Kitchen Backsplash for Hickory Cabinets Complete the Elegance of Hickory

A kitchen backsplash plays an integral role in tying together the look and feel of the space. When paired with hickory cabinets, the right backsplash can take the elegance of this beautiful wood to the next level. Hickory has a bold, dramatic grain that instantly imparts a sense of high-end style. By selecting a backsplash that complements the distinctive characteristics of hickory, you can achieve a cohesive, upscale aesthetic for your kitchen design.

Factors to Consider for Pairing a Backsplash with Hickory Cabinets

When exploring backsplash options for hickory cabinets, there are a few important factors to keep in mind:


Consider backsplash materials and colors that coordinate with the varying tan, brown, and reddish-brown tones of hickory wood. Warm neutral hues like beige, taupe, and cream tend to work well, as they pick up on the softer undertones of the cabinets. Additionally, shades of brown, from light camel to deep coffee, can help ground the space and tie in beautifully with hickory’s natural palette.


Look for backsplash finishes and materials with textures that complement hickory’s distinctive grain patterns. Materials with surface interest and visual depth, such as natural stone with veining, large format ceramic or porcelain tile with glossy crackled glazing, concrete with aggregate, and textured glass tile can pair beautifully with the dramatic character of hickory cabinetry.


Aim for a backsplash with a style that aligns with the aesthetic intention of your hickory cabinets. For traditional sensibilities, classic subway tile, marble mosaic, or penny rounds in creams and browns are timeless options. Contemporary hickory designs can handle bolder choices like bright solid glass or geometric metallics. Overall, balance sleekness and texture based on your desired look.

Top Backsplash Options for Hickory Kitchens

Taking into account the color, texture, and style considerations above, here are some of the best backsplash materials to complete the elegance of hickory cabinetry:

Brown or Beige Subway Tile

A brown, beige, or taupe subway tile backsplash is a versatile option that pairs seamlessly with the warm, grounded tones of hickory cabinets. The classic rectangular shape and clean lines provide a subtle complement that allows the striking grain of the wood to take center stage. Lay the tiles in a simple staggered pattern for a traditional look or in a herringbone design for extra flair.

Natural Stone

Materials like granite, marble, travertine, and slate in neutral earth tones can make a gorgeous natural stone backsplash for hickory cabinets. The inherent veining and textural depth coordinate beautifully with the visual richness of hickory wood. For a luxurious aesthetic, select polished stone slabs in larger formats. Or for more rustic charm, go for tumbled stone mosaic tiles.

Ceramic or Porcelain Tile

Look for ceramic or porcelain tiles with warm brown shades, natural stone-mimicking textures, or crackled glazes that provide noticeable surface dimension. Installing tiles like these in a brick laid pattern or combining different tiles for a mosaic effect results in gorgeous contrast and personality behind hickory cabinetry.

Metal Tiles

The sleek, reflective properties of metal backsplash tiles in pewter, bronze, aged tin, or copper can create an eye-catching complement to distressed hickory cabinets. Combining metal and wood results in a bold, modern statement. Opt for smaller sized tiles or mosaic sheets to keep the look refined and sophisticated.

Textured Glass Tile

Glass tile with heavily textured surfaces and an almost leather-like appearance can make for beautiful dynamic contrast against hickory’s natural grain. Try impactful shapes like elongated hexagons or interesting color combinations like bronzed browns paired with frosty whites. The translucency and glimmer of the glass tiles will catch and reflect light beautifully.

Design Concepts and Placement for a Hickory Backsplash

Now that we’ve covered complementary materials, here are some insightful design concepts and placement tips for installing your hickory kitchen backsplash:

Limit to Kitchen Backsplash Area

Focus your backsplash tile to the main kitchen backsplash area directly behind the lower cabinets and countertops. This concentrated placement allows the hickory cabinetry to take the spotlight and provides just enough tile visual interest without overwhelming the space.

Include Behind Stove

For a cohesive presentation, use your backsplash tile to cover the wall area behind the stove, extending from countertop to ceiling. This gives the illusion of a built-in range and creates a polished alcove effect.

Full Height Accents

Consider executing short sections of your backsplash tile from countertop to ceiling on accent walls or at focal points like near a window or island. Strategically placed full height backsplash accents can lend drama and visual impact.

Incorporate Creatively Around Hood Vent

Design your tiled backsplash around hood vents and range hoods in creative ways. Frame the hood with border tiles or embellish its exterior surface with coordinated mosaic tiles. This makes the vent feel like an integrated part of the backsplash design.

Complementary Finishes

Match your backsplash grout color and finish to whichever hickory cabinet stain and topcoat you select. A glossy tile finish, for example, would pair best with shinier polyurethane-coated cabinets. Warm gray or beige grout works well with most medium to dark hickory stains.

Lighting Effects

Install lighting in ways that spotlight and bounce light dramatically off your backsplash. Under-cabinet task lighting, for instance, will accentuate the tile work while inset LED strips along the tops of wall cabinets can graze light down for brilliant illumination.

Ideal Tile Size and Pattern Options

Now let’s explore recommendations for tile sizes, arrangements, layout patterns and blending designs that all look fantastic with hickory cabinets:

Subway Tiles

The most classic backsplash option, subway tiles in 2 by 4, 3 by 6, or 4 by 8 inch standard sizes create simple clean lines and subtle texture. Offsetting the rectangular tiles in a brick laid pattern is visually appealing.

Large Format Tiles

For a contemporary look, oversized tiles ranging from 12 to 24 inches square establish bold impact. Combined with hickory’s natural drama, the effect is striking. Limit to no more than 3 or 4 seams across the backsplash area.

Mosaic Tiles

Tiny mosaic tiles, whether stone, ceramic, or glass, pack high visual density into a small space for tons of texture. Coordinate the color variations for cohesion. Great option for introducing color if needed.

Mix and Blend

Combining complimentary tile sizes, colors, and textures creates custom designer appeal. Try mixing subways with mosaics, or pairing natural stone slabs with ceramic tiles in shared tones. The contrast is dynamic.

Framed Accents

Frame backsplashes with trim strips or pencil tiles to define the boundaries and tie into surrounding cabinetry stain colors. Also effective to frame focal areas like cooktop hoods, mirrors, or display shelving.

Minimal Grout Lines

Select tile patterns that utilize thinner grout lines, or even overlapping tiles with no grout. This approach maximizes the tile surface exposure which enhances the textural impact against the hickory grain.

Top Tips for Installing a Hickory Backsplash

Here are a few best practices to employ when installing a backsplash behind hickory cabinets:

Prep the Surface

Ensuring the surface is smooth, clean, and properly primed will help achieve the flush, seamless finish you want. Sand and wipe down the area, fill any holes, and apply suitable primer and sealer based on your tile material.

Follow Layout Lines

Map out stud locations and mark all the levels and layout lines directly on the wall surface to keep tile courses perfectly straight. Use a laser level for accuracy. This prevents any uneven edges or slippage.

Cut Tiles Precisely

Take time to make clean precise tile cuts, especially for any tiles that meet cabinets, countertops, and adjacent surfaces. Well-cut edges prevent awkward gaps or overlaps with surrounding elements.

Stagger Seams

When working with grouted seam tiles, ensure proper offset seams by mapping courses to distribute staggered seams evenly spaced. Plan the layout to prevent any obvious vertical seams or a ‘staircase’ effect.

Seal Properly

Apply tile sealant generously to water-prone areas near sinks and cooktops. Grout sealant across the entire installation will protect from staining and damage over time. Apply silicone caulk along hard seams and edges.

FAQs About Pairing Hickory Cabinets with Backsplash:

What is the best backsplash for light hickory cabinets?

For light-stained hickory cabinets, stick with lighter and brighter backsplash colors like soft beige subway tile, white marble mosaic, or pale grey stone slabs. Darker tiles can potentially make light hickory cabinets feel visually overwhelming.

What backsplash goes best with natural hickory cabinets?

Natural, unstained hickory pairs best with backsplash materials pulled directly from its color palette. Creamy beiges, warm grays, light to mid-range browns, and muted natural stones will seamlessly match the tones of the wood grain.

Do you need to seal hickory cabinets before installing a backsplash?

It’s a smart idea to apply water-based polyurethane or other sealant to hickory cabinets before installing a backsplash. This prevents moisture penetration behind the cabinets during the tile installation process that could damage the wood over time.

Should the backsplash match the hickory cabinets exactly?

It’s not necessary to precisely color match the backsplash to the cabinets. Similar warm natural tones with nice variation create good complementary contrast. The key is making sure the finishes work cohesively together from an aesthetic standpoint.

What finish should I use on hickory cabinets for a modern look?

For contemporary styled kitchens, opt for a glossy clear-coat finish on hickory cabinets, and pair with sleek polished or glass backsplash tiles. The shinier cabinet finish makes the wood grain pop for an eye-catching modern pairing.

Can you use dark grout with hickory cabinets?

Dark charcoal or black grout can work with medium to darker stained hickory cabinets. The deep color contrast between the grout lines and wood grain establishes an bold, impactful look. Use with care on lighter cabinets to avoid looking too busy.


The ideal backsplash pairing for hickory kitchen cabinets will highlight the gorgeous wood grain while contributing warmth, texture, and subtle complementary color. Be sure to consider the factors of color, texture, and style when selecting your backsplash materials. Whether you prefer traditional whitewashed subway tile or bold metallic glass mosaics, choosing the right backsplash is key to completing the elegant aesthetic of your hickory cabinetry. With strategic planning for tile size, layout, installation precision, and creative accents, your kitchen backsplash can beautifully showcase hickory’s striking natural beauty.






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