Pros and Cons of a Concrete Tile Backsplash

Pros and Cons of a Concrete Tile Backsplash

Tile Work
Interior Design
By Mateos Glen Hayes April 20, 2022

It might surprise you, but a lot of the most beautiful backsplashes are actually made of one of the most basic materials out there. Concrete tile backsplashes are used in many homes, and this is due to the many considerable benefits that it holds over more expensive materials.

Concrete tiles are not only more affordable but are also capable of imitating the appearances of other tile materials. This is perfect if you’re in the market for a premium-looking tile material but don’t want to break the bank. As with any material, this one has downsides but also has some pretty cool benefits that make it a compelling material for your next backsplash upgrade.  

Why Get Backsplash Tiles? (And why get new ones?)

Backsplash tiles are essential for a practical kitchen.

Backsplash tiles are essential for a practical kitchen.

First off, you may wonder why you even need to install a kitchen backsplash in your kitchen. This is one of those details you don’t think about every day, but it is quite important for maximizing functionality and practicality in your kitchen. However, concrete tile backsplashes have a significant visual impact since they give a pleasant visual contrast that adds texture to any kitchen design.

Plus, backsplashes are important because they help protect your wall from all the grime, grease, wear, and tear that your kitchen can experience when you use it every day. This is important because it keeps your kitchen looking good and sparkly. Concrete tile backsplashes are easy to clean up, can stand up to abuse, and seals the space so that grease and grime don’t seep into your wall or behind your countertops.

Without a backsplash, your wall can become nicked and stained, and it can be hard to remove those marks from a bare wall. And if you plan to sell your home in the future, your kitchen will look far more desirable with a nice backsplash and will boost your home value. In that same vein, updating your backsplash every two decades or so is essential for keeping everything looking modern and fresh. Even the highest quality backsplash will lose its shimmer with time, but a renovation can fix that.   

Pros

Choose your concrete tiles based on a wide array of colors and patterns.

Choose your concrete tiles based on a wide array of colors and patterns.

One of the coolest things about cement tiles is that they are very versatile both in how they can be used and what designs you can add to them. It also goes without saying that they can go quite nicely with concrete countertops and a brutalist kitchen design style. However, there are quite a few other benefits to a concrete tile backsplash.  

Durability 

With the proper sealant, a cement-tiled kitchen backsplash provides a durable water-resistant barrier between the wall of the kitchen and a messy kitchen. These tiles are excellent at preventing unpleasant stains and nasty water damage. Because they are so long-lasting, whatever designs you integrate into your concrete tile backsplashes will last for a long time, keeping your kitchen stylish and classy for the decades to come.

The durability of concrete wall tiles comes from their qualities of sturdiness, as well as their ability to stand up to high temperatures and moisture. This is perfect for the kitchen because it means your tiles can stand up to the heat of a stove and the constant exposure to moisture from a kitchen sink. In fact, concrete’s strength increases over time since the absorption of moisture forms crystals in the concrete that increases structural integrity.     

Affordability 

Concrete wall tiles are also quite affordable and this is partly thanks to how widespread concrete is as a material. It is made everywhere in the world in large quantities and is easy to make since it is made mostly of cement, water, and crushed stone. This makes concrete wall tile a very cost-effective option in comparison to other tile materials such as ceramic or porcelain.

Typically, the main factor that decides the price of your concrete wall tiles is the mixture formula of the concrete itself. Cement is the most expensive component of the mixture and so if you want to save money you should look for those mixtures with low cement content. You might be able to get away with this lower-quality concrete since your backsplash tiles aren’t load-bearing, although concrete with a higher cement content is going to be sturdier.  

Easy Maintenance 

Despite the fact that installation of concrete wall tiles can get technical, maintenance is relatively simple and can be done by any enterprising handyperson. After installation, it is important that you seal and polish your tiles since this will give your concrete wall tiles the best appearance and will also give them a longer lifespan. A polishing disk (600 grit) can give your concrete tile backsplash the perfect sheen and a good sealer will provide your tiles with long-lasting protection from staining.

Just be sure to use a penetrating sealer and avoid using bleach or other acidic products since this can cause damage to the backsplash. We also recommend avoiding topical sealers since these will break down faster when exposed to sunlight. When it comes time to clean your tiles, be sure to use a pH-neutral soap with warm water.

If your tiles do end up with stains, these can be easily removed with a specialized cleaning product such as rejuvenate spray or something such as Eff-Erayza. These products can clean the grout as well, keeping everything looking fresh and good as new. 

Cons 

This premium material can potentially come with a premium price tag.

This premium material can potentially come with a premium price tag.

Price

While concrete is generally cheap to produce, concrete wall tiles can get expensive, especially if they include some intricate designs. Moroccan concrete tile designs and other beautifully patterned tiles are quite stunning, but they can also be quite pricey, coming in at $10.95 per square foot. Also, the fact that you will need professionals to help you install the tiles will also drive up the prices.

Of course, you won’t need a large number of concrete wall tiles for a backsplash and so this will keep the price from getting too high, especially if you are working with a small or mid-size kitchen. Grouting can also be a bit challenging with more porous cement since the concrete has a tendency to suck in the pigment of the mortar.   

Brittleness 

This is especially true with cheaper mixtures, but concrete wall tiles can be difficult to install and keep up because they can sometimes be rather brittle. Because concrete tiles can be difficult to produce with precision when it comes to size and dimensions, improper installation can lead to cracking with tiles that are less sturdy.

A concrete tile backsplash made with a low-cement mixture can crack over time from age, and this can be difficult to manage especially if your backsplash is already over ten years old. However, careful installation and sealing should help to mitigate this problem. We also highly recommend buying quality concrete tiles to avoid having to deal with excessive brittleness.

Concrete tile backsplashes are prone to staining, so look out for frequent cleaning sessions.

Concrete tile backsplashes are prone to staining, so look out for frequent cleaning sessions.

Not DIY Friendly 

As you may have guessed from the previous cons, concrete tile backsplashes aren’t very DIY friendly. While you can do most of the maintenance, the bulk of the installation work is quite technical and therefore requires the assistance of someone who is specialized in the installation of concrete tiles.

Otherwise, you run the risk of ending up with a botched installation and damaged tiles. Concrete tiles are kind of sensitive and require special work to prevent staining or cracking. If you’re an enthusiastic DIYer, you could give this a try, but it is best to have a professional touch.  

Color Fade and Staining  

Because cement tile backsplashes are cured at room temperature as opposed to being fired at high temperatures like ceramic tile, cement is more susceptible to color fade and staining. The colored layer on top of cement tiles is about an eighth of an inch thick and is porous due to the production process. This means that your tiles can absorb various substances quite easily, and this can cause staining without proper measures being taken.

Improper sealing can lead to staining easily happening, even from water pooling in one area. Additionally, the concrete-based pigment of the tile design will fade with time from simple exposure to the elements. This won’t be noticeable since it happens slowly, but it will show up if you have to replace one of the tiles.  For example, white cement tiles will show this phenomenon quite well since the newer tile will not be the same color shade.

Written by
Mateos Glen Hayes

Written by Mateos Glen Hayes