How to plan for tile in your kitchen
By Carri Carlson and Josh Blanc
at Clay Squared to Infinity
Step 1 Creating the vision of your tile project
There are thousands of tile designs, colors and concepts for you to choose from and the process can sometimes be overwhelming. When creating your vision of your tile project we recommend looking at books, magazines and the internet. Clay Squared has a small library of historic and contemporary books to get ideas. Your local book stores carry a great selection of magazines and home improvement books.
We recommend utilizing the NKBA and the Handmade Tile Association websites. Bring in clippings of ideas and color schemes you like.
Step 2 Questions to ask yourself
What is the style you want to create in the space? Do you want to work with the period of the home i.e. a Bungalow, Arts and Crafts, Victorian, Tudor, Rambler, or Contemporary style? Working in a period will guide your decision process and help narrow down your choices. Are you more eclectic and want to make a piece of art in the space? If so working with themes and color ranges will help you keep on task.
Step 3 Time lines
We recommend that you begin planning for your kitchen tile closer to the beginning of your remodel, before other things are installed that could limit your tile choices and design. In many cases tile selection is left until near the end of the project because that is when it is installed. Order time for tile can be anywhere from 2-8 weeks. Clay Squared to Infinity is about 3-4 weeks. You will also want to make sure that you have your tile when your tile installer is scheduled, unless you are installing the tile yourself.
Step 4 Do I need a designer or architect to do my kitchen tile project?
Designers and architects are people who understand space, design and color. They typically cost 15% of a project but when you have large projects their insights and knowledge can save you more than their fees. If you don’t have one and feel you need some help, Josh will help you find your vision and pull it all together. Josh has been working with tile since 1995 and is the designer and maker for the handmade tiles at Clay Squared to Infinity.
Step 5 Locations for tile use in the kitchen
Tile was originally used for protection for walls and floors, prior to becoming decorative. In the kitchen it is best to have it at least behind your sink and cooktop where water and oils can build up. Tiles are the easiest surface to keep clean and have a life span of 100 years.
Step 6 Electrical and other backsplash obstacles
Plumbing, electrical, countertops can all determine what you can do with tile in your kitchen. With the kitchen backsplash there are many things that can become obstacles when designing your backsplash. Electrical outlets on the kitchen backsplash are required by code every 4 feet. Kitchens generally have many light sources requiring light switches. An alternative for both the electrical outlets and the light switches is an under cabinet power strip mounted to the bottom of the wall cabinets at the back by the wall. This will totally eliminate any switch plates on your backsplash. Many times it will be recommended by your fabricator to add a 4” lip of your countertop material to the backsplash. If you are intending to install a tile backsplash, the lip is not necessary and may actually limit your tile design and choices. Other “obstacles” in designing your backsplash are potfillers, located behind the cooktop. Now think of all the items you keep on your countertop - coffee maker, cappuccino maker, container to hold cooking utensils, butcher block knife set, cookbooks, toaster......the list goes on. Consider the placement of these when designing your backsplash.
Step 7 Time to design
Now that you have removed as many items from your tile space that might restrict your tile design you can start playing with the tile. Listen to what they have to say. Your intuition is an integral part of the design process. Contemplate colors and play with new combinations, and let the mood and personality of your home guide your choices. Come into the showroom and at no cost, check out some tile samples to help you determine colors and sizes.
Step 8 Placing your order
If you can figure out how much tile you need, great. If you have a tile setter installing the tile, they can figure out the amounts and sizes for you. If you need help, we are happy to do it. We recommend you bring in a drawing with as many dimensions as possible and digital pictures of the room or area are always helpful.