What is the Best Material for a Kitchen Backsplash?

A kitchen backsplash serves both form and function – it protects the walls from splashes and stains while providing visual interest. With so many material options available, choosing the best material for your backsplash can be overwhelming. Ultimately, the right material comes down to your budget, lifestyle, and design aesthetic. We’ll discuss the pros and cons of the most popular backsplash materials to help you make the perfect choice.

Porcelain Tile

Porcelain tile is one of the most common and popular backsplash materials due to its durability, versatility, and affordability.


  • Extremely durable and stain resistant
  • Available in a wide variety of colors, patterns, and finishes
  • Easy to clean
  • Affordable compared to other materials
  • Can mimic look of more expensive materials like natural stone


  • Grout lines can get dirty over time and require more maintenance
  • Not heat resistant like natural stone – glazing can crack
  • Installation can be tricky for DIYers

If you’re looking for an attractive, low maintenance option, porcelain tile is hard to beat. Just be sure to use a grout that has sealant to limit staining between tiles. The variety of looks available, from modern solid colors to hand-painted designs, makes it a versatile choice.

Glass Tile

Glass tile backsplashes have risen in popularity for their gleaming, elegant look. From polished subway tiles to intricate mosaics, glass packs visual impact.


  • Provides brilliant shine and reflection
  • Available in range of colors, finishes, and degrees of opacity
  • Extremely stain and water resistant
  • Easy to clean
  • Creates a focal point


  • Expensive compared to ceramic or porcelain
  • Not as durable as natural stone – can chip or crack
  • Difficult for DIY installation
  • Less texture and grip than other materials

For contemporary designs where you want the backsplash to steal the show, glass tile is a top contender. The glossy surface also makes it super simple to keep clean. Just take care when handling it, since the material can crack and chip if you drop it.

Natural Stone

Granite, marble, travertine, and slate are some of the gorgeous natural stone options gaining popularity for backsplashes. Visually stunning with natural variation, each type of stone has its own characteristics.


  • Timeless, classic aesthetic
  • Each piece unique with natural patterning
  • Withstands heat and stains
  • Durable and long-lasting
  • Easily cleaned


  • Expensive, especially for rare granite and marble
  • Some porous stone can stain
  • Challenging DIY installation
  • Needs to be resealed over time

For a look that instantly elevates your kitchen, natural stone delivers visual impact. Combining different types of stone in a mosaic pattern can create serious wow factor. Just keep in mind that porous options like limestone require diligent sealing.


From stainless steel to copper penny tiles, metal backsplashes inject contemporary, industrial style into kitchens.


  • Extremely durable
  • Easy to clean
  • Stylish, sleek look
  • Heat resistant
  • Endless design options like patinas or textures


  • Can dent or scratch
  • Reflects light which some find distracting
  • Expensive, especially for real copper
  • Conducts heat – can feel cold in some climates

Metal makes a bold, modern statement. Stainless steel is the most affordable and maintenance friendly option. Copper and brass offer old world, craftsman appeal but require sealing. Keep the rest of the kitchen subdued to let a metal backsplash command attention.

Engineered Quartz

Engineered stone like quartz is rapidly gaining popularity as a backsplash material for its durability, stylish look, and fuss-free maintenance.


  • Seamless, sleek appearance
  • Stain, scratch, and heat resistant
  • Non-porous so no sealing required
  • Easy to clean
  • Customizable shapes, patterns, and colors


  • Expensive
  • Limited suppliers and fabricators
  • Challenging DIY installation
  • Not natural stone

For a contemporary, minimalist look, engineered quartz delivers on all fronts. It offers the look of natural stone without the maintenance. Just be prepared to pay more for a custom fabricated and installed backsplash.

Mosaic Tile

Mosaic tile backsplashes assemble small tiles of glass, ceramic, or stone into intricate grids or artistic patterns. This classic technique allows for unlimited creativity.


  • Intricate, one-of-a-kind designs
  • Combines materials like glass, porcelain, and stone
  • Tile size creates curve capability
  • Provides texture and visual interest
  • Can be DIY friendly with sheets


  • Grout on small tiles can get grungy faster
  • Challenging to cut and install perfectly
  • Sheets limit some creativity
  • Matching grout color can be tricky

For artistic appeal, mosaic tiles can’t be matched. You can customize exactly how you want them laid out – uniform, organic, picture designs, or words. Keep grout clean with sealants and match its color carefully for the best effect.

Wood Planks

Wood naturally warms up spaces with beauty and texture. Real or faux planks make a charming backsplash accent.


  • Warm, inviting aesthetic
  • Natural variations in wood grain
  • Eco-friendly if sustainably sourced
  • Can be cut to custom sizes and shapes
  • Faux planks are moisture resistant


  • Not as durable as stone or porcelain
  • Prone to warping or damage from moisture
  • Faux wood lacks natural variations
  • Needs regular sealing
  • Difficult for DIY

Real wood always makes a statement but requires diligent oiling and sealing. For a lower maintenance wood look, faux planks mimic the aesthetic with more resilience. Use large shape plank sizes and varied patterns for rustic appeal.


Don’t overlook paint for kitchen backsplashes. Beyond basic drywall, creativity abounds with painted designs, colors, and techniques.


  • Most budget-friendly option
  • Fully customizable colors and designs
  • Easy DIY option
  • Can complement any style
  • Easily changeable


  • Not as durable or stain resistant
  • Needs periodic repainting
  • Limiting color and sheen options
  • Can require priming and prep

Painted backsplashes offer tons of creative potential on a dime. Jazz up a blank wall with techniques like rag rolling, sponging, or freehand murals. Use high-quality acrylic latex paints and primer for best results. Just don’t expect it to have the resilience of tile.


For an urban loft, industrial vibe, exposed brick lends edgy appeal. Real or faux brick backsplashes add eye-catching texture.


  • Distinctive, textured look
  • Achieves an authentic exposed brick aesthetic
  • Faux brick is affordable and easy to install
  • Adds visual interest and depth


  • Real brick requires masonry expertise
  • Masonry work is expensive
  • Faux brick lacks realism up close
  • Grout on brick can be hard to keep clean

While real exposed brick has undeniable character, it requires major installation work. Faux brick veneers offer the look in manageable sections. For rustic warmth with urban edge, few designs can match the appeal of brick backsplashes.

Factors to Consider

With endless options for kitchen backsplashes, focus on these key factors as you evaluate materials:

Budget – What material fits comfortably in your budget or requires stretching? Estimate high with natural stone.

Maintenance – Consider upkeep for cleaning, sealing, and Crack repair. Porcelain needs grout maintenance.

Durability – Assess materials for lifespan, scratch resistance, and waterproof properties. Metal and stone are very durable.

Design style – Choose a material that enhances your overall kitchen aesthetic – classic, modern, rustic, etc. Glass and metal evoke contemporary style.

DIY skills – Decide if you can tackle the installation or need to hire a professional. Large format porcelain tile is beginner friendly.

Heat and moisture resistance – Material must withstand splashes from the sink and stove. Porcelain tile withstands heat better than glass.

With research and forethought, you can select the ideal backsplash material that checks all your boxes for budget, design, and performance. Consult with knowledgeable tile and stone suppliers as you assess options. And don’t forget – always seal grout lines! Keeping grout clean will maintain the beauty of your new backsplash.

Frequently Asked Questions About Kitchen Backsplash Materials

What is the most popular kitchen backsplash material?

Ceramic and porcelain tile remain the most commonly used backsplash materials. Affordable, low maintenance, and available in endless options, tile in subway, brick, or mosaic patterns continue to dominate.

What is the most durable material for a backsplash?

Natural stone like granite and slate is extremely durable and withstands moisture, stains, and heat. Stainless steel is another highly resilient option, as it does not scratch or stain. Both come at a higher cost.

What is the easiest backsplash to install?

Large format porcelain tile is beginner DIY friendly. The lack of grout lines and simple cuts make installation straightforward. Peel and stick tile sheets and backsplash panels are other easy options.

What is the cheapest option for a kitchen backsplash?

Painting the wall is the most budget-friendly backsplash. With primer, acrylic latex paints, and proper prep, a painted backsplash can start under $50. Printed vinyl backsplash sheets offer inexpensive tile looks as well.

Should you seal natural stone backsplash?

Yes, sealing is crucial for natural stone backsplashes. It protects the stone from stains and water damage. Marble, limestone, travertine, and sandstone in particular require regular sealing every 1-2 years. Also seal the grout between tiles.


The array of backsplash materials available today provides endless options to match your unique kitchen vision. Keep budget, ease of installation, and maintenance demands in mind as you evaluate materials like tile, glass, stone, metal, and paint. Quest for the perfect balance of aesthetics, durability, and affordability for your lifestyle. Take time to consider the lasting impact your backsplash decision will have on your daily cooking experience. With careful planning and sharp design eye, your backsplash can become a kitchen showpiece you’ll enjoy for years to come.