Selecting the right tile thickness for your backsplash is an important decision that can greatly impact the look and feel of your kitchen or bathroom. The thickness you choose depends on factors like the tile material, installation type, and desired aesthetic. This guide covers everything you need to know about tile backsplash thickness to make the best choice for your next renovation or new build.
What is Considered a Standard Tile Thickness?
The most common thicknesses for backsplash tiles are:
- 3/8 inch – This is the minimum recommended thickness for backsplashes. Many ceramic and porcelain tiles are available in 3/8 inch thicknesses.
- 1/2 inch – A standard thickness for most tile materials. Sturdy enough for most applications.
- 5/8 inch – Provides extra durability and strength. Often used with heavier tile materials like stone or glass.
- 3/4 inch – A thick option great for showers and high-traffic areas. Provides maximum stability.
Tile thickness is measured from the top face to bottom edge. Keep in mind thickness can vary slightly between tile types and brands.
Factors That Determine Ideal Tile Thickness
Choosing the right tile thickness involves assessing the needs of your specific installation. Here are some key factors to consider:
- Ceramic, porcelain, glass – These lighter materials only require thinner tiles around 3/8 – 1/2 inch thickness.
- Natural stone, marble, granite – Due to the dense, heavy nature of natural stone tiles, a thicker tile around 3/4 – 1 inch is best to provide adequate support.
- Mosaics – Small mosaic tiles are often mounted on sheets for easy installation. Sheets are commonly 1/4 inch thick.
- Backsplashes – Because they receive less direct impact than floors or walls, backsplashes can utilize thinner tile around 3/8 – 1/2 inch.
- Shower walls – Showers have constant moisture exposure so a more rugged 1/2 – 3/4 inch tile prevents cracking and warping.
- Outdoor applications – For patios, pool surrounds, and other exterior installations, a thicker tile around 3/4 – 1 inch stands up better to weather and heavy use.
The look you want to achieve can help guide appropriate tile thickness:
- Thinner tiles around 3/8 inch create a smoother, more seamless appearance. Great for modern, sleek designs.
- Moderate 1/2 inch tiles still look uniform but have slightly more definition between tiles. Works well for many design styles.
- Thicker 3/4+ inch tiles have visible depth and prominence. Pairs well with handmade, rustic, or Old World tile designs.
Pros and Cons of Thinner vs. Thicker Tiles
Thinner tile advantages:
- More affordable and easier to cut
- Lighter weight puts less strain on substrate
- Sleek, uniform appearance
- Easier installation in tight spaces
Thinner tile disadvantages:
- Less durable for high-traffic areas
- Increased risk of cracking/breaking
- More prone to damage from impact
Thicker tile advantages:
- Very durable and stain/scratch resistant
- Reduced risk of cracking or loosening
- Provides cushioning underfoot
- Distinct depth and visual appeal
Thicker tile disadvantages:
- Typically more expensive
- Harder to cut without special tools
- Heavier, requiring a sturdier substrate
- Grout lines are more recessed
Recommended Thickness by Tile Location
Here are the standard tile thickness recommendations for various installation locations:
Backsplashes – 3/8 – 1/2 inch
Shower walls – 1/2 – 3/4 inch
Floors – 1/2 – 3/4 inch
Exterior walls – 3/4 – 1 inch
Pool lining – 3/4 – 1 inch
Fireplace surround – 1/2 – 5/8 inch
Always refer to manufacturer specifications for proper thickness by tile type and usage. Factors like texture, finish, and tile shape can also impact suitable thicknesses.
Achieving Just the Right Tile Thickness
With the variety of options available today, you can easily find beautiful backsplash tiles in your preferred thickness:
- For super sleek and modern backsplashes, slim 3/8 inch porcelain or ceramic tiles are perfect.
- The most widely available size, 1/2 inch tiles offer endless options from marble mosaics to colorful glass designs.
- For natural stone statement walls, consider thicker 3/4 inch marble or granite tiles.
- Mix and match thicknesses and materials for a uniquely custom look. Try combine glass, ceramic, and stone.
If your design vision calls for a hard-to-find tile thickness, speak with an experienced tile supplier about special ordering options. With planning ahead of time, you can realize virtually any backsplash design imaginatively.
Installation Considerations for Thicker Tiles
While thicker tile provides greater stability and durability, it does require some special preparation:
- Substrate – For any tile above 1/2 inch, a cement board or concrete backer substrate is recommended to support the weight.
- Mortar – A medium bed thinset mortar is required to adhere thicker tiles properly. It has a thicker consistency than regular thinset.
- Grout lines – Expect grout lines to be deeper and more visible between thicker tile. Select grout in a coordinating color.
- Leveling system – Using a tile leveling system during installation helps keep thicker tiles even and stable.
With proper planning and materials, virtually any thickness of tile can be installed successfully as a backsplash. Just account for the unique requirements.
FAQs About Tile Thickness
What thickness of tile is best for kitchen backsplash?
For most kitchens, a 1/2 inch ceramic, porcelain, or glass tile offers the best combination of affordability, durability, and style. Natural stone backsplashes can utilize 3/4 inch thick tiles for a bolder look.
What size tile is best for shower walls?
Shower walls demand water resistance and durability. Choose a tile thickness of at least 1/2 inch, but 3/4 inch porcelain or ceramic tiles are ideal for withstanding moisture and wear-and-tear.
Can you use thin tile on shower floor?
Porcelain or ceramic tiles should be at least 1/2 inch thick for shower floors, but 3/4 inch is recommended. The floor endures the most direct impact, so thinner tiles may crack.
Is thick tile hard to install?
Thicker tiles require modified installation methods, like a medium bed mortar and proper substrate. Masonry blades are needed to cut the tiles neatly. With planning and the right tools, even 1 inch tiles can be installed successfully.
Should floor and wall tile match in thickness?
Uniform tile thickness between the floor and walls provides a seamless appearance, but it is not strictly necessary. Often, floors utilize thicker tiles while walls are thinner. Just ensure any transition is smooth.
Matching your tile thickness to the demands of the installation space is critical. With the right choices made early on, you can enjoy a beautiful backsplash design that lasts for years to come.
Selecting backsplash tile thickness requires careful consideration of the tile material, installation location, desired aesthetics, and functionality. Standard thicknesses range from 3/8 inch for thin and modern styles up to 3/4 inch for heavy-duty installations. Match the thickness to tile type, choosing thinner for porcelain and ceramic or thicker for natural stone. Plan for any adjustments to substrate, mortar, or installation methods thicker tiles require. With knowledge of the factors that determine ideal tile thickness, you can choose the perfect size to make your backsplash vision a reality.