12 Jaw-Dropping Tile Ideas to Make Your Kitchen Shine

Kitchen Tile Counter 55998332

DAJ / Getty Images

Here's a challenge for you: From now on, whenever you watch an old movie--1960 or earlier--that displays a kitchen, pay attention to the counters. Chances are good that the counter is made of ceramic or porcelain tile. In the absence of today's favored countertops--quartz, solid surface, or slab granite--homeowners' choices would have been limited to laminate counters, metal, wood, or nothing.

Today's style of long, continuous counters atop base cabinets really only took hold in middle-class residential kitchens after WWII. All of that amounts to one thing: Four-inch tiles on the countertop make a kitchen look retro. You may not like the functionality (like all those seams), but you will appreciate the vintage look.

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    Make Your Backsplash Fun, Multi-Colored

    Multi Colored Tile Backsplash Behind Sink in Kitchen 146638780
    Lori Andrews / Getty Images

    Why stick with boring when you can be bold and vibrant? Two-inch square tiles in orange, red, white, black, and yellow enliven the normally dark, shadowy area behind the kitchen sink.  

    Thinset, grout, and mortar are the usual method of adhering backsplash tiles to walls. But you can also stick them to the wall with adhesive tile mats, going under brand names such as MusselBound, SimpleMat, and Bondera.

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    Glossy, Blue Spanish-Style Tile on Kitchen Counter

    Kitchen Tile Hand-Painted Solistone Mission
    South Cypress

    If you plan on using ceramic or porcelain tile on kitchen counters instead of monolithic materials like solid surface or engineered stone, you'd better do it right. South Cypress' hand-painted Spanish-style Azul (Spanish for "blue") Solistone is jaw-droppingly gorgeous.

    But you do pay the price for gorgeous. Solistone is just under $13/sq. ft. For a small kitchen, this translates to about $300 to $400. But when you consider how much cheaper this is than the solid surface or quartz--and the fact that you can DIY it--it starts to look pretty good indeed.

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    Pebble Tile Behind Stove or as Backsplash

    South Cypress Floors: Pebble Tile
    South Cypress Floors

    Pebble tile as a backsplash? For any surface that requires frequent cleaning, such as behind stoves, you will want flat tile. Not bumpy tile. Not rocky tile. But looks can be deceiving.

    This natural stone java black pebble tile comes attached to mesh sheets that are one-foot square. This means: no laborious piecing together of little tile to little tile. While a bit on the expensive side, it's a reasonably priced installation if you limit it to backsplash areas, as pictured.

    As for that pebble problem, the surface of this mosaic tile is flat. So it looks like pebbles but it behaves just like conventional flat tile.

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  • 04 of 11

    Install Alternate-Sized Floor Tiles

    Keramia Ampurdan 18x18 and 12x12
    South Cypress Floors

    This is one of the easiest and oldest ideas around: Use tiles of two different sizes for your kitchen floor. It's one of those inventive (but simple) tricks that few homeowners ever think about. 

    This tile is Keramia Ampurdan tile in both 18" x 18" and 12" x 12" sizes, originally from South Cypress. The tile is no longer available there, so consider this an idea that you can apply to any tile of alternate sizes.

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  • 05 of 11

    Make That Stove Surround Shimmer With Mosaic Tile

    iridescent glass mosaic tile

    Hakatai is a well-regarded tile retailer located in Southern Oregon. Their tile is unique and gorgeous.

    Fantastix is Hakatai's iridescent glass tile--perfect for livening up the dark backsplash and surround area behind kitchen stoves. Each tile is 5/8" x 5/8", with the entire tile sheet being just a hair over a one-foot square (1.15').

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  • 06 of 11

    Gray Slate Tile Create a Modern Kitchen Look

    porcelain through-body backsplash

    Look carefully or you'll miss it. At first glance, it looks like subway tile. But it's mosaic--an attractive through-body porcelain kitchen backsplash from Marazzi called Sahara Grigio.

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  • 07 of 11

    Bright Glass Mosaic Tile Behind Stove

    Glass Mosaic Tile 3/4" x 3/4"
    South Cypress Floors

    A kitchen tile idea that never dies: glass mosaic tile, 3/4" x 3/4". Glass works great behind stoves because it wipes clean easily and does not discolor. It's an easily workable tile size that fits into almost any kitchen environment.

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  • 08 of 11

    Stone-Looking Porcelain Tile for Kitchen Floor

    Stone-Looking Porcelain Tile
    Florim USA

    Capetown, Cairo, Dakar...Nairobi. These are cities in Africa and kitchen tiles from Florim USA. This tile appears to be stone but is glazed porcelain 18" x 18" each.

    Tiles that look like stone have evolved to the point where they are now a category unto themselves. And that's all because tile makers have upped the game so that tile can look like natural materials, even on close observation.

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  • 09 of 11

    Custom-Blend Your Own Mosaic Tile

    Custom blend mosaic tile

    Did you know you can blend your mosaic tile? Hakatai has a Custom Blend program that lets you do just that. For high-visibility areas like kitchen backsplashes, this is a pretty great idea--and well worth the cost.

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  • 10 of 11

    Merging Kitchen Backsplash and Counter Tile

    Vallelunga Sierra Stone 6x6 and 2x2 Deco Mosaic
    South Cypress Floors

    You don't see this done very often, but it's a super idea: merge backsplash and counter tile to create a continuous effect. Using all the same tile for both areas would be too much, too literal, and frankly, way too boring. Instead, this Vallelunga Stone is laid out with the six-inch tiles on the counter and then again as the bottom row--only--on the backsplash.

    To break up any monotony, a different tile--two-inch deco mosaic tile--takes over the rest of the way up the backsplash.

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    Metal Tiles on Kitchen Backsplash

    Peel and Stick Pressed Tin Smooth Metal Tiles

    Even though metal seems daunting, it's one of the easier kitchen remodel projects because these are peel and stick tiles. These tiles are 6" by 6" and made by Brylane. Just peel off the backing and stick to your wall for an instant metal backsplash. No mortar, no grouting, no mess. You'll be done in a day.

    Longevity leaves something to be desired, as homeowners report that the adhesive tends to release the tiles. Some homeowners add silicone or construction glue to the backing for additional support.