What is the Best Type of Backsplash for a Kitchen?

A kitchen backsplash serves both practical and aesthetic purposes. Not only does it protect the wall from splatters and spills, it can also be an opportunity to add visual interest to your kitchen design. With so many backsplash options to choose from, deciding on the best type for your kitchen can be overwhelming. This guide will walk you through the pros and cons of the most popular kitchen backsplash materials to help you select the right one for your home and style.

Tile Backsplashes

Ceramic, porcelain, or natural stone tiles are classic backsplash options that offer unlimited design flexibility. Here are some of the benefits of choosing tile for your kitchen backsplash:

Endless Options

Tiles come in a huge range of colors, textures, shapes, sizes and patterns. Mix and match tiles to create your own custom design. Subway tile, marble, travertine, glass tile and mosaic tile are just a few of the tile possibilities for your backsplash.

Easy to Clean

The smooth, non-porous surface of ceramic and porcelain tile makes it easy to wipe away splatters, drips and smears. Grout lines do require occasional scrubbing to keep them clean.


Tile is very durable, long-lasting and resistant to moisture, grease and stains. With proper sealing and maintenance, a tile backsplash can last for many years.


Ceramic and porcelain tiles provide an attractive, high-quality backsplash option on a budget. From simple white subway tile to intricate mosaics, you can find tile to fit your style and budget.

The main downsides of tile backsplashes are that they can be prone to cracking or chipping, may require grout maintenance, and can feel cold or hard underhand unless a decorative edge or trim is installed.

Glass Tile

Glass tile backsplashes provide brilliant shine and reflectivity. Here’s an overview of the benefits of glass tile:

  • Radiant Look – Glass tiles come in a beautiful array of colors and finishes like frosted, clear, opaque, glittered and iridescent. They provide eye-catching sparkle.
  • Easy Maintenance – The glass surface wipes clean easily and resists staining, scratches and moisture.
  • Design Flexibility – Glass mosaic tiles, subway tiles, large format tiles and penny tiles can all be used to create stunning designs. Mix with other materials like stone or ceramic.
  • Durability – Tough glass construction makes glass tile extremely durable and long-lasting. Properly sealed grout lines stay cleaner.

Possible downsides to weigh include potential grout discoloration, installing on a perfectly flat surface, and the light reflecting qualities that make regular cleaning necessary. Overall, glass tile backsplashes bring brilliant, lasting beauty to any kitchen.

Stainless Steel

A shiny stainless steel backsplash brings an ultra-modern, industrial vibe to the kitchen. Benefits of a stainless backsplash include:

  • Sleek Appearance – Brushed or polished stainless finishes offer an eye-catching contemporary look. Can match stainless steel appliances.
  • Extreme Durability – Stainless steel stands up to high heat, splatters, scratches and dents better than many materials. Long-lasting and easy care.
  • Easy to Clean – Food and grease wipe right off the smooth nonporous surface. Resists stains and requires minimal maintenance.
  • Moisture Resistant – Stainless steel doesn’t absorb moisture and handles kitchen humidity well. Great near sinks or stovetops.
  • Budget-Friendly – Sturdy stainless steel backsplashes are affordable options, especially for small application areas like a cooktop surround.

Downsides of stainless can include showing fingerprints, noise and susceptible to heat damage if not installed properly. Overall an excellent modern backsplash choice.

Natural Stone

For beautiful veining, colors and texture, natural stone like marble, travertine, granite and slate bring elegance to a kitchen backsplash. Considerations include:

  • Visual Interest – Natural patterns and variation in the stone add lovely visual appeal. Each piece is unique.
  • Timeless Beauty – Materials like marble and travertine have been used in classic architecture for centuries and still look fantastic.
  • Easy Maintenance – Most stone needs just mild soap and water to keep clean. Sealing is recommended.
  • Durability – Though porous, natural stone stands up well over time, especially harder stones like granite. Can last a lifetime.
  • Resale Value – Natural stone backsplashes are designer features that add value and appeal to a home.

Downsides can be sealing requirements, porosity with some stones, avoiding oil and acid spills, and the higher cost associated with natural stone. Overall an elegant backsplash choice.

Wood Backsplashes

Wood brings warmth and rich texture to a kitchen backsplash. Considerations for wood backsplashes:

  • Visual Interest – The varied grain patterns and colors of natural wood are beautiful. Available in plank, shiplap, 3D and mosaic patterns.
  • Warmth – Wood infuses a kitchen with cozy, inviting appeal. Provides a natural contrast to sleek cabinetry and countertops.
  • Moisture-Resistant – New water-resistant finishes allow wood to stand up to kitchen spills and splatters. Still requires careful maintenance.
  • Budget-Friendly – Many wood choices like poplar or pine are affordable. Can also use reclaimed wood.
  • Easy Installation – Wood backsplashes use simple tongue and groove or shiplap installation.

Downsides of wood can include potential swelling and warping if exposed to too much moisture. Proper sealing and maintenance are a must. Scratches and dents are also possible. But the warm, welcoming look of wood is hard to beat.

Kitchen Backsplash FAQs

How much does a kitchen backsplash cost?

The cost of a kitchen backsplash varies widely based on the material. On average expect to pay:

  • Ceramic or Porcelain Tile – $5-$25 per sq. ft. installed
  • Glass Tile – $15-$50 per sq. ft. installed
  • Natural Stone – $40-$100 per sq. ft. installed
  • Stainless Steel – $30-$60 per sq. ft. installed
  • Wood – $20-$50 per sq. ft. installed

Factor in your total square footage and any special installation requirements to estimate your total backsplash cost.

What is the most popular backsplash?

Subway tile is the most popular kitchen backsplash style. The classic 3 x 6 inch rectangular tiles arranged in a brick pattern provide clean lines and timeless appeal. White subway tiles are contemporary and bright, while colored subway tiles add extra dimension.

How high should a backsplash be?

The standard backsplash height is 4 inches, measured from the counter to the bottom of the backsplash tile. Full height backsplashes that extend all the way to the underside of wall cabinets are also popular. An average backsplash height is between 18-24 inches.

Can you put laminate over existing backsplash?

It is possible to install laminate sheeting or planks over an existing backsplash, but it often creates a noticeable ledge. For best results removing the old backsplash and providing a smooth surface to apply laminate against is recommended.

What’s the difference between ceramic and porcelain tile?

Though they look similar, ceramic and porcelain tiles have some differences:

  • Composition – Porcelain contains denser clay that fires at a higher temperature. Ceramic is made from red or white clay.
  • Water Absorption – Porcelain is denser and almost non-porous with water absorption under 0.5%. Ceramic tiles absorb more water.
  • Durability – Porcelain (PEI 5) is harder than standard ceramic tile (PEI 3-4.) More resistant to scratches, chips and cracks.
  • Cost – Porcelain tile is more expensive than ceramic tile.


The best kitchen backsplash shares your style, fits your budget, and handles busy kitchen conditions with ease. Tiles, stone, metal, glass and wood all have their own sets of pros and cons. Consider the look you love along with practical maintenance factors. With so many quality materials to choose from, you can find the perfect backsplash to give your kitchen personality and protection. Use this overview to weigh the options and design the ideal backsplash for your cooking space.