Do I Need a Backsplash in My Bathroom?

Having a backsplash in your bathroom can provide both aesthetic and functional benefits. Here is a detailed look at whether or not you need a backsplash in your bathroom.

What is a Bathroom Backsplash?

A bathroom backsplash is a decorative and protective surface that is installed on the wall behind sinks, tubs, showers and other bathroom fixtures. Backsplashes are typically made from tile, stone, glass, metal or other water-resistant materials.

The main purpose of a backsplash is to protect the walls from water damage and stains. The backsplash takes the brunt of water splashes and splatters so your painted or wallpapered walls don’t have to.

Benefits of Installing a Bathroom Backsplash

There are several benefits to installing a backsplash in your bathroom:

Aesthetic Appeal

Backsplashes provide an opportunity to add visual interest and beauty to your bathroom. Tiles, stones, glass and metals come in a wide range of colors, textures, shapes and patterns. A backsplash can coordinate with your floor tiles or contrast beautifully. It brings color, texture and warmth to the room.

Protects Walls from Water Damage

Plumbing leaks, dripping faucets and splashing water can lead to water stains, peeling paint, mold and mildew growth on walls. A properly sealed backsplash creates a water barrier to protect walls adjacent to sinks, tubs and showers.

Easy to Clean

The impervious and non-porous materials used for backsplashes are easy to clean and maintain. Just wipe away water spots, toothpaste spatter and grime using a cleaning cloth or squeegee.


Quality backsplash materials like ceramic tile or natural stone last for several years with proper installation. This durability maintains the beauty of your backsplash with minimal upkeep.

Increases Resale Value

An attractive, updated backsplash remodel can increase your bathroom’s value and appeal to potential homebuyers. Backsplashes are expected in today’s bathrooms and a missing one can decrease buyer interest.

Do You Really Need a Backsplash in Your Bathroom?

For most bathrooms, installing a backsplash is highly recommended for both form and function. However, here are some instances when you may be able to go without one:

Brand New Construction

If you have a brand new bathroom with moisture-resistant drywall or mold/mildew resistant paint, a backsplash may not be mandatory. But it still provides decor and makes walls easier to clean.

Powder Room

A half-bath or powder room with just a sink and toilet may not need a backsplash if splashing is minimal. But it still adds style and durability.

Infrequent Use

If bathroom usage is very minimal, backsplashes may not be essential. But it’s still advisable to have one installed.

Tiled Shower Walls

If the shower walls already have tile extending up to the ceiling, an additional backsplash may not be needed.

Well Ventilated Room

If your bathroom has a window or powerful exhaust fan, excess moisture can be ventilated out. This reduces the need for a backsplash but does not eliminate it.

Unless your bathroom meets one of the exceptions above, installing a backsplash behind sinks, faucets, tubs and showers is highly recommended. The relatively low cost and high benefits make a backsplash a worthwhile investment in nearly all bathrooms.

Choosing the Right Backsplash Materials

When selecting a backsplash, consider moisture levels, cleaning requirements, durability, cost and design aesthetics. Here are some top backsplash material options:

Ceramic or Porcelain Tile

A very popular choice, ceramic and porcelain tiles provide durability and water-resistance. Their grouted seams must be sealed properly. Many colors and patterns available.

Natural Stone

Granite, marble, travertine and slate backsplashes provide elegance. But they must be sealed to reduce staining and damage. Avoid soft stones with high water exposure.

Glass Tile

Glass tile is shimmery and stylish. It’s waterproof and easy to clean. Tiny mosaic tiles can crack over time. Larger tiles are more durable.

Stainless Steel

Hygienic and modern, stainless steel backsplashes are seamless and highly water-resistant. Good behind stoves or in contemporary styled bathrooms. Shows scratches.

Peel and Stick

Adhesive “peel and stick” backsplash tiles provide easy installation. But they can deteriorate over time and don’t last as long as traditional tiles.

Be sure to select a material suited for high-moisture areas that fits within your budget. Your contractor can help advise you on the best backsplash options.

Backsplash Installation Tips

Proper installation is key to getting the most out of your backsplash. Here are some top tips for installation:

  • Use a waterproof adhesive and grout for long-lasting results.
  • Seal natural stone materials to prevent staining and discoloration.
  • Avoid joints directly behind faucets or showerheads where water hits directly.
  • Extend the backsplash up from the top of bathroom fixtures 4-6 inches onto wall surfaces.
  • Wrap mosaic sheets or small tiles a few inches around corners for a seamless transition.
  • Opt for large format tiles which have fewer grout lines that can get dirty.
  • Use caulk instead of grout along the joint between the backsplash and countertop.

Hiring a professional installer for your backsplash is recommended if tiling is new for you. They can ensure it is properly laid out and sealed.

Backsplash Cost Considerations

The cost of a bathroom backsplash depends on several factors:

  • Materials like tile, stone, metal or glass impact cost significantly
  • Backsplash size determined by the amount of space behind fixtures
  • Complexity of the design – mosaics take more labor time than large tiles
  • Professional installation vs DIY also impacts overall cost

In general, expect to pay $25-$50 per square foot installed including materials and labor. Luxury materials, intricate designs or large bathroom spaces increase costs.

Bathroom Backsplash Maintenance

To keep your backsplash looking like new:

  • Use a squeegee after showering or bathing to wipe water from tile surfaces
  • Keep grout lines clean with regular scrubbing using a stiff grout brush and grout cleaner
  • Re-apply sealers to natural stone materials yearly to protect from stains
  • Use gentle cleaners like dish soap and water to clean tiles – avoid harsh chemicals
  • Watch for any cracks in grout or sealants around sinks and faucets and re-apply as needed

With proper care, your bathroom backsplash can remain an attractive focal point for many years before needing replacement.

Do I Need a Backsplash in My Bathroom? Key Takeaways

  • Backsplashes provide aesthetics and protect bathroom walls from water damage.
  • They are highly recommended for most bathrooms due to their benefits and affordability.
  • Material choice, proper installation and sealing are key for durability.
  • Maintain backsplashes by regularly cleaning grout and reapplying sealants as needed.
  • For new construction or infrequently used powder rooms, they may not be essential but still add value.

So in summary, while not absolutely mandatory, installing a backsplash is advisable for most bathrooms to keep your walls looking their best while adding decorative appeal. Carefully weigh the costs versus benefits when deciding what works for your space.

Frequently Asked Questions About Bathroom Backsplashes

What is the standard height for a bathroom backsplash?

The standard height for a bathroom backsplash is 4-6 inches above the fixture or counter. Backsplashes are intended to protect the wall just above sinks, faucets, tubs and shower fixtures where water splashing typically occurs.

Should bathroom backsplash match floor tile?

It is not essential for your backsplash to match your floor tile. Contrasting tiles can look very attractive. However, matching your backsplash to the same tiles used on shower walls and floors can give a seamless integrated look.

What color backsplash goes best with white bathroom?

Some popular backsplash color choices that pair beautifully with white bathrooms include: gray, navy, light blue, beige, tan, black, and pops of colors like green or turquoise. Metallic hues like silver, gold and copper also complement white.

Is glass or tile better for a bathroom backsplash?

Glass and tile both make excellent backsplash materials. Glass is more waterproof and easier to clean, but more prone to cracking over time. Tile is very durable, though the grout requires more maintenance. Choose based on your aesthetic tastes and budget constraints.

Should you seal bathroom tile backsplash?

It is highly recommended to seal natural stone backsplash tiles such as marble, granite, slate and travertine. This helps prevent staining and degradation. Porous ceramic and cement tiles can also benefit from sealing. Use a penetrating sealer suitable for wet areas.


Installing a backsplash in your bathroom not only prevents costly water damage, but also adds beauty and visual appeal. Carefully consider your bathroom needs, style and budget when deciding on backsplash materials and scope. In most cases, the benefits of having one installed will outweigh the cost. With proper installation and care, a backsplash can be a lasting enhancement to your bathroom.