Kitchen backsplashes not only protect the walls from splatters and stains, but they can also add style, color, and visual interest to your kitchen. With so many types of tiles to choose from, deciding on the most popular option can be overwhelming. Here is an in-depth look at the most popular kitchen backsplash tile styles.
Classic white 3×6 subway tile has remained one of the most popular backsplash tile options for years. The rectangular shape and clean lines create a timeless, elegant look. Subway tile backsplashes pair beautifully with any cabinetry and countertop material. They work especially well in modern, contemporary, traditional, and farmhouse style kitchens.
Some pros of subway tile:
- Timeless and classic
- Affordable and budget-friendly
- Easy to install
- Easy to clean
- Versatile – works with any style
- Available in endless color and pattern options
While white remains the top choice, bold colors like black, navy, and emerald green have become trendy modern takes on traditional subway tiles. Subway tiles also come in intricate patterns and materials like marble or glass. The simplicity of subway tile makes it easy to create an eye-catching backsplash design by getting creative with patterns, colors, and layouts. Stacking the tiles in a herringbone design or alternating colors in a chevron pattern are two ways to upgrade the look.
Glass backsplash tiles are available in an endless array of colors, shapes, and sizes. The reflective, shimmery surface adds a touch of luxury and visual depth to any kitchen. Popular options include rectangular or square tiles arranged in intricate patterns or mosaic sheets.
Benefits of glass tile:
- Reflective, shiny surface
- Luxurious appearance
- Range of colors and patterns
- Easy maintenance
- Durable and water-resistant
- Instills a modern vibe
Glass mosaics with tiny tesserae tiles create a glittering, jewel-like backsplash that instantly glams up a space. Combining different glass tile styles like mixing subway, mosaic sheets, and rectangular adds appealing contrast. Glass tile transforms even the simplest kitchen into a contemporary showpiece.
Marble backsplash tiles lend an undeniably elegant, upscale look perfect for traditional kitchen designs. Available in a striking array of natural colors and patterns, no two marble backsplashes ever look exactly alike.
What makes marble tile popular:
- Timeless, classic material
- Natural beauty – no two are exactly alike
- Luxurious appearance
- Variety of colors like white, gray, black
- Can be honed or polished
- Matches any design aesthetic
Honed marble has a matte, soft finish that helps hide signs of wear and tear. The creamy whites and grays of Carrara marble resemble natural stone and pair beautifully with marble countertops.
For rustic Tuscan charm, travertine tiles make the perfect backsplash material. Travertine comes from natural limestone, giving it an organic, textured look. Light beiges and ivories are the most common travertine colors, but it also comes in darker earthy hues. The natural pits and holes in the stone create visual depth and movement.
Benefits of travertine backsplash tile:
- Natural material with holes and texture
- Beige, ivory, brown, rust colors
- Rustic, earthy appeal
- Matches Tuscan, farmhouse, or transitional designs
- Durable and long-lasting
- Available in matte and polished finishes
Travertine has the soft, Old World look of a weathered antique. Combining travertine tiles of different sizes and shapes creates a laidback appeal. The organic texture pairs nicely with materials like granite countertops, wood cabinetry, and stainless steel appliances.
Metallic backsplashes bring contemporary glam to the kitchen with their reflective, eye-catching sheen. Stainless steel, copper, brass, and aluminum tiles come in diverse shapes and finishes to fit modern, industrial, or vintage styles.
Why metal backsplash tiles are popular:
- Sleek, shiny, and reflective
- Industrial chic vibe
- Available in variety of metals
- Modern and contemporary appeal
- Easy-to-clean finish
- Can mimic look of a professional range hood
- Long-lasting and durable
Gleaming metal tiles paired with black cabinetry and countertops create a bold, dramatic effect. Brushed metal finishes help reduce glare and fingerprints for easier maintenance. Using metal tiles solely for the range hood backsplash or in a mosaic pattern are two ways to add a hint of metallic shine.
Glazed ceramic tiles probably offer the widest range of colors, prints, shapes, and finishes. Their high-gloss finish and saturated colors infuse any kitchen with cheer and vibrancy. Hand-painted ceramic tiles take designs to the next level with detailed artwork.
Reasons ceramic tile backsplashes are common:
- Available in every color imaginable
- Range of prints and artwork
- Glossy, reflective finish
- Resilient and water-resistant
- Affordable option
- Easy installation
Eclectic kitchens benefit from the whimsy of hand-painted tiles arranged in a focal point, like behind the stove. Geometric patterns and bright colors paired with white grout creates a playful, almost retro aesthetic. The glossy finish also makes ceramic tile a breeze to clean.
Factors to Consider When Choosing Tile
With so many types of backsplash tile, narrowing down your options can seem tricky. Keep these tips in mind when selecting tile material:
Match the tile to the overall aesthetic of your kitchen. For modern styles, glass or metal tiles add contemporary flair. Farmhouse kitchens look best with classic white subway tile or natural stone. Hand-painted ceramic tile provides a quirky focal point in eccentric spaces.
Look for durable, water-resistant, low-maintenance materials if your backsplash will be near the sink or stove. Glass, porcelain, ceramic, and metal tile withstand heat, stains, and splashes. Natural stone can be prone to damage but has unparalleled beauty.
Pick out colors from existing elements like cabinetry, countertops, or floors for a cohesive look. Neutral tiles always work seamlessly. Porcelain, glass, and ceramic offer the biggest variety of colors and patterns.
Ceramic, porcelain, and subway tile provide the most affordable options. Hand-painted ceramic and marble cost more. Pricing also varies based on tile size, thickness, and manufacturer. Set realistic expectations based on your budget.
Beginners can easily install rectangular subway or ceramic tiles. Intricate patterns, natural stone, and large format tiles may require hiring a pro tile installer. Evaluate your skill level to determine the best backsplash tile for you.
Popular Kitchen Backsplash Ideas
Now that you know the most common types of backsplash tile, here are some of the most popular backsplash design ideas:
Bold Colored Subway Tile
Paint your subway tiles or use naturally colored glazed ceramic instead of plain white. Shades like cobalt blue, emerald green, and canary yellow create eye-catching backsplashes. Use one solid color or mix and match hues.
Contrasting Grout Color
Choose a grout color that contrasts with your tile color to add definition. Stark white grout paired with black subway tile or gray grout with white marble are two examples. Sleek metal or glass tile needs minimalistic grout.
Use rectangular-shaped tiles to create geometric shapes like zigzags, triangles, diamonds, and herringbone designs. Stick to two contrasting colors for the boldest effects.
Mixing Tile Materials
Combine textures and types for further visual interest. Pairing subway tile with marble mosaic or travertine with ceramic are eclectic material mixes that work. Keep a consistent color scheme.
Range Hood Accent
Make a bold statement by using tile only behind the stove. Opt for metal, glass, or ceramic in a cool tone like deep blue or emerald green to contrast with warm elements.
Stacking tile vertically instead of horizontally adds a unique touch. Use elongated subway, rectangular, or penny tiles. Go dramatic by stacking different colors and materials.
Incorporating 3D Tiles
3D tile adds sculptural depth with its raised, inflated design. Use sculptural tiles sparingly as an accent mixed with flat tile or in a focal area like behind the faucet.
Benefits of a Tiled Backsplash
Installing a backsplash brings many advantages beyond just stylish appearance:
- Protects walls from stains and splatters
- Creates a barrier between the counter and wall
- Prevents moisture and food from seeping into porous wall material
- Provides added character and visual interest
- Makes a kitchen feel brighter and sharper
- Opportunity to incorporate color, texture, and personality
- Easier to clean and maintain than painted walls
- Helps increase resale value and allure for home buyers
Tile Backsplash Maintenance Tips
While tile backsplashes resist damage better than painted drywall, certain maintenance practices will keep them looking like new:
- Seal grout and natural stone regularly to prevent staining and damage from moisture.
- Clean spills immediately to avoid setting into grout or textured stone.
- Use gentle cleaners recommended for tile instead of abrasive scrubbers.
- Re-caulk where the tile meets the countertop if gaps appear to prevent moisture penetration.
- Use a squeegee after cleaning to prevent hard water spotting on glass tile.
- Consider protective finishes like grout sealer for heavily used cooking areas.
- Handle delicate hand-painted tile gently and avoid hanging heavy items on it.
The backsplash makes a big visual impact but takes up a relatively small space. That means you can take risks with bold colors, prints, textures that might feel overwhelming on full walls. From sleek and modern to rustic and cozy, backsplash tile comes in seemingly endless styles at different budgets. Consider your kitchen’s overall design, color scheme, and functionality before selecting the perfect backsplash tile. With the right choice, your new tiled backsplash can become the shining focal point that gives your cooking space a stylish, pulled-together look.