Backsplash tiles are a popular choice for kitchen and bathroom walls. With their colorful designs, backsplash tiles can add personality and visual interest to these spaces. But can you use backsplash tiles on the floor as well? The short answer is yes, you can install backsplash tiles on floors in certain circumstances. However, there are some important considerations to keep in mind before using backsplash tiles on floors.
What Are Backsplash Tiles?
Backsplash tiles are designed for vertical installation on kitchen and bathroom walls. They are available in a wide variety of materials, sizes, colors, textures, and patterns. Some popular backsplash tile materials include:
Backsplash tiles are typically installed in the splash zone behind sinks, stoves, and countertops to protect the walls from water damage and stains. They are applied using a thinset mortar adhesive.
Compared to floor tiles, backsplash tiles tend to be smaller in size, like mosaics, subway tiles, and hexagons. Their shapes allow them to be easily installed in grid-like patterns on walls. The small size also allows for more creativity and detail in the design.
Backsplash tiles are not meant for high-traffic areas. Their glazes and surfaces are less durable than standard floor tiles. But this doesn’t necessarily mean you can’t install them on floors.
Factors to Consider Before Using Backsplash Tiles on Floors
Installing backsplash tiles on floors is possible depending on the location and expected foot traffic. Here are some important factors to consider:
Floors undergo much more wear and tear than walls. Backsplash tiles have less durability and their glazes can scratch and chip more easily underfoot. Using them in high-traffic floor areas will cause them to deteriorate faster.
Prioritize backsplash tiles for low-traffic floor sections like in a bathroom or laundry room. For high-traffic areas, use thicker, heavier duty tiles instead. Or opt for backsplash tiles with higher PEI ratings, indicating better durability.
Small mosaic backsplash tiles under 2 inches may not be suitable for floors. Larger backsplash tiles over 4 inches are a better choice. The larger tile size stands up to foot traffic better and has fewer grout lines that can collect dirt.
Aim for a minimum tile size of 4 inches by 4 inches. But 6 inches by 6 inches or larger is ideal. Oversized tiles 12 inches or bigger can make a dramatic flooring statement.
Coefficient of Friction
The tile’s surface texture affects the grip or slip resistance. Backsplash tiles often have glossy or smooth surfaces that can become slippery when wet. Using them on the floor increases the risk of slips and falls.
Check the tile’s coefficient of friction (COF), which measures slip resistance. Use backsplash tiles with a COF of 0.60 or above on flooring. A rough surface texture or porous material provides more friction.
Thickness and Weight
Standard floor tiles are thicker and heavier than backsplash tiles. Thinner, lighter tiles are more prone to cracking and damage underfoot.
Look for backsplash tiles that are at least 3/8-inch to 1/2-inch thick. Porcelain or stone materials give the most durability for floors. However, a high-quality ceramic backsplash tile may also work in low-traffic areas.
Backsplash tiles work well in kitchens and bathrooms because they resist moisture. Look for backsplash tiles rated for flooring use. Porcelain, stone, and glass tiles have very low water absorption. Avoid unglazed terracotta or saltillo tiles that absorb moisture and stain easily.
Mortar and Grout
Use a latex-modified thinset mortar suitable for floors when installing backsplash tiles. This mortar is stronger and more flexible. Similarly, choose a sanded grout that can withstand compression and shearing forces.
Epoxy grout is extremely durable. It seals and protects the grout lines from stains and moisture. This is advisable for bathrooms or anywhere spills can occur.
Backsplash tiles provide extensive design options. But they typically cost more per square foot than standard floor tiles. Keep your budget in mind if opting for pricier handmade or mosaic backsplash tiles on the floor.
Consider the size of the floor space and the effect you want. Small backsplash tiles can make a floor appear busier or cramped, especially in a small area. Larger tiles create a more seamless, spacious look.
Contrasting grout lines from mosaics stand out more on floors than walls. Minimizing grout lines creates a cleaner appearance.
Pay attention to the substrate and tile installation pattern. Backsplash tiles require a flat, smooth, level surface to prevent cracking. A rotating layout looks more seamless. Offset seams may be more visible with backsplash tiles.
Best Places to Use Backsplash Tile on Floors
Backsplash tiles can add visual pop and unique style to certain flooring spaces. Here are some of the top places to consider installing them:
Small mosaic backsplash tiles are a great choice for bathroom floors. Their moisture resistance prevents damage from splashes. Vivid colors and patterns liven up the space. Use slip-resistant porcelain or textured tiles.
Extend your kitchen backsplash down to cover a portion of the floor space. This creates a fluid transition from the walls to the flooring. Use the same tile design but in a larger size on the floor.
Entryways and Foyers
Welcome guests with eye-catching geometric, Moroccan, or mosaic backsplash tiles on an entryway floor. Their bold patterns make a strong first impression. Limit to low-traffic zones near the door.
Laundry room floors accumulate dirt, spills, and moisture. Backsplash tiles are easy to clean and water-resistant. Use durable porcelain tiles laid in a bricklike pattern.
Wet Bars and Butler’s Pantries
At a wet bar, backsplash tiles with metal, glass, or stone accents provide a glamorous appearance. In a butler’s pantry, they add a pop of color for prepping and staging serving dishes.
Extend mosaic backsplash tiles from the fireplace wall to the hearth or a portion of the floor. Use flame-resistant materials like stone or glass. Leave enough space in front of the fireplace clear for safety.
Backsplashes Behind Vanities
Small tiles behind a bathroom vanity mirror provide the look of a backsplash without its functional purpose. Continue the mosaic tile design down the wall a few inches for a decorative detail.
Add thin strips of backsplash tile as borders along a wall or floor. Contrast vibrant mosaic tiles with neutral flooring. Use it to delineate different zones like around an area rug.
Tips for Installing Backsplash Tiles on Floors
Installing backsplash tiles on floors requires some modified techniques compared to walls:
- Select floor-grade backsplash tiles at least 1/4-inch thick or more. Measure the floor space carefully.
- Check that the floor substrate is completely level. Any dips or bumps will crack the tile. Fill low spots with floor leveling compound.
- Use a latex-modified thinset mortar suitable for floors. This creates a stronger bond and allows slight movement.
- Apply the tiles in an even grid pattern for the most seamless appearance. Offset seams and cut edges evenly.
- For geometric mosaic sheets, use spacer strips to ensure even spacing and alignment.
- Clean excess thinset from the joints before it dries or it will prevent proper grout adhesion.
- Apply sanded floor grout for durability. Use a float to force it deeply into the joints.
- For wide grout lines, build up the layers gradually, letting it dry in between. Avoid leaving voids or gaps.
- Seal the grout and tiles with a penetrating sealer to prevent stains and enhance longevity.
Maintenance for Backsplash Tile Floors
Backsplash tile floors require some periodic care and maintenance:
- Sweep, mop, or vacuum the tiles regularly to prevent dirt buildup, which can abrade the glazes.
- Clean spills promptly to avoid staining the grout or tile surface. Use PH-neutral cleaners.
- Re-seal the tiles and grout every 1-2 years depending on traffic. This prevents staining and moisture damage.
- Use foam rug pads under area rugs to prevent abrasion. Move rugs occasionally to minimize uneven wear patterns.
- Be vigilant about re-grouting if any cracks appear in the joints or at corners. Cracked grout can allow moisture penetration.
- Take precautions against dropping heavy or sharp objects that may chip or crack the tiles.
Can You Use Backsplash Tile on Floor: The Bottom Line
Backsplash tiles offer gorgeous style for both walls and floors. Smaller mosaic tiles are best suited to low-traffic zones like bathrooms. Larger format backsplash tiles have potential for moderate-use areas with proper installation methods. Consider durability, slip resistance,grout, and moisture factors before deciding. With some care, backsplash tiles can add major design impact and visual cohesion used creatively on both walls and floors.
Frequently Asked Questions About Using Backsplash Tile on Floors
Backsplash tiles provide endless options to customize your home’s style. Their use is not limited only to walls. But should you install these tiles on your floors too? Here are answers to some frequently asked questions about using backsplash tiles on floors.
Can you put backsplash tile on a floor?
Yes, it is possible to install backsplash tiles like ceramic, porcelain, or glass mosaics on floor surfaces. The key factors are using a durable mortar, proper grout, slip-resistant materials, and limiting their use only to low or moderate traffic areas. Backsplash tiles work best in small bathrooms, laundry rooms, and other spaces with less wear and tear.
What thinset should be used to install backsplash tile on floors?
It’s crucial to use a latex-modified thinset mortar designed specifically for flooring. This type of thinset provides a stronger bond and has more flexibility and resistance to shrinkage. It allows for slight movement that helps prevent cracks. Standard thinsets for walls are too brittle for floors.
A polymer-modified mortar suitable for porcelain tile is a good choice for backsplash tile floors. Carefully follow adhesive application instructions for the tile material.
Can you use backsplash tile in a shower?
Most backsplash tiles are a good option for shower walls since they resist moisture well. Porcelain, ceramic, or glass mosaic tiles are commonly used in showers. Ensure backsplash tiles installed in showers have a water absorption rate less than 3%.
Use a reservoir liner system behind the tiles. Epoxy grout provides the most waterproofing for showers. Skip highly porous backsplash tiles like unglazed terracotta.
How thick should backsplash tiles be for floors?
Backsplash wall tiles tend to be thinner, so select thicker and larger sized options for flooring. The minimum recommended thickness for floor backsplashes is 3/8 inch. Many are available in 1/2 inch thickness which provides even more durability and resistance to cracking.
Can you use subway tile on a bathroom floor?
Classic white 3×6 inch subway tiles make great bathroom flooring. Their elongated rectangular shape installs in a pleasing stacked pattern. Use textured or porcelain subway floor tiles rated for moderate residential traffic. Ensure subway floor tiles are at least 3/8 inch thick.
Can you use penny round tiles on floors?
Penny round mosaics make for charming backsplash floors with a vintage vibe. But they are one of the most challenging shapes for flooring. Each tiny tile has a grout line and risk of popping off. Limit penny round tiles to very low-traffic bathroom floors or decorative accents. Use porcelain and a minimum 1/2 inch thickness.
What is the most durable backsplash tile?
Porcelain backsplash tiles are generally the most durable and ideal for flooring use. Porcelain has very low moisture absorption, resistance to scratches and stains, and high density. It provides greater strength underfoot than standard ceramic tile.
Natural stone like granite backsplashes are also extremely durable for floors. Glass backsplash tiles have high strength and resistance when tempered.
Can you put backsplash tile in a laundry room?
Laundry room floors endure water, chemicals, and appliance vibration. Moisture-resistant backsplash tile works well in this demanding environment. Use textured porcelain tiles laid with minimal grout lines. Stay away from hand-painted tiles that can fade. An epoxy grout provides the most waterproofing.
Can backsplash tiles be used outside?
Most backsplash tiles are intended only for indoor installation. However, some porcelain, stone, or tempered glass backsplash tiles can work in covered outdoor areas like patios. Verify the manufacturer recommends the tile for outdoor use.
A textured surface provides slip prevention. Be sure to seal and maintain the grout to avoid water infiltration and freeze-thaw cracks.
What’s the best grout to use with backsplash tile floors?
Sanded floor grout is the optimal choice when installing backsplash tiles on floors. Standard unsanded grout is too brittle and prone to cracks underfoot. In contrast, sanded grout has better durability and adhesion.
Epoxy grout is even tougher. It resists moisture, stains, and microbes best. However, epoxy grout can be more challenging for DIYers to work with.
Backsplash tiles present exciting possibilities for adding color, shapes, and textures to floors. With careful selection of durable backsplash tiles suited for floor use and proper installation methods, your walls and floors can share a cohesive design. Focus backsplash floor tiles in spaces with light foot traffic. And take measures to enhance slip resistance and longevity. When thoughtfully integrated in the right spots, backsplash tiles used creatively on floors can make a stunning style statement.