Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Tile countertop decision

There are a ton of options for a counter top.  From the expensive options like Granite or Marble to more economical options such as Laminate or Tile, it requires ALOT of research.  I decided on which type i want for my counter top because of several reasons:

  1. Price.  We have a limited budget, so a solid surface counter top made of granite, marble, and other natural stone counter tops are out of the question.  Concrete and butcher block are also two solid surface options cheaper than natural stone, but still quite a bit more expensive than tiles or laminate.
  2. Heat Resistance. I cook quite a bit and i don't like if i have to use pot holders for every single hot pan or pot, it will be quite annoying.  So i need something that resists heat so laminate or butcher block are out of the question.  
  3. Ease of maintenance.  I already mentioned that I cook, so that means the counter top will be used quite often, surely i do not want something that will require sealing every year.   Also if the counter top breaks, I do not want to have to replace the whole counter top. so solid surface counter tops are less desirable when it comes to repair.

Having considered all the above factors, I decided on tiles.  Now onto what kind of tiles.  When choosing tiles, there are a few factors to consider.

  1. Price.  Ceramic tiles are the cheapest where granite or marble tiles are expensive.  
  2. Quality.  While ceramic tiles are the least expensive, they are also not very strong.  using ceramic tiles for a bathroom wall or a kitchen backsplash is perfectly fine even though the break strength is much lower than other forms of tiles because these tiles are not being walked on or pressed on unlike floor tiles or counter top tiles.  Porcelain tiles are more suitable for a counter top because they have a higher break strength.
  3. Ease of installation.  Some are more difficult to install than others which means more expensive in labor cost.
After considering and researching the tile options, i have decided on porcelain floor tiles for my counter top, for it is much thicker than ceramic and still cheaper than most other tile options.

So I know I wanted porcelain tiles in medium gray, partly because I do not like colors that are too dark like black, partly because gray seems to compliment the color of my cabinets which would be natural maple.  Now onto the backsplash.  My contractor gave me an excellent idea: subway tiles.  The most common subway tile is 3 inches by 6 inches, and i have decided on white but I love the color green, so i have also decided to do a small section of green subway tiles above the stove.  

While doing research on tiles, i found out that home improvement stores such as Home Depot and Lowe's do not stock much on tiles, but do have quite a bit online.  Although buying online is quite easy and they usually deliver free but you can't see the product and if you happen to return the order, they charge you a restocking fee.  We have looked at several local stores for tiles, but most of them are not open on the weekends (um... hello? people usually work during the week), and they also do not stock their tiles, plus they are not the cheapest.  But local stores have an advantage over online stores; in store samples where i can touch and actually see it.  

So we finally ordered our tiles.  Since we like the contemporary look, we chose a tile that is plain and simple.  a solid color with no fancy texture or designs.  Which, to our surprise, was hard to find even with all those hours of online research and miles driven to local stores.

Here is what we picked. Simple, non glossy, smooth gray tile! 

I am trying to go for this style


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