How to Pick a Backsplash Color

Choosing the perfect backsplash color can transform your kitchen. The backsplash provides an opportunity to add visual interest, dimension and character to your space. With so many backsplash design options—from materials to colors and patterns—deciding on a color scheme can be overwhelming. Follow this comprehensive guide to pick the ideal backsplash color for your kitchen.

Do Your Research First

Before selecting a backsplash color, it’s important to do your research. Spend time looking at backsplash photos online and in design magazines to identify colors and styles you’re drawn to.

Consider the following:

  • What color family do you prefer—warm neutrals, jewel tones, pastels, black and white? This helps narrow your choices.
  • Look at color palettes online or create inspiration boards of your favorite kitchen backsplash ideas.
  • Pay attention to what colors you’re consistently attracted to. This offers useful clues about your preferences.
  • Look at color trends for kitchen backsplashes. While you don’t have to follow trends, this gives you ideas outside your comfort zone.
  • If you’re unsure where to start, consult a kitchen designer. They can suggest backsplash colors to complement your space.

Doing visual research gives you a solid starting point for selecting a backsplash color.

Coordinate With Your Kitchen Elements

Your backsplash color doesn’t exist in isolation. For a cohesive look, it needs to coordinate with other kitchen elements. Consider how potential backsplash colors work with the following:


The relationship between your cabinets and backsplash is important. You want some interplay—either contrast or complementing tones.

If your cabinets are warm wood, select a backsplash in a contrasting color like blue or green. White cabinets pair beautifully with any vibrant backsplash color. With black cabinets, opt for a bright backsplash that pops.

Matching your backsplash exactly to cabinet colors often looks flat. Instead, look for backsplash hues that tie in to a shade within your cabinetry for subtle cohesion.


Factor in your countertop color and material when selecting a backsplash. You want your countertops and backsplash to look cohesive.

With white, beige or black countertops, you can take the backsplash in any direction. Bold colored countertops like red or blue limit your backsplash choices to cool neutrals that won’t compete.

Natural stone countertops offer an organic base that pairs well with backsplash colors echoing the stone’s natural veining.


Your kitchen’s flooring also influences your backsplash decision. You don’t want the backsplash to clash with the floors.

For hardwood floors, consider backsplash colors that coordinate, like warm wood tones, tan, or muted blues and greens. With tile or linoleum floors, you have more leeway to choose any backsplash color.

If your flooring has a strong color or pattern, select a solid, neutral backsplash color to create balance.

Paint/Wall Color

Coordinate your backsplash color with the overall kitchen wall color for a pulled-together look. If your walls are white or beige, you can make a bold backsplash statement. For colored walls, choose a backsplash in the same color family.

With a vibrant wall color, opt for a neutral, solid backsplash. If your walls have a strong print, keep the backsplash simple.

Matching your wall and backsplash colors exactly can look boring. Pick shades that complement rather than blend together.


Consider the finish of kitchen appliances and fixtures when selecting a backsplash. You want them to blend rather than clash.

Stainless steel appliances pair well with cool grays, beiges and bold backsplash colors. With black appliances, opt for warm neutral, red or orange backsplashes.

For brass fixtures, consider green, blue, purple or black backsplash colors. Chrome finishes match nicely with gray, beige or white backsplashes.

Choose Based on Lighting

The lighting in your kitchen significantly impacts how backsplash colors appear. Make sure to pick a backsplash color in the actual kitchen lighting.

Morning and afternoon daylight creates different effects. Incandescent, fluorescent and LED lights also influence color differently.

Cool white kitchen lighting makes warm backsplash colors pop. In yellowish lighting, grays and blues are more soothing.

Always view your final backsplash color choices in your kitchen space before making a decision.

Consider the Room Size

A kitchen’s size and layout impacts the look of different backsplash colors. Here are some tips:

Small Kitchens: Use light, neutral backsplash colors like white, beige or pale gray. This keeps the space looking open and airy. Avoid dark or loud backsplash colors in a small kitchen.

Large Kitchens: Take advantage of a big kitchen footprint to use bold, saturated backsplash colors. Deep hues of blue, green and violet are dramatic yet grounding in a large room.

Galley Kitchens: Stick to soft or light backsplash colors to prevent galley kitchens from feeling claustrophobic.

Open Concept Kitchens: With fewer boundaries, open concept kitchens handle vivid backsplash colors well. Make a statement with emerald green, citrus orange or cobalt blue backsplashes.

Kitchen Islands: On a kitchen island, bold backsplash colors make the island feel like a showstopping furniture piece.

Consider these tips, but don’t be afraid to break the “rules” if you love a color. Just be sure to view samples of the color in the actual space.

Combine Colors

While a single backsplash color has a crisp, clean look, combining colors creates eye-catching style. If you’re having trouble picking one shade, go for a multi-colored backsplash.

Here are easy ways to mix backsplash colors:

  • Use tiles or mosaic sheets with varied colors and patterns. Order samples first to ensure the colors complement each other.
  • Create a stripe or checkerboard pattern alternating between two colors.
  • Try a neutral backdrop like white or beige with intermittent tiles in a bold accent color.
  • Frame colorful tiles with solid coordinating tiles.
  • Use one color on the lower portion and a different shade on top.
  • Arrange colorful tiles randomly for an eclectic patchwork look.

When mixing backsplash colors, aim for no more than 3 colors that share undertones. For example, combine cool tones like green, blue and gray or warm tones like peach, red and yellow. Limiting your palette prevents the backsplash from looking chaotic.

Consider Maintenance

Keep in mind that lighter backsplash colors show fewer signs of wear and tear than dark shades. This is especially true for kitchens with kids and lots of cooking.

Stain-resistant glass, metal or ceramic tile backsplashes are ideal for high-traffic kitchens. While you don’t want to choose a backsplash color based on this alone, factor it into your decision.

If your heart is set on white or beige backsplash stone like marble, be prepared to seal it regularly to prevent staining and etching. Or opt for a darker grout color between tile to hide dirt better.

Use Your Backsplash Strategically

A creatively placed backsplash transforms the look of your kitchen. Here’s how to use backsplash colors to your advantage:

  • Make a small kitchen feel bigger with a backsplash that runs vertically instead of just a standard 4-6 inch backsplash along countertops. Vertical backsplashes also draw the eyes up, making ceilings seem higher.
  • Backsplashes that cover entire walls behind sinks, stoves and other major kitchen components create a cohesive look. It’s easier for bolder backsplash colors to span larger surfaces without being overwhelming.
  • In a kitchen with dated tile countertops, take the backsplash up to the bottom of the wall cabinets. This minimizes the outdated tile you actually see.
  • Run the backsplash into display nooks or shelving. This adds interest and makes these areas feel purposefully designed.

Use creative backsplash placement to enhance the functionality and aesthetic of your kitchen.

Selecting Backsplash Materials

While color is the main focus, the material you choose for the backsplash also matters. Consider which textures, patterns and looks appeal most:

  • Ceramic or Porcelain Tile: Durable and cost-effective. Available in endless colors, shapes and textures at various price points. Easy DIY option.
  • Glass Tile: Minimal grout lines and reflects light beautifully. More delicate so have it professionally installed. Stain-resistant and easy to clean.
  • Metal: Often mimics look of subway tile. Adds contemporary, industrial vibe. Great choice for high-moisture areas.
  • Stone: Elegant, classic appeal. Materials like marble, travertine, slate and granite available. Requires sealing. Avoid porous stones in wet areas.
  • Mosaic Tile: Small tiles create busy patterns. Allows you to mix multiple colors. Can have old world, Moroccan feel.
  • Peel-and-Stick: Budget-friendly DIY option. Cut to fit any space but not as durable long-term as traditional tile. Easy to change out.
  • Reclaimed Materials: Eco-friendly choice using reclaimed wood, marbles, etc. Adds texture. Often need professional installation.

Order Samples Before Deciding

Never select a backsplash color solely based on small pictures online. Colors look different in person. Order free or inexpensive samples of your top backsplash choices.

Some tips for ordering backsplash samples:

  • Get at least 4-5 inch square samples to better judge colors and patterns.
  • View samples at different times of day in your kitchen to see color shifts.
  • Compare samples side-by-side and against your cabinets, countertops and paint colors.
  • Order grout color samples to find a coordinating shade. Brighter grout competes with colored tiles.
  • Photograph the samples in your space and sit on the decision for a few days before committing.

With samples in hand, you can confidently land on the perfect backsplash color for your needs. Don’t rely on small pictures or your memory.

Think Long-Term

While personal style trends come and go, some backsplash color choices have more longevity than others. Keep these tips in mind:

Choose versatile neutrals like white, gray, beige and black. These remain popular over decades and allow you to swap out accent décor.

Avoid bold colors on the backsplashes directly behind appliances. When you update appliances, the color may no longer coordinate.

Use classic colors and materials like blue, subway tile, marble or travertine that suit a variety of aesthetics—from modern to traditional.

Add pops of color with paint or décor rather than on permanent surfaces. This allows you to easily shift the color scheme.

Of course you can’t predict the future. Pick a backsplash color you adore. Just keep timelessness in mind, especially if there’s any chance you move before renovating again. Those extra five years with a backsplash you still love makes a difference.

Common Backsplash Color Combinations

If you’re still unsure which backsplash colors work well together, these popular color combinations can provide inspiration:

White Kitchen

  • White backsplash, white countertops, and white cabinets create a crisp, timeless look. Add warmth with wood accents.
  • Blue, green or gray backsplash pops against white cabinetry, especially with marble countertops.
  • All-white kitchen refreshed with a surprise bold backsplash in navy, orange, yellow, red or emerald.

Gray Kitchen

  • Light gray backsplash and white cabinets keeps the look contemporary and neutral.
  • Marble, soapstone or quartz countertops with gray cabinets and a beige backsplash.
  • Deep blue, sage green or soft yellow backsplash complements gray cabinets.
  • Glossy black subway tile backsplash and black grout lines blended seamlessly into gray cabinets.

Wood Kitchen

  • Creamy white or beige backsplash modernizes warm wood cabinets and island.
  • Blue or green glass backsplash adds light and shine to balance wood cabinetry.
  • Distressed wood plank backsplash for rustic appeal.
  • Dark gray or navy backsplash creates sophisticated contrast against oak or walnut cabinets.

Black and White Kitchen

  • Graphic black and white checkerboard or herringbone backsplash.
  • Black cabinets and backsplash broken up by white marble countertops and island.
  • High-contrast black marble countertops, white cabinets and black subway tile backsplash.
  • White cabinets, black soapstone countertops and off-white geometric tile backsplash.

Using these popular combinations as a jumping off point can help you decide on the perfect backsplash color for your white, gray, wood or black kitchen.

Incorporating Current Trends

While you don’t have to limit yourself to only current backsplash trends, being aware of them can provide inspiration. Below are some of the most popular backsplash color and material trends right now:

Warm Tones: Deep shades like terra cotta, burnt orange, gold or avocado green. These earthy hues add cozy texture.

Handmade Tile: Tiles with slightly uneven shapes, edges and colors, often in pastel hues. Achieves a craftsman, Old World aesthetic.

Moroccan Patterns: Tiles in intricate patterns and mosaics, reminiscent of tilework seen in Morocco. Often blue and white or multicolored.

Bold Black and White: Black and white backsplashes, sometimes with third pop of color. Achieves a graphic, eye-catching style.

3D Tiles: Geometric tiles with three-dimensional shapes and textures. Adds sculptural architectural interest.

Subway Tile: Classic rectangular, slim white tiles arranged in a stacked pattern. Clean and timeless.

Contrasting Grout: Using dark grout with light tile or vice versa. Allows the grout to feature as a color/design element.

There’s no requirement to follow backsplash trends. But they do help spark innovative ways to use color that you may not have considered.

Hire a Professional If Needed

While many homeowners tackle backsplash installation themselves, don’t be afraid to hire a professional if:

  • Your backsplash selection requires specialty cutting for a perfect fit.
  • You want glass, metal or stone tile. These are trickier for DIY.
  • Your wall surface needs repairs before installing the backsplash.
  • You’re combining multiple materials like tile and reclaimed wood.
  • You don’t have time for a long DIY project.

Investing in a professional backsplash installation is worthwhile if it gives you greater peace of mind that it will be done properly.

Frequently Asked Questions About Backsplash Colors

To make the most informed backsplash color decision, here are answers to common FAQs:

How do I choose a backsplash color that matches my countertop?

Pick out two to three colors from within your countertop that you want to highlight. Look for a backsplash that incorporates those hues. For example, if your granite has flecks of tan, gray and maroon, choose a backsplash with similar tones.

What color backsplash goes with oak cabinets?

Buttery yellow, sage green, sky blue and brick red backsplash colors contrast beautifully with golden oak cabinets. For a more modern twist, try a sleek gray or bright white backsplash.

What backsplash colors look best with white cabinets?

White cabinetry gives you lots of backsplash options. Try pale blue-green, light grays, beige, black, or vivid colors like emerald green, brick red or navy blue.

Can you put a dark backsplash with dark cabinets?

Yes, the key is to vary the finish and tone. For instance, combine matte black cabinets with a glossy black marble backsplash. Or couple espresso cabinets with a rich navy blue glass subway tile backsplash. Add contrast with brass fixtures.

What backsplash colors make a small kitchen look bigger?

Visually enlarge a small kitchen with light, reflective backsplash colors like white, light gray, beige and soft yellow. Mirror backsplashes also convey openness. Dark hues and busy patterns overwhelm.

What backsplash goes with everything?

Fail-safe backsplash shades suitable for any kitchen are white, light beige, gray and black. Classic materials like subway tile, marble and travertine also pair well with most color schemes.

Choose a Color You Love

At the end of the day, pick a backsplash color you genuinely love rather than just blending in with the kitchen. While you want your backsplash to coordinate, don’t be afraid to go bold if that calls to you. This is your chance to add an artistic element.

Approach the decision with practicality, checking that your backsplash color fits in your lighting, pairs well with other kitchen finishes, and suits the room size.

Stay open to backsplash ideas outside your comfort zone. Samples allow you to judge colors accurately and assure they work. If a color intrigues you, don’t write it off before seeing it in your space.

Then look for the “wow” factor. Your backsplash should delight and inspire you each time you enter the kitchen. The right backsplash color has the power to transform your cooking space into your favorite room.