The Most Durable Tile Kitchen Floor

tile floor in a contemporary kitchen

Dogs. Kids. Dropped cooking implements. And the thought of having to replace a beautiful tile floor after just doing a remodel and bickering for weeks over the tile choice in the first place -- don't even go there! No wonder you want to know about your options for the most durable tile kitchen floor so you can pick the right one from the start. Fortunately, tile in general tends to be one of the most durable flooring types (after plain concrete), but some options are better than others.

Purchase the right kind of floor tile

Before delving into the specifics of the most durable tile kitchen floor choices, it’s important to note that when purchasing flooring tile, it’s critical to get the right kind. It should be rated for flooring use, which means it’s been manufactured to withstand heavy traffic and hard use, and it should have a textured surface to reduce the risk of slips and falls. Furthermore, once it’s installed, the tile and grout should be sealed to resist stains and water damage, and the seal should be periodically renewed to keep the floor in good condition. Tile flooring is a commitment, and if not kept in shape, it will start to crack, pit, and stain.

Natural stone tile

With that said, the best choice is natural stone tile. Stone kitchen tile is extremely durable and comes in a range of styles and colors. Be warned that some stone can be highly absorptive and may be prone to staining, so it’s especially important to seal it well. Note that despite the fact that it’s endured for centuries in ancient art, marble isn’t actually such a great choice for kitchen flooring. It can be prone to chipping and damage, and may also be extremely slippery. Save it for counter tops and back splashes, where it will really shine.

Quarry tile

Another option is quarry tile, which is made from clay and limestone and fired to look like natural stone. It’s not quite as durable as true natural stone, but it’s still a great option, and it can look fantastic. Thanks to the range of options available, it can be cut and installed in a variety of patterns including tiles of different shapes and colors—but be warned that these customizations will add to the cost of installation.

Ceramic and porcelain tile

Additional most durable tile kitchen floor options include ceramic and porcelain. This ain’t your grandma’s porcelain, though—it’s a hardened, well-fired version that stands up to heavy foot traffic. One cautionary note with ceramic and porcelain, though: They can be prone to cracking and chipping. If you happen to drop something hard (like one of your favorite cast iron pans) on the edge of a tile, it will definitely crack. And if your floor is uneven or moves, it can damage the tiles too. Thus, you may need to replace your subfloor before you can install the tile, which can be a costly endeavor.

Glass tile

Glass tile is another option. With glass, it’s especially important to find a tile product rated for flooring applications, because it needs to be thick, durable, and textured to prevent slips. Like ceramic and porcelain, it can be prone to chipping, but it looks fantastic, and may be used as an accent piece with other flooring products if a floor made wholly with glass tile won’t give you the look you want. Fashions in glass tile can change quickly, however, which should be an important consideration for you; your floor may soon appear dated if you don’t plan for long term appeal.

Other considerations

Be aware that tile is one of the most durable flooring products available in general, and almost any choice can be a good one. As you search for the most durable tile kitchen floor, think about the look you want in your kitchen and be conscientious when it comes to cost considerations. Tile can get quite costly because of the added difficulties involved in installation and maintenance, and some tile products, like custom ceramics, are also very expensive. Cutting costs on tile flooring is not recommended because these can result in more expensive repairs down the line.

Ultimately, the most durable tile kitchen floor can only withstand so much. Make sure it’s installed appropriately by a professional tile contractor and consider adding a rider to your contract with the installer to warranty the work. If there are faults in manufacture and/or installation, promptly report them and get the issue resolved, even if it seems minor. Your quick action can prevent a small problem from turning into a big one.

s.e. smith writes for

Updated July 5, 2018.

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