Fish Scale Tile Backsplash Whimsical Shape & Seaworthy Feel

A fish scale tile backsplash can add a fun, whimsical touch to any kitchen or bathroom. The shimmery, iridescent tiles evoke images of the ocean, providing a seaworthy feel even in landlocked homes. With creative shape designs and colorful glazes, fish scale tiles inject personality and vitality into any space.

An Introduction to Fish Scale Tiles

Fish scale tiles are a distinctive type of ceramic or porcelain tile designed in an overlapping, scalloped pattern to resemble the scales of a fish. The curved, fan-like shape of each “scale” tile creates beautiful shimmering effects as light dances across the surface.

Fish scale tiles have long been popular in coastal decor, but modern manufacturers have expanded the color palettes and shape designs to make them suitable for all types of interiors. While blue and green glazes evoke the sea, fish scale tiles are now available in vibrant hues like fiery orange, sunny yellow, and bold purple. Neutral shades like white, gray, and black provide versatility for blending with existing decor.

In addition to solid colors, some fish scale tile options feature metallic glazes, iridescent finishes, or speckled, multi-colored patterns. This diversity allows homeowners to select fish scale backsplash tiles aligned with their personal style.

Beyond the classic rounded scallop shape, contemporary fish scale tiles may have more geometric, angular profiles or whimsical interpretations of scales. This stylistic freedom enables customized designs – mix and match for a patchwork look or stick to one shape for visual continuity.

Benefits of a Fish Scale Tile Backsplash

Installing a fish scale tile backsplash provides both aesthetic and functional advantages:

Visual Interest

The dimensional, shimmery surface catches and reflects light, creating captivating visual effects as you move through the space. Fish scale tiles add life and personality to backsplashes.

Textural Interest

The ridged texture provides tactile appeal, giving a space depth and making it more engaging. The tiles feel as good as they look.


Ceramic and porcelain tiles stand up well to moisture, stains, and daily wear-and-tear. Fish scale tile backsplashes are built to last for years of beauty and service.

Easy Maintenance

The smooth glazed surface resists grime and cleans up nicely with just mild soap and water. Fish scale tile requires very little maintenance.

Coastal Charm

The ocean-evoking tiles conjure laidback coastal vibes and work especially well in homes with beachy design elements. They provide a seaworthy feel.

Whimsical Accent

With shapes ranging from subtler ripples to more overtly fishy profiles, fish scale tile injects a sense of playfulness and whimsy into a space.

Design Flexibility

Available in myriad colors, patterns, and dimensions, fish scale tiles can coordinate with any existing style. They blend beautifully in both traditional and contemporary kitchens.

Moisture Resistance

The impervious glazed surface inhibits moisture absorption, making fish scale tiles ideal for backsplashes in wet areas like behind sinks and stoves.

Popular Types of Fish Scale Tiles

Many varieties of fish scale tile exist to match different design aesthetics:

Classic Scallop

With their gently rounded profiles, scallop-shaped tiles lined up in rows are the most iconic fish scale tile look. The repeating oval fans are strongly reminiscent of scales. Scallop tiles create soft, flowing lines and subtle shimmer. They work in any style kitchen.


Chevron fish scale tiles have a pronounced point and slope, forming a zig-zag pattern. The dramatic peaks and valleys amp up the dimensional effect. Chevron fish scale tiles make a bold, modern statement.


Hexagonal fish scale tiles have six straight sides meeting in pointed corners. The faceted shape gives them a more structured, geometric look. Hex fish scales offer an artsy, contemporary vibe.


Ogee fish scale tiles have an elegant, double-curved silhouette resembling an elongated S-shape. The fluid lines provide movement and grace. Ogee fish scale tiles bring a touch of sophistication.


With eight angled straight sides, octagonal fish scale tiles have a distinctively sharp, star-like shape. The crisper lines lend them a funky, trendy appeal. Octagonal fish scales tiles create an energetic mood.

Random Mix

For maximum variety, many homeowners opt to mix and match fish scale tiles of assorted sizes and profiles. The random blending avoids uniformity for a lively collage effect.

Perfect Placement for Fish Scale Tiles

The most common spot for installing fish scale tiles is as a backsplash in the kitchen or bathroom. But this dazzling surface treatment can enhance any vertical space.

Kitchen Backsplash

A fish scale tile backsplash brings eye-catching beauty to the kitchen. Placed behind the sink and stove, the tiles also provide practical protection from splatters and smears. Kitchen backsplashes see a lot of action, so the durable fish scale tiles hold up well.

Bathroom Backsplash

Moisture-resistant fish scale tiles work wonderfully behind bathroom sinks and flanking mirrors. Their radiance amplifies the bright, airy ambiance that bathrooms aim for. An iridescent fish scale backsplash keeps the look fresh.

Shower Walls

Full walls of fish scale tile lend showers and tub surrounds a luxurious spa-like feel. The tiles easily repel water and soap scum to stay sparkling clean with minimal maintenance. Fish scales in the shower add texture and help prevent slips.

Fireplace Surround

Encircling a fireplace with the dimensional tiles creates a striking focal point and reflects flickering firelight. Metallic, light-catching fish scale tiles look especially dazzling on fireplace facings.

Backlit Walls

When mounted on walls illuminated with LED lighting, the translucent tiles become luminous, like shimmering scales through water. Backlit fish scale walls make a stunning decorative statement.

Ceiling Accents

Though less common, fish scale tiles can also be installed on ceilings in small doses. Clustering them over a kitchen sink or tub creates intriguing little patches of texture overhead.

Mixing and Matching Fish Scale Tile Designs

One of the joys of fish scale tiles is combining sizes, shapes, colors, and finishes to design a truly custom creation. Here are some inspiring ideas:

  • Alternate cool and warm hues in your tile selection for vibrant contrast, like blending deep teal and burnt orange scales.
  • Incorporate fish scale tiles as an accent within a field of classic subway tiles.
  • Shape the tiles into bold geometrics like zigzags or diamonds.
  • Play with direction by running some rows vertically and others horizontally.
  • Frame solid colored tiles with a border of metallic or iridescent tiles.
  • Scatter random shards of fish scale mosaic tiles across a backsplash.
  • Pair rectangular fish scale tiles with their square counterpart.
  • Contrast matte tiles with high-shine glossy ones.
  • Gradually shift colors in an ombre design, like pale blue to deep indigo.
  • Combine fish scale tiles with other coastal elements like rope molding, reclaimed driftwood shelves, or nautical accessories.

Expert Tips for Installing Fish Scale Tile

Installing fish scale tile backsplashes is usually a do-it-yourself friendly project, but proper planning and precision are key for achieving the desired visual effect. Here are some pro tips:

  • Carefully map out your tile layout and design before installing, playing with loose samples to visualize patterns and color combinations.
  • Use level lines for neatly establishing the bottom and top borders of your backsplash.
  • The scalloped edges need special attention so tiles fit snugly without gaps. Trim tiles or use spacers as needed.
  • For a seamless look, use tiles from the same production lot and blend packs during installation.
  • Use a high quality thinset mortar suitable for the tile and wall surface. Apply an even, smooth layer.
  • Be meticulous about evenly spacing tiles and maintaining alignment of rows as you work in sections.
  • For complicated layouts, make story poles to map designs and proportions before installing.
  • Grout fish scale tile with a grout float for smooth joints that resist cracking and staining.
  • Expect the project to be labor intensive and exercise patience – the results will be worth it!

Fish Scale Tile Maintenance Tips

Caring for fish scale tiles is simple, but follow these tips to keep them looking sensational:

  • Seal grout lines periodically to inhibit staining and aid cleaning. Consider using an epoxy grout.
  • Use a pH neutral cleaner to safely clean fish scale tiles without damaging the finish.
  • Microfiber cloths easily remove grime without scratching the tiles.
  • Spot clean tiles immediately after spills and splatters to prevent stubborn staining.
  • Dry tiles after cleaning to avoid water marks, especially on grout lines.
  • Re-seal fish scale tiles every 1-2 years to renew stain protection and luster.
  • Avoid abrasive cleansers, scouring pads, or harsh chemicals that can scratch, dull, or etch fish scale tiles.

Outfitting the Rest of the Space

While fish scale tiles make a eye-catching statement, integrate other elements to finish the room with a cohesive seaworthy feel:

Cabinetry – For kitchens, select cabinetry with a smooth, high gloss finish. White shaker cabinets complement without competing.

Countertops – Quartz or solid surface countertops in white, blue, or sea glass colors pair nicely with fish scale tiles.

Accessories – Incorporate nautical accents like ceramic coral sculptures, driftwood trays, rope baskets, or shell-shaped bowls.

Fixtures – Brushed nickel, antique bronze, and other metallic finishes suit the shimmer of fish scale tiles.

Window Treatments – Hang breezy linen cafe curtains or Roman shades in sand, seafoam, and other beachy hues.

Furnishings – Keep furnishings light. Rattan bar stools, woven chairs, and reclaimed wood tables reinforce the coastal vibe.

Paint Colors – Soft aquas, serene greens, warm sand, and clean whites create a fresh backdrop for vibrant fish scale tiles.

Lighting – Crystal pendants, sconces, and undercabinet lighting amplify the sparkle. Opt for lighting with a nautical bent.


With their distinctive scalloped shape and lustrous finish, fish scale tiles inject whimsical charm, textural interest, and a seaworthy essence into kitchens, baths, and any space needing a dose of personality. Homeowners can unleash their creativity blending colors, shapes, and designs for custom fish scale tile backsplashes that delight and impress. With proper installation and care, these durable, low maintenance tiles will adorn spaces with their radiant beauty for years to come.






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