How to Design a Kitchen Backsplash

Designing a beautiful and functional kitchen backsplash can seem daunting, but with some planning and creativity, you can create the perfect backdrop for your cooking space. Here are some tips on how to design a stunning kitchen backsplash.

Selecting Materials

There are endless options when it comes to backsplash materials like tile, stone, glass, metal, and wood. Consider the overall look and feel you want for your kitchen as well as practical factors like budget, ease of cleaning, and durability. Ceramic or porcelain tile is always a popular choice because it comes in so many colors, shapes, and textures. Glass tile provides a shiny, sleek contemporary vibe. Natural stone like marble, travertine, or slate lend an elegant, organic look.


Ceramic, porcelain, or glass tile in the size, color, and design that fits your kitchen decor. Make sure the tiles are rated for walls and backsplashes. Consider a decorative accent tile border.


Marble, travertine, granite, and slate provide natural beauty and uniqueness. Hone finish offers a soft look, while polished finish is more reflective.


Stainless steel, copper, brass, and aluminum come in tile, sheets, or panels. Great for modern industrial edge. Easy to clean and hygienic.


Real or faux wood planks offer warmth and texture. Use weather-resistant varieties like teak or bamboo near sinks or stoves.


Glass sheet or mosaic tiles give a shiny, sleek finish. Available in range of colors, finishes, and textures. Easy to wipe clean.

Design Elements

Incorporate design elements like patterns, textures, colors, and accents to make your backsplash unique.


Geometric shapes, moroccan motifs, subway tiles, penny tiles, basketweave tiles, fishscale tiles, and more. Mix and match sizes and orientations.


Smooth, glossy, matte, cracked, pebbled, and textured tiles provide visual and tactile interest. Distressed natural stone also adds texture.


Use a single color family or complementary hues. Bold colors make a statement. Neutrals create a clean backdrop. Accent with glass or metallic mosaic tiles.


Accent strips, borders, medallions, and mosaics break up plain spaces. Use an accent tile as the focal point near cooktops or sinks.

Backsplash Height

Standard height is 4 inches from counter to bottom edge of upper cabinets. Can go higher for more dramatic look.

Layout and Installation

Map out the backsplash layout and installation method before getting started.

Planning the Design

Make templates of the space to map out tile layout. Decide on grid or staggered pattern. Plan accent tiles.

Prepping the Surface

Thoroughly clean and sand the surface. Repair any holes or flaws in the wall. Apply primer.

Selecting Tools

Notched trowel for spreading adhesive, spacers for tile gaps, grout float for applying grout. Have cleanup supplies ready.

Adhesive and Grouting

Use proper adhesive for the tile and wall material. Allow to cure before grouting. Apply grout between tile gaps.

Cutting Tiles

Measure and mark tiles to be cut. Use proper tile cutter or wet saw for cuts and holes. Start from the bottom up when installing.

Design and Functionality

Maximize form and function by considering lighting, appliances, accessories, and maintenance.


Use LED strip lights or puck lights for ample task lighting. Install lighting near upper cabinets to eliminate shadows.


If appliances like stoves or sinks will be placed along the backsplash, select durable water-resistant materials.


Functional and decorative accessories include outlets, hooks, shelves, floating shelves, and faucets. Coordinate colors and finishes.


Seal natural stone. Use caulk between tile and countertops or walls. Clean with gentle, pH-neutral cleaners. Reseal grout over time.

Ideas and Inspiration

Browse these backsplash photo galleries and examples to find your perfect style.

  • Modern and contemporary backsplashes using glass, metal, and mosaics.
  • Rustic or farmhouse using natural stone and wood elements.
  • Retro diner or cafe look with fun colors and patterns.
  • Minimalist all-white or black and white backsplash tiles.
  • Eclectic or bohemian style with a mix of textures and colors

With some thoughtful planning and design considerations, you can create a kitchen backsplash that perfectly matches your personal taste and space functionality. Use a combination of tiles, accents, colors, patterns, and lighting to make it truly unique. Take inspiration from photos, then put your own twist on the design. With the right prep work, high-quality materials, and proper installation, your new backsplash will be a stunning focal point you’ll enjoy for years.

FAQs About Designing a Kitchen Backsplash

What are the most popular backsplash materials?

The most popular and commonly used kitchen backsplash materials are ceramic, porcelain, or glass tile, natural stone like marble or travertine, stainless steel or metal, wood planks, and glass sheets or mosaic tiles.

How do I choose a backsplash color?

Consider the color scheme of your overall kitchen design, cabinets, countertops, appliances and floors. Neutral hues provide a clean backdrop that fits any style. Use accent colors that complement your decor. Darker colors minimize stains.

What is the standard backsplash height?

The standard height is 4 inches from the countertop surface up to the bottom edge of the upper cabinets. However it can be adapted to your space – higher backsplashes around 6 inches are gaining popularity for a more dramatic effect.

What special tools do I need for backsplash installation?

Some essential tools include a notched trowel for spreading tile adhesive, spacers to keep tile gaps even, a grout float for applying grout between tiles, a utility knife or wet saw for cutting, and sponges for cleanup.

How do I cut tiles for outlets and switches?

Carefully measure and mark locations for cutouts using a pencil. Use a utility knife, nippers, or wet saw to accurately cut holes and notches so tiles fit neatly around outlets, switches, and fixtures.

What grout color should I choose?

Contrasting grout colors can really make tile designs pop. But matching or neutral grout blends in for a more seamless look. White and gray are popular grout colors that fit well with most tiles.


Designing and installing a kitchen backsplash tailored to your personal taste can completely transform the look, feel, and functionality of your cooking and prep space. With creative and thoughtful planning, high-quality materials suited for backsplashes, and proper installation techniques, you can have a stunning, unique focal point in your kitchen that suits your needs and style. Use this guide to turn your backsplash ideas into reality.