How to Update Your Kitchen Backsplash

A kitchen backsplash serves both form and function—protecting your walls from cooking messes while adding visual interest to your kitchen. Over time, backsplashes can start to look dated or become damaged. Updating your backsplash is an easy weekend project that can make a big difference in the look of your kitchen. Follow this guide to learn how to update kitchen backsplash in your home.

Assessing Your Current Backsplash

Before choosing a new backsplash, take some time to evaluate your current one.

  • What material is it made of? Ceramic tile, metal, glass, and stone are among the most common. This will impact available update options.
  • What is the condition? Cracked or missing tiles, discoloration, chipped edges, and caulking issues will need repairs.
  • Is it dated? Outdated colors, patterns, or heavy graining can make a backsplash look old.
  • Does it match your kitchen? If not, a new backsplash can help your kitchen feel more cohesive.
  • Is it damaged? Stains, cracks, mold, and missing or broken tiles call for a backsplash replacement.

Thoroughly inspecting the current state of your backsplash will guide your update approach.

Choosing a New Backsplash Material

Once you’ve assessed your existing backsplash, it’s time to choose a new material. Consider the following:


Tile backsplashes are popular for their durability, easy cleaning, and design options. Ceramic, porcelain, or glass tile in endless colors, patterns, shapes, and textures can complement any kitchen aesthetic. Use subway tile for a classic look or mosaic tile for an artsy vibe. Grout color makes a difference too.


Natural stone like marble, travertine, slate, and granite elevate a kitchen’s luxury. Available in large format slabs or various sized tiles. Stone has a timeless, elegant look, but requires sealing to prevent stains.


Metal backsplashes have an industrial modern appeal. Stainless steel, copper, brass, and aluminum come in tiles, sheets, or custom designs. Great heat and water-resistance. Metal requires cleaning to keep its luster.


Glass tile or mirrored backsplashes lend beautiful depth with light reflection. Durable and low maintenance, available in many colors, shapes, and textures. Use care when handling sharp edges during installation.

Ceramic Panels

Ceramic panels made of porcelain or bisque clay are seamless options. Install full sheets for a sleek contemporary look. Groutless installation saves cleaning time. Panels are durable but can chip if hit hard.

Backsplash Installation

Installing a new backsplash is a doable DIY project for many homeowners. Consider your skill level and time commitment. Professional installation may be worth the added cost for more complex projects.

DIY Backsplash Installation

With proper planning, materials, and tools, you can tackle a backsplash installation. Follow these general steps:

  • Remove old backsplash completely – pry off tiles and scrape away all old adhesive.
  • Prepare the surface – fill any holes or imperfections with spackle; sand smooth.
  • Gather supplies – tiles, adhesive, grout, grout float, spacers, caulk, tile cutter, etc. Rent additional tools as needed.
  • Plan your design – map it out for balanced cuts, proper spacing, and visual appeal.
  • Mark the starting point and tile location – measure and level.
  • Apply adhesive using proper trowel size and technique.
  • Set the tiles in place with even spacing – use crosses or wedges.
  • Let adhesive cure fully (24-48 hours).
  • Mix and apply grout, wiping away excess. Seal grout after drying.
  • Finally, caulk edges and allow to dry before using kitchen.

Hiring a Pro

For larger projects, intricate designs, or if you want it done fast, consider hiring a professional tile installer to update your backsplash. They have the expertise to get it done efficiently and properly. Be sure to get multiple estimates first.

Cost to Update a Kitchen Backsplash

The cost to replace a backsplash varies widely based on the size of your kitchen, materials chosen, and DIY vs professional installation. Some typical ranges:

  • Ceramic tile – $15-$30 per sq. ft.
  • Natural stone – $40-$100 per sq. ft.
  • Metal – $50-$100 per sq. ft.
  • Glass tile – $20-$50 per sq. ft.
  • Professional install – $5-$10 per sq. ft.

Factor in costs for new tools, adhesive, grout, sealant, accessories, removal labor, and any repairs needed to your wall surface. An average 10×5 kitchen backsplash costs $700-$1500+ for materials and DIY labor.

Design Ideas for Updating Kitchen Backsplashes

A new backsplash is a great chance to update your kitchen’s style. Consider these popular backsplash design ideas:

Mix and Match

Use a combination of tiles or materials. Mix sizes, shapes, colors, and textures for lots of visual interest. Include an accent strip or geometric wall tile design.

Classic White Subway Tile

A classic 3×6 white ceramic subway tile backsplash instantly brightens up a kitchen. Use all white or add contrast with gray, black, or colored grout.

Modern Glass or Stone Mosaic

Small glass, ceramic, or stone mosaic tiles arrange in patterns for a contemporary style statement. Use metallic varieties for more glam.

Natural Stone Full Slab

A full slab of marble, travertine, or granite makes a dramatic backsplash statement. Available in polished or rough stone faces to suit your style.

Classic Penny Rounds

Vintage-inspired penny round tiles lend nostalgic charm. Use blue, black, white, copper, and more. Arrange in geometric patterns or offset rows.

Wood Planks

For a rustic or farmhouse feel, use real wood planks. Coated metal tiles mimic wood too. Allow space between planks for visual impact.

Solid Color Palette

Pick one main tile color like navy blue, emerald green, or bold black for a dramatic single-color backsplash. Use varying gloss levels for dimension.

Moroccan Fish Scale Tile

Intricate mosaic tiles arranged in rows like fish scales create beautiful shimmer. The colorful, artistic style works in old world or modern kitchens.

Maintaining Your New Backsplash

Once your new backsplash is installed, you’ll want to keep it looking like new. Follow these maintenance tips:

  • Use cleaners designed for your backsplash material – avoid harsh chemicals.
  • Re-seal natural stone and grout every 1-2 years to prevent stains.
  • Immediately clean up any food splatters or grease spills to avoid stubborn staining.
  • Take extra care around metal backsplashes to avoid scratches.
  • Check for missing or cracked grout/caulk and repair quickly to prevent moisture damage.
  • Wash regularly with soft sponge or cloth to refresh its shine.

With the right care, your updated backsplash can stay beautiful for years, protecting your walls while uplifting your kitchen’s decor.

FAQs About Updating Kitchen Backsplash

What are the benefits of installing a new backsplash?

A new backsplash can transform the entire look of your kitchen by introducing color, patterns, or textures. It also protects your walls from moisture damage, staining, and food splatters while being easy to clean. Updating a dated or damaged backsplash makes the whole kitchen feel fresh and new.

Does the new backsplash have to match my countertops?

It’s not mandatory, but ideally your new backsplash will coordinate with your countertops and overall kitchen decor. Contrasting colors and textures can complement each other well. Just avoid clashing styles or colors that don’t flow together.

Should I remove the old backsplash completely before installing a new one?

Yes, it’s important to fully remove your old backsplash and prep the surface before installing the new one. This allows the new tile or panels to adhere directly to the wall surface without old adhesive or uneven tiles interfering.

Can I install a backsplash over existing tile or wallpaper?

It is not recommended to install a backsplash directly over your old tiles, vinyl wallpaper, or other existing materials on the wall. These need to be scraped or peeled off so the new backsplash can be installed properly on the bare wall underneath.

What tools will I need to install a tile backsplash myself?

For a DIY tile backsplash, you’ll need basic tools like a tape measure, level, tile cutter, sponges, buckets, adhesive trowel, grout float, spacers, caulk gun, and grout sealer. Consider renting a wet saw for precise tile cutting.

How do I cut backsplash tiles?

Ceramic and porcelain tiles can be cut using a manual tile cutter. Make score lines with the cutter wheel, then snap the tile piece off. Use a wet saw for intricate cuts. Glass or stone tiles require a wet saw designed for those materials.

How long does it take to install a new backsplash?

The timeline can range quite a bit based on the size of your kitchen, chosen materials, and DIY skill level. Allocate at least 2-5 days for DIY installation or 1-2 days for professional installation. Curing time for adhesive and grout will add a day or two.

What’s the best way to clean and care for my new backsplash?

Always use cleaners designed for your specific backsplash material. Seal grout and natural stone regularly. Wipe up spills quickly to avoid stains. Wash gently with mild soap and water. Check for any cracks or damage over time and repair as needed.


Updating your kitchen backsplash can make a huge difference in the look and functionality of your kitchen. Assessing your current backsplash, choosing new materials, proper installation, and ongoing care will lead to a successful project. Use this guide to upgrade your backsplash on a budget in a weekend or by hiring a pro for faster turnaround. With a range of stylish and durable backsplash options, you’re sure to find one that suits your kitchen’s decor goals and protects your walls beautifully.