Using floor tile as a backsplash in your kitchen or bathroom can add an interesting and unique look while also being budget-friendly. While porcelain or ceramic wall tiles are most commonly used for backsplashes, you absolutely can install floor tile on your backsplash wall. With proper planning and installation, floor tile can make for an attractive and functional backsplash material.
Pros of Using Floor Tile as Backsplash
There are several advantages that make floor tile a smart choice for backsplashes:
More Durable and Stain-Resistant
Floor tiles are designed to be more durable and stain-resistant compared to regular wall tiles. They can better handle crumbs, spills, and splatters from cooking. The extra durability also makes them more scratch-resistant.
Larger Variety of Materials and Styles
Floor tiles come in a wider range of materials like porcelain, ceramic, glass, stone, and metal. The variety allows you to pick a style that aligns with your kitchen or bathroom design – from modern metallic backsplashes to rustic stone tiles.
In general, floor tiles tend to cost less per square foot compared to wall tiles. Opting for floor tiles is an easy way to cut costs on your backsplash project.
Easier to Clean
The durability and smoother surfaces of floor tile can make it easier to clean your backsplash. Food and grease wipe off easily. Grout lines tend to be narrower, leaving less room for grime to build up.
What to Consider When Using Floor Tile for Backsplash
While floor tile can make an excellent backsplash material, there are a few things to keep in mind:
Use Smaller Tiles
Large floor tiles don’t work as well on a vertical backsplash surface. Opt for smaller tiles, like 4-inch by 4-inch, for the best look. The smaller scale helps the eye better perceive the tile pattern.
Check for Water Resistance
Make sure the floor tiles you choose are water-resistant and non-porous so moisture doesn’t seep in behind the tile. Porcelain and ceramic tiles are water-safe options. Avoid natural stone tiles that can absorb water and warp.
Match Grout Color Carefully
Matching the grout color well to the tile color is extra important with floor tile to get a cohesive backsplash look. If the grout lines stand out too much, it can look out of place.
Account for Uneven Walls
Backsplash walls often aren’t perfectly smooth and level. Be prepared to use tile spacers and leveling clips to account for uneven areas during installation.
Consider the Tile Edge
Some floor tiles have more rounded or beveled edges. This can create a slightly different visual effect on the backsplash than sharper wall tile edges.
How to Install Floor Tile as a Backsplash
Installing floor tile on a backsplash is a very doable DIY project. Here are the key steps:
1. Prepare the Wall Surface
Remove existing backsplash tile or wallcoverings. Fill any holes or uneven spots so the wall is as smooth as possible. Prime and paint the walls.
2. Determine Tile Layout
Map out your backsplash tile pattern. Mark the center point and work outward. Mix up tiles from several boxes.
3. Spread Thinset Mortar
Use a notched trowel to spread a thinset mortar designed for walls and backsplashes. Spread only 1-2 tiles worth at a time.
4. Set the Tiles
Working from your layout, press tiles firmly into the mortar. Use spacers between tiles for consistent grout lines.
5. Grout the Tiles
Let the thinset cure fully, then mix up grout and spread it over the tiles. Wipe away excess grout with a sponge.
6. Seal the Tiles
Once grout has cured, apply a penetrating sealer to the tiles to help protect from stains and moisture.
With good prep work, proper installation, and regular sealing, floor tile can perform just as well on a backsplash as wall tile. The wider range of styles and textures can be worth the extra effort.
Frequently Asked Questions About Using Floor Tile as Backsplash
Is floor tile cheaper than wall tile?
In most cases, floor tile is cheaper per square foot compared to wall tile. The durability and mass production of floor tile makes it more budget-friendly.
What kind of tile should be avoided?
Avoid porous, natural stone tiles that can absorb moisture. Stick to ceramic, porcelain, glass, or metal tiles that have water-resistance.
Should floor tile go all the way up the wall?
It is possible to run floor tile all the way up to the underside of wall cabinets. Many backsplashes stop at 4 feet high or so.
What finish is best for grout with floor tile?
A grout sealer is recommended after installation to protect the grout from stains. Matte or satin finishes help hide dirt better than high-gloss.
Can you put decorative tiles in a floor tile backsplash?
Absolutely! Accent tiles can be mixed in a floor tile backsplash. Just make sure they have similar thickness and water-resistance.
While it requires some special considerations, using floor tile on a backsplash can give you a wider range of durable, budget-friendly design options. With proper prep, careful installation, and regular sealing, floor tile can create a backsplash that stands up to everyday use while giving your space a unique, eye-catching look.