by Bambi Turner
Tile kitchen countertops are an affordable alternative to traditional solid stone units. Countertop tile can be made from many of the most popular materials, such as granite or quartz, yet costs just a fraction of the price. Tile countertops are also easy to install and repair, making them the perfect project for the DIY homeowner.
Ceramic. Ceramic tile is made from natural clay that is baked to remove excess moisture. It is available in a wide variety of colors and designs that can be mixed and matched to any kitchen. Ceramic tile is affordable, easy to install and very low maintenance. It is also waterproof and able to withstand high temperatures from hot dishes. If you choose ceramic tile for your kitchen countertops, you should be aware that ceramic tile can crack or chip if heavy objects are dropped on it. To minimize grout stains, you can choose a dark grout and use a grout sealer to protect the seams from dirt.
Mosaic. Mosaic tile comes in tiny 1-inch square units. It is often sold in large sheets that are attached to a mesh backer-board, making for easy and fast installation. These tiles can be mixed to create unique patterns and textures, and are very durable. One advantage of mosaic tiles is that they are colored all the way through, so a chip or crack will not be as visible as with ceramic tile.
Granite. Granite tile is a natural stone product that is widely popular in kitchen decor. Tiles made from granite offer the beauty of natural stone at a fraction of the cost. Granite tiles often have a mottled surface that helps to hide dirt and fingerprints and are incredibly strong and long-lasting. Like all granite products, these tiles must be sealed after installation and at least once a year for the duration of their use.
Quartz. Quartz tile is a manufactured product designed to look similar to granite while offering superior performance. It is made from crushed quartz crystals pressed together with resin. Quartz tile has a smooth and uniform surface with a consistent grain. It is slightly less expensive than granite and is much more durable and long-lasting. Unlike granite, quartz tiles do not need to be sealed. They are completely nonporous, which prevents bacteria from becoming trapped in the surface. Quartz cannot be repaired as easily as granite, however, and it offers none of the natural beauty and color variation of real stone.