Do You Need a Backsplash in a Bathroom?

Installing a backsplash in your bathroom can make a huge difference in the look and feel of the space. But is a backsplash strictly necessary? Here is a detailed look at the pros and cons of adding a backsplash to help you decide if you need one in your bathroom.

What is a Backsplash?

A backsplash is a decorative, protective wall covering that is installed directly behind sinks, bathtubs, showers or other wet areas. 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 the water splashes so your painted or wallpapered walls don’t have to.

Benefits of Adding a Backsplash

There are several reasons why installing a backsplash in your bathroom is a good idea:

Aesthetic Appeal

Backsplashes serve both form and function. They add visual interest and personality to your bathroom. Tiled backsplashes come in an endless array of colors, textures, materials, shapes and patterns. This allows you to complement your overall bathroom decor or create a focal point.

Protects Walls from Water Damage

Plumbing and water sources in bathrooms create many opportunities for leaks and splashes. Constant exposure to moisture can cause walls to deteriorate, warp or grow mold and mildew. A properly sealed backsplash creates a water barrier to protect walls.

Easier to Clean

The surfaces of backsplashes are smooth and non-porous. This prevents soap scum, hard water deposits and grime from penetrating. Backsplashes can simply be wiped clean versus scrubbing down a larger wall area. Their contained size also takes less time and effort to clean.

Increased Durability

Materials like ceramic tile and natural stone stand up to humidity, splashes and daily wear and tear better than drywall or wallpaper. The sturdiness of backsplashes prevents damage to your walls in the long run.

Reasons You May Not Need a Backsplash

Even with the benefits, there are still circumstances where a backsplash may be unnecessary:

Using Moisture-Resistant Drywall

Painted drywall walls without backsplash protection are prone to water damage. But moisture-resistant drywall with waterproof paint can withstand moderate humidity and splashing.

Focusing Splashes on the Countertop

If you don’t have children who splash wildly during baths, carefully wiping down the countertops after sink use may be sufficient. Limiting direct water contact with walls minimizes need for backsplash.

Having a Cost-Conscious Budget

Backsplashes require an extra installation step along with purchasing backsplash materials. This adds on to the total bathroom remodel budget. Those focused strictly on costs may consider skipping it.

Prioritizing a Minimalist Look

Some design styles embrace simple, streamlined aesthetics. Visual interest added from backsplashes may clutter the look. Large neutral wall spaces keep the room feeling clean and open.

Key Factors to Consider

When deciding on adding a bathroom backsplash, assess your unique situation:

Bathroom Size and Layout

Backsplashes are most useful in compact spaces where sinks and tubs are closer to walls. If plumbing fixtures are farther away, a backsplash is less important.

Wall Composition Behind Wet Areas

If you have moisture-vulnerable surfaces like wallpaper or wood paneling, a backsplash helps protect from leaks and condensation damage.

Budget for Project

Backsplashes aren’t necessary, so weigh the cost versus benefits. But smaller mosaic tiles or tin backsplashes are affordable options.

Personal Decor Tastes

Consider your color scheme, style and whether you want an accent wall. Neutral walls keep the focus on the backsplash while bold colors fight for attention.

DIY Skills

Backsplashes require tiling knowledge. If you must hire out, it adds on labor fees versus only purchasing materials for a DIY job.

Answers to Common Questions

Do you need a backsplash behind a pedestal sink?

A pedestal sink is more exposed and may have more splashing. But since it doesn’t have a counter, it may also have more space between the sink and wall. Evaluate your specific setup, but backsplashes can still help protect walls with pedestal sinks.

Should backsplashes match countertops?

Matching the countertop and backsplash creates a streamlined, cohesive look. Contrasting colors makes the backsplash stand out more. The choice comes down to personal preference. But fibers in countertop materials like quartz can be repeated in the backsplash.

How high should a bathroom backsplash be installed?

Backsplash height depends on the location. Behind sinks, backsplashes should extend 1-2 inches above the faucet handles. Behind bathtubs without showers, they should reach at least 4 inches above the lip. In shower areas, full height backsplashes from ceiling to tub are recommended.

How do you attach bathroom backsplash tiles?

Use a mortar or adhesive appropriate for the tile and wall material. Apply in small sections to prevent drying before tiles are set. Use spacers between tiles for consistent grout lines. Don’t forget to seal grout and caulk edges once installed.

Can you put wallpaper behind a bathroom backsplash?

Yes, wallpaper covered by a backsplash will be protected from moisture damage. Use an adhesive wallpaper or treat paper wallpaper with sealer. Just ensure seams are completely covered by backsplash tiles.


Adding a backsplash in your bathroom remodel comes with great benefits but may not be totally necessary depending on your space and priorities. Assess if you have adequate splash protection from wall composition and plumbing layout first. If your walls need some coverage, a backsplash is an attractive way to provide it. Carefully weigh the pros and cons outlined here against your bathroom plans, budget and style. This will determine if investing in a backsplash is a good decision for your bathroom.