What is the Best Backsplash for Kitchen? The Ultimate Guide

Choosing the perfect backsplash for your kitchen can seem overwhelming with all the options available today. But ultimately, the best kitchen backsplash comes down to your personal style, budget, and kitchen needs. This comprehensive guide will walk you through everything you need to know to choose the right backsplash for your kitchen.

Introduction to Kitchen Backsplashes

A kitchen backsplash protects the wall behind a countertop from water, oil, and food splatter. Most backsplashes today are installed between the countertop and kitchen cabinets. The backsplash makes a huge visual impact in the kitchen by serving as a focal point and opportunity to showcase your design style.

Beyond function and aesthetics, the right backsplash can enhance the overall look of your kitchen. Backsplashes come in an endless array of materials, colors, patterns, and textures to match any design scheme. They’re relatively affordable and easy to swap out if you ever want to change your kitchen’s look.

When selecting a kitchen backsplash, consider the following:

  • Your design style – Do you prefer modern, traditional, farmhouse, or industrial designs? The backsplash should complement your kitchen’s overall aesthetic.
  • Color scheme – Choose a backsplash color that coordinates well with your cabinetry, countertops, appliances, and paint colors. A backsplash can beautifully tie the whole room together.
  • Functionality – Factor in how the backsplash material will stand up to common kitchen stains and messes. Ease of cleaning is also important.
  • Budget – Backsplash projects can range from DIY-friendly to professional installation at higher price points. Set realistic expectations for what you can afford.
  • Personalization – Many backsplashes can be customized with mosaic tiles, artistic patterns, lettering, or other personal touches.

By thoughtfully weighing these key factors, you’ll end up with a backsplash you love that suits your kitchen’s unique style and purpose.

Most Popular Types of Kitchen Backsplash Materials

Today’s backsplashes come in a diverse array of materials to fit any kitchen. Consider which material best aligns with your own priorities – aesthetics, budget, durability, and ease of maintenance. Here are some of the most popular kitchen backsplash materials:


Tile is a classic, customizable, and affordable backsplash option suitable for nearly any kitchen. Choices for tile materials include:

  • Ceramic – Budget-friendly and easy to install and maintain. Offered in a huge range of sizes, colors, shapes, and patterns.
  • Porcelain – Impervious to moisture and resistant to scratches, stains, and temperature changes. Provides endless options for creative designs.
  • Glass – Sleek, shiny, and contemporary. Easy to wipe clean. Can break if hit hard and needs resealing over time.
  • Stone – Elegant with unique natural patterning but tends to be more expensive. Needs resealing annually. Granite, marble, travertine, and slate are popular.
  • Metal – Often made from stainless steel or tin for an industrial, reflective look. Durable and moisture-resistant.
  • Mosaic – Small tiles arranged in decorative patterns. Creates visual interest and artistic focal points.

With tile, you can create any look imaginable – from minimalist to ornately patterned. It’s an affordable material suitable for DIY installation. Be sure to properly seal the grout between tiles to prevent staining and mildew growth.


For a natural, high-end aesthetic, stone backsplashes create a sophisticated impression with unique veining, colors, and luminosity. Stone types like granite, marble, and travertine have been used for centuries in home design.

Stone backsplashes require professional installation and more maintenance than tile. Annual sealing is a must to prevent staining and etching from acids. But their unrivaled elegance makes natural stone a covetable feature for many homeowners.

Stainless Steel

Stainless steel backsplashes provide a modern, industrial look, especially paired with professional-grade appliances. They offer a sleek, minimalist appearance and are incredibly hygienic, moisture-resistant, and easy to clean.

Stainless steel does show fingerprints, grease, and water spots. Some homeowners apply a clear sealant to make the surface less prone to marks. Stainless steel backsplashes work best in contemporary kitchens with other metallic finishes and appliances.


For a glittering, eye-catching backsplash, glass tile, sheets of back-painted glass, or mirrored glass offer lightweight elegance. Glass backsplashes reflect light beautifully to make small kitchens appear more spacious.

The slick, non-porous surface also resists heat, moisture, and grime for low maintenance. But glass can shatter if impacted and requires diligent sealing at installation and over time. Favor textured or frosted glass to conceal fingerprints and water spots.


Metal backsplashes (beyond stainless steel) provide brilliant pops of color, intricate shapes, and durability. Copper and brass backsplashes have experienced a revival for their cozy, antique appeal.

Meanwhile, tin backsplashes offerudget-friendly shine. Metallics add depth and can highlight intriguing textures with ribbed, hammered, or patina finishes. Keep metal surfaces glowing through regular polishing.


For an edgy, ultra-contemporary look, concrete backsplashes provide a custom painted canvas in both solid blocks and thinly sliced sheets. Concrete takes any shape imaginable and can be stained, etched, or embellished however you desire.

But concrete backsplashes do require professional installation and diligent sealing to prevent stains and cracks. Once properly cared for, they make an impenetrable, creative statement.

Engineered Quartz

Where elegance meets durability, engineered quartz backsplashes (like Caesarstone) offer adaptability for modern kitchens. Available in a spectrum of colors and patterns, engineered stone is non-porous, stain-resistant, and easy to clean.

It does not require ongoing sealing like natural stone. Just avoid abrasive cleansers that could dull the finish. Though not cheap, engineered quartz is more affordable than products like marble or granite.


For cottage, farmhouse, or coastal kitchens, beadboard backsplashes provide charming woodgrain texture. Typically made of moisture-resistant plywood or PVC to withstand kitchen conditions, beadboard offers a budget-friendly classic.

Use white beadboard backsplashes alone or pair them with decorative trim for a shiplap appearance. Keep the wood grain glowing with routine cleaning.


Both authentic and faux brick backsplashes infuse traditional or rustic charm using thin slices of brick. Red brick especially brings time-tested warmth. But modern white-washed brick backsplashes keep the look light.

Brick surfaces work well with natural finishes like butcher block and unlacquered brass. Keep grout lines sealed and clean to prevent staining. Brick backsplashes do require professional installation for structural integrity.


For an affordable, low-maintenance alternative, laminate backsplashes offer DIY-friendly installation and wipeable durability. Today’s laminates realistically imitate pricier materials like stone, metal, and wood.

High-pressure laminates like Wilsonart® resist scratches, stains, and impact. Just avoid cutting directly on laminate surfaces. Clean with mild soap and water. Laminate backsplashes are lifesavers for renters and temporary homeowners.

Glass Tile

Glass tile backsplashes provide brilliant glints of color, light reflection, and easy wipe-down care. Glass tiles come in an array of sizes, shapes, and finishes from rectified to pebbled and frosted.

Use glass mosaics sparingly as bold accents or create stunning murals. Just take care not to drop heavy items that could shatter the tile. Properly seal at installation and reseal every year.

6 Steps for Choosing and Installing a Kitchen Backsplash

Once you’ve explored the myriad backsplash materials and possibilities, follow these key steps for choosing and installing the perfect backsplash for your kitchen:

1. Decide on Location

Determine the exact wall area or focal point where you want to install the backsplash. Backsplashes traditionally cover the wall space between countertops and upper cabinets.

But you can also highlight a pantry door, wall oven, drink station, or only a section of wall space. Think about your main motivations – function, style, or both.

2. Select Your Material

Based on your budget, design style, kitchen use, and priorities like easy maintenance, choose the backsplash material that best aligns.

Weigh pros and cons of durability, cleaning needs, patterns and colors available, and overall look. You want materials suited for high-moisture, high-traffic kitchen areas.

3. Sketch Your Design

Map out the precise backsplash design and placement on paper first. Measure your target wall space and create templates for specialty cuts and patterns. Play with different sizes, shapes, and visual weight.

Frame the window(s) symmetrically for a polished look. Include decorative accents like borders or geometric mosaics. Use your cabinet and countertop finishes to inspire color pairings.

4. Purchase Your Backsplash

Once your design is finalized, purchase all required materials and backsplash components. For broad wall expanses, buy 10-20% extra to account for tricky cuts, waste, and repairs later.

If doing a DIY installation, get all necessary tools and adhesive. Buy specialty grout sealant. Have mosaic sheets, trim, and stones pre-cut if possible.

5. Prep the Surface

Thoroughly clean the wall area to remove grime, oils, wax, and soap residue. Sand and scrape old adhesive or flaking paint. Repair any cracks or holes.

Prime and paint the wall if needed. During installation, work in small sections, wiping away excess adhesive as you go to keep the area clean.

6. Install Your Backsplash

Carefully follow all manufacturer instructions for prep and installation. Allow proper setting time before grouting. Always grout and seal tile or natural stone.

Work methodically and patiently, using spacers to maintain even grout lines. Finish by sealing the entire installation again. Enjoy your stunning, quality backsplash for years to come!

7 Most Popular Kitchen Backsplash Ideas and Designs

If you need inspiration for choosing the perfect backsplash, here are 7 of the most popular kitchen backsplash ideas and designs:

1. Subway Tile

Classic white 3×6” subway tiles never go out of style. Their clean lines provide a fresh, timeless look in any kitchen. Stack the tiles in a brick pattern or get creative with patterns and borders. Subway tiles work in both modern and vintage kitchens.

2. Marble Tile

For a touch of luxury, marble tile backsplashes add natural elegance with their distinctive veins, swirls, and luminescence. Carrara and Calacatta are two of the most coveted marble types. Use large-format marble tiles alone or combine with stone, glass, or metal accents.

3. Geometric Tile

Geometric shapes create visual impact and interest with clean lines and clever intersections. Herringbone patterns add dimension while triangular and hexagonal mosaics make great accents. Choose contrasting grout colors to truly highlight the geometric designs.

4. Stone Mosaics

Small stone tiles like travertine, bluestone, and granite mosaics compose beautiful organic patterns. Stone mosaic backsplashes provide texture and earthy nuance. Just be sure to properly seal the installation. Accent with glass, metal or ceramic tiles.

5. Patterned or Handmade Tile

Custom patterned, handmade, or hand-painted tile backsplashes make artistic statements. Look for one-of-a-kind tiles with motifs like flowers, vines, fruit, fish, and sea glass captured in ceramic, porcelain or glass.

6. Mixed Metal

Combine metal types like stainless steel, tin, copper, and aluminum for an eclectic mixed metal backsplash. Overlap and intersperse different metal pieces to highlight each finish. This works for both sleek, modern kitchens and rustic kitchens.

7. Bold Color Palette

Make the backsplash the star of your kitchen with an audacious color palette that contrasts beautifully with your cabinetry. Try deep teals, cobalt blues, emerald greens, rich purples, or vibrant yellows and oranges for a room that pops.

Factors That Impact Cost of a Kitchen Backsplash Project

Kitchen backsplash prices vary based on several key factors:

  • Material – Natural stone, metal, and glass cost more than ceramic, porcelain, or laminate tiles.
  • Specialty options – Handmade, custom, or accent tiles add expense. So do special finishes like antiquing or distressing.
  • Size of project – Total square footage, backsplash height, and use of borders/accents impacts cost.
  • Labor – Professional installation is advisable for stone, glass, and metal backsplashes and costs more.
  • Accessories – Grout, trim, sealants, and etching add to project expenses beyond just the backsplash material itself.

On average, expect to invest $20-70 per square foot for materials and labor for a backsplash using stone, glass, or metal.

Ceramic or porcelain tile backsplashes can cost as little as $5-25 per square foot for quality tile. This makes tile the most budget-friendly option, especially for DIY installation.

Request local quotes to compare pricing for your exact backsplash design and kitchen space. Be sure to factor in demolition and disposal of any existing backsplash too.

5 Tips for Maintaining Your Kitchen Backsplash

A kitchen backsplash faces high traffic and exposure to spills, splatters, heat, and grime daily. Follow these maintenance tips to keep your backsplash looking like new:

1. Seal Grout and Natural Stone

Sealing is crucial for grout between tiles and for natural stone backsplashes. Sealants prevent stains from setting into the porous materials. Reapply sealant once a year.

2. Use Gentle Cleaners

Clean backsplashes often with soft microfiber cloths and gentle pH-neutral cleansers. Avoid harsh chemicals, acidic cleaners, wire brushes, or anything abrasive.

3. Rinse Thoroughly

Always rinse backsplashes thoroughly after cleaning to remove all residue. Leftover cleaning product residue actually attracts more dirt over time.

4. Dry Immediately

Letting water, grease, and soap pools dry on backsplash surfaces leads to buildup and etching. Always wipe backsplashes dry immediately for best results.

5. Reseal When Needed

Check sealed surfaces periodically for signs of wearing. Reseal grout or natural stone installations whenever they start allowing darker penetration or stains.

Frequently Asked Questions About Kitchen Backsplashes

Looking into backsplash options often leads to questions. Here are answers to some of the most frequently asked questions about kitchen backsplashes:

Should my backsplash match my countertops?

It can work well to choose backsplash tile or colors that coordinate with your countertops. But matching countertops and backsplashes perfectly often looks overdone.

For best results, repeat just a touch of your countertop’s color in the backsplash – either in the tile itself or the grout. Or go for high contrast between the two instead.

How difficult is it to install a kitchen backsplash?

For simple ceramic tile backsplashes on drywall, DIY installation is very feasible. Always use proper backerboard over drywall to support the tile. Carefully apply thinset mortar and grout.

Stone, metal, and glass backsplashes often benefit from professional installers. This ensures proper support and best visual results.

Should backsplashes go all the way to the ceiling?

Full height backsplashes make a dramatic design statement and offer fuller protection. But partial backsplashes occupying just a portion of the wall are also common.

The choice comes down to personal preference and your kitchen’s existing window and storage configuration above the counter.

How thick should a backsplash be?

Traditional backsplash tile ranges from 3/8 inch to 3/4 inch thick. Mosaic sheets are generally 1/4 inch thick or slimmer. Stone backsplash slabs are cut 1/2 inch thick but achieve stability from mortar behind them.

Thinner tile and mosaics deliver more delicate visuals and profiles. Go for 1/2 inch or thicker tiles if you desire maximum durability.

Can I install a backsplash over existing tile?

It is possible to install a new backsplash over existing tile or backsplash surfaces. But this requires extra preparation and care to ensure proper adhesion.

The existing surface must be deglossed through sanding or chemical deglossing agents so the new thinset mortar bonds successfully. Extra mortar or adhesives will be required.

How do you attach tin backsplash panels?

Tin backsplashes require special installation since they cannot be adhered directly to the wall. First, secure sheets of plywood to the wall studs as a solid backing.

Then attach metal furring strips horizontally across the plywood. Finally, screw the tin panels into the furring strips to create a distinctive metallic backdrop.


Determining the best backsplash for your kitchen requires balancing visual appeal, durability, maintenance, and budget. With an endless array of colors, textures, materials, and patterns to pick from, the possibilities are truly staggering.

From gleaming metal to handmade mosaics, backsplashes provide opportunities to showcase your personal flair. Complement your cabinetry, counters, and overall design vision.

Focus on options suitable for the wear and tear of a busy kitchen that aligns with your lifestyle and needs. And don’t overlook the power of a backsplash to transform the entire look and feel of your kitchen.

With strategic planning using the tips in this guide, you will end up with a striking,