1902 Victorian

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Friday, June 10, 2005

Subway Countertops?

We are finally getting some motivation to work on the kitchen again. We pretty much halted work on it back in March when we ran out of trim - again. I couldn't face the prospect of more priming, and besides, every time we went to Lowe's we forgot to buy more trim. (Of course, Freud says there are no accidents.)

I think we needed a break from the kitchen. The lovely spring weather - unusually cool for Alabama - helped us both get interested in gardening and major pruning.

But now we're turning our thoughts to the kitchen backsplash. Darwin has a friend at work, a freelance tile-layer, who is willing to help us install it for free since Darwin fixed his boat. Hurray! Free is good.

I found subway tiles in the perfect color - Ice White, somewhere between bright white and almond - at American Olean, though I haven't yet sought out a price. Has anyone used the subway tiles from American Olean (they call 'em Greenwich Village)? Are they a good choice?

Hand in hand with the backsplash is the decision on a countertop. Since the beginning, I always voted for wood, and Darwin usually hated that idea but couldn't really come up with a better one. Then we came to a consensus way back in January that we would get wood. But the countertop guy in Eutaw never called me back with an estimate. I don't think he was very eager to do the work, and anyway it's nearly impossible to get a craftsman to do anything for you in Eutaw. They are in extreme demand. I should quit my job and go to carpenter school.

Anyway, now that we have a plan for the backsplash, we need to do the countertop first. I still like the idea of wood countertops - I just can't picture anything else in there - but the tile-layer guy suggested we continue the subway tile onto the countertops and do a wood edge around the front. It sure would be less of a hassle.

So what do you think?

I went scouring the Web for photos of kitchens with subway tile backsplashes and found this beauty:

That slim black countertop looks so nice ...



Sabrina said...

As you know, I'm getting excited to do our backsplash too. I'm going to have to google your subway tiles as I can't quite picture them, but I agree (if its financially possible) that you should continue the tile on the countertop and just do wood trim.

The wood would like really neat but I'd be too concerned about water sitting on it and ruining it or it being marked up by things set on it. I realize it would be sealed but I still have doubts as to how long it would stay nice.

Of course, you still have to keep those grout lines clean. Ugh. :)

Anyway, that's my $.02

11:45 AM  
heather said...

We are actually thinking about wood for our kitchen (when we get to that point in our renovation) so I would have to say that would be my pick.

But I would discourage using subway tiles for your counter...simply due to the number of grout lines. You are looking at using white tile which means I assume you are going to use white grout. That is just asking for trouble in my book. One spill of spaghetti sauce and you'll be wishing for wood.

I think tile looks beautiful, when it's new. Keeping it looking that way is a huge challenge. The smaller the tile the more grout. If you want to tile...I'd suggest using floor tiles 12 x 12 inch or even 16 x 16. Find something that compliments the subway back splashe but reduces the amount of grout lines.

Just a thought! Good luck. :)

12:30 PM  
Kristin said...

I do hate cleaning grout ...

12:55 PM  
Jordana said...

I'm pretty sure JM and Aaron at House in Progress are using the American Olean subway tiles on one of their bathrooms. Search their site to be sure.

I still think you guys would like a wooden countertop and could probably build one like the one in our kitchen (that I sent you the pictures of way back when) yourselves. It's very strongly sealed, stained plywood, I think with a trim piece on the end. It would probably be cheaper than tile too. We haven't had any problems with water damage, although we have a wooden backsplash as well and I worry about the backsplash right behind the sink. With the tile backsplash, I think you'd be totally fine in that department.

1:12 PM  
Anonymous said...

I LOVE my butcher's block countertops. They're so easy to take care of, just a little mineral oil now and then, and if they get messed up just a few hours with the sander and they're back to new in no time. When we got the house, the POs never cleaned anything, and cut all over the beautiful countertops, so they were stained, cut up, and filthy. We scrubbed and sanded and now get so many compliments on the gorgeous wood. My vote is for wood!

1:42 PM  
Sean said...

I am in the process of Installing a subway tile backsplash in my kitchen - And I am going a 1" hexagonal tile for the countertop. A wonderful source for Subway tile and hex tiles is shockingly enough subwaytile.com! These are the old style, which are totally flat - the tiles from American Olean have rounded edges, which old ones didn't. They ship anywhere and are actually very reasonably priced - They also have some neat accent tiles as well but they are a little more pricey.

2:50 PM  
Jocelyn said...

We're doing subway tile - Cobsa Wave, which has a wave to it that makes it look more handmade. I haven't seen it used on a countertop anywhere in my research. I think the counter in your photo is soapstone- lovely but quite dear!

If you do a tile countertop, they make a new kind of grout that resists stains Big time. It was written up somewhere - I'll see if I can find it. Also, I wouldn't do white because of staining.

3:46 PM  
Aaron said...

HiP here, and we did indeed use American Olean in both bathrooms. I like it and it is very inexpensive (if you minimize the more costly curb pieces). Sean is correct that AO's version does have rounded edges whereas the original was a squared edge. I've never seen it used as a countertop and there those rounded tile edges would make for somewhat deep grout channels so you'd probably need to trace along them when you'd wipe things off. Something to consider.

5:07 PM  
Greg said...

I am most likely doing wood counter tops (mahogany or fir) in my kitchen. I had tile countertops with a wood trim in my last house and didn't really like it. There was no real problem with the wood trim, but the uneven surface of the tile made it harder to clean. You couldn't just wipe a towel across it. There was always something left behind in the grout lines. The old fashioned square top tiles might alleviate this problem some.

9:30 PM  
Becky said...

I've got soap stone in my kitchen and LOVE it (that's what the tops in the picture look like to me). But I got a really good deal on it too.
Where you painting your cabinets? My thought is wood tops with stained cabinets would be a little too much wood for me, but painted cabinets would be cute with the wood. If you are still unsure I'd keep searching the internet, check out different cabinet company sites they ususally have lots of great pictures and ideas.

2:33 AM  
Chris said...

I *love* subway tiles. I'd like to use them as a backsplash with soapstone or honed black granite counters.

I had tile counters in my old house, and I didn't like them. The grout was really hard to cleran and it chipped over time.

8:24 AM  
Teresa said...

I am planning my kitchen renovation for a 1920s home to include subway tile as backsplash, soapstone countertops, butcherblock for Island countertop and cabinents are whitewashed distressed look. I would shy away from grout on the countertop.

1:42 PM  

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