Cooking Considerations for Your Kitchen Backsplash Tile

Written by Rheney Williams Posted On Sunday, 22 June 2014 07:29

Did you know that there are unique aspects of cooking spaces that you need to take into account when selecting your kitchen backsplash tiles? Indeed, just because something is beautiful doesn't mean it's going to be the best choice for your culinary creations. At the same time, there are many fantastic tile options that are perfectly suited to your kitchen spaces.

For a bit more on that, plus some good choices and tile types that you may want to avoid (in certain areas, that is), here are a few details concerning my top contenders in the kitchen tile backsplash department!

Cooking Spaces

For tiles situated behind the main cooking spaces in the room, here are the things you need to take into account:

Heat: From the high temperatures (350 degrees and higher) emanating from the oven to the surface temperatures from hot eyes on the top of the stove, your range is the major source of heat in a kitchen and this can impact certain types of tiles placed behind or around it.

Grease: Splatters from stovetop masterpieces can wreak havoc on your backsplash tiles.

Stains: Same thing with family favorites like your secret spaghetti sauce or red wine reductions - splatters from these colorful and potent concoctions can be easily cleaned or your worst scrubbing nightmare depending on the tiles you choose!

Moisture: Steam can accumulate behind your range and underneath your microwave if you do not have an overhead exhaust system.

Glass mosaic tiles are easily wiped down after a marathon cooking endeavor and are therefore a great choice for cooking spaces. However, when placed behind the cooking appliances like your range or stovetop, certain types of glass tiles need additional grout space to allow for the glass to expand as a result of the heat. Just be sure to thoroughly research your selection before undertaking the installation process.

On the other end of the spectrum, natural stones are a less attractive option for several reasons. First, many are porous and soak up stains. Second, the more "natural" your stones, the more textured and rough they are likely to be. Although this can be a beautiful choice, if you are an avid cook, you'll find out very quickly how grease and stains seek out the nooks and crannies in natural stone and make them more difficult to clean.

To combat these concerns, you should always seal natural stone tiles at least once annually. And be sure to wipe up any stains as soon as you see them. And even if you don't see them (that's my husband's go-to "explanation" for why he doesn't wipe something up on the countertop: "I didn't see it"), it's probably a good idea to give the tiles a quick swipe after making each meal!

Subway tiles are classic options that never seem to go out of style. To give a subway tile of any type a modern update, install them vertically rather than the traditional horizontal "brick style" layout. Not only does running the tiles in an up and down direction give your kitchen fresh flair, but it also draws the eye upward, thereby creating the illusion of additional room height. In short, vertical subway tiles are perfect for shorter spaces!

Washing Spaces

Although less of a concern than areas containing your cooking appliances, the walls surrounding your dishwasher and kitchen sink will still have to contend with moisture and their fair share of heat and water.

If you do quite a bit of washing in your sink, be sure that the tiles behind the faucet can withstand steam and are easily wiped down in the event of water droplets. These splashes can turn from droplets to water marks rather quickly so wipe down the backsplash after you use the sink.

Installation Tips

No matter the type of tile you select, never use grout in the following places:

  • To connect the backsplash to the countertop
  • To fill in the gap between the top of the backsplash and the bottom of the upper cabinets
  • To seal corners

Instead, in these spaces you should use caulking to allow for the shifting and settling of the house itself. Grout dries like cement and does not offer the flexibility of caulking which means that the minute the house settles to a certain point, the grout simply cracks and pulls away from the backsplash. This leaves unsightly gaps and is completely avoidable by simply using a paintable caulking that will move with the house and stretch to allow for settling. If you use a caulking that matches the color of your grout, a superficial glance will make it difficult to tell you even have two different substances between the tiles!

What type of tile do you want to install behind and under your kitchen appliances?

Rheney Williams writes about home appliance tips for Home Depot. Rheney and her husband recently remodeled the kitchen in her Charleston, S.C., home, and the new appliances they bought gave her plenty of DIY projects related to the new fridge and electric range. Home Depot's electric range selection, including the one in Rheney's kitchen, can be found at
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