Can You Use Large Tiles for Kitchen Backsplash?

Using large format tiles for your kitchen backsplash can create a dramatic, eye-catching look. With so many styles and designs available today, large tiles allow you to make a bold statement and bring an artistic flair to your kitchen decor. However, before deciding on supersized backsplash tiles, there are some important factors to consider.

What are Large Format Tiles?

Large format tiles are defined as tiles that have one side measuring 15 inches or longer. For backsplash applications, common large format sizes include:

  • 12 x 24 inch subway tiles
  • 16 x 16 inch square tiles
  • 24 x 48 inch rectangular tiles
  • Mosaic sheets up to 32 x 48 inches

These oversized tiles are an increasingly popular choice for kitchen backsplashes and allow for fewer grout lines and a more seamless look. The large scale adds visual drama and impact.

Benefits of Using Large Tiles

There are several advantages to choosing large format tiles for your backsplash:

Fewer Grout Lines

With fewer grout lines, large tiles create a sleek, contemporary look. The tile itself takes center stage rather than the grout. This uninterrupted expanse of tile can make a small kitchen appear larger.

Cohesive Visual Flow

The minimal grout lines enable large tiles to blend together for a seamless, cohesive flow. This continuity and fluidity can lend a polished, upscale look.

Quicker Installation

Large tiles require less cutting and detailed fitting during installation compared to small mosaic tiles. This can equate to faster installation.

Easy Cleaning

Having fewer grout lines to scrub makes cleaning and maintenance simpler. Grout inevitably collects dirt and grime over time. Minimizing grout decreases this effect.

Modern Style

Oversized tiles align with contemporary design trends and instantly upgrade a kitchen’s aesthetic. The bold look is eye-catching and fashion-forward.

Considerations When Using Large Tiles

While large format tiles offer definite advantages, there are also some factors to weigh before installing them:

Additional Weight

Larger tiles add more weight to your backsplash which needs to be properly supported. Your contractor will need to ensure that the wall surface and framing can handle the extra mass.

Precise Installation

Achieving a flush, even surface is more challenging with large tiles. Minor unevenness in the tiles themselves or the substrate can telegraph. Careful installation is key.

Increased Cost

In general, large format tiles have a higher price point per square foot than smaller mosaic tiles. The specialized installation can also boost labor costs.

Accentuating Flaws

Any wall imperfections will be more visible behind expansive tiles rather than broken up with many grout lines. The existing wall surface should be as flat and smooth as possible.

Limited Design Flexibility

Cutting and shaping large tiles into custom designs is difficult. Options for intricate patterns or inserts are restricted compared to smaller tile sizes.

Tips for Installing Large Tile Backsplashes

If you decide to use large format tiles for your kitchen backsplash, follow these tips:

  • Select tiles with little to no variation in dimensions to prevent lippage (uneven tile edges).
  • Use a quality tile leveling system during installation to keep tiles flat and aligned.
  • Check that the wall surface is smooth and plumb with no significant deviations.
  • Use a high quality thinset mortar suitable for large tiles and the wall type.
  • Grout with a unsanded grout to get into the tile joints more easily.
  • Opt for a contrasting grout color to define the tile edges since there are fewer lines.
  • Hire an experienced tile setter familiar with large tile installation.

Ideas and Options for Large Tile Backsplashes

Here are some stylish and practical ideas to inspire your dream backsplash using large format tiles:

Subway Tile

Classic white 3×12 inch or 4×12 inch subway tiles create a glossy, streamlined look. Lay them in a herringbone pattern for added flair.

Marble or Travertine

Elegant marble, travertine, or limestone tiles in soft earth tones bring texture and warmth. Keep the veining consistent.

Dark colors

Make a dramatic statement with glossy black, deep navy, or dark green tiles. Pair with brass fixtures for an eye-catching vignette.

Bold patterns

Use contrasting colors, shapes, or tile orientations to create a geometric focal point. Try chevrons, stacked or subway patterns.

Natural Stone Mosaics

A wall-sized mosaic of individual stone tiles creates grand visual impact. The range of natural colors and shapes is mesmerizing.

Metal Tiles

For contemporary glam, shiny metallic tiles in silver, gold, copper or mercury glass reflect light beautifully. Combine with glass mosaics.


Installing large format tiles as your kitchen backsplash adds an artistic, custom look full of style and visual appeal. Keep in mind proper prep and installation factors to ensure the tiles lay flat and function well over years of use. With an endless array of colors, materials, finishes and layouts, oversized tiles enable you to create a truly unique designer backsplash. The seamless expanses and modern aesthetic make a striking focal point full of dimension and depth.