How to Pick Kitchen Backsplash

Choosing the perfect backsplash for your kitchen remodel or new construction build can be an exciting yet daunting task. With so many backsplash ideas to consider—tile, stone, metal, glass, and more—it’s important to weigh all your options to find the right material and style for your space. Follow this comprehensive guide on how to pick kitchen backsplash and transform your cooking space with the ideal accent wall that expresses your personal taste and suits your lifestyle.

Assess Your Needs and Preferences

Before even beginning to shop for backsplash tile or materials, take time to consider what you want to achieve with this kitchen feature. Here are some key factors to help narrow your choices:


Your backsplash should coordinate with your kitchen’s overall design scheme. Is your space modern and sleek or traditional and homey? Focus on backsplash materials and patterns that enhance the look you want. For contemporary kitchens, stick with straight lines and solid colors or subtle marble patterns. Traditional kitchens tend to feature classic subway tile, stone accents, or ceramic patterns.


Determine how you use your kitchen and what purpose you want your backsplash to serve. For heavy-duty cooking zones prone to splatters and spills, durable and low-maintenance materials like metal or porcelain are ideal. If you want to make a design statement, choose eye-catching glass or mosaic tile.


Keep in mind how much upkeep different backsplash options require. Polished stone or marble needs frequent sealing to stay protected. Metal backsplashes resist stains well, while grout lines between ceramic or porcelain tile require regular cleaning.


Cost will likely play a major role as you weigh various backsplash materials like tile, stone, glass, metal, and mosaics. Measure your space to estimate needed square footage and get a sense of how pricey your backsplash project could be.

Choose the Right Backsplash Material

With an idea of your kitchen’s needs, it’s time to dive into the many backsplash materials at your disposal:

Ceramic or Porcelain Tile

A ceramic or porcelain tile backsplash offers gleaming style at an affordable price point. Glazed ceramic comes in a vast array of colors, shapes, and patterns for a customized look. Porcelain tile has a durable glass coating and comes in myriad pattern options. Beyond classic subway tile, consider unique shapes, mosaics, or hand-painted designs.

Glass Tile

From brilliant solid colors to eye-catching mosaic patterns, glass tile is a top choice to make a dramatic statement. Using many small glass tiles can create a colorful, shimmering focal point. Glass tile comes in different grades: lower-end tiles may have imperfections, while premium frosted or iridescent glass exudes modern sophistication.


Industrial, modern kitchens benefit from the sleek, cutting-edge look of a metal backsplash. Stainless steel, copper, brass, and aluminum make up common metal backsplash options that resist heat, moisture, and grime. Wavy corrugated panels or clean linear metal tiles infuse any kitchen with contemporary style.


For a natural, timeless look, a backsplash crafted from stone exudes organic beauty in your kitchen. Marble, travertine, and granite add luxurious texture. With proper sealing, these stones stand up well to moisture and wear-and-tear. Their natural patterning results in a unique look.


Artistic, eclectic kitchens deserve a mosaic tile backsplash merging crafted glass, ceramic, or porcelain pieces. Classic mosaic backsplashes contain small uniform tiles fit closely together, while modern designs play with unexpected shapes and color combinations. Installing mosaic sheets makes the process simpler.

Pick the Right Size, Shape and Layout

Beyond settling on the broad material for your backsplash, you’ll want to fine-tune the particular size, shape, and layout of your tile or panels:


Smaller backsplash tiles, like mosaics or 2-inch subway tile, pack in more grout lines for a busier look. Larger tiles, 6-inches or 12-inches, create clean, streamlined backsplashes. Standard subway tiles are 3-by-6 inches, but elongated options give more flexibility in pattern layouts.


The shape of your backsplash tile also affects the overall visual impact. Traditional squares and rectangles align in straight grid patterns. Unconventional hexagons, diamonds, fish scales, and penny tiles enable diagonal or free-form designs.

Layout Patterns

Playing with the tile layout yields surprising effects. Stacking subway tiles vertically or horizontally results in different vibes. Patterns like herringbone add elegant interest. Contrasting trim tiles that frame, border, or accent the main tile create even more possibilities.

Design an Impactful Backsplash

Now for the fun part—dreaming up a backsplash design that packs a punch and enhances your entire kitchen. Consider these tips for an eye-catching, functional result:

Use Outsized Tile

Go bold with oversized 12-inch subway or hexagon tiles. Their larger scale makes a statement, especially when aligned in an offset brick pattern. Limit accents to chair rail height or border tile to keep the look clean.

Contrast Grout Color

Most backsplashes feature grout that blends in with the tile color. Emphasize the grid pattern by choosing a contrasting grout color that complements your overall color scheme. White tile with dark gray grout adds modern flair.

Extend to the Ceiling

Typically backsplashes only cover the space between countertops and cabinets. For a dramatic soaring effect, take rectangular subway tile from counter to ceiling. Use accent tiles or molding to trim it out.

Mix Materials

Combining glass, metal, and ceramic tile in one backsplash results in captivating contrast. Accent sleek white subway tile with metallic mosaic sheets or set contemporary porcelain tile sections within a stainless steel frame.

Create a Focal Point

Turn your backsplash into art by using mosaic tile to form a central focal point. Frame it with neutral subway tile or marble. Geometric patterns, flowers, herbs, and ocean themes make great mosaic designs.

Pick Grout and Caulk Colors

The grout and caulk connecting your backsplash tiles play a subtle but significant role in the overall look. Be sure to pick the right colors to complement your tiles and kitchen decor. Consider the following for grout:

  • Matching or contrasting: Do you want grout that blends in or stands out from your backsplash tile?
  • Dark or light: Dark grout paired with light tile creates definition. But it also shows dirt more.
  • Specialty grout: Epoxy grout resists staining better for heavily used kitchen backsplashes.

For caulking, use a silicone caulk that matches your grout color where the backsplash meets the countertop and walls. Clear caulk works for natural stone. Apply caulk in a consistent line for a neat, seamless look.

Prep and Install Your Backsplash

Once you’ve selected the perfect backsplash materials and layout, it’s go time for installation. Careful prep and attention to detail ensure your backsplash adheres properly and enhances your kitchen for years to come. Follow these tips:

Thoroughly Clean the Area

Remove old backsplash tile, debris, and grime so the new tile has a pristine surface to adhere to. Wash the entire backsplash area with an all-purpose cleaner.

Ensure a Smooth Surface

The backsplash area should be as smooth and flat as possible for even tile application. Fill any holes or imperfections with spackle, then sand until level.

Measure Precisely

Using a level and tape measure, map out your backsplash space and mark reference points for installation. Measure twice to ensure your tile cuts are accurate.

Follow Adhesive Instructions

Whether using mastic, mortar, or adhesive sheets, carefully follow the product instructions for setup, open time, and application. This ensures long-lasting adhesion.

Use Proper Spacers

Plastic spacers placed between tiles guarantee consistent grout line spacing. Ensure grout lines align evenly across your backsplash.

Clean Grout Haze

Gently wipe any grout haze or film off the tile surface with a damp sponge before it dries. Rinse sponges frequently to prevent spreading haze.


What is the most popular backsplash tile size?

The 3-by-6-inch classic subway tile remains the most popular backsplash style for its versatility and balance of old and new. Standard subway sizes make planning layouts simple.

How much does a kitchen backsplash cost?

Budget $7-15 per square foot for typical backsplash tile like ceramic subway or mosaic sheets. More premium materials like natural stone, glass tile, and metal panels run $15-50 per square foot installed.

What backsplash goes with white cabinets?

White cabinetry provides a versatile background for all varieties of backsplash tile. Bold patterns, natural stone, or glass mosaic tiles contrast beautifully. Stay minimal with all-white backsplash and grout.

What’s trending in backsplashes for 2023?

Large-scale statement tiles like oversized marble slabs and elongated hexagons make a stunning impact. Creative patterns combining mixed tiles grab attention. Soft pastel palette backsplashes provide a calming contrast to bold cabinet colors.

How do I clean my tile backsplash?

Ceramic tile backsplashes stay gleaming with regular cleaning using a general household cleaner, warm water, soft brush or sponge, and microfiber cloth. Avoid harsh abrasives. Re-seal natural stone backsplashes every 1-2 years.


Installing a fashionable, functional backsplash requires balancing your style, budget, and kitchen needs. Focus on choosing durable, low-maintenance materials that also give you the right aesthetic pop. Creative tile layouts, patterns, and accents elevate your design. With proper planning and precision, you can install an eye-catching, long-lasting backsplash yourself. Let your new backsplash serve as a personalized piece of art in your cooking space for years to come.