1 1/2 by 12-inch listello.