What Material is Best for Kitchen Backsplash?

Choosing the right material for your kitchen backsplash is one of the most important design decisions when remodeling or building a new kitchen. The backsplash protects the wall from water and stains while adding style, visual interest, and personality to your kitchen. With so many backsplash options to choose from like tile, stone, metal, glass, and more, it can be overwhelming to select the best material for your needs and style. This comprehensive guide will walk you through the pros and cons of various backsplash materials to help you determine what material is truly the best for your kitchen backsplash.


Tile is one of the most popular choices for kitchen backsplashes. Available in a huge range of styles, sizes, colors, textures, and patterns, tile provides design flexibility and visual impact. Ceramic and porcelain tile are two of the most commonly used types of backsplash tile.

Ceramic Tile

Ceramic tile has been used for backsplashes for decades. It is readily available, affordable, and comes in a wide variety of shapes, sizes, colors, and finishes.

Pros of Ceramic Tile:

  • Budget-friendly option, starting around $5 per sq ft installed
  • Durable and scratch-resistant surface
  • Easy to clean and maintain
  • Wide range of colors, styles, and designs available
  • Can mimic look of more expensive tiles like stone and marble
  • Works well for both contemporary and traditional design schemes

Cons of Ceramic Tile:

  • Not as durable or water-resistant as porcelain tile
  • Porous surface requires sealing
  • Grout lines prone to getting dirty
  • Can crack or chip if hit hard

Ceramic tile offers a versatile and affordable option for backsplashes but requires more maintenance than other materials. The huge selection allows you to add personality with fun mosaic patterns or classic white subway tiles.

Porcelain Tile

Porcelain tile has surpassed ceramic as the most popular backsplash tile material. Made from refined natural clays, porcelain tile is dense, durable, and water-resistant.

Pros of Porcelain Tile:

  • Extremely durable and scratch-resistant
  • Waterproof and stain-resistant
  • Easy to clean and maintain
  • Range of colors, styles, finishes, and patterns
  • Mimics look of natural stone and other high-end tiles
  • Long-lasting; can last lifetime of home

Cons of Porcelain Tile:

  • Slightly more expensive than ceramic tile
  • Can be prone to chipping on edges
  • Harder to cut than ceramic tile

The ultra-durable nature of porcelain tile makes it an ideal choice for kitchen backsplashes. From modern grey subway tiles to marble looks, porcelain offers sophisticated styles perfect for contemporary kitchens. The durability and low maintenance requirements also appeal to busy homeowners.

Natural Stone

For a classic, timeless look, natural stone tiles like marble, travertine, granite, and slate bring elegance and luxury to a kitchen backsplash. Available in a striking array of colors, patterns, finishes, and cuts, natural stone makes a dramatic design statement.

Marble Tile

Prized for its beauty for centuries, marble tile brings a refined, Old World look to backsplashes. Available in a diverse color palette from white and grey to green and pink, marble makes a stunning yet classic statement.

Pros of Marble Tile:

  • Elegant, luxurious, and timeless look
  • Range of colors and dramatic veining patterns
  • Can be honed or polished for different finishes
  • Durable and heat-resistant
  • Softer surface easier to cut than granite or slate

Cons of Marble Tile:

  • Expensive; starts around $40 per sq ft installed
  • Easily etched by acids like lemon juice and vinegar
  • Requires sealing to prevent staining
  • Can be prone to chipping and cracking
  • Needs careful cleaning to avoid damage

With proper care and maintenance, marble backsplash tile brings timeless beauty and luxury to any kitchen design style from modern to traditional.

Travertine Tile

For a subtler stone look, travertine is a porous limestone praised for its rustic charm and textured holes called pits and veins that make each piece unique.

Pros of Travertine Tile:

  • Distinctive natural texture with pits and holes
  • Range of earthy tones like ivory, gold, grey, rust
  • Durable yet easier to cut than granite or marble
  • Relatively affordable natural stone option
  • Adds rustic warmth to any kitchen

Cons of Travertine Tile:

  • Porous and requires frequent sealing
  • Etches easily from acidic foods and liquids
  • Holes collect grease and dirt requiring extra cleaning
  • Color variations piece to piece
  • Can stain without proper sealing

With extra sealing and cleaning, travertine backsplash tile brings one-of-a-kind character to both modern and farmhouse kitchen designs.

Granite Tile

Valued for its prestigious look and extreme durability, granite tile makes a luxe statement as a backsplash. Granite comes in diverse color variations from solid blacks to speckled greys and whites.

Pros of Granite Tile:

  • Most durable and scratch-resistant natural stone
  • Resistant to cuts, heat, moisture and staining
  • Polished or honed finishes available
  • Hygienic and easy to clean
  • Prestigious, luxurious aesthetic
  • Matches granite countertops seamlessly

Cons of Granite Tile:

  • Expensive, starts around $50 per sq ft installed
  • Heavy and difficult to install DIY
  • Limited color range; mostly black, white, grey
  • Needs resealing every 1-2 years
  • Challenging to cut thin pieces

The unmatched durability and sophisticated look of granite tile make it a standout choice for modern and upscale kitchen backsplash designs.


For a shiny, sleek contemporary style, metal backsplashes add modern flair. Stainless steel, tin, copper, and brass metal tiles infuse any kitchen with an industrial vibe and metallic glamour.

Stainless Steel Tile

The ultimate choice for a commercial, professional look, stainless steel tile backsplashes are hygienic, indestructible, and easy to clean. From ultra-modern to retro diners, stainless steel adds a sleek, eye-catching shine.

Pros of Stainless Steel Tile:

  • Extremely durable, dent-resistant, and scratch-proof
  • Easy to sanitize and keep clean
  • Reflective surface brightens space
  • Sleek, professional, contemporary look
  • Endless design options with varied finishes

Cons of Stainless Steel Tile:

  • Expensive, starting around $50 per sq ft installed
  • Can show fingerprints, water spots, and smudges
  • Makes high-pitched noise if pots or pans knock against it
  • Industrial aesthetic not suited to all design styles
  • Challenging for DIY installation

The unparalleled durability and effortless modern style of stainless steel make it a go-to backsplash option for contemporary kitchen designs.

Metal Mosaic or Subway Tile

For a shinier, warmer metal look than stainless steel, metal mosaic tiles in copper, brass, and nickel provide eye-catching shine and depth. Metal subway tiles give a clean, retro diner aesthetic.

Pros of Metal Mosaic/Subway Tile:

  • Warm, gleaming finish from copper, brass, nickel
  • Mimics look of natural materials like marble or travertine
  • Ultra-durable and dent-resistant
  • Advanced waterproofing and moisture resistance
  • Creates depth and texture with mosaic patterns
  • Distinctive touch for modern and eclectic spaces

Cons of Metal Mosaic/Subway Tile:

  • Expensive, starts around $30 per sq ft installed
  • Darker metals like copper may oxidize over time
  • Challenging DIY installation
  • Strong aesthetic not suited to all design tastes

From bold brass mosaics to subtle nickel subway layouts, metal tiles infuse kitchens with standout style and metallic glam.


Shimmering and sleek like metal but with an artful, liquid look, glass backsplash tile imparts eye-catching design. Modern technological advances create glass tile that mimics natural materials like marble as well as colorful designs.

Glass Mosaic Tile

Tiny glass mosaic tiles fit together like an artistic puzzle to create dazzling backsplash designs from abstract patterns to picturesque landscapes.

Pros of Glass Mosaic Tile:

  • Shimmering, liquid look from light catching glass
  • Vibrant colors and dynamic patterns available
  • Can mimic stone, metal, marble looks
  • Moisture-resistant and easy to clean
  • Creates visual depth and interest
  • Endless custom designs possible

Cons of Glass Mosaic Tile:

  • Expensive, starts around $30 per sq ft installed
  • Grout can be hard to clean between small tiles
  • Not as durable as ceramic, porcelain, or metal
  • Challenging DIY installation
  • Strong artistic look not suited to all tastes

With proper grout sealing and gentle cleaning, glass mosaic tile backsplashes make a gorgeous focal point and dynamic work of art.

Glass Subway Tile

For a cleaner, sharper glass look, glass subway tiles in solid hues like aqua, grey, and white evoke mid-century and retro design eras.

Pros of Glass Subway Tile:

  • Sleek, liquid-like glass finish
  • Range of solid colors including bold brights
  • Easy to clean, stain-resistant surface
  • Minimal grout lines with subway layout
  • Mimics look of ceramic subway tile
  • Works in modern and retro kitchens

Cons of Glass Subway Tile:

  • Not as durable or scratch-resistant as glass mosaic
  • Brittle with vulnerability to cracking or chipping
  • Low light reflection can make it appear dull
  • Still shows some grout stains or dirt

With a proper grout sealant, glass subway backsplash tile imparts charming retro flair or contemporary color to any kitchen. The liquid-like finish and color options bring artistic style without the mosaic maintenance.

Other Unique Materials

Beyond popular options like tile and metal, unique backsplash materials like wood, recycled glass, cork, and laminate offer creativity.

Wood Backsplash

Natural or engineered wood planks bring warmth and texture to a kitchen backsplash. Best protected behind the stove, wood focal points or full wood backsplashes impart rustic charm.

Pros of Wood Backsplash:

  • Warm, natural material adds texture
  • Environmentally friendly if using reclaimed wood
  • Protects wall from splatters like tile
  • Range of finishes from light to dark
  • Adds rustic or cottage charm
  • Matches wood cabinets and fixtures

Cons of Wood Backsplash:

  • Vulnerable to moisture damage, warping, and staining
  • Requires sealing and frequent polishing
  • Can show scratches and dents over time
  • Discoloration from sunlight exposure
  • Not heat or water resistant behind stove

With extra care and maintenance, a wood backsplash adds charming cottage character and handsome grain patterns even in contemporary kitchens.

Recycled Glass Backsplash Tile

For an earth-friendly option, recycled glass tiles repurpose old glass into randomly colored mosaic sheets with an interesting bubbled texture.

Pros of Recycled Glass Tile:

  • Sustainable and environmentally friendly
  • Adds color and visual interest
  • Durable and easy to clean
  • Resistant to fading and staining
  • Inexpensive option starting around $5 per sq ft
  • Matches modern or eclectic schemes

Cons of Recycled Glass Tile:

  • Limited color and design options
  • Rough bubbled texture not suited to all styles
  • Challenging DIY installation
  • Grout lines still prone to dirt and mildew

Recycled glass tile provides an affordable, eco-friendly option for adding color, texture, and interest to kitchen backsplashes.

Cork Backsplash

Cork is a versatile, sustainable material made from renewable cork oak trees. As a backsplash, removable cork panels add warmth and texture from natural variations.

Pros of Cork Backsplash:

  • Renewable, eco-friendly material
  • Adds natural visual interest and warmth
  • Cushions pots, pans, and fragile items
  • Easy install of large sheets possible
  • Inexpensive compared to tile
  • Warm brown color suits variety of styles

Cons of Cork Backsplash:

  • Prone to staining and scratching
  • Not moisture or heat resistant
  • Seams visible between panels
  • Limited color and design options
  • Challenging full wall application

In certain kitchen areas like behind sinks or ranges, cork backsplash panels provide an easy-install, affordable, and sustainable backsplash choice.

Laminate Backsplash

For an affordable and customizable option, laminate backsplashes come in endless patterns from faux marble to artistic designs applied to plywood or MDF boards.

Pros of Laminate Backsplash:

  • Budget-friendly option starting around $7 per sq ft
  • Custom patterns and designs available
  • Easy DIY installation with adhesive
  • Mimics look of more expensive materials
  • Hides wall imperfections or damage
  • Matches variety of color schemes

Cons of Laminate Backsplash:

  • Not as durable or heat/moisture-resistant as tile
  • Prone to bubbling, peeling over time
  • Seams visible between panels
  • Faux look not as elegant as real stone or ceramic
  • Difficult to cut cleanly

Laminate backsplashes allow creativity on a budget but lack durability for areas needing washability. Creative patterns and faux marble textures mimic high-end materials with wallet-friendly customization.

Factors To Consider When Choosing a Backsplash

With countless backsplash materials and designs to evaluate, focus on these key factors to select the best option for your kitchen:


Backsplash material costs range dramatically from $5 per sq ft for basic ceramic tile or laminate to over $50 per sq ft for stone or stainless steel. Set realistic expectations based on total square footage needed and material pricing.


Keep your overall kitchen design aesthetic in mind, whether modern, traditional, retro, industrial, or minimal. Choose backsplash materials and colors that complement the look.


The backsplash endures heavy use, heat, moisture, grease, food stains, and cleaning chemicals. Porcelain, ceramic, metal, and glass tend to be most durable.

Ease of Cleaning

Look for smooth, non-porous materials like porcelain or metal that resist stains, require little sealing, and can be easily wiped clean.

DIY Skill Level

Select materials like tile sheets or laminate panels that simplify installation if you plan to tack the project solo. Intricate mosaic patterns and natural stone require professional skills.

Use of Space

For a small or dark kitchen, reflective materials like glass or stainless steel maximize light. Busy patterns visually widen and brighten tight spaces.

Appliance Coordination

Match metals between appliances and backsplash for a unified look, like stainless range and vent hood with metal mosaic tiles.

Current Trends

While timeless white subway tile never goes out of style, current trends lean towards eye-catching patterns, textures, metallics, and oversized statement tile.


For green homes, sustainable materials like cork, reclaimed wood, or recycled glass or metal conserve resources and reduce waste.

Matching your backsplash material to your kitchen design goals, skill level, and style preferences ensures you select the perfect backdrop.

Recommended Backsplash Materials by Kitchen Style

Certain backsplash materials pair especially well with specific kitchen design motifs.

Modern Kitchen

  • Porcelain, ceramic, or glass subway tile
  • Stainless steel or metal mosaic tile
  • Dark grout with white subway tiles
  • Bold bright glass mosaics

Rustic Kitchen

  • Stone like travertine or slate
  • Exposed brick backsplash
  • Distressed wood planks
  • Faux tin or copper metal tiles

Traditional Kitchen

  • Classic white 3×6 ceramic subway tile
  • Marble, granite, or travertine stone
  • Wavy accent tile behind range
  • Mosaic tile trim accents

Farmhouse Kitchen

  • White beveled subway tile
  • Natural stone like marble or travertine
  • Wood plank accent backsplash
  • Tin tile behind vintage stove

Industrial Kitchen

  • Exposed brick backsplash
  • Stainless steel or metal tiles
  • Dark grout with white subway tiles
  • Salvaged wood panel accent

Eclectic Kitchen

  • Handmade ceramic art tile
  • Recycled glass or metal tile
  • Contrasting mosaic tile patterns
  • Mix of metal and stone tile

Minimalist Kitchen

  • Solid white or light grey subway tile
  • Matching slim grout lines
  • Factory-edge stone or marble tile
  • Seamless solid surface backsplash

Backsplash Installation Tips

Proper installation ensures your backsplash not only succeeds visually but also holds up to heavy kitchen use.

Prepare the surface – Eliminate any wall texture, old adhesive, or debris. Fill any holes or imperfections for a smooth surface to apply the backsplash.

Run plumbing and electrical – Install any sinks, faucets, lights, or other fixtures needing to penetrate the backsplash before applying it.

Plan the layout – Dry lay tiles on the countertop first to visualize spacing and symmetry. Balance cut tile sizes.

Choose quality setting materials – Use modified thinset mortar and grout formulated for backsplash use with built-in mold and mildew resistance.

Seal natural stone – For marble, travertine, or slate, seal tiles before and after installation to prevent staining or etching.

Watch corner alignments – Wrap tile layouts around corners and niches maintaining straight grout line alignment.

Cut precision openings – For outlets or fixtures, measure carefully and cut holes