Brick backsplashes are making a major comeback in kitchen design. After falling out of favor for decades, the brick backsplash is being embraced once again for its timeless beauty, texture, and durability.
An Overview of Brick Backsplashes
A brick backsplash refers to a backsplash made from actual brick material installed on the wall behind a countertop, range, or sink. Brick backsplashes come in a variety of colors, shapes, textures, and patterns. The most common bricks used are clay bricks, but other options include glazed ceramic brick tiles made to look like bricks.
Brick backsplashes provide visual interest, texture, and a feeling of warmth and homeyness in the kitchen. The uneven, natural surfaces and earthy colors of brick create an organic, Old World aesthetic. Brick is also extremely durable and can stand up to decades of heavy use in a busy kitchen.
The History of Brick Backsplashes
Brick backsplashes have been used in home design for centuries. In ancient Roman kitchens, brick walls and surfaces helped contain messes and reflect heat. In medieval castles, brick added durability and style.
Brick backsplashes really rose to prominence in the early 20th century. As more people remodeled kitchens in bungalows and arts & crafts homes, exposed brick walls and backsplashes became hallmarks of these styles. The rough, imperfect brick complemented handmade pottery and woodwork.
By the 1950s and 60s, sleek midcentury design pushed brick backsplashes out of vogue. Smooth surfaces like ceramic tile were prized over the bumps and imperfections of brick. Brick backsplashes came to be seen as dated or unfashionable. For decades, most kitchens relied solely on tile backsplashes.
The Return of Brick Backsplashes
In the last 5-10 years, brick has made a major comeback in home design. The rise of industrial, farmhouse, and eclectic kitchen styles has put brick back on the radar for many homeowners. Brick complements these aesthetics perfectly.
The renewed interest in brick backsplashes is also linked to the increase in open concept homes. With fewer walls between kitchens and living areas, backsplashes provide an opportunity to add visual interest. Brick backsplashes can anchor an open kitchen with an architectural element full of texture and charm.
There is also a growing appreciation among homeowners for natural materials like brick that develop a patina over time. The small imperfections and irregularities in brick are now seen as adding character. Brick’s longevity is another benefit that appeals to today’s homeowners.
Pros of a Brick Backsplash
There are many advantages to choosing a brick backsplash for your kitchen:
- Timeless aesthetic – Brick creates an organic, earthy feel that suits many design styles from traditional to modern farmhouse. The look is always in style.
- Texture and visual interest – The uneven surfaces and variegation of brick provide visual appeal and depth versus flat tile. Light plays differently on brick’s contours.
- Durability – Properly maintained brick can last 75-100 years or more. It is very resistant to cracks, scratches and stains. The color rubs off less than painted surfaces over time.
- Easy maintenance – Brick requires very little maintenance besides occasional cleaning. It does not require sealing or re-grouting like tile.
- Affordability – Brick is one of the most budget-friendly backsplash materials. Salvaged brick is even cheaper. Simple installation also lowers costs.
- Design flexibility – Brick backsplashes can be designed in countless patterns. They can be a full wall or just a few strategic rows. Soldier, stack bond, herringbone and more patterns are possible.
Things to Consider with a Brick Backsplash
While beautiful, brick backsplashes require some special considerations during design and installation:
- Old brick walls may require re-pointing of mortar before they can support new brick. Mortar styles should also match up.
- Sealing brick helps protect it from grease splatter and stains. Annual re-sealing is ideal. Using a polished finish also helps brick resist grime.
- Extra lighting may be needed since the uneven brick surface can make counters seem dark. Task lighting and undercabinet lights help.
- Appliances, outlets and paraphernalia need special accommodation with a full brick wall. Building out framing hides unsightly breakups in the pattern.
- Professional installation is best to properly incorporate plumbing, moisture barriers and meet building codes. DIY is possible but can increase the risk of problems later.
- Salvaged brick is abundant but may be inconsistent in color and size. New brick gives you more uniformity in appearance.
- Brick is inherently porous and requires a high level of precision to achieve a seamless groutless look. Most brick backsplashes have grout lines.
Design Ideas for Brick Backsplashes
The key to integrating a stylish brick backsplash is choosing a color and pattern that complements your existing kitchen elements. Here are some popular design ideas:
Brick Backsplash Accent Wall
Cover a single focal wall behind the stove or sink area with brick. This creates a defining design feature without overpowering the space. Salad or soldier bricks keep the lines clean.
Full Brick Backsplash
Take brick from counter to ceiling for a bold, dramatic statement. Mixing brick sizes and directions adds interest. A full brick backsplash benefits most from muted brick colors like grey.
The timeless herringbone layout brings visual intrigue through its interlocking design. It works well behind sinks or stoves. Contrasting mortar color adds emphasis.
Stacked Bond Pattern
Stacking bricks in offset rows gives a staggered stretcher bond look. The rows can go floor to ceiling or in a few horizontal bands. The pattern adds textural energy.
Brick Backsplash with Stone Accents
Blending materials can be beautiful. Try combining a red brick backsplash with cream or grey stone accents. This allows each material’s colors to stand out.
Open Shelving with Brick Backsplash
The cavity between open shelves is perfect for a brick backsplash. The shelves break up the brick while unifying the space. Floating wood or black metal shelves complement brick.
Brick backsplashes have come full circle from their height of popularity in the early 1900s to their near disappearance mid-century back to being embraced again today. The renewed interest in brick is driven by its aesthetic versatility, durability, and timeless rustic charm. With thoughtful design choices and professional installation, a brick backsplash can add organic texture and livable sophistication to any kitchen. This classic material still feels fresh and current. For homeowners wanting to make a design statement that will last, brick delivers on all fronts.