Can You Use Large Tiles for a Backsplash?

Installing a backsplash in your kitchen can completely transform the look and feel of the space. Many homeowners opt for small mosaic tiles or subway tiles for backsplashes, but large format tiles are also an excellent option. Using larger tiles creates a clean, sleek look and can make a kitchen appear more spacious. Here’s what you need to know about using large tiles for kitchen backsplashes.

What are Considered Large Format Tiles?

In the tile industry, “large format” typically refers to tiles that are larger than 12″ x 12″. Common large format sizes include:

  • 16″ x 16″
  • 18″ x 18″
  • 20″ x 20″
  • 24″ x 24″
  • 12″ x 24″ (rectangular shape)

Tiles that are 6″ x 6″ or smaller are usually considered “mosaic tiles.” Medium format tiles tend to range from 4″ x 4″ up to 12″ x 12″.

So if you’re wanting a really large scale tile for your backsplash, look for tiles 18 inches or larger. 12″ x 24″ rectangular tiles are also a great choice to get that oversized look.

The Benefits of Using Large Tiles

Here are some of the biggest advantages to using large format tiles for a kitchen backsplash:

Clean, Modern Aesthetic

Large tiles create a very sleek, contemporary look. Whereas small mosaic tiles have a busier appearance, fewer grout lines from bigger tiles make for a streamlined, minimalist style. Large tiles can give off modern, industrial vibes.

Open Up Small Spaces

Installing oversized tiles can make a kitchen appear larger and more open. The large scale helps spaces visually expand. Small tiles tend to make kitchens feel more enclosed.

Create Focal Points

Oversized tiles make a major style statement and instantly become a focal point. They are an easy way to add wow-factor to your kitchen design.

Quicker Installation

With fewer individual tiles needed, large format tile jobs go faster. There are simply fewer pieces to install. This makes for a potentially easier DIY project.

Less Grout Lines

One obvious advantage is you’ll have far less grout to clean when tiles are jumbo-sized. Grout inevitably collects dirt and needs regular maintenance. Minimizing grout lines minimizes this hassle.

Popular Options for Large Format Backsplash Tiles

Many types of tiles are now manufactured in large sizes, giving you lots of options for oversized backsplash tile. Here are some top choices:


Porcelain tile is a popular choice for contemporary kitchens. Made from refined clay, it’s very durable and water-resistant. Porcelain comes in matte, high-gloss, and even textured finishes. It provides a seamless, sleek look in large formats.

Ceramic Tile

Available in a huge range of styles, ceramic tile works beautifully for backsplashes. Modern options mimic materials like concrete, marble, and wood in large tile sizes. Richly patterned, decorative ceramic tiles can make a major style statement.

Natural Stone

Granites, marbles, travertines and slates are just some of the many natural stone varieties available as large format tile. Stone naturally has beautiful veining, swirls, and texture that really stand out in oversized shapes.

Glass Tile

For a glossy, reflective surface, glass tile is hard to beat. New technology allows glass tile to be produced in big sizes, like 1′ x 3′ rectangles. This creates amazing visual impact over a stove or sink.

Design Considerations for Oversized Backsplash Tiles

There are a few important considerations when working with large format tiles:

Selecting Grout Color

Since there will be fewer grout lines, choose a grout color that complements the tile rather than competes with it. A neutral shade usually works best.

Accounting for Uneven Walls

Make sure walls are as even as possible, since large tiles will accentuate any imperfections. High-quality backerboard and professional installation are key.

Avoiding Appearance of Cracks

Larger grout joints are needed with bigger tiles to avoid the appearance of cracks from natural tile warping or wall shifting. At least 1/8-inch grout joints are recommended.

Managing the Weight

Natural stone and some porcelain tiles in large formats can be quite heavy. Make sure your walls can support the weight without issues like sagging.

Preparing the Floor

Large floor tiles below the backsplash may need to be removed so the backsplash tiles can be installed underneath them for proper support.

How High Should You Go with Large Tiles?

For best visual impact, most designers recommend installing large format backsplash tiles from counter height all the way to the ceiling. This creates an awe-inspiring, floor-to-ceiling focal point.

If budget is a consideration, you can also opt to do a standard 4-6 inch backsplash height with small tiles, then use the oversized tile above that. This allows you to use fewer of the more expensive large tiles.

Another option is to do a mixed size design, with a row of small mosaic tiles at the counter transitioning into the bigger tiles above.

Can Large Tiles Work with Upper Cabinets?

Yes, absolutely! Large format backsplash tiles look amazing paired with wall-mounted upper cabinets.

The minimal grout lines and oversized scale help make the cabinets appear to float gracefully on the wall. It creates a really clean, modern look.

Make sure any cut-outs for outlets, etc are accounted for in the tile design, and carefully measure to ensure the tile edges will line up evenly across cabinet seams.

Best Practices for Installing Large Tile Backsplashes

Installing jumbo size tiles takes a bit more forethought and precision than small tile. Here are some top tips for success:

  • Carefully level and prepare the wall surface to accept the tile. Any unevenness will be exaggerated with large tiles.
  • Use the proper adhesive and carefully follow instructions for large format tiles. This is not the time to cut corners.
  • Plan your layout to avoid too many skinny cut tiles around edges and openings. Cut wide grout channels instead.
  • Have tile cuts done professionally, or invest in the proper wet saw for clean, precise cuts. Ragged edges will detract.
  • Allow the proper drying time for adhesive before grouting big tiles. Rushing can mean tiles shift and crack.
  • Work in small sections, completing cutting, adhesive, alignments, leveling, and grouting before moving to the next section.
  • Use a grout release prior to grouting to prevent stained porcelain or textured tiles.

Paying close attention to prep work, thoughtful design, and methodical installation will help ensure your large format backsplash tile shines. Consider hiring a pro if you’re uncomfortable tackling such an important job solo.

Stylish Large Tile Backsplash Design Ideas

Here are some stunning ways to use oversized tiles in kitchen backsplash designs:

Statement Subway Tile

Extra long, thin tiles laid in the classic brick pattern create big visual impact. Great for contemporary and farmhouse designs alike.

Geometric Patterns

Large tiles painted or finished with bold geometric designs make a graphic, eye-catching focal point.

Contrasting Grout Color

Using a dark grout color with lighter tiles (or vice versa) helps the large scale stand out even more.

Inlay Accents

Thin tile “ribbons” or geometric mosaic tile inlays jazz up solid large format tiles.

Mirrored Tiles

For serious drama, mirrored tiles reflect light beautifully when installed in large sizes.

Marble Herringbone

The gorgeous veining in marble tile is highlighted in a herringbone pattern of oversized tiles.

Modern Graphic Art

Recreate iconic graphic art or minimalist designs on large tile formats for an artsy pop of color.

Common Questions about Large Tile Backsplashes

Here are answers to some frequently asked questions about using large format tiles for kitchen backsplashes:

Can you use large tiles for a backsplash?

Yes, absolutely! As long as proper installation techniques are used for the wall surface and tile, large format tiles make a striking backsplash choice.

What size tile is best for a backsplash?

There is no single best size. Many designers prefer large tiles at least 12″ x 12″ or bigger for modern backsplash style. Mosaic tiles under 4″ are also common. Mixing sizes can be very effective too.

Should you use large tiles if you have imperfect walls?

It’s better to correct any wall imperfections before installing large tiles, as their scale will exaggerate unevenness. If issues can’t be fixed, smaller tile is likely the better choice.

Can you mix different tile sizes in a backsplash?

Mixing large and small tiles in a backsplash design is absolutely an option. One popular look is a row of mosaic tile along the counter transitioning to larger tiles above.

Should tile backsplash go all the way to ceiling?

Full height backsplashes are very popular, but smaller 4-6 inch height backsplashes are also common over counters. There are no set rules, so choose the look you like best!


Installing oversized tiles is a fantastic way to create a showstopping, contemporary backsplash. Large format tile offers a sleek, minimalist look with the benefits of quicker installation and easier maintenance. Just be sure to properly prep the wall surface, carefully design the tile layout, and meticulously install the tile. With the right approach, big tiles can make a huge visual impact in your kitchen.