Choosing the right backsplash for your kitchen can completely transform the look and feel of the space. The backsplash serves both form and function – protecting the walls from splashes and spills while also acting as a decorative focal point. With so many backsplash options to choose from, it can be tricky to select the right material for your kitchen’s design and needs. This comprehensive guide will walk you through the pros, cons, and considerations for the most popular kitchen backsplash materials to help you make the best choice.
Tile is one of the most commonly used and versatile materials for kitchen backsplashes. Ceramic, porcelain, glass, and natural stone tiles all make excellent backsplash options.
Ceramic and Porcelain Tile
Glazed ceramic and porcelain tiles are affordable, easy to install, and come in a nearly endless array of colors, shapes, sizes, and finishes. Their hard, non-porous surface resists moisture, stains, and heat while their durability makes them well-suited for heavy-use kitchens.
- Budget-friendly material
- Easy to clean and maintain
- Extremely durable and heat-resistant
- Vast design options available
- Grout lines can get dirty but are easy to clean
- Cooler surface temperature than some materials like natural stone
Porcelain tiles are similar but are denser and even more durable than ceramic. Their very low porosity makes them highly stain and water-resistant. Glazed porcelain tiles have a glossy surface that enhances resistance. Both ceramic and porcelain tiles stand up well to cuts and scratches, retaining their beauty for years.
Glass tile backsplashes have a glittering, jewel-tone effect. They come in a stunning range of colors from bold primaries to pastels, metallics, and even recycled glass. Glass tiles have a sleek, contemporary look.
- Reflective, dazzling appearance
- Available in brilliant colors and finishes
- Naturally stain and water-resistant
- Easy to clean and maintain
- Durable and scratch-resistant surface
- On the pricier side
- Not as durable as ceramic or porcelain
- prone to cracking or chipping if hit hard
Natural Stone Tile
Backsplashes of granite, marble, travertine, slate, and other natural stones create an elegant, upscale look. Each stone has its own visual appeal from the bold patterns of granite to the earthy hues of travertine.
- Beautiful and unique natural patterns
- Help create an elegant, upscale look
- Durable, heat and stain resistant
- Softer, warmer surface than ceramic or porcelain
- Natural stone costs more than ceramic or porcelain
- Needs sealing to resist stains
- Can be prone to cracking or chipping
- Has a textured surface that requires more cleaning
Overall, the wide range of natural colors, finishes, shapes, and sizes make tile one of the top choices for backsplashes. It’s easy to create customized designs from geometric patterns to artistic murals using tile.
Metal backsplashes like stainless steel, copper, and tin add brilliant shine along with durability. Metallic backsplashes evoke an industrial, modern, or vintage aesthetic depending on the metal finish used.
The stainless steel’s luminous, chrome-like finish acts as a reflective surface to bounce light around the kitchen. Stainless backsplashes have a sleek, contemporary, industrial look. The material is waterproof, super durable, and easy to sanitize.
- Sleek, modern aesthetic
- Extremely durable and dent-resistant
- Heat resistant and waterproof
- Easy to clean and sanitize
- Reflects light beautifully
- On the expensive side
- Shows fingerprints readily
- Can be prone to scratching
Stainless steel makes a great backsplash choice for minimalist contemporary or industrial kitchen designs.
Copper backsplashes infuse kitchens with a warm, rich glow. Natural copper has an elegant patina that develops over time. There are also pre-patinated copper options in finishes like antique, brushed, and oil-rubbed bronze.
- Beautiful, warm finish
- Naturally antimicrobial
- Develops a lovely patina over time
- Durable, dent-resistant material
- On the pricier side
- Develops patina and oxidation that requires polishing
- Stains and etches easily from acids, salt, and moisture
Copper makes a luxurious choice but requires proper sealing and polishing to maintain its beauty in a kitchen environment.
Tin backsplashes offer vintage charm reminiscent of historic kitchens. Tin has a softly weathered, distressed appearance. Modern tin backsplashes mimic the rustic aesthetic of antique tin while improving durability.
- Distinctive vintage aesthetic
- Durable coated metal material
- Cost effective compared to other metals
- Easy installation
- Prone to denting if not coated
- Can develop signs of wear over time
- Needs re-coating eventually
Tin backsplashes work beautifully in cozy cottage or farmhouse kitchens. The warm, antiqued finish and artisanal style infuse vintage character.
Other Backsplash Materials
Brick backsplashes infuse rustic texture and distressed character into kitchens. Both cultured brick veneers and reclaimed bricks salvaged from old buildings make charming backsplashes. The stacks of irregular, faded bricks have an artsy, vintage look.
- Rugged, natural texture
- Vintage aesthetic
- Durable and easy to clean
- Naturally stain and heat resistant
- Brick requires masonry for installation
- Natural material with variations in color
- Grout can get dirty but is easily cleaned
Wooden backsplashes bring natural warmth and texture to kitchens, ranging from rustic to contemporary aesthetics. Materials like cedar, cypress, and redwood naturally resist moisture, mold, and mildew.
- Warm, natural material
- Textured visual appeal
- Resists moisture if properly sealed
- Compatible with many kitchen aesthetics
- Prone to staining and burning
- Not as durable as other materials
- Needs vigilant sealing and maintenance
Wood backsplashes work best behind ranges or in low-traffic areas. Oiled wood finishes enhance water resistance.
Concrete backsplashes provide an edgy, industrial element with their rough texture and cool tones. Options range from colored and stained concrete to attractive aggregate mixes with pebbles or seashells exposed.
- Distinctly modern, rugged aesthetic
- Durable, heat and stain resistant
- Can be poured or precast into any shape
- Low maintenance material
- Chips and stains may show over time
- Needs sealing for maximum stain resistance
- Heavy material requires skilled installation
Concrete makes a stylish choice for contemporary kitchens but requires some maintenance to retain its sleek appearance.
Key Considerations When Choosing a Backsplash
- Kitchen style – Select a material that complements your kitchen’s overall design aesthetic.
- Use and traffic – Consider how heavily the space is used to determine durability needs.
- Budget – Backsplash materials can range dramatically in cost. Set realistic expectations based on your budget.
- Ease of cleaning – Choose materials that stand up to daily use and are simple to clean.
- Moisture resistance – The backsplash endures splashes and spills. Prioritize water-resistant materials.
- Heat resistance – Ensure the material can withstand contact with hot cookware.
- DIY vs. professional installation – Some materials like tile are very DIY friendly while others require skilled installers.
- Personal taste – Never underestimate the importance of simply choosing a material you connect with and love the look of.
FAQs About Kitchen Backsplashes
What is the most popular kitchen backsplash?
Subway tile and ceramic tile are the most popular kitchen backsplash styles. The classic 3 x 6-inch subway tile offers unlimited color options in an affordable and easy-to-install material.
What is the cheapest option for a backsplash?
The most budget-friendly backsplash options include ceramic tile, peel-and-stick tile, and tin backsplashes. With some materials like tin, opting for a DIY installation further reduces costs.
What is the easiest backsplash to install?
Peel-and-stick backsplash tiles offer the easiest installation. They contain a self-adhesive backing that adheres directly to clean walls. Painted glass backsplashes are another DIY-friendly option requiring just cutting, painting, and hanging the glass.
What backsplash goes best with white cabinets?
White cabinets pair beautifully with nearly any color backsplash. Choose a material and hue you love. Subway tile, marble, and stainless steel are just a few options that complement white cabinetry.
How do I choose a backsplash color?
Consider colors already present in the kitchen like cabinetry, countertops, and flooring and select a complementary hue. Contrasting colors can make the backsplash pop while similar muted colors create flow.
How much does a kitchen backsplash cost?
Backsplash cost varies widely by material. Ceramic tile can cost $5-$20 per square foot. Stainless steel runs $40-$60 per square foot. Stone tile ranges from $15 per square foot for slate up to $100 for premium marble.
The ideal kitchen backsplash transforms the space with visual appeal, durability, and your own unique style. Evaluate the pros and cons of each material option against the needs of your kitchen. Tile, metal, stone, brick, wood, and concrete all impart their own aesthetic. Combining your goals, budget, and personal tastes will lead you to the perfect backsplash solution. With some thoughtful planning upfront, you can install a backsplash sure to provide both beauty and daily function for years to come.