12 Jaw-Dropping Tile Ideas to Make Your Kitchen Shine

  • 01 of 12

    Idea: Instant Retro By Using White Tile on Kitchen Counter

    Kitchen Tile Counter 55998332
    Kitchen Tile Counter. Getty / DAJ

    I challenge 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:  4" tiles on the countertop make a kitchen look retro.  You may not like the functionality (all those seams!), but you will appreciate the vintage look.

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  • 02 of 12

    Idea: Make Your Backsplash Fun, Multi-Colored

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

    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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  • 03 of 12

    Idea: Glossy, Blue Spanish-Style Tile on Kitchen Counter

    Kitchen Tile Hand-Painted Solistone Mission
    Kitchen Tile: Hand-Painted Solistone Mission. © South Cypress

    While I'm not a huge fan of using ceramic or porcelain tile on kitchen counters in lieu of more efficient materials such as solid surface or engineered stone, if you're going to do it, you'd better do it right.

    South Cypress' hand-painted Spanish-style Azul (Spanish for "blue"; yeah, you knew that) Solistone is, as this article promises, "jaw-droppingly" gorgeous. 

    But you do pay the price for gorgeous.  Last I checked, Solistone was 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 "better" materials listed above--and the fact that you can DIY it--it starts to look pretty good indeed.

    Compare Prices: Solistone Hand Painted Mission Tile 6 x 6 - Azul Solid Tile Flooring

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  • 04 of 12

    Idea: Pebble Tile Behind Stove or As Backsplash

    pebble tile
    South Cypress Floors: Pebble Tile 12" x 12" - Java Black. © South Cypress Floors

    Pebble tile as a backsplash?  What?

    For any surface that requires frequent cleaning, such as behind stoves, you will want flat tile.  Not bumpy tile.  Not rocky tile.  Nothing weird.  But before you get any wrong impressions, read on:

    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, in this photo you'll see that the surface is actually flat.  So, it looks like pebbles but it behaves just like conventional flat tile.

    Compare Prices: South Cypress: Pebble Tile 12" x 12" - Java Black

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  • 05 of 12

    Idea: Install Alternate Sized Floor Tiles

    Keramia Ampurdan 18x18 and 12x12
    Keramia Ampurdan 18x18 and 12x12 from South Cypress Floors. © South Cypress Floors

    This is one of the easiest and oldest ideas around:

    Use tiles of 2 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.  Apparently, 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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  • 06 of 12

    Idea: Make That Stove Surround Shimmer With Mosaic Tile

    iridescent glass mosaic tile
    © Hakatai

    Hakatai is one of my favorite tile retailers, and not just because they are located in my parents' neck of the woods, 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 one-foot square (1.15').

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  • 07 of 12

    Idea: Gray Slate Tile Create a Modern Kitchen Look

    porcelain through-body backsplash
    © Marazzi

    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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  • 08 of 12

    Idea: Bright Glass Mosaic Tile Behind Stove

    Glass Mosaic Tile 3/4" x 3/4"
    Glass Mosaic 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.

    Compare Prices: Glass Mosaic 3/4" x 3/4"

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  • 09 of 12

    Idea: Stone-Looking Porcelain Tile for Kitchen Floor

    © 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 actually 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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  • 10 of 12

    Idea: Custom-Blend Your Own Mosaic Tile

    © Hakatai

    Did you know you can blend your own 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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  • 11 of 12

    Merging Kitchen Backsplash and Counter Tile

    2 inch tile
    Vallelunga Sierra Stone 6x6 and 2x2 Deco Mosaic. © South Cypress Floors

    You don't see this done very often, but I think 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 6-inch tiles on the counter and then again as the bottom row--only--on the backsplash.

    To break up any monotony, a different tile--2 ​inch deco mosaic tile--takes over the rest of the way up the backsplash.

    Compare Prices: Vallelunga Sierra Stone 6x6 and 2x2 Deco Mosaic

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  • 12 of 12

    Peel/Stick Metal Tiles Go Up Quickly on Kitchen Backsplash

    metal tiles for backsplash
    Peel and Stick Pressed Tin Smooth Metal Tiles. © Brylane

    Even though metal seems daunting, it's actually 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's time.

    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.

    Compare Prices: Peel and Stick Pressed Tin Smooth Metal Tiles