Adding a backsplash to your kitchen can instantly upgrade the look and feel of the space. But before installing a new backsplash, it’s important to determine how much of the wall space behind the countertops you want to cover. Here’s what to consider when deciding how much to add a backsplash in your kitchen.
Factors That Determine Backsplash Coverage
Several key factors impact how much backsplash you need in your kitchen design:
Height of the Backsplash
The minimum recommended height for a backsplash is 4 inches. This protects the wall from minor splattering while cooking and cleaning.
Standard backsplash height is between 4 and 6 inches. For a more seamless, built-in look, extend the backsplash to 18-24 inches. Full height backsplashes that go all the way up to the underside of wall cabinets are also popular.
The typical backsplash height options are:
- Minimum: 4 inches
- Standard: 4 to 6 inches
- Full Height: 18 to 24 inches
- To Ceiling: Below wall cabinets
Choose a height based on your personal style, kitchen dimensions, and budget.
Length Along the Countertops
Backsplashes typically run along the entire length of the countertops. This provides decoration and protection behind sinks, stoves, and other appliances.
However, it’s not essential to have backsplash behind all counter areas. Some homeowners add splashes selectively behind the stove or sink only. This can help reduce costs on materials.
If your countertops turn a corner, the backsplash should follow seamlessly as well. Having an inconsistent end point can make the design look choppy.
Coverage Around Windows and Doors
If the backsplash reaches a window, door, or other opening, you can either:
- Stop the backsplash short of the opening.
- Extend it across the entire wall surface.
Covering the whole wall looks more cohesive, but may not suit your budget or design taste. Checking that window and door casings don’t interfere with the backsplash height is also important.
Backsplash with Island Counters
Island and peninsula countertops do not need backsplashes since they don’t abut walls. The counter surface is visible from all sides.
You can add a small backsplash strictly for decorative purposes. Typically no more than 6 inches is needed.
Amount of Tiles/Materials Needed
Measure the linear feet of counter space needing backsplash coverage. This gives the total amount of tile or materials to purchase. Remember, the backsplash height determines how many rows of tiles are required.
Buying 10-15% extra tiles allows for cuts, mismatches, and future repairs.
How Much Does a Backsplash Cost?
Backsplash installation costs range from $800 to $5,000 depending on the size of the project and materials used:
- Ceramic tile: $3 to $10 per sq. ft. installed
- Glass tile: $8 to $20 per sq. ft installed
- Mosaic tile: $5 to $15 per sq. ft. installed
- Stone tile: $40 to $100 per sq. ft. installed
- Metal tile: $15 to $50 per sq. ft. installed
- Backsplash panels: $10 to $30 per sq. ft. installed
Other material options like marble, quartz, or granite backsplashes can run even higher – from $80 to $150 per square foot installed.
The total price increases if you have a larger backsplash area, choose more expensive materials, or add specialty accents. Complex tile patterns and intricate designs also boost costs.
To estimate your total budget:
- Measure linear feet of backsplash needed
- Note the height in inches
- Multiply linear feet x height in inches x cost per square foot of the tile.
This provides an approximate installation price for comparison. Get professional estimates before making final backsplash decisions.
Backsplash Design Tips
Follow these tips to select a backsplash design that perfectly fits your kitchen:
Complement the Countertops
Choose backsplash tiles or colors that coordinate with the countertops. Contrasting or clashing materials can make the space look disjointed.
Using the same material for both countertops and backsplash is also an option for a streamlined appearance.
Consider the Cabinets
Take cabinet door color and style into account when planning the backsplash. You want the tile to complement the existing cabinetry.
Neutral colored cabinets offer more freedom. But vivid backsplashes can overpower light wood or painted cabinets.
Factor in Appliances and Fixtures
Look at the finishes of sinks, faucets, stoves, and other appliances. Is your hardware black, brass, chrome, bronze or another shade?
Finding a backsplash tile that ties into those finishes gives the space a united feeling.
Decide on Color Scheme
Are you aiming for an overall color palette that’s warm, cool, neutral, bright? The backsplash is a great way to introduce your chosen scheme.
Even just using a pop of color in the backsplash mosaic can establish the tone.
Mind the Lighting
The amount of natural and artificial lighting impacts backsplash appearance. Glossy tiles look best in bright spaces, while matte finishes hide flaws in dim kitchens.
Dark backsplashes can feel too intense with minimal light. But they create drama in well lit rooms.
Look for backsplash materials that are easy to wipe down and keep clean. Textured surfaces like stone may require more maintenance.
Glass, metal, and ceramic tiles have smooth surfaces that resist grime.
How To Install a Kitchen Backsplash
Installing a kitchen backsplash is an approachable DIY project for handy homeowners. Follow these general steps:
1. Prepare the Wall Surface
Thoroughly clean the wall behind the countertop. Remove any old backsplash material or wallpaper still in place.
Fill any cracks or holes for a smooth finish. Prime and paint the wall if needed.
2. Mark the Backsplash Layout
Measure from the countertop to the marked height, and use painters tape to outline the backsplash area. This keeps the installation neat and level.
Also indicate any cutouts needed for outlets, switches, or fixtures.
3. Apply the Adhesive
Spread thinset mortar evenly across the backsplash area using a notched trowel. Work in small sections so the adhesive doesn’t dry out.
Follow the thinset packaging directions closely.
4. Install the Tiles or Panels
Start at the bottom corner and place tiles or panels in the thinset adhesive. Use spacers between pieces for consistent grout lines.
Work row by row going up the backsplash area until complete. Let the thinset fully cure.
5. Finish with Grout
Mix grout compound and apply it over the tiles or panels using a rubber grout float. Let it fully cure before cleaning off residue.
Apply a grout sealer to protect from moisture and stains.
Now stand back and admire your new backsplash installation!
Backsplash Alternatives beyond Tile
Tile is the most prevalent backsplash option. But many other materials can provide beautiful protection behind kitchen counters, like:
- Wood: Low profile reclaimed planks for rustic charm
- Metal: Stainless steel, copper, or tin for contemporary style
- Glass: Clear sheets or colored glass tiles
- Stone: Marble, travertine, granite, or slate
- Prefab Panels: PVC, acrylic, or fiber cement boards
- Paint: Fresh coat of color right on the wall
Explore all the possibilities before deciding how much to add a backsplash in your own kitchen design. Pick a size, height, color, material and style that suits your space, needs and budget.
FAQ About Adding a Backsplash
Get answers to common questions homeowners have about backsplash installation below.
Q: Is a backsplash necessary in the kitchen?
A: While not mandatory, most kitchen designers recommend adding a backsplash. It protects the walls above counters and adds decorative appeal. Even small 4 inch backsplashes prevent damage from splatters.
Q: What is the standard backsplash size?
A: The typical backsplash height is 4 to 6 inches. Many homeowners opt for larger splashes of 18 to 24 inches or even full height up to wall cabinets. Standard backsplash length runs the full width of countertops.
Q: How much does a kitchen backsplash cost?
A: Backsplash installation averages $800 to $1,200 for a 10 foot span. More expensive tiles, larger areas, and intricate designs increase costs. Shop material prices before setting a backsplash budget.
Q: Can you install a backsplash over existing tile?
A: Installing new backsplash over old often doesn’t work well, as the layers can separate over time. It’s best to remove existing backsplash completely before doing a new application.
Q: Should backsplash match countertops?
A: Coordinating your backsplash and countertop materials or colors looks most cohesive. Contrasting tones can work with the right design. Clashing finishes appear disjointed.
Q: How do you attach a backsplash to drywall?
A: Use construction adhesive and/or thinset mortar to adhere lightweight backsplash panels or tile to drywall. Apply an even layer across the wall surface and press the backsplash in place.
Q: Can backsplash be returned?
A: Like flooring, backsplash installations are custom and typically can’t be returned. Make sure to carefully review product samples before purchasing. Some big box stores accept unopened boxes.
Q: Is it cheaper to do backsplash yourself?
A: DIY backsplash installation can save 20-30% over pro costs. But factor in materials, tools, time and skill needed. Hiring a backsplash contractor provides expertise if tiling is new for you.
Determining how much to add a backsplash comes down to the size of your kitchen, your style preferences, and budget for the project. While backsplashes aren’t essential, they offer aesthetic appeal and counter protection.
Carefully measure your backsplash area, choose materials, and layout the design. Then bring your vision to life with beautiful new tiles or panels behind the kitchen counters.
A well-installed backsplash can make a dramatic difference in your cooking space. With so many colors, materials, heights and patterns to pick from, you’re sure to find a look that suits your home.