Opinions about a backsplash, please?
March 1, 2011 12:07 PM   Subscribe

Putting in a kitchen backsplash and want your opinion. Doing a stainless steel backsplash behind stainless steel oven/range and white subway tile the rest of the kitchen. Grout is a grey which will work for the SS tile and also for the white subway tile. However, the white subway is 3x6" and the SS tile is sold as 1x2" but isn't really quite 1x2. Our handyguy says it will look bad to have the groutlines not even with each other due to height difference of tiles (SS vs white) but the guy at the upscale tilestore says not an issue. We aren't sure if it will or not.

Here is a picture (third pic down) of something very similar, except their grout is not grey (and white tile looks like a glass in the picture, we are using tried and true classic white subway). The horizontal grout lines don't line up and it seems fine in the picture, but then again, they aren't using grey grout for the white tiles. We want to stick with the grey grout for the white subway tile, bc of cleaning and also in keeping it old school style. Opinions?
posted by dublin to Home & Garden (12 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
I don't think this would bother me. There's such a difference between the SS tile and the subway tile that the grout lines won't matter. In other words, the "STOP this thing, START this thing" is between two such distinct things that you almost want them to be as different as possible. If you're worried, use white grout for your subway tile and gray for the SS.
posted by Shohn at 12:11 PM on March 1, 2011 [2 favorites]

Why change tile at all? Stainless tile isn't going to be any easier to clean than porcelain tile, and the fact that the stainless tiles are smaller means more grout lines, so it will actually be harder to clean.
posted by jon1270 at 12:15 PM on March 1, 2011 [1 favorite]

I agree with Shohn: the border is so distinct that the slight mismatch in dimensions won't make a noticeable difference. If you're really concerned about it you might consider cutting down the bottom-most stainless steel tiles so they're mismatched from the start, instead of starting out more-or less matched (3 SS per white) and getting further and further out of alignment as the difference in dimensions adds up.

(I had no idea there was such a thing as stainless steel tile, it looks awesome!)
posted by contraption at 12:22 PM on March 1, 2011 [1 favorite]

Agree with the tile store guy & shohn, not an issue. If these were being laid in a pattern that called for them to be more mixed together, it could be, but if there are distinct large areas that are all SS or all subway tile, then those broad swaths are going to stand out, but the grout lines won't.
posted by pappy at 12:23 PM on March 1, 2011

I suspect you'll find the steel tiles are sold by the sheet, not individually. The spacing between them will be pretermined, because they'll be fixed to a sheet of mesh. You really don't want to pull them apart to manage the spacing, because that will be a huge pain in the ass that will be almost impossible to get just right.

Your options, I think, are to live with it and keep the colours you want, but if it really bothers you consider turning those stainless steel tiles sideways so they're up and down, not left and right. It will break up the lines a fair bit and emphasize height rather than width, but it's an option.

I think the tile guy is right, it'll be fine.
posted by mhoye at 12:31 PM on March 1, 2011

Why SS tiles? What not use a solid sheet of steel? That would way easier to clean, and completely avoid the grout line kerfuffle.

Anyway...You could set the SS tiles so the long dimension runs vertically. This would visually separate the tiles even more strongly from the horizontal white tiles, pretty-much negating the grout line thing. YOu could also use a stainless molding/transition strip where the SS tiles meet the white.
posted by Thorzdad at 12:37 PM on March 1, 2011 [1 favorite]

N'thing above

The two materials are so different, grout lines need not match. You've already got a huge contrast, the grout lines will be fine.

(PS totally coveting your backsplash...mine is still in planning stages. So many choices; the ones you've chosen are very nice.)
posted by Kronur at 12:48 PM on March 1, 2011

Trim tiles often have different horizontal gap lines than the tiles they are trimming. It is a non-issue as far as I'm concerned. And FWIW I love our grey grout!
posted by DarlingBri at 1:13 PM on March 1, 2011

Get a vertical SS trim piece (actual metal, not tile. Just 1/8" wide of visible metal), and run it vertically at the margins of the SS tile backsplash.
posted by misterbrandt at 2:18 PM on March 1, 2011

You know what they say about opinions, right? Don't get a stainless steel backsplash. Tile or solid sheet. I can post some pictures if you'd like, but we've got 3"x6" subway tile, white, in running bond pattern with black granite countertops and stainless steel appliances. The appliances are enough of a pain in the ass to keep clean as it is. If you cook at all, anything greasy, fried, sauted, you'll be cleaning that stainless all the time. Eventually you'l go against the grain, and it'll look like crap forever. Food for thought.
posted by fixedgear at 3:03 PM on March 1, 2011 [1 favorite]

I was actually just coming in to post something similar to fixedgear, although it makes me feel like a wet blanket. I've always found stainless steel such a pain in the kitchen.

That said, if you're experienced with it and committed to the cleaning, it does look lovely. I agree with the other posters that with such a different in materials you don't have to worry about the tile size mis-match.
posted by lillygog at 5:54 PM on March 1, 2011

My husband, the (professional) tile guy, says the tiles lining up is no big deal. Here's the rest of what he said: he'd use two color grouts, by taping off one while grouting the other. He says grey grout with SS, and white grout with subway tile. He thinks that grey with the white tiles is going to call all sorts of attention to the pattern of the subway tiles. Is that your intent? If you've seen a white tile with colorful grout, go for it. If not, tread lightly.

Also, in regards to cleaning: the white grout will certainly show dirt more easily, but that doesn't mean the grey grout won't get dirty. It just won't show that it's unclean.

My comments: use light grey at least for the white tile if you don't want it to look like this.

Have you had your handyman do tile for you before? I ask because I know lots of folks think tile is really easy and do it themselves and then find it's harder to get it to look awesome, which it seems like you want. My husband has recently been hired to re-tile bathrooms tiled by handymen who didn't do it right (and who took much longer to do it). The fact that your handyman can't quite visualize how the tile will look okay is a bit of a red flag. And tiling walls is harder than tiling floors. But ignore this if you have worked with him on a similar project.
posted by bluedaisy at 7:33 PM on March 1, 2011

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