What is the Best Material to Use for Kitchen Backsplash?

Choosing the right backsplash material for your kitchen can be an exciting yet daunting task. The backsplash serves both aesthetic and functional purposes, so it’s important to select a material that aligns with your overall design vision while also standing up to the messiness of a kitchen environment. This article will walk through the benefits and drawbacks of the most popular kitchen backsplash materials to help you determine what is the best option for your space and lifestyle.

Ceramic and Porcelain Tile

Ceramic and porcelain tile are classic backsplash choices that continue to be popular options thanks to their durability, easy maintenance, and water-resistance. Ceramic tile comes either glazed or unglazed, while porcelain tile is almost always glazed for a shiny, sophisticated look.


  • Provides a wide variety of colors, textures, shapes, and patterns for ultimate design flexibility. Popular options include subway tile, mosaic tile, handmade tile, and large format tile.
  • Tile is impervious to water, grease, and heat, making it ideal for heavy-use kitchen areas.
  • Glazed ceramic and porcelain are easy to clean.
  • Durable and long-lasting if properly installed. Can last for the lifetime of the home.
  • Relatively affordable compared to other kitchen backsplash materials.


  • Grout lines can get grimy if not cleaned regularly. Use a darker grout color to limit visible stains. Consider groutless tile options.
  • Tile can crack or chip if impacted. May need to replace individual damaged tiles over time.
  • Professionally installation is recommended, especially for ceramic tile. DIY porcelain tile installation is achievable.

Popular Types of Ceramic and Porcelain Tile

  • Subway tile – Classic 3 x 6 inch rectangular glossy tiles in white or colored glazes. Provides clean, streamlined look.
  • Mosaic tile – Small square or hexagonal tiles mounted in sheets to form mosaic patterns. Versatile and easy to install.
  • Handmade/artisan tile – Unique ceramic tiles with hand-painted designs or artisanal shapes and textures. Adds personalized flair.
  • Large format tile – Porcelain tiles in 12 x 24 inch or larger sizes. Minimizes grout lines for smooth, seamless look.

Natural Stone Tile

For a luxurious, Old World aesthetic, natural stone tiles like marble, travertine, granite, and slate are unparalleled choices for kitchen backsplashes. Available in a diverse array of colors, patterns, finishes, and prices.


  • Beautiful veining and natural texture provides upscale, sophisticated look.
  • With proper sealing, natural stone is durable, scratch-resistant, and heat-tolerant.
  • Timeless, classic material that feels elegant and luxurious.
  • Many unique varieties and colors to choose from including marble, travertine, granite, and slate.


  • On the pricier end of backsplash materials. Higher installation cost as well.
  • Porous and requires regular sealing to prevent staining and etching.
  • Natural stone shows wear over time if not properly maintained. Scratches and chips may occur.
  • Some colors like white marble stain easily from everyday kitchen use. Best for backsplashes only, not countertops.

Metal Tiles

For contemporary, modern kitchens, metal tiles offer gleaming industrial-chic appeal. Choices include stainless steel, tin, copper, aluminum, and more. Allows you to add a reflective, metallic backsplash focal point.


  • Provides bright, eye-catching metallic shine unlike any other material.
  • Extremely durable – resists scratches, heat, moisture. Easy to clean.
  • Can mimic look of solid sheets of metal at a fraction of the cost.
  • Metal tile backsplashes popular for modern, industrial design schemes.


  • Can dent if impacted by heavy pans or appliances. Use care.
  • Natural metals like copper and brass will patina or change color over time.
  • More expensive than ceramic or porcelain tile.
  • Challenging for DIY – professional installation recommended.

Glass Tile

Another glossy, sleek option is backsplashes made of glass tile. From retro-inspired penny rounds to futuristic elongated subway tiles, glass offers style and resilience.


  • Provides gorgeous reflective sheen and depth of color. Available in range of hues.
  • Durable, waterproof, and easily cleaned using damp cloth.
  • Versatile design. Mix glass mosaics with ceramic subway tiles.
  • Environmentally friendly material made from recycled glass.


  • On the pricier side, similar to natural stone tile.
  • Not as scratch resistant as glazed ceramic or porcelain.
  • Challenging DIY installation – heavy and needs special tile cutter.
  • Avoid behind cooktops as direct heat can crack glass over time.

Stainless Steel

For professional-grade durability, stainless steel makes an ultra-resilient backsplash choice. From affordable sheets to upscale designer panels, stainless steel provides a sleek, modern look.


  • Most water, stain, scratch and heat resistant option available.
  • Non-porous and non-absorbent for excellent hygiene. Easy to disinfect.
  • Reflective surface brightens space and provides modern style.
  • Available in affordable sheets or high-end designer metal tiles.


  • Prone to fingerprints and grease smudges. Needs frequent wiping.
  • Can dent if impacted forcefully. Avoid in high traffic zones.
  • Copper and colored stainless steels will patina over time.
  • Challenging DIY installation of sheets – best left to professionals.

Engineered Quartz

For a streamlined contemporary look, engineered quartz backsplashes provide durability and design flexibility. Made from natural stone and resin.


  • Maintains sleek, seamless appearance without grout lines.
  • Non-porous so resistant to stains, mildew, and bacteria growth.
  • Available in wide range of neutral and bold colors and patterns.
  • Stand up to household cleaners, scratches, heat, and moisture.


  • Higher cost than ceramic or porcelain tile.
  • Too heavy for DIY installation – professional fabrication and mounting required.
  • Avoid behind cooktops or range as direct heat can damage material.
  • Quartz can etch from acidic foods like lemon juice if not promptly cleaned.

Glass Sheets

Sheets of tempered glass make a gorgeous backsplash choice, available in mirrored, colored, and patterned designs. Offers modern style and resilience.


  • Provides sleek, contemporary aesthetic.
  • Easy to wipe down and keep clean. Completely non-porous.
  • Glass treatments like reflective mirror or frosted finishes available.
  • Durable and heat-tolerant (but not behind ranges).


  • Heavy sheets difficult for DIY-install. Professional installation recommended.
  • Expensive material and fabrication costs.
  • Glass can shatter if severely impacted. Use care around edges.
  • Extra mounting considerations to allow for thermal expansion of glass.

Painted Drywall

If aiming for budget-friendly backsplash solution, direct painting of drywall is an option. Allows creativity and color.


  • Most affordable backsplash choice.
  • Wide range of paint sheens and colors available.
  • Allows for creative designs like stripes, patterns, murals.
  • Easy DIY application using proper primer and paint.


  • Prone to staining, hard to clean. Must be repainted periodically.
  • Provides a less finished, high-end look than tile or glass.
  • Joint compound and drywall seams may eventually crack and require repair.
  • Moisture from sink area could damage drywall over time.

Wood Planks

For a warm, natural look in contemporary and farmhouse kitchens, wood plank backsplashes infuse rustic character.


  • Warm, eco-friendly natural material that creates cozy aesthetic.
  • Many wood species and finishes to choose from.
  • Mimics appearance of wood flooring and ceilings.
  • More durable and moisture-resistant than drywall.


  • Prone to splintering, scratches, and dents over time.
  • Not as water resistant as tile or metal. Needs waterproof coating.
  • Dark oily wood stains may leach onto surrounding areas.
  • Avoid raw wood behind cooktops/ranges. Use fire-retardant coatings.

Laminates and Vinyl Sheets

For DIY-friendly backsplash options, laminates and vinyl provide affordability and customization. Cut into any shape needed.


  • Budget-friendly materials, especially compared to natural stone and metal.
  • Many “faux” finishes that mimic tile, marble, and stone.
  • Easy DIY installation using caulk and adhesives. Customizable.
  • Durable and moisture-resistant. Most can handle splashes well.


  • Not as heat and scratch resistant as real stone, ceramic, metal.
  • Faux finishes don’t provide quite as high-end appearance.
  • Eventually wears down over decades and needs replacement.
  • Avoid laminated paper products behind cooktops/ranges. Use fire-rated vinyl.

Final Thoughts

When determining the best backsplash material for your kitchen, consider your budget, design style, installation skill level, and expected use of the space. Durability, ease of cleaning, moisture-resistance, and heat tolerance are also key factors. While tile, stone, and metal tend to provide the most resilient options, engineered quartz, glass, and laminates can also be great alternatives depending on your needs. The variety of excellent choices available means you can certainly find a backsplash material that aligns with both the functional needs and aesthetic vision of your kitchen.