Installing a backsplash in your kitchen can completely transform the look and feel of the space. Many homeowners opt for traditional backsplash materials like subway tile or glass mosaic. But if you’re looking for an out-of-the-box option, have you considered using floor tile for your backsplash?
While it may seem unconventional, using floor tile on your backsplash can create a stunning, one-of-a-kind look. Keep reading to learn more about the pros and cons of using floor tile for backsplash and how to execute this unique design choice.
What is a Backsplash?
Before we dive into using floor tile as backsplash, let’s review the basics. A backsplash is a surface that protects the wall behind a countertop, stove, or sink from splashes, spills, and splatters. Backsplashes are typically installed on the wall space between the countertops and kitchen cabinets.
The primary functions of a kitchen backsplash are:
- Protecting the walls from water damage, stains, and wear-and-tear.
- Making the clean-up process easier by preventing foods and liquids from seeping into the cracks and crevices of the walls.
- Adding visual interest and decorative flair to the kitchen’s design.
While often made of ceramic tile, backsplashes can also be crafted from various materials like metal, glass, stone, and even wood.
The standard height for a backsplash installation is 4-6 inches. But statement-making designs can extend all the way up to the underside of the upper cabinets.
Can You Use Floor Tile for a Kitchen Backsplash?
Now that we’ve covered the basics, let’s address the initial question: is it possible to use floor tile for a backsplash in your kitchen? The short answer is yes, you absolutely can!
Floor tile has several qualities that make it a viable backsplash option:
- Durability – Floor tiles are manufactured to stand up to heavy foot traffic, dropped items, scraping chairs, and more. This type of durability is also ideal for a busy kitchen backsplash.
- Design options – Floor tiles come in a vast array of sizes, shapes, colors, patterns, and finishes. There are tons of design possibilities to fit your unique style.
- Affordability – Basic floor tile tends to be more budget-friendly than decorative wall tile. So using floor tile can help cut backsplash costs.
- Moisture resistance – Floor tile is crafted to cope with wet conditions. And the thick glazes make tiles non-porous and resistant to absorbing liquids.
So if you love the look of a certain floor tile, there’s no reason it can’t be installed as a backsplash in your kitchen! The main considerations are how the tile will physically hold up over time and finding the right installation method.
Pros and Cons of Using Floor Tile as Backsplash
While it’s certainly possible to use floor tile for backsplash, there are some key pros and cons you’ll want to weigh before making a decision:
- Greater design options – Floor tile comes in so many sizes, colors, textures that you can create a custom backsplash look.
- Budget-friendly – Floor tile tends to be more affordable than decorative wall tile varieties.
- Easier replacements – If you damage a floor tile, it’ll likely be easy to find a replacement piece. Mismatched wall tile can be harder to source.
- High durability – Floor tile is tougher and more resistant to damage from splatters, scratches, and high traffic.
- Moisture resistance – Floor tile holds up well against liquids and humidity in a kitchen environment.
- Weight – Floor tiles tend to be thicker and heavier than wall tile, making them trickier for installation.
- Smooth surface – The smoother surface of floor tile doesn’t absorb splashes/spills as readily as textured wall tile.
- Cleaning – Glossy or polished floor tile may show dirt, dust, and grime more readily than matte wall tile finishes.
- Labor – Removing floor tile can be more tedious if you later want to change the backsplash, compared to wall tile.
- No bullnose – Many floor tiles don’t come with bullnose pieces for finishing edges nicely like wall tile.
Overall, the biggest considerations are the weight and installation process. But choosing the right floor tile and proper prep can help overcome these potential downsides.
How to Choose Floor Tiles for Kitchen Backsplash
Picking the perfect floor tile for your backsplash is key. Keep the following tips in mind while browsing design options:
- Style – Consider the overall aesthetic you want for your kitchen. Rustic styles pair nicely with handmade subway tiles. While bold patterns complement modern spaces.
- Color – Factor in how floor tile colors will complement your cabinetry, countertops, and other kitchen elements. Neutrals work well in many kitchens.
- Texture – Slightly textured tiles can better disguise sprinkled food and sauces. Smoother glossy tiles make a bolder style statement.
- Finish – Matte and honed finishes help conceal dirt and are less prone to showing water spots and mineral buildup from hard water.
- Size – Standard 12 x 12 inch tiles are a safe bet. Go bigger for a modern look or smaller for a retro vibe.
- Durability – Check floor tile hardness ratings. Porcelain is generally tougher than ceramic. Avoid softer, more delicate tiles.
- Moisture resistance – Ensure any floor tile you choose is rated for kitchen or bathrooms. Avoid specialty flooring made for low-moisture areas.
Once you settle on floor tiles that work for your kitchen, it’s vital to take special care in prep and installation.
Preparing and Installing Floor Tile as Backsplash
Using floor tile in a backsplash takes some special preparation and care during install:
Planning the Layout
- Take detailed measurements of the entire backsplash area so you know precisely how many tiles are needed.
- Map out the tile layout to determine the optimal placement for the best visual effect. Mix and match grout colors as desired.
- Ensure you purchase 10-15% extra tiles to account for breakage, the need for cuts, and future repairs.
Pick the Right Install Products
- Opt for a polymer-modified thinset mortar which is formulated to bond well with floor tile.
- Choose an epoxy or urethane-based grout. Avoid cement-based grout which can scratch floor tile.
- Use a sealant made for grout and tile to provide extra moisture protection.
Careful Surface Prep
- Remove any old backsplash tile or wall coverings completely.
- The wall surface must be smooth, clean, and dry. Fill any imperfections with joint compound.
- Prime walls before tiling for better adhesion, especially for glossy floor tile.
Proper Installation Process
- Spread thinset mortar evenly on the wall surface, use the proper trowel size.
- Cut tiles with care using a wet saw fitted with a tile blade.
- Use tile spacers between each piece for consistent grout line spacing.
- Be extremely meticulous about proper coverage and leveling of floor tiles on the wall.
- Allow thinset to cure fully before grouting according to manufacturer instructions.
- Grout carefully using a rubber grout float, wipe away excess.
- Seal all tile and grout once fully cured, then buff surface gently with a soft cloth.
With the right prep and careful installation, floor tile can provide a suitable, durable, and gorgeous backsplash. Just take extra care to handle the weight and hardness of flooring. Consider consulting a tile pro for help as well.
Unique Backsplash Design Ideas Using Floor Tiles
Using floor tiles on your kitchen backsplash opens up so many possibilities for creating custom, head-turning designs. Here are some eye-catching ways to utilize floor tiles:
Blending geometric shapes and angles using various floor tile sizes can make a serious style statement. Combine square, rectangular, hexagon, and triangle-shaped tiles in contrasting colors.
Statement Accent Stripes
Jazz up a subway tile backsplash by adding eye-catching diagonal, horizontal, or vertical stripes made from contrasting floor tiles.
Frame solid colored field tiles with a border featuring contrasting colors or textures for definition. Mix glossy and matte tiles for added interest.
Decorative Focal Tile
Use special decorative floor tiles as a focal point, like an artsy tile over the stove. Surround it with plainer tiles to highlight it.
Go with an unconventional floor tile shape like circular, curved, or fishscale tiles. Use sparingly for punctuating points of a basic backsplash.
Craft a mosaic or patchwork look by incorporating a mix of tiny glass, porcelain, or ceramic floor tiles. Great for making a big color impact.
Answers to Common Questions About Using Floor Tile as Backsplash
Many homeowners have additional questions about using floor tiles in backsplash applications. Here are answers to some of the most frequent queries:
Is floor tile too heavy for a backsplash?
Floor tile is heavier, but it can be installed successfully with the right thinset mortar and preparation. Use a quality thinset meant for heavy tile and apply it with proper thickness. Check with a tile installer if concerned.
Does floor tile need special care or maintenance as a backsplash?
Ceramic and porcelain floor tiles are quite durable as backsplash. Just avoid highly polished smooth tiles, which show dirt and grime more readily. Promptly wipe spills, clean with PH-neutral cleaner, and re-seal grout over time per manufacturer instructions.
How should you finish the edges of floor tile backsplash?
One downside is that floor tile doesn’t come with bullnose pieces to finish edges nicely. Try using trim pieces meant for floors or walls to get a clean finish. Otherwise, carefully cut edge pieces to size as you install.
Can you mix floor and wall tiles in a backsplash?
Absolutely! It can create a striking look to blend wall and floor tiles purposefully. Just ensure proper prep and compatibility of materials before randomly mixing. Consult a tile pro for advice.
Is it hard to remove floor tile from a backsplash later?
Floor tile is adhered more tenaciously than wall tile. Removing it takes patience and care to avoid damaging the wall behind. Use a sharp scraper and heat gun to help gently pry off each tile cleanly.
Get Creative with Floor Tile Backsplashes
While it’s less common, using floor tile for kitchen backsplashes provides so many possibilities to create one-of-a-kind designs. With careful prep and installation, floor tile can give your backsplash a modern, custom look while also being budget-friendly.
Just weigh the pros and cons carefully for your space. Don’t be afraid to get creative mixing shapes, textures, and patterns that will look fantastic together. And consider enlisting the help of a professional tile installer to ensure proper execution.
With the right bold floor tile design, you can have a head-turning, functional backsplash you’ll love showing off. So don’t limit yourself to standard wall tile options. Take a chance on floor tile for amazingly unique results!
Can You Cut Floor Tile for Backsplash? Tips for Proper Installation
One question that often comes up when using floor tile for a backsplash is – can you cut floor tile to size as needed? The answer is yes, it’s absolutely possible to cut floor tile for use in a kitchen backsplash application. However, there are some special considerations when cutting floor tile to ensure clean, professional results.
Why Cutting Floor Tile is Necessary
In any tile project, some cutting and custom sizing of pieces is inevitable for several reasons:
Precise fit – Even when carefully measured and laid out, tiles often need minor trimming to fit properly against walls, within corners, around outlets, or to interlock with other tiles.
Maintain layout – Cutting some tiles allows you to maintain the optimal layout and design. This ensures tile lines remain straight and pattern is consistent.
Random sizes – Many tiles come in varying sizes to create randomness. Custom cuts help blend these creatively.
Borders and accents – Cut tiles are used to create mosaics, patterns, borders, trims, and accents.
Reduce waste – Smart planning means cutting leftover tile scraps to maximize use and minimize waste.
Cutting floor tiles for your backsplash allows the same versatility and customization for optimal results. Just use proper care and technique for floor tile’s thickness.
Choosing the Right Blade for Floor Tile
The key to successfully cutting floor tile cleanly is using the proper circular saw blade:
- Material – Select a diamond coated tile blade, which can cleanly cut through tough porcelain or ceramic without cracking or chipping.
- Diameter – Larger 10 to 12 inch diameter blades minimize vibration and handling for cleaner floor tile cuts.
- Teeth – Look for a tile blade with diamond-grit teeth designed for smooth, chip-free cuts in dense floor tiles.
- Wet saw – Use a dedicated wet saw setup for tile with the blade immersed to cool and lubricate the cutting.
Using the wrong blade risks uneven cuts, chips, or cracking damage to floor tiles. Investing in a quality diamond floor tile blade ensures the best results. Check manufacturer guidelines too.
How to Cut Floor Tile for Backsplash
When cutting floor tile for your backsplash installation, follow these best practices:
- Carefully measure and mark all cuts needed with a pencil or marker.
- Use a wet saw fitted with the proper floor tile diamond blade.
- Adjust the tile cutting fence for precise straight or angled cuts as needed.
- Cut tiles one at a time slowly feeding the tile on a flat even plane.
- Run water over the blade and tile continuously for lubrication during cutting.
- Support both sides of the tile evenly when cutting to prevent cracks or breaks.
- Make multiple shallow passes cutting a little deeper each time for smoother edges.
- Check cuts for straightness or uniform angles using a tile square tool.
- Smooth any rough tile edges gently with a silicone carbide stone or rubbing stone.
- Wash and wipe cut tiles to remove any debris and excess moisture.
With care, freshly cut edges can look just as clean and smooth as factory tile sides. Handle cut floor tiles carefully to prevent damaging edges before installing.
How to Finish Cut Floor Tile Edges
One challenge with using floor tile for backsplash is finishing the exposed edges neatly, since most floor tile lacks bullnose pieces. There are a few options to achieve polished looking edges:
- Special order bullnose – Some manufacturers can custom make bullnose floor tiles to match upon request.
- Trim pieces – Affix aluminum, metal, or plastic wall or floor trim to edges for a clean finish.
- Careful cuts – Skillfully cutting the last pieces to size as you go can maintain nice edges.
- Grinding stone – Use a handheld grinding stone to smooth rough tile edges post-installation.
- Caulk – After grouting, fill any imperfect edges with a matching silicone caulk for subtle smoothing.
With extra care taken cutting the tiles and finishing the edges, your floor tile backsplash can have a stunning pro-quality look.
Mistakes to Avoid When Cutting Floor Tile
To achieve flawless results cutting floor tile for backsplash, avoid these common mistakes:
- Rushing through cuts too quickly leading to uneven edges.
- Using the wrong blade, like a wood blade, resulting in immediate chips and cracks.
- Not fully supporting the tile when cutting, causing cracks under the tile’s weight.
- Moving the tile at an angle through the blade creating beveled edges.
- Forgetting to keep the tile and blade continuously cooled with water while cutting.
- Failing to smooth rough edges which can be injured when installing.
- Trying to cut through the decorative layer and mesh backing in one pass. Go slowly.
With the proper wet saw setup, blade, care, and technique, floor tiles can be cut and custom-fit beautifully for an impactful backsplash design. Take your time and don’t force cuts too quickly. The results will be well worth the effort for a head-turning focal point!
How to Drill Holes in Ceramic Floor Tile for Backsplash
Installing a backsplash made of ceramic floor tile requires some special considerations. One task that often comes up is the need to drill holes in the tile. Holes may be needed for plumbing, electrical work, mounting hardware, or other fixtures.
It is possible to drill holes successfully in ceramic floor tiles without damaging them. Here are some tips on the best way to drill floor tile for backsplash installations or any tiling project.
Choose the Proper Drill Bit
Having the right drill bit is key to prevent cracking or shattering the dense, brittle material of ceramic floor tile when drilling.
Look for drill bits specifically designed for smooth drilling in ceramic tile, glass, and porcelain. They are commonly coated with industrial grade diamond grit on the tip. Carbide drill bits can also work.
Avoid regular high-speed steel twist bits which are more likely to bite suddenly and crack the tile. Investing in the proper ceramic drill bits prevents headaches later.
Drilling Tips for Ceramic Floor Tile
Follow these simple tips when drilling holes in ceramic floor tiles:
- Mark the desired hole location gently with a pencil. Use a center punch tool for a guiding divot.
- Set the tile on a firm, level surface and secure it in place with clamps if needed.
- Start drilling on slow speed and increase gradually. Let the bit do the work without forcing pressure.
- Drill straight down keeping the drill as perpendicular to the tile surface as possible.
- Apply light, even pressure when drilling but ease up periodically.
- Periodically back out the bit to clear dust and reduce heating of the drill tip.
- Run water