Sure, any "best of" list is subjective. But I'd like to think that, after a few years of pounding the home remodeling circuit, I have a few good things to say. I've selected the tiles that I think would be perfect for the kitchen, based on uniqueness, style, and cost.
01 of 05
Tile That Looks Like Wood (Like Arizona Tile's Misingi Suber)
It's the best of both worlds: the durability and moisture-resisting properties of ceramic tile; the basic look of wood flooring. These full-body ceramic tiles come in 4" x 32" planks, just like real wood. Why only the "basic look" of wood? Because no ceramic tile has yet been able to capture the exquisite beauty of real wood. Resign yourself to loving the surreal properties of tile that look like wood.
One thing to note is that these types of tiles are rectified, meaning that they are cast in large sheets and then cut down to size. This ensures razor-sharp edges so that they can be laid super-close to each other. With wood-look tiles, you don't want to have thick grout lines because real wood flooring does not have wide spaces between the boards.
02 of 05
Linen Texture Ceramic Tile For Kitchen Floor (Like DalTile's Identity Series)
You really have to feel this tile surface to get the full effect of this linen texture. Best thing is that it's not an expensive, premium brand: it's Dal-Tile. It's made in Italy, part of the Identity fabric style tile (Metro Taupe shown here). Like the wood-like tile mentioned elsewhere in this article, no one will ever mistake it for the real thing. But that's not the point. Linen-texture tile provides superior grip (after all, kitchens are wet places) and low sheen.
03 of 05
Super-Size Porcelain Tiles for Counters (Like StonePeak's Plane Series)
I love these tiles, and I love the innovation. StonePeak, an Italian company that manufactures in Tennessee, USA, has patented a process for making giant tiles that are 5 foot by 10 foot.
You read that right. Not laminate, not stone slabs: porcelain tiles. The chief benefit, besides the sheer coolness factor, is that you can tile your counter, floor, or backsplash without those annoying seams all over. This process creates panels for this Plane series that are lightweight and free of any fiberglass backing.
In their catalog, StonePeak states that Plane has the "aesthetic beauty of a natural slab of quarried stone," combined with the durable characteristics of porcelain. What they mean is that, unlike slab stone, you don't need to worry about sealing or staining. As I alluded to above, it's not even close to the thickness of real stone (stone would break if it were as thin as porcelain tile).
04 of 05
Uncut Mosaic Tile For Backsplashes and Walls (Like Hakatai's Cartglass)
Backsplashes are such a limited area that you can afford the time and, hopefully, the money to really go all out with it. Mosaic tile itself represent a certain degree of creativity, but why not go one step further and design some really cool mosaic patterns on your kitchen backsplash or walls?
Hakatai provides what they term uncut mosaic tiles, explained to me by a company representative as full tile squares within each mesh-backed sheet (as opposed to some mosaic sheets which may have only half tiles). Uncut mosaic tile gives your project more of a chunky, blocky look that resembles an 8-bit game.Continue to 5 of 5 below.
05 of 05
Ceramic/Vinyl Hybrid Tile, Perfect for Flooring (Like Armstrong's Alterna)
Could this be the perfect tile? It's from Armstrong and it's called Alterna, and it combines the best aesthetic properties of ceramic tile with the durability and softness of vinyl. Comprised of 75% limestone, 25% polymers, this hybrid tile looks just like ceramic tile.
Yet it doesn't have some of the pesky properties of ceramic, such as grouting (though you can if you want that look), sealing the grout, and hardness. It uses limestone, abundant in the United States, as opposed to dwindling supplies of marble. No, Alterna isn't the most visually exciting floor tile I've seen. But it does a pretty good job of mimicking terracotta, travertine, marble, granite, and other types of popular stones and clays.