How to Pick the Right Backsplash for Your Kitchen

Choosing the perfect backsplash for your kitchen can seem daunting, but with some thoughtful consideration it can actually be an exciting and fun design decision. The backsplash serves both form and function in the kitchen, so it’s important to pick one that fits your style, budget and practical needs. Follow this guide to learn everything you need to know about selecting the ideal backsplash for your space.

Assess Your Needs and Style

Before shopping for backsplash materials, take stock of your kitchen’s existing design and your lifestyle needs:

  • What color scheme and style is your kitchen? Modern, traditional, farmhouse? The backsplash should coordinate and enhance the overall aesthetic.
  • Do you cook often? Frequently use the sink? Prioritize a durable, easily cleaned material.
  • Is your kitchen brightly lit? Subtle patterns and textures show best with ample lighting.
  • What’s your budget? Save on labor costs by doing large format tiles or full sheets of materials.
  • What’s your DIY skill level? Opt for an easy-to-install product if tiling is new for you.

Once you consider the look you want and practical necessities, you can zero in on the right backsplash for your home.

Choose a Material

There are several options for kitchen backsplash materials, each with their own pros, cons and price points:


Tile backsplashes provide timeless beauty and durability. Ceramic, porcelain or natural stone tiles withstand heat, stains and moisture. Choose a tile shape, varied patterns, and grout color for extra design flexibility. Use large format tiles for clean visual lines, or mosaic sheets for artsy impact.

Pros: Durable, decor-friendly, DIY friendly, endless options
Cons: Grout needs periodic sealing, patterns take precision

Stainless Steel

Stainless steel backsplashes create a contemporary, industrial vibe. Stainless makes a sleek accent wall or practical splash behind appliances and sinks. It’s water-resistant and easy to clean. Choose brushed or polished finishes.

Pros: Durable, heat-resistant, modern look, easy to clean
Cons: Shows smudges, expensive, prone to dents

Glass Tile

Glass tile backsplashes lend eye-catching gleam and iridescence with recycled and eco-friendly appeal. From mosaics to large format subway styles, glass tiles make unique accent walls. Best for low-traffic areas.

Pros: Shiny, eco-friendly, artistic accents
Cons: Needs gentle cleaning, grout staining risk, not heat-proof

Stone Slab

Natural stone slabs like granite, marble or slate create an upscale, Old World backsplash. Available in polished or honed finishes. Great durability but needs sealing. Avoid porous sedimentary stones.

Pros: Elegant look, heat-resistant, natural material
Cons: Expensive, heavy, staining and sealing required


From copper and brass to galvanized steel or nickel silver, metal backsplashes infuse industrial flair. Often made into tile or tin ceiling-inspired sheets. Best protected from heat and scratches.

Pros: Distinctive sheen, durable finishes
Cons: Expensive, denting, patina changes over time


Laminate backsplashes mimic luxury materials like stone and metal at budget prices. Easy DIY installation. Wipe clean with soap and water. Choose wood-look, mosaic, marble, metallic and more.

Pros: Affordable, easy install, wide selection
Cons: Not heat/stain resistant, less durable

Pick a Color Palette

Coordinate your backsplash with existing kitchen cabinetry, countertops, flooring and wall colors for a cohesive look.

  • Match backsplash to countertop colors for flowing appeal.
  • Contrast backsplash and cabinets to accent each element.
  • Tie to one dominant hue for a bold, colorful statement.
  • Use backsplash as subtle splash of color in mostly neutral kitchen.
  • Choose backsplash finish to match faucets and fixtures.

Also consider how the colors and patterns will look alongside your appliances. A busy backsplash behind a stainless range can compete. Frame simpler backsplashes around ornate stove hoods.

Plan the Layout

Map out your backsplash layout using these techniques:

  • Full wall for maximum impact.
  • Just behind cooktop/stove area for function.
  • Above countertops/serving spaces only.
  • Frame range/hood like picture frame molding.
  • Use geometric shapes, varying heights and materials to create focal points.

Measure precisely and map everything on graph paper, including outlets, windows and fixtures. For tile, account for grout line widths in planning.

Accent with Trims and Edges

Finish and polish the look with backsplash trim pieces like:

  • Bullnose edging for rounded tile corners
  • Chair rail trim at top for classic detail
  • Contrasting border tiles to frame main field
  • Matte black metal strips for contemporary edge
  • Coordinating glass/stone mosaic sheets as insets

Trim accents create decorative focal points and nicely transition the backsplash installation.

Consider Maintenance Needs

Factor in required upkeep for your backsplash materials:

  • Ceramic and porcelain tile require periodic grout sealing.
  • Natural stone needs regular sealing to prevent staining.
  • Glass tile grout is more prone to discoloration.
  • Metal and laminate backsplashes need gentle daily cleaning.
  • Stainless steel shows fingerprints and needs frequent polishing.

An easy-clean backsplash like ceramic tile or stainless steel makes sense for busy kitchens. Have sealing and cleaning supplies on hand to properly care for your investment.

Involve a Pro When Necessary

While many backsplashes can be DIYed, consider hiring a professional installer for:

  • Natural stone slabs. Their heavy weight makes pro install ideal.
  • Intricate tile patterns. Precisely aligning decor tile layouts takes skill.
  • Full wall installations. Large format tile is tricky for beginners to maneuver.
  • Glass tile. It needs specialized cutting tools and grout methods.

Take advantage of your contractor’s design experience as well. They can identify optimal backsplash heights, outlet placement and transition trims.

Frequently Asked Questions About Backsplashes

How much does a kitchen backsplash cost?

Backsplash installation costs typically range from $800-1200 depending on materials, labor and the installation area size. Materials can run $3-40+ per square foot.

What is the most popular backsplash?

Subway tile is the most popular backsplash style, whether classic white ceramic or glass, stone or marble versions. Its simple rectangular shape works in any kitchen.

How high should a backsplash be?

Standard backsplash height is 4 inches tall. Full backsplash walls extend from countertops to cabinets for maximum impact. Also popular is a range hood height backsplash of 18-30 inches specifically behind cooktops.

What color backsplash goes with white cabinets?

White cabinets suit any color backsplash but look especially striking beside deeper hues like navy blue, black, dark green or bold patterns. Gray, beige and light marble backsplashes also complement white cabinetry.

Can you use wallpaper as a backsplash?

Yes, wallpaper makes a removable, affordable backsplash alternative to tile. Use peel-and-stick papers or install regular wallpaper directly onto the wall. Look for pre-pasted backsplash papers or vinyl wallpapers specifically designed for kitchen use.

Choose the Perfect Backsplash for Your Kitchen

With an endless array of styles, colors, patterns and materials to explore, selecting a backsplash brings out creativity. Use the tips above to thoroughly evaluate your kitchen’s needs. Take into account what backsplash qualities will best match your cooking habits and aesthetic tastes. Planning the layout, dimensions and accents well will ensure your new backsplash not only looks stunning but also functions optimally in your home for years to come. With the right backsplash choice, you can give your kitchen just the style pop it needs.