Adding a backsplash to your kitchen can completely transform the look and feel of the space. A backsplash serves both stylish and functional purposes – protecting the walls from moisture, grease and food splashes while also providing visual interest. With so many backsplash options to choose from, it can be overwhelming to select the right material for your kitchen. This comprehensive guide covers everything you need to know about choosing a backsplash for your kitchen.
Introduction to Kitchen Backsplashes
A backsplash is a surface that covers the wall area between countertops and kitchen cabinets. Backsplashes are typically 4-6 inches tall but can extend all the way up to the underside of wall cabinets.
Some key benefits of adding a backsplash include:
- Protects walls – Backsplashes prevent moisture, grease, food splatters and more from damaging your wall paint and drywall. Much easier to clean off a backsplash than repainting walls.
- Adds visual interest – Backsplashes come in a huge range of materials, colors, patterns and textures to personalize your kitchen. An eye-catching backsplash serves as a focal point.
- Increases resale value – Upgrading to a backsplash is a popular remodeling project that offers a high ROI. Backsplashes are an expected feature in today’s kitchens.
When selecting a backsplash, consider factors like your kitchen’s existing style and color scheme, budget, and how much maintenance the material requires.
Most Popular Kitchen Backsplash Materials
There is an overwhelming number of backsplash options to sift through. Here are some of the most popular kitchen backsplash tile materials:
Ceramic tile has been a backsplash staple for decades. It comes glazed or unglazed and provides an affordable, low-maintenance option. Pros of ceramic tile:
- Budget-friendly, starting around $5 per square foot installed
- Durable and resistant to moisture, grease, stains, impact
- Easy to clean with warm water and mild detergent
- Available in endless colors, styles, patterns
- Can mimic look of more expensive materials like stone, metal and glass
Popular choices like subway tile, mosaic tile, and hand-painted tile provide plenty of design flexibility.
For a natural, high-end look, stone tile brings elegance and durability to the backsplash. Types like marble, travertine, granite and slate have distinct veining, movement and texture. Pros:
- Beautiful aesthetic with natural variations
- Withstands heat and is water-resistant
- Does not easily scratch, stain or chip
- Adds value, especially granite and marble
- Slate has a rustic, chic look
Stone tile ranges from $15-50 per square foot but provides an investment that lasts for decades with proper sealing.
Metal backsplashes bring contemporary, industrial style through materials like stainless steel, copper, brass and aluminum. Pros:
- Sleek, modern look from metal finishes
- Durable, easy to clean and moisture-resistant
- Endless design options with different metal looks, colors and shapes
- Mimics look of a full subway tile backsplash at a lower cost
- Provides reflective surface to brighten space
Metal tiles cost $15-30 per square foot installed. Great for achieving a high-end aesthetic on a budget.
With an endless spectrum of colors and finishes like glossy, frosted, crackled and iridescent, glass tile backsplashes make a vibrant style statement. Pros:
- Virtually stain and water-resistant
- Easy to clean, just needs occasional wiping
- Durable – resistant to scratches, chips and cracks
- Creates a gleaming, reflective surface to brighten kitchen
- Blends well with many styles from modern to vintage
- Costs $15-30 per square foot installed
Unique options like recycled glass tile and large-scale glass sheets provide eco-friendly choices.
Both authentic reclaimed brick and faux brick veneer panels give vintage character to kitchens. The layered, textural look pairs well with exposed beams, concrete countertops and vintage fixtures.
- Rustic, vintage aesthetic at an affordable price
- Porous surface must be sealed for moisture protection
- Durable, can last for decades
- Reclaimed brick starts around $10 per square foot
- Faux brick panels cost $4-8 per square foot
Tile Shape and Pattern
In addition to material, the shape of your backsplash tiles and their installation pattern impact the overall look.
Popular tile shapes:
- Square/Rectangle – versatile, grid-like pattern
- Subway – rectangular, elongates space
- Hexagonal – honeycomb pattern
- Mini tiles – intricate mosaics
- Large slab tiles – minimal grout lines
Tile layout patterns:
- Stacking – straight, grid layout
- Brick – offset rows like bricks
- Herringbone – angled tiles in opposite directions
- Penny tile – small retro tiles
Mixing up tile shapes and laying tiles in decorative patterns both add eye-catching appeal while allowing you to get creative.
Factors to Consider When Selecting a Backsplash
Choosing the right backsplash for your kitchen requires taking a few important considerations into account:
Kitchen Style and Color Scheme
Match your backsplash to your kitchen’s overall aesthetic – traditional, modern, rustic, farmhouse etc. For example, sleek metal or glossy glass accent a contemporary space nicely.
Coordinate backsplash colors with cabinetry, countertops, flooring and paint colors for a cohesive look. Contrasting hues can help the backsplash pop.
Maintenance and Cleanability
Consider how much maintenance the material requires. Ceramic, metal and glass are very low maintenance. Stone and grout require occasional sealing. Porous brick needs frequent sealing.
Look for materials that are highly resistant to grease, food stains, moisture and heat. Easy to wipe down and clean.
Prices vary widely based on material from $5 per square foot for basic tile up to $50 per square foot for high-end stone and semi-precious metals. Measure your space and estimate costs before deciding.
DIY vs Pro Installation
DIY is possible for self-adhesive tile and veneer panels. However, complex patterns and specialty tile often require hiring a pro tile installer to get it right.
Eco-friendly options include recycled glass tile, reclaimed wood planks, and renewable bamboo. Consider sourcing reclaimed materials like salvaged wood or antique terra cotta tiles.
Initial Planning Steps
Follow these steps when starting your backsplash project:
- Measure the backsplash area in square feet using length x height to estimate tile needs.
- Decide on tile material and estimated budget based on the cost per square foot.
- Select tile shape, size and pattern based on your kitchen style.
- Choose grout color – should complement or match tile.
- Look at backsplash photos online for design inspiration.
- Purchase all materials including tile, grout, adhesive and sealant.
- Clean walls thoroughly and remove existing backsplash if present.
- For complex installation, hire a tile pro.
Installing a Tile Backsplash
These basics steps provide an overview of installing a tile backsplash:
- Clean and prepare wall surface – Remove old backsplash tile if existing and clean off dirt, grease and debris. Fill any holes or cracks and sand.
- Mark the tile layout – Determine the tile layout pattern. Mark center lines and levels on the wall as guides.
- Apply adhesive to wall surface – Spread thinset adhesive on the backsplash area using a notched trowel, following product instructions.
- Set and place tiles – Starting from center point, press tiles into adhesive and use spacers for consistent grout lines.
- Let tiles set – Allow tiles to set undisturbed for 24-48 hours per adhesive manufacturer instructions.
- Grout tile joints – Push grout into joints, let set 10 minutes and clean excess grout with damp sponge. Allow to dry 72 hours before sealing.
- Seal grout and stone (if using) – Apply grout sealer and natural stone sealer for moisture protection.
- Caulk perimeter of backsplash – After curing, caulk between backsplash and countertop or cabinets for clean finish.
Follow all product manufacturer instructions carefully, especially cure times. Check your work as you go to ensure proper coverage and alignment.
DIY Backsplash Options
For DIY-friendly backsplash options, consider:
- Peel-and-stick backsplash panels – Self-adhesive panels go up with no messy adhesive. Economical faux looks available.
- Removable wallpaper – Self-adhesive, easy to install and replace. Provides temporary upgrade.
- Shiplap boards – Affordable DIY-friendly option. Boards install with nails or adhesive.
- Vinyl backsplash sheets – Available in tiles patterns and solid sheets. Self-adhesive installation.
- Painted backsplash – Directly paint backsplash area using specialty primer and paint formulated for kitchens.
Always prepare surface thoroughly and follow manufacturer application instructions closely for successful DIY installation.
Hiring a Professional Tile Installer
For specialty, natural stone or large-format tiles, hiring a qualified professional tile installer is worth the investment to get it right. Pros include:
- Experience with all backsplash materials – tile, stone, glass, metal etc.
- Knowledge of building codes and standards
- Proper tools and materials for prep and installation
- Precision cutting for intricate patterns and built-in niches
- Neat, even placement of tiles and grout lines
- Access to unique and specialty tiles
When gettingquotes, look for 2-3 year labor warranty and ask for referrals to view past work.
Backsplash Ideas to Inspire Your Kitchen
Need some inspiration before choosing the perfect backsplash? Here are top backsplash designs to elevate your kitchen:
Classic white 3″x6″ glossy subway tile laid in a grid pattern serves as a versatile backsplash option, providing clean lines that work with any style. Great for small kitchens to make the space look larger.
For a modern, geometric look, these small marble hexagonal tiles cover the entire backsplash and tie in nicely to the marble countertops. The dark grout lines add definition.
Layers of mirrored glass tile in varying sizes cover this backsplash and open shelving. The reflective surface gives the illusion of depth while the smoky gray colorscheme creates a glamorous vibe.
These slate tiles laid in a herringbone pattern add gorgeous natural texture and movement to this kitchen backsplash. Great way to bring an earthy, organic look even to modern designs.
Mixing metal finishes like oil-rubbed bronze, satin brass and stainless steel mesh creates contemporary industrial edge. The varied tile sizes also add interest.
Moroccan Fish Scale
The fish scale pattern in these handmade encaustic cement tiles makes a stunning artistic statement. Works beautifully as the entire backsplash or just a focal accent wall.
Using identically-shaped tiles? Add interest by including an unexpected focal point like this outlet cover that matches the copper sink Hardware.
The rustic charm of reclaimed barnwood adds a warm, natural element. Be sure to properly seal wood against moisture. Finish with wiping regularly with gentle cleaner.
A slimmer, less common subway tile size of 2-3/4″ x 8″ laid in a brick pattern rows. Great way to give traditional subway tile a more modern, unique look. Finish with your choice of grout color.
Maintaining and Protecting a Backsplash
Follow this advice to keep your backsplash looking like new:
- Seal porous natural stone, grout, brick and wood periodically.
- Use non-abrasive cleaners – avoid acidic or harsh chemicals.
- Rinse soap residue thoroughly.
- Immediately wipe up food splatters and spills to prevent staining.
- Re-apply sealant as needed according to product instructions.
- Avoid using metal utensils, pans or scrubbers that can scratch.
Protect your investment with gentle ongoing maintenance and cleaning tailored for each material.
FAQs About Kitchen Backsplashes
Here are answers to some frequently asked questions about backsplash design and installation:
How much does a backsplash cost?
- Backsplash tile prices range from $5 per square foot for basic tile up to $50 per square foot for premium materials installed. Average homeowners spend $800-2000 on backsplash installation.
What is the most popular backsplash tile?
- Classic white 3×6 subway tile remains the most popular choice for backsplashes, providing clean lines that work with any kitchen style.
How do I choose a backsplash color?
- Consider the color scheme of your cabinets, countertops, appliances and paint. Contrasting or coordinating hues in the backsplash can tie the whole palette together.
What height should a backsplash be?
- Standard backsplash height is 4 inches tall. Full-height backsplashes extend all the way up to the underside of wall cabinets for a seamless look.
What tile is easiest to install?
- Peel-and-stick tile and planks offer the most DIY-friendly installation. For cut-to-fit tile, mosaic patterns are beginner-friendly.
Can I install a backsplash over existing tile?
- It is possible but not ideal. For best results, remove old backsplash completely before installing new tile and address any underlying wall issues.
How long does a backsplash installation take?
- Professional installation typically takes 1-3 days depending on materials and layout complexity. Allow additional dry and cure time before grouting and sealing.
The options are nearly endless when selecting the perfect backsplash tile to elevate your kitchen’s style while also protecting the walls from daily cooking wear and tear. Consider your overall aesthetic, budget, skill level, and desired materials and patterns when making your backsplash decisions. Follow proper installation methods and maintain the finished backsplash to ensure it stays beautiful for decades to come. With the right backsplash tile, you can take your kitchen design from basic to beautiful!
What to Use for Backsplash in Kitchen: Transform Your Space with Tile
Adding tile as a kitchen backsplash can completely transform the look of your cooking space. The right backsplash tile provides visual interest while protecting your walls from splashes, stains, heat and moisture. With so many backsplash tile options to choose from, making the decision can feel overwhelming. Follow this guide covering how to select the perfect tile for your kitchen backsplash, installation tips, top trends and creative ideas to inspire your own kitchen’s new look.
Why Add a Tile Backsplash?
Upgrading to a tile backsplash offers both aesthetic and functional benefits:
Protects your walls – Without a backsplash, walls accumulate drips, splashes and splatters that require regular repainting. Backsplash tile prevents stains and damage.
Adds style – From sleek glass mosaics to handmade ceramics, backsplash tile comes in endless colors, textures, prints and materials to elevate your kitchen’s design.
Increases resale value – A backsplash is an expected feature in today’s kitchens. Updating provides a good ROI.
Easy to clean – Wipe spills right off the smooth, durable surface of materials like ceramic, porcelain or glass tile. Avoid constant paint touch-ups.
Affordable upgrade – Tile backsplashes offer big visual impact at a reasonable cost, with prices averaging $10-25 per square foot installed.
Choosing Your Backsplash Tile
Keep these key considerations in mind when selecting backsplash tile:
Popular backsplash tile materials include