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Ultimate Guide to Picking Tiles for your Home

Inside: Real homeowner advice on flooring and tiles; the advantages of using peel and stick and the factors to consider when choosing ceramic or marble tiles for backsplashes. 

Over the years of running this blog and slowly updating this crazy house of ours, we have done quite a few tile and near-tile projects. I say ‘near-tile’ because sometimes tiling isn’t the answer – especially if you are on a tight budget or timeline. 

This post will breakdown our experiences with all sorts of tiling – from choosing our new ceramic backsplash in the kitchen, to peel and stick tile on both the floor and the wall, to viable tile alternatives if you don’t have the tools or the time to invest in real tiles. 

Choosing the Right Tiles

As you may know, we are deep into a full blown kitchen renovation. It was a long time coming! We spent a lot of time trying to figure out what we wanted on the backsplash. 

We wanted something timeless, classic and that would age well with the house. But we also wanted something a little more fun. 

You can read more about the specifics of how to choose a backsplash tile here. 

Tiles we considered: 

  • Cement tiles : these are gorgeous but extremely porous. We considered using them as a accent in one of our open shelf areas, but ultimately decided they’d look super dated in a while and they would be annoying to keep clean. Cement tiles require special sealing. 
  • Ceramic Subway tiles: a classic choice and a close second for us. But ultimately we wanted something with a little more pop. 
  • Marble hex tiles: the winner! I’m so excited about this choice and I feel like it’s a great blend of style and trend. 

grey and white hexagon back splash tiles

In terms of installation, these will be definitely more finnicky to install and we will be relying on experts to do this for us. 

Alternative Kitchen Backsplash Ideas that are not tile

We had a few alternate backsplashes before settling on the marble tile for our renovation. 

When we first moved into the house, we installed this simple bead board backsplash. It was installed in one afternoon and it cost us about $60 all in. It was great while it lasted!

Installing a bead board back splash

How to install a bead board backsplash

Once we tired of that, we installed peel and stick wall tiles. You can read about how to install peel and stick tiles for your backsplash here. 

We had them for about two years. And I have to say, I did not love them. 

Sure, the install was great and simple, but they were very expensive (almost as expensive as real tiles) and they did not hold up to regular kitchen wear and tear. 

After a couple of years, the top tiles started to peel back and would not lay flat and I didn’t like how I could see all the seams. 

So if you are going to invest in peel and stick wall tiles, I’d say manage your expectations and don’t do a large area. They are fine in a small space (and may have been better in a bathroom?), but overall, not my favourite product. 

What about Peel and Stick Floor Tiles

Here is where we had a better experience. When our daughter was six months old, our main floor powder room flooded and we had to fix it ASAP. A contractor was not in the budget, so we did the entire thing DIY. 

One of the things we did was install simple peel and stick floor tiles OVER the existing ceramic tile. 

It was tricky to install only because it had to be lined up perfectly and if you stuck the tile in the wrong spot and had to redo it, you’d lose a lot of the stickiness. 

Overall, though, I’m loving how it was about $60 to do the entire floor. We didn’t need grout. It wipes clean. And it looks fine for such a small space. 

How to install peel and stick tile in the bathroom

How to Lay Peel & Stick Tile

Other alternatives to tile

We have had some success with installing tile alternatives in the basement, where we chose to put in vinyl plank flooring. 

It’s held up extremely well and I could be happier. 

One thing about it though is that it will ‘heave’ over time, especially in basements. We recently rearranged the furniture in the playroom and found that one area had a significant gap in the floor. I’m a bit bummed about it, but there’s not much we can do at this point. 

The install was smooth and you can cut vinyl plank flooring with a basic circular saw or even a utility knife using the ‘score and snap’ method. 

You can read more about our experiences with vinyl plank flooring here. 

Laying Vinyl Composite Flooring

The final tile alternative you might consider is paint! I really dislike our master bathroom, but we have no plans (or budget) to renovate it now. (And when I do renovate, I want to gut the whole thing!)

I didn’t want to sink a lot of resources into this space, so I decided to purchase a basic wall stencil and pretty up the wall behind the sink

I’d love to have glass or marble tile there in the future, but for now, this colourful faux-tile backsplash will work fine. 


Seaglass Stenciling

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