Using backsplash tile on the floor can be an attractive and durable option, but there are a few important considerations to keep in mind. Here is an in-depth look at the pros, cons, and best practices for installing backsplash tile on floors.
What is Backsplash Tile?
Backsplash tile refers to the decorative tiles often installed on kitchen backsplashes behind countertops and sinks. Backsplashes protect the walls from water damage and splatters while adding visual interest.
Some common types of backsplash tiles include:
- Ceramic tile
- Porcelain tile
- Glass tile
- Stone tile like granite, marble or slate
- Metal tile
Backsplash tiles are typically smaller in size, ranging from 1 inch mosaics to 6 inch subway tiles. They come in all sorts of colors, textures, shapes and finishes.
Can You Use Backsplash Tile on Floors?
The short answer is yes, you can install backsplash tile on floors. However, backsplash tile is not necessarily designed for flooring applications.
There are a few factors to consider:
Backsplash tiles are not rated for floor use. They likely won’t hold up to heavy foot traffic and may chip or crack more easily than standard floor tiles. Porcelain and ceramic tiles will be more durable than glass or metal.
Small backsplash tiles can create uneven surfaces. Larger tiles or mosaics are better suited for flooring. Grout lines will also get dirty faster with small tiles.
Coefficient of Friction
Backsplashes are not designed with slip resistance in mind. Unglazed tiles and tiles with more texture will provide better traction.
Make sure the scale and colors of backsplash tiles work with the floor space. Busy or colorful backsplash patterns may look overwhelming on floors.
Overall, it’s best to choose backsplash tiles that are thicker and more durable porcelain or ceramic, in a larger size, and with some texture for floor applications.
Best Practices for Installing Backsplash Tile Floors
If you decide to use backsplash tile on the floor, follow these tips for success:
Choose Durable Tiles
Look for porcelain, ceramic or natural stone backsplash tiles that are at least 1/4 inch thick, with PEI wear ratings of 4 or higher. Mosaics larger than 1 inch will be more durable.
Use Appropriate Tile Spacers
Wider grout joints are better for floor tiles. Use spacers of at least 1/8 inch or larger for more durable grout lines.
Check Tile Ratings
Verify tiles are suitable for flooring use and check manufacturer recommendations. Some backsplash tiles are only rated for walls.
Use Proper Flooring Underlayment
Install backsplash tiles over cement board or a membrane designed for floors, not drywall. This provides a water-resistant underlayment.
Apply Floor-Grade Mortar
Use latex fortified thinset mortar suitable for floors to adhere the tiles. This creates a stronger bond.
Grout with Floor Tile Grout
Choose an epoxy or urethane fortified sanded grout. Unsanded grout is too soft for floors.
Consider Sealing Porous Tiles
Sealing natural stone or very porous tiles will help prevent staining and damage. Use a penetrating sealer suitable for floors.
Have Realistic Expectations
Know that backsplash tiles may need more frequent repairs or replacements on floors compared to wall use.
Pros and Cons of Backsplash Tile Floors
Here’s a quick summary of the potential advantages and disadvantages:
- Wide range of colors, textures and patterns
- Can match backsplash and create a cohesive look
- Smaller tiles allow for more design flexibility
- Can be less expensive than larger floor tiles
- Creates visual interest and unique floors
- May chip, crack or wear faster than floor tiles
- Grout requires more maintenance
- Needs floor underlayment and professional installation
- Not rated for heavy foot traffic
- Slip hazard if not textured enough
- Small grout lines trap dirt
Examples and Ideas
Using backsplash tile on floors can allow you to create fun and unique designs. Here are some ideas:
- A checkerboard mosaic pattern in black and white
- Tiles matching a bold backsplash, like turquoise glass subway tiles
- Tiny tiles in multiple colors laid in geometric designs
- Metallic tiles like hammered copper or stainless steel
- Natural stone mosaic for a luxe look
- Mix and match complementary tiles for texture
Backsplash tiles work best in low-traffic areas like bathrooms and bedrooms. Limit use in main living spaces or install in low foot traffic zones only.
With proper installation and care, backsplash tiles can add visual pop and personality to floors in the right applications. Considering both the aesthetic appeal and functional concerns will ensure success.
Frequently Asked Questions
Can you put backsplash tile in a bathroom?
Yes, you can install backsplash tile on bathroom floors. Focus on textured porcelain or ceramic tiles at least 1/4 inch thick for durability. Make sure tiles are suitable for floor use and properly sealed.
What is the most durable backsplash tile?
Porcelain tiles are generally the most durable backsplash tile option for floors. Porcelain has very low water absorption and is less prone to chipping or cracking. Ceramic and natural stone tiles are other durable options.
Should you seal backsplash tile?
It’s a good idea to seal any natural stone backsplash tiles used on floors, as they are porous and prone to staining. Porcelain and ceramic may not need sealing, but check manufacturer guidelines. Use a penetrating sealer suitable for high-traffic areas.
Can you put backsplash tile in a shower?
Yes, backsplash tile can be installed in shower floors and walls. Make sure to choose tile rated for wet areas. Install with waterproof backerboard and use waterproof grout and sealants. Avoid glass tiles due to slip hazard when wet.
What thinset do you use for backsplash?
Choose a floor-grade, polymer modified thinset mortar for backsplash tiles on floors. This thinset has more flexibility and strength to prevent cracks. Latex or polymer modified thinset is preferred over regular mortar.
Installing backsplash tile on floors can allow for plenty of design creativity, but also requires some special considerations. Focus on choosing durable, larger format backsplash tiles rated for floor use. With proper prep and installation, backsplash tile can make for gorgeous and unique floors in bathrooms, kitchens, and other areas. Pay close attention to slip-resistance and seal tiles appropriately. While backsplash tile flooring has some drawbacks, it can be a viable option if done correctly.