Counter Tops

Tonight I am going shopping with a client to look at tile to redo his counter tops. Counter tops are a pretty significant part any kitchen reno practically and aesthetically. The range of products, colours, textures, and price can be overwhelming. With prices ranging from approximately $30 – $130 at the moderate end of things the very first thing you have to figure out is what your budget is going to be. After you have decided on budget you then need to figure out how many linear feet you are going to need. At this point it will become clear what products you will be able to afford. The most affordable options are tile, laminate, and butcher block. The nice thing about tile and laminate is that you can achieve almost any aesthetic you are going for with these versatile and durable products.


Because my client has decided on a tile counter top, I thought I should brush up on my tile knowledge and also look for some inspiration online. The images below show that tile counter tops need not be rustic, there are some gorgeous, modern options available that are stunning!

This first image is a counter that was done with granite (or granite look) tiles:


Don’t they look amazing? at first glance they look like solid granite but the great thing about them is that they cost a fraction of the cost. If you wanted marble counter tops, you could do this same concept with marble look tiles or any other natural stone.


Some things to consider when choosing between natural stone tiles and a ceramic or porcelain tiles that look like natural stone:

Real stone is porous. This means that they could stain if you did not seal them properly and did not wipe up spills right away. The good news is that sealing them is super easy and takes very little time. Stone is natural (obviously) therefore, the pattern and colouring is random and will vary. This may be part of the appeal for some but for others it may drive them nuts.

Ceramic and porcelain tiles are man made and come in many finishes, some of these finishes look almost the exact same as natural products. Ceramic and porcelain tend to be  more durable and stain resistant than a natural stone. Porcelain tiles are considered to be the most durable because they are more dense and are typically the same colour all the way through the tile. This means that if they get worn or chipped, it is less noticeable because the colour of the chip will be the same colour as the surface of the tile.

Ok enough technical talk and more pictures:


This is a fun, glass tile counter top. Glass tiles are made of glass and are more reflective and tend to “sparkle” than ceramic or porcelain (not that they are glittery, they just catch the light.) I would not recommend using glass tile on a kitchen counter top, they would get too much wear and tear and they would get all scratched and scuffed and loose their luster. It would be very pretty in a bathroom though.

A big trend right now is tiling with pennies. I think this picture is a stunning example:


This look is not for everyone but I think it is beautiful! I love the different patinas and the dimension it has. Gorgeous!

Isn’t it amazing how much variety there is? I am always excited when I find affordable ways to achieve luxurious and modern alternatives to what traditionally can cost a fortune.

A few tips for achieving a modern look with tiles on counters, especially a solid granite look:

  1. Keep your grout lines as thin as you possibly can, this will make your counter look more like a uniform slab and less like tile
  2. Choose a grout that blends into the main colour of your tile. Contrast between the grout and tile will highlight the fact that you are using tiles.
  3. Darker grout will not stain as noticeably as lighter gout will. This will show up in the areas you work the most at. This too will ruin the look of one slab vs. tiles.
  4. Make sure you really seal your counters well and keep up with regular maintenance, especially if you go with a light tile and grout. This will help avoid the problem mentioned in point 3.
  5.  Use a level and ensure you are applying the tiles straight!
  6. Especially for kitchens, avoid textured tiles, dirt and bits of food will get trapped in the texture and make it difficult to keep clean.

Those are just some of my thoughts from a design perspective. If you are interest in doing a counter top there is a ton of detailed, technical tutorials and videos online.

What do you think? Would you consider doing a tile counter? What about the Pennies? Have you done a tile counter top? Did I miss any points?


3 thoughts on “Counter Tops

  1. Wouldn’t a tile counter top be more prone to collect bacteria in between the tiles/in the grout? That would be my concern… as a borderline germaphobe. But they do sure look nice.

    1. Epoxy grout is recommended for this type of install. Any other kind and you are creating a breading ground for bacteria.

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