Adding a backsplash to your kitchen can take the design to the next level and provide numerous practical benefits. With so many options for materials, colors, and patterns to choose from, it’s worth considering if a backsplash is right for your space. Keep reading to learn more about the pros and cons of installing a kitchen backsplash and how to determine if one is needed in your home.
What is a Backsplash?
A backsplash is a protective surface installed on the wall behind a countertop, stove, or sink. Backsplashes are typically made from tile, metal, glass, marble, or other water-resistant materials. The main purposes of a backsplash are to:
- Protect the walls from water damage, grease splatter, and other messes during food prep and cleanup.
- Provide an accent area to tie together cabinetry, countertops, and other finishes.
- Enhance the visual appeal and style of the kitchen.
Backsplashes most commonly run along the wall space between the countertops and kitchen cabinets. They typically range from 4 to 6 inches in height on average. Many backsplashes are designed to coordinate or contrast with the countertop materials for a cohesive look.
The Pros of Installing a Backsplash
There are many great reasons to add a backsplash to your kitchen remodel or upgrade:
Protection for the Walls
One of the biggest benefits of a backsplash is protecting walls from moisture, grease, food splatter, and other messes that can cause stains, discoloration, and damage over time.
Tile, metal, glass, and other non-porous materials provide a water-resistant barrier that prevents liquids and grime from seeping into the drywall or paint. This makes clean up much easier. Simply wipe away messes from the backsplash instead of dealing with tough stains on the actual wall.
Backsplashes also protect painted walls from chipping and peeling caused by cooking splatters and constant cleaning near the stove or sink. Their durable and seamless surface is much easier to maintain.
Easier Cleaning and Maintenance
In addition to preventing wall damage, non-porous backsplash materials like glass tile or metal are extremely simple to wipe down. Just a few minutes of cleaning with soap and water or disinfecting wipes can keep your backsplash looking fresh and new.
The regular cleaning required for a backsplash is much more manageable compared to re-painting walls or patching drywall damage. Keeping the backsplash area clutter-free also makes deep cleaning the rest of the kitchen quicker.
Visual Appeal and Design
Backsplashes provide beautiful visual appeal and an opportunity to enhance your kitchen’s style. Whether you want to match your existing decor or make a bold statement, backsplashes come in a versatile array of materials, colors, patterns, and textures.
From sleek glass tile to intricate mosaics, natural stone slabs to eye-catching marbled porcelain, it’s easy to find a backsplash design aligned with your aesthetic vision.
They are the perfect blank canvas in your kitchen to showcase your taste with artisan appeal. A backsplash can even conceal any flaws or uneven areas on the wall underneath for a flawlessly polished look.
Increased Resale Value
Installing a backsplash is one of the most popular kitchen upgrades buyers look for. The addition of a backsplash can make your kitchen look more high-end and custom. This can bolster resale value if selling your home.
Along with countertops, cabinets, and floors, the backsplash is one of the first design aspects prospective buyers will notice upon entering a kitchen space. A backsplash can provide that extra visual “wow” factor to help sell your home faster.
The Cons of Installing a Backsplash
While backsplashes offer numerous benefits, there are also some potential downsides to consider:
The cost of a backsplash installation can range widely depending on the materials and complexity of the design. While some quality peel-and-stick backsplash options can be DIY-installed for under $100, custom tile or stone backsplashes often cost $50 per square foot or more when professionally installed.
Be sure to factor in materials, needed supplies and tools, the backsplash area size, difficulty of installation, and labor fees if using a contractor. Keep in mind, a pricier backsplash may add value and appeal for future resale.
Although backsplashes are designed to be mess and damage-resistant, they do require regular cleaning to keep surfaces free of grime buildup. Textured materials like brick, subway tile, and stainless steel often need a bit more scrubbing and attention to clean grout lines and crevices where grease or soap scum can collect.
Improper cleaning techniques could lead to scratching, staining, discoloration or damage over time. Be sure to follow any manufacturer’s care instructions. Re-sealing grout or caulk lines may be needed occasionally.
Depending on the backsplash materials used and needed cuts, the installation process can range from easy DIY to complex. Peel-and-stick backsplash panels or sheets of metal and glass are the easiest to install.
Multi-piece tile patterns, granite slabs, or intricate designs often require special tools, skills, time, and the help of a professional installer. This can add to the overall costs and hassle. Be sure to assess your DIY skills or prepare to hire a contactor for more complex backsplash projects.
Finding backsplash materials that coordinate well with existing countertops may take some extra searching. If your counters and backsplash aren’t cohesive, the kitchen aesthetic can feel disjointed or messy.
You may need to replace the countertops, change the planned backsplash materials, or mix-and-match sheens, colors, and textures until you find a combination that works.
When is a Backsplash Necessary?
Here are some key factors to help determine if your kitchen truly needs a backsplash:
There is No Existing Backsplash
If your kitchen walls are missing a backsplash and running directly into countertops or cabinets, adding one should be strongly considered. The lack of a protective barrier means your walls are more susceptible to damage from moisture, food, grease, and cleaning products. A quality backsplash solves this issue.
To Protect New Surfaces
Does your kitchen feature freshly painted walls, new wallpaper, or another finished accent wall? Protect them by adding a backsplash during your remodel. The same applies if you are installing brand new countertops or cabinets – combine them with a complementary backsplash.
Moisture Issues Around the Sink
Notice water stains, warped surfaces, peeling paint, or other damage around the sink area? This is a sign that a water-resistant backsplash is needed. Mopping and handwashing dishes constantly splashes moisture onto surrounding walls. A backsplash barrier will prevent continued water damage.
Grease Problems Around Cooktops
Do you constantly spot greasy buildup on the walls near the stove? This residue can lead to yellowing, chipping paint, and staining over time. A backsplash is an easy solution to contain cooking grease and splatters before they reach the walls.
To Refresh an Outdated Kitchen
Is your current kitchen feeling boring or stuck in a past decade design-wise? One of the easiest and most affordable ways to update a kitchen’s look is by adding a modern, stylish backsplash. Choose materials like metallic glass tile or chic patterns to re-energize your space.
To Complete a Kitchen Remodel
Nearly all kitchen remodels and upgrades benefit from the addition of a backsplash. As you update countertops, cabinets, sinks, and faucets, complete the fresh new look with a trendy backsplash that ties the whole space together.
To Increase Resale Value
Planning to sell your home soon? Add buyer appeal by installing a backsplash that complements your current kitchen aesthetic. The listing photos will shine and really make your kitchen standout. Plus, a backsplash adds monetary value and shows your kitchen is move-in ready.
To Make a Design Statement
Want to showcase your unique style? Use the backsplash as an opportunity to do so! From bold colors and prints to handmade tile and textured 3D panels, a distinctive backsplash becomes a focal point.
Backsplash Materials and Options
The types of materials available for kitchen backsplashes are virtually endless. Consider the pros, cons and costs for each to determine which is best suited for your space and style:
Ceramic or Porcelain Tile
A timeless backsplash option combining affordability, durability, and design versatility. Ceramic and porcelain tiles come in endless colors, shapes, patterns, and textures including mosaics, subway tile, and stone lookalikes. Porcelain grades offer increased stain and water resistance. Re-grouting may be needed over time.
Cost: Approximately $5 – $50 per sq. ft. installed
- Budget friendly
- Easy to clean
- Works with any kitchen style
- Very durable and moisture resistant
- Easy installation for DIY
- Can chip or crack if impacted
- Grout lines may need re-sealing
Natural Stone Tile or Slabs
Elegant and unique patterns from natural granite, marble, travertine, slate, and other quarried stone varieties. More porous than ceramic tile requiring sealants. Works beautifully in upscale kitchens.
Cost: Approximately $40 – $100 per sq. ft. installed
- One-of-a-kind natural beauty
- withstands heat and scratches
- Adds high-end luxury
- Long-lasting when sealed
- Porous and needs re-sealing
- Chips and cracks easily
- Harder to DIY install
- Stains easily if unsealed
Glass Tile or Mosaic Sheets
Sleek and modern with reflective brilliance. Glass backsplash tiles come in a spectrum of solid colors, metallic sheens, and transparent mosaic blends. Heat and stain resistant. Cuts easily for professional installs.
Cost: Approximately $10 – $50 per sq. ft. installed
- Contemporary, trendy aesthetic
- Easy to wipe down and keep clean
- Does not stain or discolor
- Light reflective qualities
- Simple installation
- Avoid impact that can cause cracks
- Less texture and grip than ceramic tile
- Higher cost for intricate mosaics
A commercial, industrial vibe of shiny metal slabs, sheets, or tiles. Stainless backsplashes have a futuristic, sleek look. Great heat and moisture resistance. Prone to greasy fingerprints and water spots.
Cost: Approximately $40 – $100 per sq. ft. installed
- Modern, professional look
- Resists high heat, grease, and moisture
- Few grout lines for easy cleaning
- Durable and long-lasting
- Shows fingerprints, smudges, and water spots
- Susceptible to scratches
- Harder DIY installation
- Can dent if impacted
Natural granite, quartzite, and marble backsplash slabs offer unmatched beauty in continuous pieces without seams. Requires professional installation. Avoid porous options prone to staining.
Cost: Approximately $75 – $200 per sq. ft. installed
- Natural material with design depth
- Few seams or grout lines
- Can be cut for a custom fit
- High-end, luxurious look
- Heavy, requires professional install
- Natural stone can stain or etch
- Higher cost than tile or panels
- Limited size options
Intricately patterned metal tiles infuse industrial flair. Often made from aluminum or copper. Cool, modern look for contemporary spaces. Naturally antimicrobial. Ensure moisture-safe installation.
Cost: Approximately $10 – $50 per sq. ft. installed
- Cutting edge, stylish aesthetic
- Naturally germ resistant
- Durable and easy to clean finish
- Can mimic other materials like wood or stone
- Copper oxidizes over time
- Challenging DIY installation
- Avoid direct contact with acids or cleaners
Peel-and-Stick Backsplash Panels
Budget-friendly DIY backsplash solution of adhesive film, vinyl, or laminate sheets. Peel off backing paper and press onto wall. Cut with scissors or utility knife. Easy upgrade for renters.
Cost: Approximately $1 – $10 per sq. ft.
- Very affordable material cost
- Easy “peel-and-stick” application
- Many color and finish options
- Temporary upgrade for renters
- Less durable than tile or metal
- Peeling edges over time
- Limited size options
- May stain or show grease
Beaded Board or Wood
Cottage-chic tongue-and-groove planks or decorative wooden beadboard panels. Provides a casual, rustic feel. Requires careful sealing to avoid moisture damage.
Cost: Approximately $10 – $30 per sq. ft. installed
- Timeless, farmhouse aesthetic
- Warmer vibe than tile or glass
- Easy DIY installation
- Many finish and stain options
- Prone to water damage and swelling
- Requires re-sealing every 1-2 years
- Stains easily if unsealed
- Not heat resistant
Smart Planning Tips
- Select backsplash materials that work cohesively with your cabinetry, countertop, flooring, and other kitchen finishes. Tying everything together will give a built-in, custom look.
- Gather inspiration from kitchen designs in magazines, Pinterest, model homes, or social media. This will help refine your backsplash “wish list” based on colors, materials, patterns, etc.
- Measure carefully to calculate the exact square footage you’ll need according to your backsplash installation area. Leave a small margin of extra tiles or panels.
- For do-it-yourself projects, limit backsplash cuts to basic straight lines or simple shapes. Complex tile layouts or glass sheets often require a pro.
- White and neutral backsplash choices pair well with any kitchen style from modern to traditional. Go bold for maximum drama or soft for a subtle touch.
- Clean surfaces thoroughly and ensure adequate drying time before installation. Follow all manufacturer instructions for prep and installation.
- Consider hiring a professional installer for stone slabs, glass tile, or intricate mosaic patterns. Their expertise saves time and prevents headaches.
Costs and Budgeting
Backsplash installation costs vary based on the materials, complexity of cuts, existing wall quality, and if hiring a contractor. Here are typical price ranges:
- Peel-and-stick backsplash panels or sheets: $1 to $10 per sq. ft.
- Ceramic, porcelain or glass tile: $5 to $50 per sq. ft. installed
- Natural stone tile or slab backsplash: $40 to $200 per sq. ft. installed
- Metal or stainless steel backsplash: $40 to $100 per sq. ft. installed
- Professional installation labor costs: $40 to $80 per hour
Be sure to calculate exact measurements for the backsplash area and add an extra 10% to allow for cuts, patterns, miscalculations, or future repairs. Also factor in additional supplies like grout, mortar, sealants, adhesive, tile spacers, and trim molding.
The overall investment can provide great return in terms of added kitchen beauty, easier maintenance, and increased home value over time.
Enhancing Your Kitchen with a Backsplash
Here are quick tips to select and install a kitchen backsplash that takes your space from basic to beautiful:
- Play With Patterns. From zigzags to mosaics, geometric to Moroccan-inspired, don’t be afraid to incorporate shape and visual interest.
- Mix Materials. Combine glass and stone tile or merge metal and ceramic together for depth.
- Texture Wins. Pair sleek cabinets with an organic slate backsplash or rugged wood look tile.
- Frame It Out. Use trim molding above and below the backsplash to define the space.
- Break It Up. For a seamless look, break up backsplashes into two separate zones divided by a focal point.
- Highlight Architectural Details. Use the backsplash to accentuate unique niches, arches, or other built-ins.
- Complimentary Contrast. Choose a backsplash color that pops against your cabinet finish but contains a tone found elsewhere in the space.
- Carry the Color. If your backsplash contains strong colors, incorporate swatches of that shade throughout kitchen accessories and decor.
- Don’t Overlook the Sink. Use a fun material like hammered copper or pennies under floating shelving to make even the sink backsplash stand out.
- Pre-Seal Natural Stone. Applying sealant before and after installing porous stone backsplashes prevents staining and damage.
With endless options for materials, colors, shapes, and designs, backsplashes are a great way to inject your own personal style into a kitchen. Consider your needs for protection, ease of maintenance, budget, and overall vision to create the perfect accent wall that flawlessly ties your whole space together.
Frequently Asked Questions
How high should a kitchen backsplash be?
The most common backsplash height is 4 to 6 inches. This provides ample protection from splashes, grease, and moisture. Full height backsplashes extending from countertop to cabinets are also popular. Accent strips of 12-16 inches high or decorative mini-splashes are options too.
What’s the easiest backsplash to install?
Peel-and-stick backsplash panels provide the easiest installation for DIYers. Just cut pieces to fit