What is Kitchen Backsplash?

A kitchen backsplash is a protective surface that is installed on the wall behind a kitchen countertop, stove, or sink. It serves both decorative and functional purposes in the kitchen. The backsplash protects the walls from splashes, spills, and stains while adding visual interest to the kitchen.

Why Install a Backsplash in Your Kitchen?

There are several reasons why installing a backsplash in your kitchen is highly recommended:

Protects the Walls

The key purpose of a backsplash is to protect the walls behind the kitchen counter from water damage, food stains, oil splatter, and other messes that can occur in a kitchen. Without a backsplash, these stains can seep into the drywall and paint, requiring extensive repair and repainting over time. A properly sealed and installed backsplash creates a barrier between the countertop and wall.

Easier to Clean

In addition to protecting the walls, backsplashes are designed for easy cleaning. Most backsplash materials such as ceramic tile, metal, glass, and stone can be easily wiped down daily. This keeps the backsplash free of grease buildup, food debris, and cooking stains. Trying to scrub these types of messes off drywall or painted walls is much more difficult.

Adds Visual Interest

Backsplashes provide an excellent opportunity to add style, color, and visual interest to the kitchen. They can complement the countertops, cabinets, and overall kitchen decor. Tile backsplashes offer a diverse range of patterns, textures, materials, and colors to make a design statement.

Increases Resale Value

A kitchen backsplash is an investment that can increase the value and appeal of your home. Outdated kitchens without a backsplash look unfinished and less functional. Adding a backsplash signals that care and thought went into the kitchen’s design. This increases resale value by creating a more aesthetically pleasing space.

Finishes the Countertop Edge

The edge where the countertop meets the wall often has gaps or rough edges. A backsplash gives the countertop a finished look by covering this area completely. The backsplash materials should complement the edge of the countertop.


One of the best aspects of a backsplash is the high level of customization available. There are countless colors, patterns, textures, and materials to choose from. Mixing and matching designs allows you to create a backsplash tailored to your unique style.

Types of Kitchen Backsplash Materials

There are many types of materials used to create kitchen backsplashes, each with their own aesthetic appeal, durability, maintenance and cost factors. Here are some of the most popular kitchen backsplash ideas:

Ceramic and Porcelain Tile

Tile is one of the most common backsplash materials due to its versatility, durability, and easy maintenance. Glazed ceramic and porcelain tile come in a seemingly endless array of colors, shapes, patterns, and textures. Subway tile, mosaic tile, decorative tile, and penny tile are popular choices. The grout also allows for design flexibility.

Pros: Durable, water-resistant, easy to clean, stain resistant, heat resistant, affordable, available in many styles

Cons: Grout needs sealing, tiles can chip

Natural Stone Tile

Backsplashes made of granite, marble, travertine, slate, and other natural stones create a timeless, elegant look. The stone tiles have beautiful natural veining, colors, and patterns. Materials like granite are highly resilient.

Pros: Beautiful natural patterns, heat resistant, durable, easy maintenance

Cons: Expensive, porous stone requires sealing, can stain


Metal backsplashes like stainless steel, copper, and aluminum provide an ultra-modern, industrial vibe. Stainless steel is a popular choice for professional kitchens due to its sterility, easy cleaning, and heat resistance. Copper and aluminum add eye-catching shine.

Pros: Durable, heat resistant, easy to clean, water-resistant, rust-resistant finishes available

Cons: Susceptible to scratches and dents, higher cost

Glass Tile

Glass tile backsplashes have a luminous, shiny appearance from light reflecting off the glass. The tile comes in clear, opaque, and colored varieties. Recycled glass tile is an eco-friendly option.

Pros: Can be custom colored, resistant to heat and moisture, easy to clean

Cons: More delicate than other materials, grout staining

Glass Sheets

For a smooth, streamlined look, backsplashes can be created from glass sheets in different colors and finishes like frosted, pebbled, or patterned glass. Tempered glass is very durable.

Pros: Seamless appearance, heat and stain resistant, durable, easy cleaning

Cons: Higher cost, reflective

Peel-and-Stick Backsplashes

Pre-fabricated peel-and-stick backsplash panels make for an easy, affordable DIY installation. Many materials like metal, vinyl, plexiglass, and tile are manufactured into peel-and-stick sheets.

Pros: Budget-friendly, easy “peel-and-stick” application, quick installation, removable

Cons: Less durable, limited design options


Wood backsplashes bring natural warmth and texture to a kitchen. Real wood, faux wood panels, and eco-friendly bamboo are possibilities. The wood grain and colors, like maple or oak, add natural beauty.

Pros: Warm, natural look; renewable material; durable

Cons: Prone to warping, swelling from moisture, requires sealing


Sustainable, naturally bacterial-resistant cork tiles or sheets create a soft, warm look for backsplashes. Cork can be easily cut for customized shapes.

Pros: Sustainable material, antimicrobial, warm appearance, comfortable underfoot
Cons: Absorbs stains, challenging DIY cutouts

Brick or Stone Veneer

Faux brick, stacked stone, or other masonry veneers produce an authentic, rustic style. Natural variations in shape and color add depth. Grout matches the stone colors.

Pros: Natural, textured appearance; durable; hides imperfections
Cons: Heavy, professional installation recommended, grout needs sealing


Poured and precast concrete backsplashes provide a raw, industrial vibe with their color variations and exposed aggregates. Molds can shape concrete into tiles or panels.

Pros: Durable, heat resistant, textured appearance
Cons: Heavy, potential cracking if improperly installed


Removable, peel-and-stick wallpaper allows for easy application of colorful patterns or faux textures as a backsplash. Florals, geometrics, marbles, and metallics are options.

Pros: Customizable designs, easy to apply and remove, affordable
Cons: Less durable, not waterproof, needs precise installation

This wide range of backsplash materials makes it easy to find one that matches your kitchen’s existing design and complements the cabinetry, countertops, appliances, and decor.

How is a Kitchen Backsplash Installed?

While a backsplash performs essential functions, the installation itself is a relatively straightforward process, especially for DIYers. Here are the basic steps:

Select the Backsplash Material

First, select the backsplash materials and colors that fit your kitchen’s decor, factoring in components like cabinetry, countertops, flooring, and lighting fixtures. Measure the backsplash area to determine how much material you need.

Prepare the Wall Surface

Proper wall preparation is crucial. Clean the walls thoroughly, then fill any holes or imperfections with spackle and sand smooth. This provides an even surface for the backsplash. Primer helps materials stick.

Dry Fit the Tiles

Do a dry run by laying out the backsplash tiles on the countertop in the planned arrangement without any adhesive. This lets you visualize the full pattern and spacing. Make any adjustments before actual installation.

Apply the Adhesive

Apply the appropriate adhesive for the backsplash material to the wall area. Tile adhesives are commonly used. Follow the product specifications for application and set times.

Affix the Backsplash

Carefully install the backsplash materials piece by piece with the adhesive. Use spacers between tiles to achieve consistent spacing. Follow the specific material guidelines.

Grout and Seal

After affixing all tiles or panels, apply grout between the materials, wiping away excess. Lastly, apply a protective sealant on materials like grout, granite, or travertine that require it. Allow everything to fully cure.

With the right preparations and materials, installing a backsplash is totally feasible as a DIY weekend project. Complex designs or heavy materials like natural stone may benefit from professional installation.

Backsplash Height and Dimensions

The dimensions of a backsplash depend on the size of your kitchen counters and layout. Typical height standards help splashes adequately protect the walls.

Backsplash Height

The most common backsplash height is 4 inches from the counter. This is the minimum height recommended to adequately protect walls from splashes and spills.

Full height backsplashes that extend all the way from countertop to ceiling create a dramatic accent wall impact. Full height is often seen behind ranges or larger expanses of backsplash.

Standard backsplash heights:

  • Minimum: 4 inches
  • Partial Height: 18-24 inches
  • Full Height: Countertop to ceiling

Backsplash Length

In terms of length, the backsplash should cover:

  • The entire length of countertops, islands, or peninsulas
  • The area behind kitchen sinks and ranges

The length depends on the footprint of the kitchen space. For a continuous, streamlined look, the backsplash typically runs along all countertops.

However, small backsplash sections in prime splash zones are also an option. The range backsplash, for example, may be the only tiled section.

For kitchen islands, the backsplash can either wrap around the entire island or just cover a small section behind the prep area.

Backsplash Depth

Tiles and panels come in standard depths for ease of installation. Common depths include:

  • Ceramic Tile: 4 to 6 inch depth
  • Glass Tile: 1 inch depth
  • Metal Tile: 4 inch depth
  • Stone Tile: 3/8 to 3/4 inch depth
  • Backsplash Panels: 1/4 to 1/2 inch depth

The combination of height, length, and depth help determine the total square footage of backsplash materials needed. Accurately measuring the backsplash area is crucial.

Can You Install Backsplash Over Existing Tile?

Installing a backsplash over existing backsplash tile is possible in certain scenarios. However, several factors need evaluation first.

The condition of the existing tile is most important. Cracked, damaged, or loose tiles must be removed and replaced. Built-up grime and grout also need cleaning before tile will properly adhere.

Next, determine if the new backsplash materials are compatible with the old. Porcelain or ceramic often bonds well to existing tile. Natural stone and metals are trickier. In some cases, removing the old backsplash and starting fresh may be required.

Finally, the thickness of the new tile or panels must align with the original tile depth. A 1/4 inch porcelain mosaic can likely be applied over standard tile. But thicker materials may create lippage between the two surfaces.

When suitable conditions exist, using the proper adhesives and preparation, a new backsplash can conceal an outdated existing one as part of a kitchen remodel. But take care to address any underlying issues for successful application and longevity.

Can You Put Backsplash in a Rental?

Renters eager to refresh their rental unit often wonder if installing a backsplash is allowed. Since a backsplash requires permanent modifications, you need your landlord’s approval before proceeding.

Many leases prohibit permanent changes without consent. Check your lease terms first. If interested, reach out to the landlord with your backsplash plans for review. Be sure to get any approvals in writing.

Providing examples of potential materials and offering to cover all costs of installation can help convince a reluctant landlord. Turning that dated back wall into an eye-catching focal point may add value from their perspective.

Assuming the landlord grants approval, as a renter, stick to budget-friendly backsplash materials for the project. Peel-and-stick tiles, wallpaper, or other easily removable materials make the most sense. This avoids major restoration when moving out.

As a renter, if the existing backsplash is in poor condition, discuss repairs with the landlord as an alternative to taking on the project yourself. With proper communication, you can find solutions to drab backsplash blues.

Can You Put Backsplash Behind a Cooktop?

Installing a backsplash behind a cooktop or stove is highly recommended to protect the wall from grease splatter, sauce splashes, and other cooking mess. The entire area around and behind the cooktop should be covered.

However, particular care must be taken during installation. First, measure precisely to account for flanking cabinets, centered cooktop layouts, and any speciality backsplash shapes needed.

Heat-resistant, non-combustible backsplash materials are a must behind stoves. Tile, metal, glass, and stone all withstand heat. Leave a small gap between the cooktop and backsplash for ventilation.

Building codes also regulate the required spaces between a range top and backsplash. Typically 1-2 inches minimum is recommended.

For gas cooktops and ranges, avoid sealing the backsplash directly over the area where the gas line feeds into the stove. This allows proper ventilation.

With careful planning and heat-safe materials, a backsplash can provide an attractive, functional shield behind any kitchen cooktop. Protect your cooking space in style.

Can You Extend Existing Backsplash?

To refresh your kitchen’s look, extending an existing backsplash up the wall or along the counters adds visual impact. The key is finding extension materials that blend well with the original backsplash.

If the current backsplash is a natural material like granite, slate, or travertine, new pieces can likely be sourced to match the color and veining. Keep extra tile in case repairs are needed.

Manufactured tiles also come in collections, making matching extension pieces readily available, even for older designs. Or complimentary patterns can provide a seamless transition.

For DIY backsplashes, use a template, like cardboard or heavy paper, to ensure new pieces align perfectly with old. Adhesive and grout color should also blend with the original installation.

Consider how far to extend the backsplash. Going higher draws the eye up, while extending length creates a wrap-around effect. Tying a backsplash into additional focal areas expands the impact.

With a seamless design transition, expanding a backsplash reinvigorates the kitchen without the costs and mess of a full replacement.

Can You Add Backsplash to Existing Countertops?

Installing a new backsplash is a simple upgrade that can modernize your kitchen without replacing countertops or cabinetry. The key is properly measuring and preparing the existing wall area.

When adding a backsplash behind already installed countertops and cabinets, remove any old wallpaper, patching holes, and repainting the area. This provides a smooth, clean surface for backsplash installation. Match adjacent walls.

Check for suitable countertop overhang space to tuck the backsplash partially underneath, securing the top edge. Most countertops extend 1 to 1 1⁄2 inch past the wall.

Use painter’s tape along the wall-counter joint to prevent adhesive drips on cabinet fronts when applying tiles. Remove tape when finished.

The new backsplash height should be measured from the installed counter surface to maintain recommended splash protection above.

Finally, select backsplash materials that integrate well with existing cabinetry and countertops, without matching exactly. A mosaic glass tile backsplash can give outdated solid surface counters new life.

With proper prep and accent hues, it’s simple to add a backsplash that coordinates beautifully with your current kitchen finishes.

Can You Put Backsplash Behind Dishwasher?

Installing a backsplash behind the dishwasher keeps this high use area protected from splashes and debris. The key considerations are access and moisture resistance.

Leave a small gap between the dishwasher and backsplash materials to prevent trapping moisture behind the unit. Allow minimum 1/8 inch spacing.

For easier dishwasher removal and repairs, avoid sealing tiles directly over attachment points or plumbing hardware. Keep fasteners accessible.

Durable, water-resistant backsplash materials are best behind dishwashers. Tile, glass, metal, and stone all withstand exposure to steam, water, and detergent.

Mosaic sheets or small glass tiles follow the contours of the dishwasher better than large tiles or panels. Make a template to help match specific dishwasher shapes.

Coordinate the backsplash design and colors with the rest of the kitchen. Contrasting hues can highlight the dishwasher zone.

With proper planning, a backsplash behind the dishwasher adds splash protection without hindering dishwasher access or operation when repairs are needed.

Can You Put Backsplash Behind Stove?

It’s highly recommended to install a backsplash behind both gas and electric kitchen stoves. A stove backsplash serves several important functions.

First, it protects the wall behind the stove from grease splatter, oil, sauces, and other cooking residue. This helps keep walls clean and stain-free.

It also protects against heat damage. Materials like metal, stone, and glazed tile withstand high temperatures. This prevents smoke, scorch marks, or discoloration.

In addition, a properly sealed backsplash deters moisture from seeping into drywall and causing mold or mildew issues.

For gas stoves, the backsplash should not seal directly over the area where the gas line enters the stove. Leave a ventilation gap.

Building codes regulate the minimum distance between a stove and combustible materials for fire safety. Typically 1-2 inches minimum is required.

With proper planning, a backsplash neatly finishes the stove installation, safeguards the wall, and adds a decorative focal point in the kitchen.

What are the best backsplash tiles for behind a stove?

The best backsplash tiles