Stainless steel mosaics and tiles are sleek, contemporary, and stylish. Available in a wide variety of patterns, shapes, and sizes, these tiles can introduce a futuristic feel to your fireplace surround, add a clean modernism to your kitchen backsplash, or create a little sparkle in your shower.
Where to Use and NOT to use Stainless Steel Tiles
By far the most popular location for stainless steel mosaics is the kitchen backsplash. The easy-to-clean surface and sleek look is reminiscent of a professional kitchen and appeals to many homeowners, and the tiles will perfectly match stainless steel appliances.
Be cautious with cork-backed stainless steel tiles. The adhesive used to bond the stainless steel cap to the cork has been known to fail in hot areas such as fireplace surrounds and behind stoves. If this happens and the cap falls off, you can re-glue it with thinset or 100% silicone caulking.
Most stainless mosaics are not suitable for floors, exterior applications, or submerged installations (in pools or fountains). Check with your tile distributor to see if the manufacturer has specific limitations on where your tile can be installed.
Cutting Stainless Steel Tiles
You can run a stainless steel mosaic or tile through a tile saw (wet saw) as you would any other tile.
Be careful: the cut edge of the metal tile will be very sharp.
The vibrations of the saw blade may cause the stainless steel cap to pop off of its ceramic, cement board, or cork backing. If this happens, you can reattach the cap with silicone caulking or some other strong, thin adhesive.
Grouting Stainless Steel Tiles
DO NOT USE...
For best results with non-sanded grout, use a grout additive such as Grout Boost to seal your non-sanded grout from the inside out, which will provide a certain degree of protection from stains and spills.
Dimensions urethane grout is my favorite option. Formulated differently than the regular urethane grout, Dimensions is specifically designed for easily-scratched materials such as stainless steel, marble, and glass. While a more expensive option, this grout's translucent and reflective nature adds extra sparkle and depth to your installation. And since it's non-porous, you never need to seal it or worry about stains.
It's Not Always Stainless Steel!
Not all silvery metal mosaics are made with stainless steel. Some mosaics feature brushed anodized aluminum in either silver, black, or taupe, often blended with glass.
The brushed texture means that these aluminium mosaics can be grouted with urethane grout and Fusion Pro without fear of scratching, and the aluminum is a softer metal and easier to cut than stainless steel.
What options are available?
There are dozens of all-stainless mosaics, hundreds of blended mosaics with stainless accents, and several sizes and shapes of individual stainless steel tiles.
You can get brushed stainless, polished stainless, black stainless, stainless & glass, stainless & natural stone, circles, squares, diamonds, and more!
Whether your style is more modern or traditional, and whatever the color palette, there's a stainless steel option that can work for you.
How much do Stainless Steel tiles cost?
Most stainless steel tiles and mosaics range from $20-$40 per square foot.
They are more expensive than your average all glass or all stone mosaic (usually $10-$20/sqft), but are comparable to a glass, stone, and metal blend mosaic (falling in the $20-$40/sqft range). This is due to the higher price of stainless steel as a material.
Be honest, is this trend going out of style soon?
I am often asked, "Is this going to be the avocado green refrigerator of the future? Will people look at this in ten years and say, 'ugh, that's SO 2014!'?"
While I am a tile and design expert, I can't predict the future. I can tell you, however, that stainless steel as a backsplash is just as classic as stainless steel for a refrigerator or dishwasher. And while some people can't stand stainless steel, if you love it and you'll be in the house for 5+ years, why not invest in something you'll love?