I will be putting the tiles on top of plywood
Time for a shopping trip! My personal preference is for a stand alone tile shop rather than the limited and sometimes bland selection sold at most home improvement centers. Plus, the tile store have better qualified representatives that are knowledgeable. Purchase a few sample tiles or get loaners, bring home and mull over your decision before purchasing for the entire project.
Google or flip through the yellow pages to find the shops in your area, pick a few and go check them out, I think you will be pleasantly surprised.
I am not a fan of of tile countertops due to the unsanitary nature of the grout lines. However, if you must, get large floor tiles, ceramic, and use 1/16" grout lines. Once installed, seal all grout lines and reseal every couple of months. They also make special countertop bullnose for many floor tiles.
Naomie pretty much said what I was thinking when I read you question, but I also agree with Laura.
I agree with Laura that tiled countertops require require diligent maintenance due to the grouting lines being difficult to keep clean and sanitized. If your back wall and base cabinets are not level and even, then you will have many points and gaps to try to fill in with grouting, which can be rough to the touch. They will also require silicone caulking to prevent water seepage under the tiles. Tiled countertops can also be noisy especially with dishes such as ironstone or china and are unsuitable for some cooking tasks such as rolling out pastry.
Just a tip.. make sure to use a waterproof with mold n mildew protector paint on plywood b4 putting n e tile down lol n for sanitary purpose if u choose, maybe peel n stick tile! Comes in a roll dont need to use grout n pretty cheap!
Love all these responses! Do you all put food directly on the countertops? I always clean and disinfect mine, but never place food directly on the countertops themselves. Always some sort of cutting board, I have scads of them. A meat side and a fruit veggie side. And for pastry / chocolate, I have a hunk of marble.
My girlfriend with sinfully expensive granite and marble countertops never puts food on hers either, she has a separate pie dough marble board just for this purpose. Are we the OCD oddballs?
I agree with Naomie. Who puts food in direct contact with their countertops. Any way sealing the grout, which always should be done, does protect it.