How to Select Kitchen Backsplash

Selecting the right backsplash for your kitchen can completely transform the look and feel of the space. With so many backsplash options to choose from, it can be overwhelming to decide which material and style is best for your home. Here is an in-depth guide on how to select the perfect backsplash for your kitchen.

Determine Your Style

The first step is deciding what general look and aesthetic you want for your backsplash and kitchen. Here are some of the most popular backsplash styles:


Traditional backsplashes use classic materials like subway tile, marble, and stone. Neutral colors like white and beige are common. These choices provide a timeless, elegant look.


Contemporary backsplashes use glossy, sleek materials like glass, metal, and mosaic tile. Bold colors and unique shapes provide a modern, cutting-edge style.


Rustic backsplashes incorporate natural materials like stone, brick, and wood. Earthy tones like terracotta, brown, and tan produce a cozy, farmhouse feel.


Eclectic backsplashes blend various materials like tile, metal, and glass. They also mix and match colors, patterns, and textures for an artistic, eccentric look.

Once you’ve decided on a general style, narrow your selection further based on your personal tastes. Browse backsplash photos online or in design magazines to find inspiration.

Complement the Kitchen Elements

Your backsplash should coordinate well with key elements of your kitchen.

Consider the color scheme. Your backsplash color(s) should match or complement your cabinetry, countertops, appliances, and paint colors. Neutral backsplash options like white marble or metal can pair well with most color schemes.

Look at the textures and materials already in your kitchen, then select a backsplash with complementary visual appeal. For example, you may want a sleek glass backsplash to contrast with rough wood cabinetry. Or rustic brick backsplash to match a stone countertop.

Also, make sure your backsplash choice works with the overall flow and functionality of the space. For high-traffic cooking zones, durable and easy-to-clean materials are ideal.

Account for Maintenance and Durability

When selecting a backsplash, consider how much routine maintenance it will require to keep it looking like new. Some materials need frequent sealing and polishing, while others are nearly maintenance-free.

Durability is also key – your backsplash takes lots of abuse from cooking, cleaning, and everyday wear and tear. Materials like metal and glass are very resilient. More delicate options like wallpaper or paint require gentle care.

If your kitchen backsplash receives heavy use, be sure to select a material that is highly durable and low-maintenance.

Decide on Tile vs. Full Sheet

Tile backsplashes provide tons of design flexibility, allowing you to use a variety of colors, patterns, textures, and materials. Handmade subway tile and mosaic tile are two popular options.

Full sheet backsplashes like stainless steel, laminate, or acrylic utilise a seamless, uniform look. Glass sheet and natural stone slabs are also stunning choices.

While tile offers more variety, full sheets are quicker to install. They can also better suit contemporary styles. Choose whichever best fits your project.

Consider Ease of Installation

Some backsplash materials, like peel-and-stick tile or faux brick panels, have very simple DIY installation. Others, like natural stone or glass tile, usually require hiring a tile installation pro.

If you plan to install it yourself, be sure to select a backsplash product that has straightforward instructions and does not need special tools. Review the amount of cutting and drilling required.

Pro-installation offers more precision and artistry but can be pricey. Make sure to get contractor quotes before finalizing your backsplash selection.

Choose Within Your Budget

Backsplash materials can range hugely in cost. Here are typical price ranges:

  • Peel-and-stick tile: $5 to $10 per sq ft
  • Ceramic tile: $10 to $30 per sq ft
  • Stone tile: $15 to $50 per sq ft
  • Stainless steel: $30 to $60 per sq ft
  • Glass tile: $15 to $50 per sq ft
  • Slate or marble slab: $40 to $100 per sq ft

Measure your backsplash area and determine how much you can spend. This will help narrow down which backsplash options make financial sense for your project.

See Samples in Person

While browsing online images is helpful, nothing beats seeing material samples in person. Tile and stone dealers usually have a showroom where you can view a variety of backsplash swatches.

Being able to touch and examine the actual materials allows you to get a sense of color variations, texture, glossiness, and overall quality. It’s an important step before finalizing your backsplash decision.

Assess Ease of Cleaning

Regular cleaning is crucial to keeping your backsplash looking fresh and undamaged over time.

Some backsplashes, like smooth glass or glossy ceramic tile, are a breeze to wipe clean. Textured materials like stone and frosted glass are more porous and prone to grime buildup.

Be sure to select a backsplash product whose surface can be easily kept clean. Otherwise, food, grease, and daily spills will make it appear dirty, dingy, and dated.

Consider How It Complements Your Countertops

There should be nice visual flow between your backsplash and countertops. Colors, patterns, textures, and glossiness should coordinate.

A common approach is using the same material for both backsplash and counters, like matching marble slab. This creates a seamless, uniform look.

If counts and backsplash use different materials, make sure they share complementary qualities. For example, sleek quartz counters could pair well with a metallic glass backsplash.

You want your kitchen surfaces to look cohesive, not clash or feel disconnected.

Factor in Sustainability

Eco-friendly building materials are an important option to consider. Reclaimed wood, recycled glass tile, and natural stone are more sustainable than man-made products.

Using materials local to your area also reduces environmental impact from transportation. Supporting American-made products keeps production more eco-friendly.

Energy efficiency is another factor. Reflective stainless steel backsplashes can brighten kitchens with less reliance on electric lights.

Pick a Neutral Option If Unsure

If you need more time to decide on a backsplash style, start with a neutral temporary option. White subway tile or light natural stone are safe choices that complement most color schemes.

A neutral backsplash ensures you can easily change up your kitchen paint colors, cabinetry, accessories, etc. You can always install a bolder backsplash later when you settle on a definite decorative vision.

Double-Check Measurements

Precisely measure your backsplash area before purchasing materials and beginning installation. Account for any outlets, windows, or borders affecting sizing.

Always calculate at least 10% extra to accommodate uneven walls, tricky angled corners, and having extras in case of breakage.

Carefully following measurement best practices will help ensure you purchase enough backsplash material the first time.

Preview the Full Look

Once you’ve narrowed down your backsplash options, use visualizing tools to preview the complete look.

Install temporary tile samples or print out full-scale designs to tape on the wall. Use photo editing software to create mockups using images of your actual kitchen.

Viewing the backsplash fully rendered in your space provides the most accurate sense of how well it complements your cabinets, appliances, etc.

Thoroughly previewing the overall look helps confirm you’ve selected the perfect backsplash style before purchasing and installing. With careful evaluation of your kitchen style, needs and preferences, selecting a backsplash can be easy and enjoyable. Just take sufficient time at each step. Make sure to view material samples and visualize the total look. Then you’ll be able to achieve the ideal backsplash design on your first try, and enjoy a gorgeous new kitchen focal point for years to come.

Frequently Asked Questions About Selecting Kitchen Backsplash

What are the most popular kitchen backsplash materials?

The most common backsplash materials are ceramic tile, glass tile, marble or stone tile/slabs, stainless steel, and engineered materials like quartz. Subway tile and mosaic tile are popular styles.

What color backsplash goes best with white cabinets?

White cabinets pair beautifully with nearly any backsplash color. Grey, blue, green, black, and beige backsplashes often complement white cabinetry. Light glass or marble backsplashes also look elegant against white cabinets.

How much does it cost to install a kitchen backsplash?

The average cost to install a kitchen backsplash ranges from $800 to $2500, depending on the size of your kitchen and the backsplash materials used. More affordable options like peel-and-stick tile can be DIYed for under $500.

Should you match backsplash and countertops?

It’s not mandatory to match your backsplash and countertops, but it often looks very cohesive. Using the same material like quartz or marble tile for both creates a streamlined look. If using different materials, make sure they coordinate in color and texture.

What backsplash goes with oak cabinets?

Earthy backsplash materials like stone, marble, or brick complement the warm tones of oak cabinets beautifully. Match the undertones of your oak, whether yellow (travertine), red (terracotta), or brown (slate). Stainless steel backsplashes also pair well with golden oak cabinetry.


With proper planning and evaluation, selecting the ideal backsplash can significantly enhance your kitchen’s functionality and appearance. Determine your preferred style, consider coordinating design elements, account for factors like durability and maintenance, and thoroughly preview options in your space. Taking a systematic approach helps ensure you achieve the perfect backsplash design on the first try.