Adding a backsplash to your kitchen can instantly upgrade the look and feel of the space. But once you’ve installed tile, granite, marble, or another material on the wall behind your countertop, what can you put over it to protect it or change up the style? There are several creative options for adding decorative accents over an existing backsplash.
One of the simplest ways to alter the look of your tile backsplash is by painting over it. Use a specialty primer and paint made specifically for tile and be sure to prepare the surface so the paint adheres properly. With paint you can achieve a number of different finished looks:
- Solid color – Choose any color to completely change the feeling of your kitchen. Dark moody hues can be dramatic while light neutrals open up the space.
- Pattern or stencil – For more interest, use painter’s tape to block off geometric shapes or apply a stencil over the tile before painting.
- Ombre or gradated – Transition from dark to light by gradually changing the paint color from top to bottom.
- Faux marble or travertine – With plastic sheets and multiple paint colors, you can create a marbleized look.
Painting tile allows you to inexpensively change up the color anytime. It’s a reversible DIY project. If you decide you want to go back to the original tile, some elbow grease will be required but it can be done.
For limitless pattern and color options, consider wallpapering over existing tile. Use an adhesive wallpaper specifically made for high moisture areas like backsplashes. Measure carefully and cut pieces to fit the shape and size of your wall.
Some key tips when applying wallpaper to tile:
- Thoroughly clean the tile and allow to dry completely so the wallpaper adhesive adheres properly.
- prime first with a spackling paste primer to create a smooth, uniform surface.
- Use a vinyl wallpaper rather than paper which can expand and contract with moisture.
- Carefully apply the adhesive and smooth the wallpaper, watching for air bubbles. Use a smoothing tool.
- Use spray sealant over the finished wallpaper to protect in the kitchen environment.
Geometric, floral, scenic, or brick wallpaper designs can entirely transform the look of your kitchen backsplash. Like paint, wallpaper can be removed later if desired.
Another decorative and reversible option is to apply tile decals over existing backsplash tile. Tile decals come in a wide range of materials like vinyl, plastic, or perforated paper. Choose tile stickers with a pattern or color that complements your current tile.
Some popular ways to use tile decals include:
- Stenciling patterns – Create shapes like diamonds, circles, squares, triangles, zigzags or moroccan-inspired motifs.
- Pictures or designs – Decals can include sea shells, flowers, vines, fruits, or anything you can imagine.
- Solid colors – Use solid color decals to highlight sections of your backsplash or cover over discolored grout lines.
- Highlight borders – Apply a strip of decorative decals along the top, bottom, or as a center focal point.
- Update dated tile – Cover colorful 80s or 90s era tile with more modern decals.
Follow the manufacturer’s instructions carefully for applying tile stickers. Be sure to thoroughly clean and dry the backsplash so decals adhere properly. Apply even pressure and use a plastic applicator or putty knife to transfer and smooth decals.
Removable Backsplash Panels
For a completely new look, install a removable backsplash right over your existing tile. Temporary backsplash panels typically attach with adhesive, slide into tracks, or mount with brackets. Many are also magnetic. With these, you can quickly change up the style any time.
Some popular materials for temporary backsplashes include:
- Glass – Choose colored, patterned, or frosted glass panels.
- Metal – Opt for stainless steel, copper, brass or aluminum. Go modern with sleek metal or hammered and textured looks.
- Wood – Real wood veneers or melamine panels offer warmth.
- Magnetic primer + accessories – Paint on magnetic primer then accessorize with magnetic spice racks, chalkboard panels, and more.
- Peel and stick tiles – Self-adhesive backsplash tiles in vinyl, plastic or real ceramic add new interest.
Be sure to precisely measure and cut any removable backsplash panels for a custom fit. Carefully clean the existing tile and prep the surface prior to installation. Use painter’s tape to map out the perimeter and determine placements. Follow manufacturer’s instructions for mounting panels.
One way to visually double the size and brightness of a kitchen is by adding mirrors over the backsplash. Mirror tiles, large sheets of mirror glass, and framed mirror panels can all be applied right over existing tile. Consider also using mirrors:
- To make a small kitchen appear more spacious
- Behind open shelving to double display space
- On the wall opposite windows to reflect more natural light in
- Behind sinks or prep areas to aid with tasks
Use mosaic mirror tiles or mirrored sheets with silicone adhesive to apply directly to tile. For larger mirrors, use secure mounting brackets. A few small mirrors arranged in creative patterns can also make a big impact.
For a warm, rustic aesthetic, wood boards make an attractive cover up for tile backsplashes. Use individual wood planks, shiplap or salvaged barnwood pieces. Consider finishing the wood with stain and polyurethane or leaving a natural patina.
Adhere wood boards with construction adhesive or liquid nails formulated for heavy materials. Here are some tips:
- Cut wood pieces to fit your backsplash layout and pattern test before permanent installation.
- Make sure backsplash area is clean, dry and sanded for proper adhesion.
- Use spacers to leave room for expansion and contraction of wood.
- Use brad nails for temporary support while adhesive dries.
- Fill gaps and finish with wood putty and trim as needed.
Distressed wood planks offer cottage charm or go modern with sleek stained wood slats or shiplap. This can be a weekend DIY project for experienced DIYers.
As an alternative to wood planks, use beadboard panels over backsplash tile for a timeless, classic look. The characteristic raised rows on beadboard provide beautiful dimension and visual interest.
Beadboard backsplashes look gorgeous in white but you can also paint or stain them. Use peel and stick beadboard sheets for the easiest application over tile. Or mount individual beaded planks across the backsplash.
Consider choosing beadboard with these features:
- Tongue and groove plank connections for tight seams
- Water and moisture resistance is ideal in kitchens
- V-groove or customizable groove spacing
- molding and trim pieces for polished ends
For another decorating option that won’t damage the original tile, try removable wallpaper. Peel and stick wallpaper easily applies over backsplash tile with an adhesive backing. When it’s time for a change, simply peel it off.
Some benefits of removable wallpaper include:
- Hundreds of colors and patterns to choose from
- Mimics luxurious wallcovering looks for less
- Allows you to refresh the room temporarily
- Comes in traditional rolls or panels
- Can also be applied with temporary wall adhesive
When applying removable wallpaper:
- Thoroughly clean and dry the backsplash
- Cut pieces to fit the wall size starting from the center
- Remove air pockets and wrinkles as you go
- Use a plastic smoother to adhere the paper
- Trim excess paper from tile edges
Use geometric, floral, faux wood or even grasscloth textured removable wallpaper to switch up your backsplash style.
For a fun, familial feel in the kitchen, try coating the backsplash in chalkboard paint. Dark colored chalkboard paint brushes on easily to create a matte, writable surface.
To chalk paint a backsplash:
- Clean and dry the backsplash tile thoroughly first
- Apply two coats of chalkboard paint using a brush or small foam roller
- Let the chalkboard paint cure fully for a few days
- “Season” by rubbing the side of a piece of chalk all over, then erase
- Draw to your heart’s content!
Chalkboard backsplashes are ideal for:
- Writing grocery lists, recipes or reminders
- Drawing cute designs or leaving family messages
- Letting kids practice their writing and doodling
- Playing games like hangman, tic tac toe or hangman
Use chalk pens to create colorful designs. Clean with a damp cloth and refresh chalk paint periodically.
For a soft, cozy aesthetic, adorn your backsplash with fabric. This is an especially smart idea if you have damaged tile or an outdated backsplash style that you want to conceal temporarily.
Some ideas for fabric over backsplash tile:
- Peel and stick fabric wraps – Available in patterns like floral, paisley, faux wood and more.
- Removable wallpaper with fabric textures – Options include linen, burlap, grasscloth and faux leather.
- Framed with batting – Stretch and staple fabric like cotton canvas or denim over batting in a picture frame.
- Installed with liquid starch – Use liquid starch like a removable fabric adhesive to apply linen, lace or embroidered fabrics.
- Attached with velcro – Use self-adhesive velcro strips on the wall and fabric for easy application and removal.
Change out the fabric seasonally or anytime you feel like a fresh look. Use natural fibers like linen or cotton that can withstand kitchen grease and moisture. Fabrics soften hard surfaces and add texture.
Faux Tin Ceiling Tiles
For vintage appeal, install faux tin ceiling tiles right over your existing backsplash. These decorative metal tiles mimic authentic stamped tin ceilings popular in the 1800s. But unlike real tin, the faux metal tiles are lightweight, affordable and easy for DIY installation.
Here are some tips for installing faux tin backsplash tiles:
- Choose square or rectangle tiles with tongues and grooves for stability
- Measure and mark the installation area and center starting point
- Apply heavy duty construction adhesive to the back of each tile
- Press tiles into place, aligning the tongue and groove ends
- Use finishing nails if needed while the adhesive dries
- Install corner trim and fill seams with silicone caulk
- Clean and seal tiles to protect from grease splatter
Faux tin tiles lend an antique yet modern feel. For variation, mix metal tones like copper, bronze, silver, gold or antique white. Accent with painted tiles.
An easy way to embellish your existing backsplash without any commitment is to hang utensils directly on the tile. Copper pots, colanders, wire baskets, pans, and skillets create a functional yet ornamental look.
Follow these tips for hanging utensils on backsplash tile:
- Choose decorative and colorful pots, pans and baskets
- Clean the back of each thoroughly before applying adhesive
- Use strong silicone adhesive made specifically for kitchen use
- Allow adhesive to set fully (12-24 hrs) before hanging items
- Arrange utensils creatively – vertically, in rows or clusters
Beyond storage and decoration, hanging utensils can provide easy access while cooking. Arrange reminders of home and heritage in a meaningful pattern. Swap out regularly for a changing display.
Wall-Mounted Spice Racks
Another way to add function and flair over backsplash tile is by mounting wall-mounted spice racks. These come in materials like metal, wood, glass and wire mesh. Choose spice racks with hooks, shelving or cabinetry to mount over the tile.
Consider wall mounted spice racks:
- Near the stove for convenient access when cooking
- Made of materials like metal, wood, glass or mesh
- With space for commonly used spices and herbs
- That complement your kitchen’s color scheme or style
- With hooks, open shelves or cabinets for storage
- In horizontal or vertical orientations as space allows
Mount them securely over tile using heavy duty screws and anchors. Wipe spices clean periodically to keep your backsplash grime-free. Open racks let you display and decorate the spice jars.
Creative floating shelves present another opportunity for display space and storage directly over your backsplash. Floating shelves mounted on the wall don’t take up counter space. They can be painted or stained to coordinate with your kitchen style.
Tips for installing floating shelves on backsplashes:
- Choose the right shelf material – wood, metal, glass
- Make sure shelves are level and anchored securely
- Use heavy duty anchors and screws for stability
- Consider L-brackets for extra strength
- Install shelf standards evenly to hold adjustable shelves
- Stain, paint or finish shelves to match décor
- Decorate shelves with photos, plants, cookbooks or ceramic pieces
Floating shelves are ideal for storing small jars, cookbooks, wine bottles and kitchen accessories. Stagger multiple shelves at varying heights on the backsplash for lots of storage.
Upgrading kitchen tile often means replacing countertops too. If you aren’t ready to undertake the entire project, consider adding wainscoting panels over your backsplash and a portion of the countertop instead. Wainscoting refers to decorative molded trim installed along the lower part of walls. Made of materials like wood, marble, and mdf, wainscoting adds traditional character.
To install wainscoting over backsplash tile:
- Measure area and mark layout on the wall.
- Cut panels to size. Miter edges to fit corners.
- Apply construction adhesive and insert panels.
- Use finishing nails along the perimeter to hold in place.
- Caulk along seams and edges for a finished look.
- Consider adding crown molding along the top edge.
Gray, white or blue wainscoting looks classic in kitchens. Opt for a smooth painted finish or choose panels with raised shapes and profiles. Trim conceals dated tile and damage.
Embrace an airy, minimalist style by removing upper cabinets and installing open shelves. Exposing the backsplash expands the palette you can use to accessorize the kitchen.
When installing open shelving over a backsplash:
- Take accurate measurements and create a layout of shelves.
- Choose materials: wood, industrial pipe, glass, or metal wire shelving.
- Cut shelves to size. Sand and finish wood shelves if needed.
- Mount securely into wall studs for safety.
- Style shelves with everyday kitchenware, cookbooks, or barware.
- Highlight decorative objects like ceramic vases or trailing plants.
Open shelving works especially well over patterned, colorful, or farmhouse style tile you want to show off. Keep items used daily within easy reach. Try Under cabinet lighting to illuminate floating shelves.
One of the easiest ways to decorate over kitchen backsplash tile is by hanging small planter pots using adhesive hooks. Succulents, trailing ivy, herbs, and ferns are all perfect choices.
For planters over backsplashes, consider:
- Choosing plants safe to grow indoors in kitchens
- Pots sized under 8 inches so they don’t overwhelm
- Self-watering pots that need less maintenance
- Macrame or rope holders that compliment the tiles
- Adhesive hooks rated for at least 5 lbs weight
- Grouping three plants together in a creative arrangement
Beyond the green appeal, hanging plants help filter cooking pollutants and freshen air. Let them trail along your backsplash. Propagate new plants from clippings.
Reviving a tired kitchen backsplash doesn’t have to mean a major renovation. With creative DIY additions like removable panels, wallpaper, open shelving, chalkboard paint and more, you can easily and affordably upgrade the look of your existing tile. Which option would you most like to try in your home? Get inspired by the amazing transformations possible with these backsplash cover up ideas.