Can You Use Floor Tile for Kitchen Backsplash?

Using floor tile for your kitchen backsplash can be a creative and cost-effective option, but there are a few considerations to keep in mind. Here is an in-depth look at the pros and cons of using floor tile on your backsplash and tips for success.


A kitchen backsplash serves both form and function. It protects your walls from splatters and spills while also providing visual interest in your kitchen. Backsplashes are commonly made from ceramic tile, glass tile, or metal tile. Using floor tile on a backsplash can give it a unique and rustic look.

Floor tile is designed to withstand heavy foot traffic and is generally thicker and more durable than regular wall tile. Many types of floor tile like porcelain, ceramic, or natural stone can work well as backsplash tile. There are some advantages to choosing floor tile, but also some possible drawbacks to consider.

Pros of Using Floor Tile for a Kitchen Backsplash

There are several potential benefits to using floor tile on your backsplash:

More Durable and Stain-Resistant

Floor tile is fired at higher temperatures and made to be more durable, dense, and water-resistant than regular wall tile. This makes it excellent at handling kitchen messes, splatters, and daily wear and tear. The hard, non-porous surface is easy to clean.

More Affordable

In general, floor tile tends to be more affordable than decorative wall tile. So using floor tile is an easy way to cut costs on your backsplash project. The simple, classic look of floor tile also fits well with many kitchen design styles.

Larger Tile Sizes Available

Floor tile comes in very large sizes – 12×24 inches, 16×16 inches, or even 18×18 inches. Large tile sizes can make a backsplash installation go faster. Fewer grout lines also create a seamless, sleek look.

Match Flooring for Cohesion

Choosing floor tiles for the backsplash that match or coordinate with your kitchen floor tiles can create a cohesive, integrated look. The continuous flow visually expands the space.

Cons to Consider About Using Floor Tile

However, there are also some possible disadvantages with using floor tile on backsplashes:

Thickness and Weight

Floor tile is thicker and heavier than wall tile. Standard wall tile is around 1/4-inch to 3/8-inch thick, while floor tile is 1/2-inch thick or more. The heavier weight makes floor tile more difficult to cut and install.

Harder to Drill Holes

If your design includes outlets, switches, or fixtures on your backsplash, it can be trickier to drill the necessary holes through durable floor tile without cracking or splitting the tile.

Limited Design Options

While floor tile comes in a range of styles, the options are still more limited than decorative wall tile. So floor tile may not be ideal for a highly customized or ornate backsplash look.

Grout Issues

The wide grout lines and joints necessary in floor tile installation can be prone to trapping grime. Epoxy grout is highly recommended over standard cement grout for easier cleaning.

Moisture Resistance

Some floor tiles, like natural stone, tend to be more porous and prone to water damage. Use a proper sealant if moisture resistance is a concern.

Tips for Installing Floor Tile as a Backsplash

If you decide to use floor tile for your backsplash, here are some tips to get the best results:

  • Select smaller tiles – While large format tiles are trendy, tiles under 8 x 8 inches are easier to manage on a vertical surface. Square tiles may be simpler to install than rectangular plank tile.
  • Use proper adhesive – It’s critical to use a latex-modified thinset mortar suitable for heavy tile rather than regular mastic. This will provide a strong, secure bond.
  • Level the surface – Any uneven spots on the wall should be smoothed out to allow floor tiles to lie flush. Popped out drywall screws should be recessed.
  • Use back-buttering – Spreading tile adhesive on both the back of the tile and the wall (aka back-buttering) improves adhesion for heavy floor tile.
  • Space tile joints carefully – Floor tile generally requires a wider grout joint up to 1/8 inch. Plan the tile layout to account for even spacing and joints.
  • Grout wisely – Epoxy or urethane grout is ideal for backsplashes. Make sure to seal porous natural stone tiles before grouting.
  • Consider added weight – Ensure underlying walls or adhesive mortars can support the weight of floor tile, which may require wall reinforcement.

Alternatives to Using Floor Tile on Backsplash

If some of the potential downsides of floor tile don’t work for your kitchen, consider these other excellent backsplash tile options:

  • Porcelain, ceramic, or glass wall tile
  • Mosaic sheets for a retro or artsy look
  • Metallic or stone aggregate tile
  • Recycled glass tile
  • White subway tile for a timeless feel
  • Handmade art tile for one-of-a-kind style
  • Peel-and-stick tile for easy application

With any tile type, make sure it has a water absorption rate of less than 3% for kitchen use. And always properly seal and grout the tile to deal with moisture.

FAQs About Using Floor Tile on Backsplash

Is floor tile too heavy for a backsplash?

Floor tile is heavier, but as long as the wall surface is properly prepared and high-quality tile adhesives are used, standard floor tile generally does not exceed what a wall can support. Using careful installation methods suitable for heavy tile is key.

Does floor tile need special maintenance on a backsplash?

The dense, non-porous surface of floor tile resists kitchen grime well. Just use gentle cleaners formulated for tile and avoid abrasive scrubbing. Re-sealing grout every 1-2 years will keep the backsplash looking fresh.

What kind of tile cuts best for a backsplash?

Porcelain, ceramic, or natural stone tiles typically cut best with a wet saw. Glass or mosaic tile is often easiest to cut using tile nippers. A carbide scoring tool and tile cutter works for some types of tile. Always wear safety gear when cutting tile.

Should floor tile backsplash go all the way to the ceiling?

Typically backsplashes end around 4 inches from the ceiling, with a sealed gap along the top edge. However, extending floor tile or any backsplash material fully to the ceiling can create a dramatic, feature wall look.

Is floor tile too slippery for kitchen walls?

Floor tile provides great durability for backsplashes, but the hard glazed surface can potentially be slippery. Using a tile with some inherent surface texture can help, or choose a “honed” or lightly textured surface finish to reduce wall tile slipperiness.


Installing durable floor tile on your kitchen backsplash can provide a handsome, long-lasting focal point. Floor tile offers many benefits like strength, affordability, and design flexibility. Just be mindful of the potential drawbacks regarding weight, drilling, grout, and moisture resistance based on your specific tile type and kitchen needs. With proper prep and installation techniques, floor tile can create a backsplash that artfully withstands the kitchen’s tough environment.