How to Place Kitchen Backsplash

Adding a backsplash to your kitchen can completely transform the look and feel of the space. A stylish backsplash acts as a focal point and helps set the tone for your kitchen’s design. When planning a new backsplash, it’s important to consider placement, prep work, materials, patterns and designs to achieve the perfect accent wall for your kitchen. Here is a comprehensive guide on how to place kitchen backsplash for a seamless look.

Choosing the Backsplash Location

When deciding where to place a new backsplash, first consider which walls make the most sense for your kitchen layout and style. The most common placement for a kitchen backsplash is directly behind the countertops, stovetop and sink. This protects your walls from daily cooking messes and splatters. Full backsplashes run 4-5 inches vertically from the countertop to the underside of the upper cabinets. A full backsplash offers the most protection.

Some other backsplash location ideas include:

  • Behind the range only – Known as a range backsplash, this protects just the wall behind your stovetop.
  • On one focal wall – For a bold accent, run your backsplash tile from countertop to ceiling on one wall.
  • All walls – For a contemporary envelope effect, tile every wall in your kitchen.
  • Island accent – Add interest by tiling a backsplash around a kitchen island.

Take into account existing elements like windows and appliances when mapping out your design. Make sure you have enough square footage to execute your backsplash vision.

Preparing Your Walls

Proper planning and wall prep is key to a long-lasting backsplash installation. Here are some tips for getting your walls backsplash-ready:


Remove any old backsplash material or wallpaper still on your walls. Clean down to the bare surface and remove any adhesive, grease and grime so the backsplash adheres properly.

Repairs & Painting

Inspect walls for any holes, cracks or imperfections. Repair and smooth any problem areas, then paint walls with primer and latex paint. This helps create a pristine surface for tile adhesion.

Outlets & Switches

If you have outlets, switches or light fixtures in the backsplash area, make sure they are in good working order and up to code. Now is a good time to replace any worn outlets or plates. Turn off electricity when working around any outlets.

Planning Your Layout

Map out the tile layout ahead of time so you know precisely how many tile pieces you need. Mark the center point of your wall and dry lay tiles to visualize placement. Adjust outlet height if needed. Mix up full and cut tile pieces.

Choosing Your Backsplash Materials

From natural stone and ceramic to glass and metal, you have endless options for backsplash materials. Consider the pros and cons of each:

Ceramic or Porcelain Tile

  • Durable, water-resistant and easy to clean
  • Cost effective option
  • Range of colors, textures and styles
  • Easy to install

Natural Stone Tile

  • Beautiful veining and color variations
  • Materials like marble, travertine, slate
  • Can be more delicate than porcelain
  • Needs resealing over time

Glass Tile

  • Modern, sleek appeal
  • Range of glossy colors and finishes
  • Can be applied in sheets for easy install
  • Not as durable as ceramic or porcelain

Metal Tile

  • Industrial vibe and reflective surface
  • More expensive
  • Prone to scratches
  • Bold accent material

Patterns and Designs

Backsplashes present a great opportunity to add eye-catching designs to your kitchen. Consider mixing patterns and textures for depth and interest.

Subway Tile

Subway tile arranged in a brick pattern is a classic choice perfect for both modern and traditional kitchens. Go for crisp white, or add grout or tile color for a pop.


The angular herringbone pattern adds lovely visual movement. Opt for contrasting grout lines to accentuate the dynamic design.


Hexagons, diamonds and triangles create graphic impact. Mix geometric shapes in contrasting colors for real drama.

Marble & Stone

Organic marbling and striations in natural stone create built-in visual appeal. Let the natural patterns shine.

Mix & Match

For eclectic flair, mix different tile sizes, textures and colors. Try combining glass and ceramic mosaic tiles.

DIY Installation Tips

With proper prep and planning, you can tackle a DIY backsplash installation and save on labor costs. Follow these pro tips:

Gather Supplies

  • Tile and grout
  • Tile cutter and snips
  • Trowel and spacers
  • Tile adhesive
  • Grout float
  • Caulk and sealer

Apply Adhesive

Use a notched trowel to apply even coats of tile adhesive onto the wall surface area. Apply only as much as you can tile in 30 minutes.

Cut Tiles

Measure and mark tiles to be cut. Use a wet saw for porcelain and ceramic tiles or tile snips for glass. Cut edges should be smooth.

Apply Tiles

Press tiles into the adhesive starting at your center point and working outward. Use spacers between tiles for even grout lines.

Let Set

Allow tile to set for 24-48 hours before grouting. Do not walk on tiles during this time. Protect with cardboard.

Grout Tile Joints

Push grout float at a 45 degree angle to fill joints. Let stand 10 minutes then wipe away excess grout with a sponge.

Seal & Finish

Once grout has dried 24 hours, apply a penetrating sealant. Let cure completely before using your new backsplash!

Hiring a Pro

For larger backsplash projects, it can be wise to hire a professional tile installer. They have the right tools and experience to handle tricky layouts and custom designs.

Choose Your Contractor

View examples of their previous backsplash work and read reviews. Get 3-5 quotes for your project.

Agree on a Design

Provide tile samples or inspiration photos and decide on a layout together. Finalize tile choices.

Confirm Timeline & Process

Understand prep work needed and project stages. Schedule start and end dates.

Inspect Progress

Check in throughout installation and inspect as they go. Address any concerns immediately.

Seal, Clean & Review

Ensure proper sealing, clean-up and walkthrough at end. Guarantees for workmanship should apply.

Backsplash Maintenance

Like any active kitchen surface, backsplashes need regular cleaning and occasional resealing to stay looking fresh.

Routine Cleaning

Use a mild soap and soft sponge to clean daily. Rinse well with clean water. Avoid harsh chemicals.

Resealing Grout

Cementitious grout needs resealing every 1-2 years. Epoxy grout doesn’t require sealing.

Resealing Natural Stone

Marble, granite, travertine need resealing every 1-2 years to avoid staining.

Do’s and Don’ts

DO wipe spills quickly to avoid stains. DON’T use waxes, acidic or abrasive cleaners.

Watch for Damage

Inspect for cracks in grout or tile. Repair quickly to prevent moisture damage.


What is the standard backsplash height?

The standard backsplash height is 4 inches from the counter to the underside of wall cabinets. Full backsplashes run from countertop to cabinets.

What height should outlets be above a backsplash?

Outlet height above a 4-inch backsplash should be 44 to 46 inches above the finished floor. Adjust outlet placement as needed.

Can you use large tiles on a backsplash?

Yes, you can install large format tiles like 12×24 inch on a kitchen backsplash. Use caution when handling larger tiles.

Should backsplash tile match countertops?

It’s not mandatory, but matching backsplash and countertop materials can create a seamless look. Contrasting colors also work well.

What tile is best for kitchen backsplash?

Ceramic, porcelain and glass tile are best for backsplashes as they are water-resistant and easy to clean. Choose a durable tile that fits your style.

How do you attach tile backsplash to wall?

Adhere backsplash tile using a thinset mortar adhesive applied to the wall surface. Press tiles into adhesive for solid bond.


The perfect backsplash brings your kitchen decor together and makes cooking in your space an absolute pleasure. With the right combination of placement, materials, style and expert installation, you can create a stunning focal point that ties the whole room together. Allow plenty of time for proper planning and prep work to end up with a high-quality backsplash worthy of showing off.

How to Choose Backsplash Tile for Your Kitchen

Selecting the ideal backsplash tiles can establish the mood and style of your entire kitchen. Whether you want to make a bold statement or opt for a subtle accent wall, there are countless tile options to consider. Follow this guide for choosing backsplash tiles that work with your kitchen’s design aesthetic.

Porcelain, Ceramic or Glass?

The first decision is the broad tile material category based on the qualities you prefer:

Porcelain – Most durable, resistant to moisture, stains, chips. Wide range of colors and patterns.

Ceramic – Bright glazes, decorative finishes. Budget-friendly. Comparable durability to porcelain.

Glass – Glossy, sleek, modern. Translucent for ambient lighting effects. Less prone to staining/etching than porcelain.

Material Inspiration Guide

Consider the overall look you want before selecting tile material:

For vintage charm: subway tile, moroccan fish scale tile, patterned encaustic cement

For traditional elegance: marble, travertine

For contemporary: large format porcelain, glass, mosaic, metal

For cottage: beadboard, etched glass

For eclectic: handmade, mix and match textures and shapes

Factors to Consider

Keep the following in mind when selecting your tiles:

  • Color – Match or complement cabinets, furnishings, flooring
  • Pattern scale – Large patterns for open floor plans, smaller for galley kitchens
  • Grout color – Contrast with tile color or match for monochromatic look
  • Finish – Matte, gloss, crackled, textured, iridescent
  • Shape – Square, mosaic, pencil, hexagon
  • Size – Large tiles make a statement, mosaics create movement
  • Perfection – Natural stone varies more than porcelain
  • Grout lines – Narrow grout lines minimize busy patterns

Combining Tiles and Patterns

Don’t be afraid to get creative and combine:

  • Different tile styles – Subway + moroccan fish scale + marble mosaic
  • Textures – Combine matte and glossy glass tiles
  • Shapes – Hexagon with classic square
  • Colors – Contrasting grout lines make geometric patterns pop
  • Tile sizes – Use large tiles strategically among mosaics

Creating sections within your backsplash adds interest. Frame focal points and transition between styles.

Selecting Accent Tiles

Accent tiles introduce eye-catching colors and textures. Strategic use of special tiles personalizes the space.

Focus on key areas – Highlight specific zones like behind stove

Use sparingly – Avoid overwhelming the space. Allow main tiles to shine.

List locations – Map accent tiles to anchor your design.

Order extra – Plan for breakage and cuts requiring more.

Design Inspiration and Resources

Need inspiration? Browse our backsplash photo galleries and design ideas to spark creative solutions. We offer design consulting to help bring your unique backsplash vision to life. Visit our showrooms in Boston and Providence to view our extensive tile collections and finishes. Let us help make your dream backsplash a reality.

How to Select Grout Color for Tile Backsplash

Grout color plays a big role in the overall look of a tiled backsplash. Whether the goal is to seamlessly blend or purposefully contrast, grout color choice impacts the aesthetic. Follow this guide for choosing the ideal grout to complement your backsplash tile.

Factors to Consider

Here are some tips for selecting the best grout color:

  • Tile color – Match grout to tile color for monochromatic look or go darker/lighter to contrast
  • Tile size – Smaller tiles and narrow grout lines call for matching grout so grid doesn’t overwhelm
  • Pattern style – Contrast grout highlights geometric shapes. Blend grout for subtle patterns.
  • Grout finish – Matte, sanded or gloss. Finish impacts color.
  • Lighting – Grout may appear lighter or darker than sample depending on lighting. Test a tile section.

Common Grout Color Options

Popular grout shade choices include:

  • White – Clean, brightens space. Matches white tiles. Gets dirty easily.
  • Gray – Versatile neutral. Good for modern to farmhouse styles.
  • Black – Striking contrast. Risk of uneven staining with porous tiles.
  • Beige – Natural, earthy. Use with stone tiles.
  • Matching tile color – For seamless look. Especially effective with mosaics.

If selecting a contrasting grout on porous tile, apply grout release or sealer first to minimize staining.

Grout Color Pairings

Here are suggested grout colors for popular backsplash tile styles:

| Tile | Grout Color |
| White subway | White, light gray, dark gray |
|Large format white tiles|Gray, beige, taupe |
| Colorful mosaic | Match mosaic color |
| Blue, green glass | White, gray, black |
| Brown, beige marble| Beige, tan |
| Hexagon geometric | Charcoal, dark gray, white |
| Patterned encaustic | Same as tile color |

Always view tile and grout samples together to evaluate pairings. Photos don’t always convey true colors accurately. Test your proposed combination to ensure you like the overall effect.

Tips to Prevent Grout Haze

To avoid a “haze” or film on tiles after grouting:

  • Apply grout release to tiles before grouting if needed
  • Mix grout per package instructions and let slake
  • Buff off residue with clean pads frequently
  • Use minimal water when sponging
  • Grout small sections at a time
  • Dry buff tiles after sponging to prevent film

Check for haze under lighting similar to kitchen. If haze occurs, wipe tiles with damp microfiber cloth.

Sealing Grout

Sealing grout after installation provides protection and color consistency. Sealants recommended for grout include:

  • Penetrating sealers
  • Epoxy resin sealers

Avoid “grout paints” which can discolor or peel. Reseal grout every 1-2 years for optimal results.

How to Clean and Maintain a Tile Backsplash

A kitchen backsplash sees constant use and needs proper care to maintain its beauty over time. Follow these cleaning tips to keep your tile backsplash sparkling.

Routine Cleaning

Regular light cleaning keeps soil from building up in tile grout:

  • Wipe spills quickly to prevent staining
  • Use mild dish soap and water with soft sponge or cloth
  • Rinse thoroughly – don’t leave residue behind
  • Microfiber cloths are ideal for polishing without chemicals
  • Dry immediately if cleaning porous natural stone

What to Avoid

Certain cleaners and techniques can damage tiles and grout:

  • No abrasive powders or scouring pads
  • No acidic cleaners like vinegar, lemon juice
  • No harsh chemicals like bleach, ammonia
  • No steam cleaners – heat damages grout
  • No wax or sealant products – will create film

Grout Cleaning Tips

Grout gets grimy from daily use. Follow these tips to clean grout:

  • Use a special grout brush to scrub narrow grout lines
  • Make a baking soda paste – cleans without bleaching
  • Commercial grout cleaners – follow label instructions
  • Reseal grout after deep cleaning for stain protection

Avoid excessive scrubbing which can erode grout.

Removing Grease and Hard Water Stains

For tough grease, hard water deposits or soap scum:

  • All-purpose cleaner – spray on and let penetrate before scrubbing
  • Baking soda or oxygen bleach – make paste, let sit, then scrub
  • White vinegar – full strength vinegar cuts through buildup
  • Grout haze remover – formulated to deep clean without damaging grout

Test products first on a small corner to ensure color safety.

Preventing Mold and Mildew

In damp areas, mold and mildew can grow on porous grout and some natural stone tiles. Prevention tips include:

  • Maintain proper ventilation and moisture control
  • Prevent water pooling near lower tiles
  • Use mold resistant grout and sealers
  • Immediately fix any leaks

To remove mildew stains:

  • Mix equal parts water and hydrogen peroxide – gently scrub
  • Make baking soda paste with a few drops dish soap – let sit before scrubbing

When to Regrout or Replace

If grout cracks, crumbles or becomes uneven, it likely needs replacing. Identify and repair any underlying issues first. Follow typical tile setting procedures for new grout.

For severe staining or damage beyond repair, a full backsplash replacement may be needed.

Know When to Call a Pro

For steam cleaning, regrouting, gro