Is It Okay To Install Backsplash Tile On The Floor?

July 23, 2018


The market is filled with gorgeous tiles from all over the world, and as a result, there’s never been more tiles available to homeowners. More than ever, it is important to make sure you choose the right tile for your project. At MSI, we put our expertise to work for you to ensure you have the information you need to make the best choice.

One key fact to remember is that although floor tile can generally always be used on walls, not all wall & backsplash tile can be used on the floor.

For example, while using glass mosaic tile on the floor may be tempting because of its intricate patterns and colors, not all glass tile is durable enough for the job.

So when you start shopping for floor tile, there are three main considerations to keep in mind: Traffic & Use, Slip Resistance, and Strength. 

#1. Traffic & Use

kenzzi-porcelainFeatured: La Fleur Kenzzi Porcelain

Modern tile is rated for different uses and varied levels of traffic. For example, not all tile is suitable for use as flooring tile in commercial property applications. The trick is to look under “APPLICATIONS” on the products page to investigate each tile’s best use. 

As an example, our beautiful La Fleur Kenzzi Porcelain tiles are not suitable for use as flooring tile in heavy traffic commercial properties such as airports, schools, hospitals, or even restaurants. However, they are recommended for lighter commercial applications like backsplash designs or accent walls in  doctor’s offices and retail boutiques. And of course, this gorgeous tile would be perfect for home flooring, adding a Euro flair to your design.

#2. Strength

Mixana-porcelainFeatured: Mixana Kenzzi Hexagon Porcelain

One of the reasons not all backsplash tile is suitable for all flooring applications is strength. In heavy commercial applications, the hefty equipment, foot traffic, and general day-to-day abuse a floor carries can cause cracks in the tile or damage the finish. This is precisely why it is so important to use a tile rated for the right project.

If you’ve fallen in love with a particular tile that is not rated for heavy commercial use, that doesn’t mean you can’t use it in commercial applications—just opt to use it as a backsplash design in a bathroom, bar area, or even reception room.

Shown above, Mixana Kenzzi Hexagon Porcelain tile adds character to this elegant bathroom, giving depth and texture to this tone-on-tone cream bath and complementing the wood and wicker accents. However, this beautiful tile could just as easily find a home as an accent wall or backsplash in a high-style commercial space. 

#3. Slip Resistance & Texture

havenwood-saddleFeatured: Havenwood Saddle Chevron Porcelain

Another of the most important factors in determining if backsplash tile can be used as floor tile is its slip resistance, and this is directly related to a tile’s texture. 

Modern 3D tiles, for example, have irregular raised areas that can present a tripping hazard; they are therefore not suitable for use on floors, whether in homes or commercial properties. Likewise, certain glass tiles or tiles with high gloss finish may become dangerously slippery when wet.

As a result, these backsplash tiles are best kept on the walls and are not suitable for floor installation. However, some glass mosaic tiles can be used to create an accent border or to add a pop of color in an otherwise slip-resistant floor. Just be sure to follow the individual tile’s recommended guidelines and ask an expert if need be. 

In addition to the above criteria, it is also important to address the type of subfloor on which the tile will be installed. For example, in basements where the tile will be installed over a concrete slab, it is imperative that the tile be installed properly to reduce the risks of cracking.

When building a new home, it is absolutely necessary to allow the concrete to cure completely before laying any tile. The reason?  As the concrete cures, it shrinks—if the tile is installed before the concrete has completely shrunk, cracks are likely to appear. 

But don’t let the extra wait time dissuade you from using a beautiful wood-look porcelain tile like our Havenwood Saddle Chevron Porcelain tile on your lower levels…or anywhere in your house, for that matter! This versatile product is a great solution to get the look of hardwood floors in areas with moisture, indoor/outdoor foot traffic, or muddy dog feet.

Shown in the photo above, the chevron design of the tile gives depth and warms up this elegant lounge area; and the kids running in and out through the sliding glass door to the pool and discarding sopping wet towels on the floor won’t give you a moment’s stress!

taupe-brickstoneFeatured: Taupe Brickstone 5x10 Porcelain

Another consideration when installing tile over a concrete subfloor is to be sure it is very clean and has a properly etched surface to allow for maximum adhesion. For best results, use a waterproof and crack prevention membrane between the concrete and the tiles to promote bonding.

An added bonus? If the concrete does shrink or expand due to moisture or temperature, the membrane adds a bit of protection by creating a space that allows each tile to move independently if needed. 

For light commercial properties and homes with a concrete foundation, our Taupe Brickstone 5x10 Porcelain tiles, above, are perfect for adding a durable, easy to clean, and beautiful floor. This commercial office space takes on the look of an urban loft with its warm brick-look flooring and modern workspaces.

ivory-brickstoneFeatured: Ivory Brickstone 5x10 Porcelain 

In other areas of the home where you’ll be installing tile over a wood subfloor, cement backer board is recommended. However, it is imperative that the wood subfloor is perfectly level before installing the backer board. In kitchens, entry ways, bathrooms, offices, or other living spaces, uneven floors—especially tile floors—can be a tripping hazard. It’s therefore important to ensure the tiles are correctly and evenly laid, by a professional if necessary.

And remember that a floor tile with a COF (coefficient of friction) of <.42, such as our Ivory Brickstone 5x10 Porcelain, can be slippery when wet, so make sure the you mop up spills promptly. 

Today, it is so easy to fall in love with backsplash tile without first checking out the specs. And while we would love for you to be able to use your favorite in your design, just be sure to select the right tile for the right project.

On all of our product pages, we have a "SPECS" section that details not only the color, material, and series name, but also provides the Coefficient of Friction for flooring tiles. Just below the "SPECS" section, our "APPLICATION" section provides the recommended uses for each tile. Be sure to check this information to see if a tile is suitable for your specific project. 

But if not, don’t fret. These days, there are so many beautiful backsplash tiles, floor tiles, and wall tiles to choose from, there is sure to be one that perfectly complements your personal design style…and suits the application! 

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