How to Pick Backsplash for Your Kitchen

Choosing the perfect backsplash for your kitchen can really make the space pop. The backsplash serves both form and function – protecting your walls from splashes and spills while adding visual interest to your design. With so many backsplash options to pick from, it can be tricky to settle on the right one. This guide will walk you through the key factors to consider when selecting a kitchen backsplash.

Consider the Style of Your Kitchen

The backsplash should complement the overall aesthetic of your kitchen. Think about the cabinetry, counters, appliances and other features in your space.

  • For traditional kitchens, classic backsplash materials like subway tile, marble or travertine are great choices. Glass, ceramic and metal tiles in neutral tones also pair well with traditional decor.
  • In contemporary kitchens, you have more freedom to play with bold colors, patterns and textures. Handmade or mosaic glass tile, metal tiles, and stone slabs can create a sleek, modern look.
  • For farmhouse or cottage kitchens, explore vintage-inspired tiles like penny rounds or hexagons. Natural stone and brick are also excellent backsplash options that fit with rustic charm.
  • In transitional kitchens that blend traditional and contemporary elements, a mix of materials can bridge the gap. Try pairing marble subway tile with metal or glass accents.

Complement Your Countertops

Your backsplash color and material should work well with your countertop selections. Natural stone backsplashes like marble, travertine or granite coordinate seamlessly with countertops made from those same materials. Tile or glass backsplashes in similar earth tones or granular patterns also pair nicely with natural stone.

For solid surface countertops like quartz, colorful glass, ceramic or metal backsplashes add interest without competing. Just be sure to pull a complementary color from the countertop into the backsplash design.

Consider Maintenance and Durability

Since the backsplash endures so much wear and tear behind the sink and stove, you’ll want to select a material that is easy to clean and durable:

  • Ceramic and porcelain tiles resist moisture, stains and heat making them one of the most durable and low maintenance backsplash options. Their hardness also makes them very scratch resistant.
  • Natural stone like marble, travertine, granite and slate has incredible durability and can last a lifetime, but requires sealing to prevent staining and etching. Soapstone and quartzite are lower maintenance stone options.
  • Glass tile provides radiant color and texture, but the grout lines can discolor and collect grime if not cleaned properly. Cheaper glass tiles may also lack durability.
  • Metal backsplashes are waterproof, easy to sanitize and ultra-durable. Copper and brass will patina over time – embracing the lived-in look or requiring periodic polishing.

Factor in Ease of Installation

Some backsplash materials are simpler for DIY installation than others. Large format tiles, panels or planks can go up faster than intricate mosaics or small tiles. Natural stone often requires professional expertise to cut and install properly.

Choose a Functional Size

Larger backsplash tiles or panels allow for fewer grout lines that can stain. But small mosaic tiles can enable more creativity and intricate designs. Standard tile sizes include:

  • Subway tile: 3×6 inch
  • Hexagon tile: 4-6 inch diameter
  • Large format tile: 12×24 inch or larger
  • Backsplash panels: 4×8 feet

For busy kitchens, limit very glossy tiles which show water spots and grease. Small handmade tiles with color variation create depth.

Set Your Budget

Backsplash material prices span the spectrum. At the lower end, ceramic or porcelain tile can run $5-$25 per square foot. The cost goes up for stone, premium glass and handmade tile. Metal choices like stainless steel, copper or zinc run $50-$100+ per square foot installed. Know your budget parameters before falling for a pricy material.

How to Pick Backsplash – FAQs

How much of my wall space should the backsplash cover?

The backsplash typically covers the wall space between the countertops and upper cabinets. You can also opt to extend your backsplash to cover full walls from floor to ceiling for a dramatic accent.

Should I match my backsplash color to my countertop?

It’s common to pull a complementary color from your countertop into the backsplash, but matching the colors exactly can sometimes look repetitive or boring. Contrasting colors or textures between the two surfaces creates more visual interest.

What’s the best backsplash for a white kitchen?

White kitchens beautifully support nearly any color backsplash. From vibrant turquoise glass to dramatic black stone, pop the plain white with your favorite color. Stainless steel, silver travertine and white marble backsplashes also keep the space feeling clean and bright.

Can you use wallpaper as a backsplash?

Yes, water-resistant wallpaper makes a great removable and affordable backsplash alternative. Choose vinyl, cork or fabric wallpaper – avoid paper. Install over a clean, flat surface and use caulk to seal edges.

Should I get my backsplash professionally installed?

For simple ceramic or porcelain tile, a DIY enthusiast can self-install. But for natural stone, intricate patterns or large installations, a professional’s expertise is recommended. Improper preparation and installation can lead to failure or damage.

How do I clean and maintain my backsplash?

Ceramic and porcelain tile require just mild soap, water and a soft sponge for regular cleaning. Grout can be scrubbed with baking soda. Mineral oil cleans soapstone. Use a granite cleaner for natural stone. Avoid harsh chemicals that may stain the grout or etch the surface.


The perfect backsplash brings together style, function and your personal taste. Define priorities in terms of the kitchen aesthetic, durability needs, ease of cleaning, and budget. Then thoughtfully narrow down materials that check all your boxes. With some planning and inspiration, you’ll find a backsplash that puts the ideal finishing touch on your kitchen’s design.