/ Countertops

Hand-Painted Designs Can Add Variety to Tile Countertops


Courtesy of Ann Sacks

Hardy types of tile — ceramic, porcelain and quarry — can serve as a countertop surface. They may feature raised, recessed or painted designs. Unglazed tiles (which generally have a matte finish) must be sealed; glazed tiles are impervious to water. For a customized look at a reasonable cost, combine hand-painted, vintage or imported tiles with inexpensive, monochromatic tiles.

Ceramic tiles
are made from pressed clays with a matte finish or a glaze of metallic oxides and ceramic stains. Glazed ceramic tiles are the most common type of tile used for kitchen countertops

Porcelain tiles,
also made from clay, are baked at a higher temperature, which makes them thicker. The color also goes all the way through the tile, rather than just covering the surface.

Quarry tile
is an umbrella classification for tile made out of a clay mixture, such as shale. Terra cotta tile, which retain clay's reddish orange to brown hues and require a sealant, fall in this category.


The spaces between the tiles are filled in by grout, ideally an epoxy grout to help resist stains. Grout comes in almost as many colors as paint. Choose one similar in color to the countertop tile for a more unified look. White is classic, but remember: Lighter colors aren't as effective at hiding dirt. Also, grout should be sealed to prevent bacteria from setting up camp between your tiles.


  • You can put hot pots on tile

  • Resists moisture

  • You can use special hand-painted designs


  • The grout may stain

  • The tile surface won't be smooth enough for cutting or rolling dough


The safest cleaning method will depend heavily on the type of tile you've used, so be sure to consult your manufacturer's instructions. For glazed ceramic, tile manufacturer American Olean recommends cleaning with a damp cloth and non oil-based household cleaner, and cautions against using ammonia, which can discolor grout.

About $10-$100 per square foot, depending on how decorative and unique a look you want.