4 Things to Know About Kitchen Tile Design

Posted by Alan Hendy on Tue, Jul 30, 2013

A kitchen tile backsplash is often a focal point in the room and complements cabinetry and appliances. A tile backsplash is an architectural element that defines the décor style of a kitchen i.e., contemporary, traditional, country, cottage, Mission, Country French, Art Deco, Retro, Tuscan, Asian, Southwestern or transitional. Tile is also used for kitchen flooring and counter surfaces.

The design and material choices you will make are important. It is helpful to work with a kitchen designer because the shape of walls and the size and placement of cabinets, the sink and appliances will impact the design.

When planning a tile design for your kitchen remodeling project, consider “field tile” and accents. Field tile is the predominate tile in the design. Accents can include border tile and contrasting tile used within a field pattern. A wall tile design can also incorporate a painted mosaic or relief tile to add color, interest, form and texture to a kitchen workspace.

It is helpful to know some basic facts about tile patterns, shapes and accent options when selecting tile for your kitchen remodeling project:

1.    Basic Field Tile Patterns

Field tile patterns use one type of tile. For wall tile, common sizes are 4-by-4 inch or 6-by-6 inch square tile or 3-by-6 inch rectangular tile. Floor tile sizes are 12-inch squares or rectangular tiles of varying sizes.

  • Grid Pattern. A grid pattern is made up of square tile laid in a line.

Mission Style Kitchen with Grid Tile Pattern



  • Diamond Pattern. A diamond pattern is comprised of square tile set on a diagonal.

Kitchen Backsplash with Diamond Tile Pattern with Tile Liner



  • Brick and Subway Tile Patterns. A brick pattern wall tile was used in the early 1900s to decorate the walls of subway stations in New York, thus the name. Subway tile is a 3-by-6 inch rectangular ceramic tile. Brick tile patterns are used with both wall and floor tile.

Scalloped Rectangular Kitchen Tile in Subway Pattern



Brick Patterned Kitchen Floor Tile



  • Herringbone Pattern. Rectangular tile placed in a v-shape creates a herringbone style design. Wall tile and floor in a herringbone pattern is often sold in mesh-backed 12-by-12 inch sheets ready to set.

Kitchen with Herringbone Field Tile and Relief Tile Inset



  • Checkerboard Pattern. Two square colored tiles can be used alternately to create a checked pattern.

Kitchen Backsplash with Checkerboard Accent Tile



There are many other field tile patterns that can be created by combining tiles of varying sizes such as two-tile, three-tile and four-tile designs.

Kitchen with Three Tile Field Pattern



2.     Mosaic Tile

One of the most popular tiles used in kitchens today is mosaic tile made of glass and stone.  Mosaic tile is available in many shapes, materials and sizes and comes in 12-inch square meshed or paperbacked sheets for easy handling. The most common shapes are:

  • Linear. Linear mosaic tile is often used in contemporary and transitional design.

Linear Glass Mosaic Kitchen Tile



  • Hexagon.
  • Round/Oval.
  • Square.

Kitchen Backsplash with Square Mosaic Tile Inset



There are other cuts and patterns including basket weave.

Kitchen with Basket Weave Mosaic Tile Pattern



3.     Border Tile

Tile borders add interest to a kitchen and integrate other features such as counters, cabinets, appliances, lights and flooring. A border can be a tile liner or a mosaic line of tile. Tile liners accent or complete the edge of a tile design. Mosaic borders add contrast to a tile pattern with color, shape, texture or form. 

Kitchen Backsplash with Mosaic Tile Border and Liner



Kitchen Backsplash with Mosaic Tile Border



Transitional Kitchen with Mosaic Border Tile



4.    Decorative Hand-Painted Tile

Hand-painted tile is often used in Country French, Tuscan and Country-style kitchens. Tile mosaics are used in back of a stove or cooktop and hand- painted tile borders add color to the room.

Country French Kitchen with Painted Tile Backsplash



Hand Painted Kitchen Border Tile Backsplash



Hand Painted Tile Accent in a Country Kitchen



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