Are Backsplashes Out of Style?

Backsplashes have been a popular kitchen design element for decades, but some wonder if they are starting to feel dated. This in-depth article will examine whether backsplashes are truly going out of style and provide tips on how to choose a timeless backsplash that you’ll love for years to come.

What is a Backsplash?

A backsplash is a vertical surface installed on the wall behind a countertop, most commonly behind sinks and stoves. Backsplashes serve both practical and decorative purposes in kitchen design.

On a practical level, backsplashes protect the wall from water damage, stains, and splatters while cooking and cleaning. They also make it easier to wipe down and clean the space between the countertops and cabinets.

Aesthetically, backsplashes provide an opportunity to add visual interest, color, texture, and pattern to the kitchen. They can complement the countertops and tie the whole kitchen together.

Backsplashes are typically made of ceramic or porcelain tile, but can also be created from glass, metal, stone, and other materials. The design options are endless – from simple subway tile to elaborate mosaics.

Are Backsplashes Going Out of Style?

While backsplashes have been popular for many years, some design experts have speculated that they are starting to feel outdated in contemporary kitchens. Here are some of the reasons why backsplashes may be going out of style:

Simpler Aesthetic Trends

In recent years, kitchen design has trended toward a more minimal, streamlined look. Large statement backsplashes with bold patterns or textures feel out of sync with this pared-down aesthetic. Clean-lined backsplashes in neutral tones or simple subway tile better complement the modern, clutter-free kitchen.

Focus on Countertops

With the growing popularity of statement countertops like quartz, granite, and marble, backsplashes now play a more secondary role in kitchen design. Rather than competing for attention, backsplashes are expected to quietly complement the countertops.

Cost and Maintenance

Some homeowners are moving away from tile backsplashes due to the cost and maintenance involved. Tile installation can be expensive, especially for intricate mosaic patterns. Grout also requires regular sealing and cleaning to prevent staining. For an easier-care option, painted backsplashes are gaining appeal.

Lack of Innovation

As backsplashes have become commonplace, designers feel there is a lack of innovation in the space. The backsplash material and style menu hasn’t significantly expanded in recent years. This stagnation in options contributes to a feeling of the backsplash being played out.

Are Backsplashes Really Out of Style?

However, it’s important to note that many designers say rumors of the backsplash’s demise are greatly exaggerated. Here are some reasons backsplashes still have a secure place in kitchen design:

Protective Function

No matter the aesthetic trends, the backsplash’s protective qualities remain essential. Shielding the walls from moisture, stains, and other cooking mess will always be needed.

Design Flexibility

While bold backsplash designs may fade in and out of vogue, simple and classic backsplash materials like subway tile remain timeless. A neutral backsplash is never outdated.


A new backsplash is one of the most affordable ways to update a kitchen. Tiling a backsplash is within reach for most kitchen renovation budgets. Due to the small surface area, it packs visual impact without a huge investment.

Creativity Outlet

The backsplash remains a wonderful canvas for creativity and personal style. From upcycled materials to custom mosaics, backsplashes allow you to add artistry and whimsy to your cooking space.

Balance to Counters

A backsplash brings visual balance to kitchens dominated by large countertops. It helps delineate the transition from counter to wall.

Tips for Choosing a Timeless Backsplash

While trends may come and go, you can select a backsplash with lasting appeal by following these tips:

Opt for Simplicity

Simple backsplash materials like subway tile or single color stone rarely go out of style. Avoid anything too loud, trendy, or over-the-top. Let your backsplash fade into the background rather than demand attention.

Seek Inspiration from Nature

Organic shapes and natural materials stand the test of time. Think marble, travertine, stone, pebbles, shells, wood, etc. Soft, neutral, earthy hues also have broad appeal.

Don’t Forget Functionality

Focus on durability and easy maintenance. Porcelain and ceramic tile resist stains, moisture, and heat while being easy to clean. Make sure your material choice aligns with your lifestyle.

Choose Classic Patterns

Traditional patterns like subway tile, basketweave, chevron, etc. always come back around. Simple grid layouts also maintain popularity over decades.

Work with Your Counters

Pick up some colors from your countertops in the backsplash to create flow. The two surfaces should complement rather than compete with each other.

Consider Open Shelving

The growing popularity of open shelving transcends trends. Floating wood or metal shelves feel fresh and offer a break from heavy backsplashes.

Know When to Declutter

If your kitchen feels busy, minimize the backsplash accents. Stick to neutral territories and clean lines to keep the space feeling open and breezy.

Add Pops of Personality

While classics are key, don’t be afraid to add some personality! Moroccan fish-scale tile, handmade ceramic accents, or vintage finds inject soul.

Invest in Quality

Durable, high-quality materials like stoneware and porcelain prove worth the extra investment. Cheap backsplash materials soon look dated and worn. Purchase the best you can afford.

Popular Backsplash Design Ideas that Stand the Test of Time

Here are some backsplash design approaches that have remained relevant in kitchens for generations:

Subway Tile

The quintessential subway-style square tile continues to maintain popularity. White is the iconic look, but consider black, gray, blue, or green for a more unique vibe. Sticking to one solid tile color keeps it simple and versatile.

Horizontal Brick Pattern

The staggered brick pattern has been used on backsplashes for centuries and still feels crisp and fresh today. With slim grout lines, bricks create texture without overpowering the space.

Hexagonal Tile

Whether uniform or creatively mixed, hexagonal tiles form a pleasing honeycomb pattern. Hexagons add subtle sophistication without veering into trendy territory. Their shape flatters diverse design aesthetics.

Stone Slab

Natural stone backsplashes provide an earthy, organic look. Opt for limestone, travertine, marble, or slate cut into large uniform slab sizes. Stone makes a subtle statement.

Metal Tiles

Tin, stainless steel, and copper backsplashes infuse industrial flair. Metal tiles add subtle glimmer and visual texture. Their sleek, minimalist look remains cutting-edge.

Murals from Tile

Custom mosaics, maps, or family photos bring personalization without sacrificing timelessness. Keep the color scheme neutral for broad appeal.


Mirror backsplashes open up small spaces and introduce dimension. Partial mirror sections combined with tiles keep the look grounded. Mirrored backsplashes always sparkle.

Wood Panels

Wood introduces natural warmth and texture. Tongue-and-groove planks, reclaimed barnwood, and rustic shiplap remain appealing backsplash choices.

Continued Popularity of Backsplashes

While backsplashes may periodically fall out of vogue, they have been a staple in kitchen design for generations. The backsplash shows no signs of disappearing fully from modern kitchens due to its practical necessities and design potential.

Homeowners looking for a clean, contemporary look can simplify their backsplash design and allow bold countertops to shine. Those wanting to make a statement have endless options for injecting personal style too.

Ultimately, backsplashes remain integral functional and decorative components that can be tailored to suit personal tastes. By choosing high-quality, classic materials and timeless shapes, your backsplash will retain its stylish impact and protect your kitchen for decades to come.

Frequently Asked Questions About Backsplashes

Many homeowners have questions when evaluating if a backsplash is the right choice for their kitchen. Here are answers to some of the most frequently asked questions about backsplashes.

Are backsplashes necessary?

Backsplashes are not strictly necessary, but they serve important protective and aesthetic functions. Backsplashes prevent moisture damage to walls, make stains easy to wipe away, and add visual interest to kitchens. Many homeowners view them as nearly essential.

What’s the best material for backsplashes?

The most popular backsplash materials are ceramic and porcelain tile, natural stone, stainless steel, and glass. Choose materials that are durable, easily cleaned, and fit your kitchen’s overall aesthetic.

How much do backsplash installations cost?

Backsplash installation costs range from $800 – $1500 depending on the material and complexity of the design. Simple subway tile backsplashes on the low end and intricate stone or mosaic backsplashes on the high end.

Should my backsplash match my countertops?

It’s not essential for backsplashes and countertops to match, but they should complement each other. Pulling some tones from your counters into the backsplash helps them flow together seamlessly.

How do I clean and maintain my backsplash?

Ceramic, porcelain, stone, and glass backsplashes clean easily with warm water, mild soap, and a soft cloth. Disinfectants can be used as needed. Grout needs occasional sealing to prevent staining. Metal and wood backsplashes require minimal specialty cleaning products.

Can I install a backsplash myself?

With proper planning and materials, an experienced DIYer can self-install a backsplash. Subway tile is the easiest option. Be sure to thoroughly research all steps and building codes first. Complex installations may require hiring a pro.

What’s the best backsplash height?

Standard backsplash height is 4 inches from the countertop surface. Full-height backsplashes extending to cabinets offer greater protection. Height is a matter of personal preference and function. Building codes dictate electrical outlet placement.


While backsplash popularity fluctuates with changing kitchen trends, their practical purpose and design potential remain timeless. Homeowners tired of the typical tile backsplash have countless options for creating a unique, personalized backsplash using creative materials, textures, colors, and shapes.

Focus on quality classic or natural materials installed in simple uniform patterns to get a backsplash with lasting broad appeal. Be daring with pops of color, accessories, or mural accents to make it your own.

Ultimately, the backsplash remains an integral part of any kitchen. By selecting a style aligned with your tastes and lifestyle, your backsplash can be a showstopper you’ll enjoy for decades to come.