What to Use Instead of Backsplash

A backsplash is a protective covering that goes on the wall behind sinks, stoves, and other areas prone to splashes and spills in a kitchen or bathroom. While backsplashes were traditionally made of ceramic tiles, there are many other materials that can be used instead of a tiled backsplash these days. Choosing an alternative backsplash material can give your space a unique look and feel.

Materials to Use Instead of Tile for Backsplash

There are several materials that make great alternatives to tile for backsplashes:


Glass backsplashes come in a wide variety of styles, textures, and colors. Glass tiles or sheets can be used to create a sleek, modern look or an artsy, eye-catching focal point in your kitchen or bathroom.

Some popular options for glass backsplash include:

  • Frosted or etched glass – Has a soft, diffused look that spreads light gently.
  • Clear glass – Provides a shiny, reflective surface.
  • Colored glass – From bold hues to muted tones, colored glass can add drama.
  • Recycled glass – An eco-friendly option that has visual interest.
  • Mirror tiles – Reflective and brighten the space.
  • Sea glass – Real or faux sea glass in soft blue and green tones.

Glass backsplashes are installed similarly to ceramic tile but require special grout and sealant to prevent stains and damage. Glass is an excellent choice for wet areas like behind sinks and stovetops since it is non-porous and water-resistant. The sleek look of glass can make small spaces appear larger.


Metal backsplashes offer a modern, industrial vibe along with high durability. Stainless steel and aluminum are commonly used metals. Metal backsplash can be purchased in tile form or as full sheets to be cut to size.

Benefits of a metal backsplash:

  • Highly water-resistant.
  • Easy to clean and keep sanitary.
  • Visually enlarges space due to reflective properties.
  • Comes in variety of colors and finishes like brushed, aged, or hammered.
  • Can be bold, like a full copper or stainless steel backsplash, or used as an accent.

Metal backsplashes should be installed carefully to ensure they are securely adhered to prevent buckling. The seams need to be properly sealed to prevent water getting in behind.


Backsplashes made of stone are natural, eye-catching, and come in many varieties. Stone options like marble, travertine, granite, and slate can give your kitchen or bathroom an upscale, timeless look.

Stone backsplash pros:

  • Natural material that makes a design statement.
  • Available in tiles or large slabs to be cut down.
  • Variety of colors, patterns, finishes – from polished to rough cut.
  • Can be paired with countertops made of the same stone.

Stone backsplashes do require some maintenance to keep sealed and looking their best. Cracking or chipping is also a possibility if the stone is very thin. The patterned veining of natural stone prevents stains from being as noticeable as on a tile backsplash. For a lighter weight option, laminated stone backsplashes offer the look of real stone without some of the challenges.


Wood brings warmth and texture to backsplashes and complements many design styles, from modern to farmhouse. Wood backsplash can consist of reclaimed boards, wood planks, bamboo, or adhesive wood panels in varieties like maple or oak.

Benefits of a wood backsplash:

  • Rich, natural appearance.
  • Available in different stains and finishes.
  • Eco-friendly and sustainable.
  • Softer feel than stone, glass, or metal.
  • Easier installation than tile.

The downside of wood backsplashes is that they require diligent sealing to prevent water damage and stains. Wiping spills and splatters quickly is important. Wood backsplash works best behind stoves rather than sinks due to the lower chance of prolonged water exposure.

Recycled Materials

For an eco-friendly, unique backsplash, recycled materials like reclaimed wood, bottle caps, or barn roof tin can be used. Some examples:

  • Bottle cap mosaics – Colorful designs made by attaching bottle caps to mesh backing.
  • Scrap wood planks – Give new life to salvaged wood pieces.
  • Antique window frames – Add character by repurposing old windows.
  • Corrugated tin – Rusty roofing tin provides an edgy, industrial vibe.
  • Mismatched china plates – Create a mosaic with pieces of vintage plates and cups.

The creativity is endless when it comes to backsplashes made with repurposed materials. Installation is usually done with construction adhesive. Sealant is needed to protect recycled materials from moisture damage.


Modern, removable wallpaper allows you to customize your backsplash with any pattern or color imaginable. From floral prints to geometric shapes, wallpaper offers an affordable option that is also temporary.

Benefits of wallpaper backsplash:

  • Huge range of unique patterns and colors.
  • Ability to easily change the look after redecorating.
  • More water resistant options available.
  • Smoother surface than tile for easy cleaning.
  • Quick and simple self-installation.

When choosing wallpaper, opt for vinyl rather than paper, which can tear and stain. Install a sealant first for water protection. Remove grease spills right away to avoid damage. Replace wallpaper panels every few years when they show wear and tear.

Faux Tin Backsplash Panels

Faux tin backsplash panels give the look of a metal backsplash without some of the challenges. These PVC panels have texture and coloring to mimic antique tin ceiling tiles or hammered metal.

Pros of faux tin backsplash:

  • Lightweight for easy DIY installation.
  • Realistic metal look at a lower cost.
  • Variety of color and finish options.
  • Provides smooth, seamless look.
  • Resists moisture and food splatter.

Faux tin backsplash cleans easily with soap and water. It is a budget-friendly option that can completely transform the look of a kitchen or bathroom. This waterproof material holds up well over time.


An inexpensive way to change up your backsplash is with paint. Painting the wall behind the stove or sink offers lots of possibilities. Some ideas:

  • Faux subway tile look – Use painter’s tape and paint to recreate the effect of ceramic tile.
  • Faux travertine or brick – Use sponges and a variety of paint hues to simulate stone and brick textures.
  • Geometric or abstract shapes – Use painter’s tape and paint multiple shapes to form a pattern.
  • Handpainted mural – Hire an artist to freehand paint a beautiful mural like flowers, vines, or landscape.

Paint backsplashes aren’t waterproof but provide an affordable option for temporary change. Be sure to use high quality acrylic latex paint. Clean gently to avoid excessive wear. Repaint every few years.

How to Install a Backsplash Other Than Tile

Switching out a tile backsplash for another material doesn’t have to be difficult. Here are some tips for quick and successful installation:

  • Gather materials and tools needed – backsplash panels/tiles, construction adhesive, grout or sealant, trowels, sponges, caulking gun, saw if needed.
  • Remove existing backsplash if there is one and prep the wall surface. Fill any holes or imperfections. Prime wall first if painting a backsplash.
  • Measure space and cut panels to size if needed.
  • Apply construction adhesive to back using a notched trowel. Press backsplash piece firmly in place. Use painter’s tape to hold in place if needed until adhesive sets.
  • For groutable materials like glass or stone, mix and apply grout between seams after adhesive dries. Wipe away excess.
  • Seal backsplash according to manufacturer instructions to protect from moisture and stains.
  • Apply caulk along top and bottom edges for a finished look and to prevent splashes getting behind.
  • Clean your new backsplash gently using manufacturer recommended cleaner.

Installing a backsplash other than tile often requires fewer specialized tools and can be a good weekend DIY project. Follow all safety precautions when using power tools, adhesives, caulk, and grout.

Cost Comparison of Tile Alternatives

Here is an overview comparing the approximate costs of different backsplash materials:

  • Ceramic tile – $5-$20 per sq. ft. installed
  • Glass tile or panels – $15-$50 per sq. ft. installed
  • Stainless steel – $20-$50 per sq. ft. installed
  • Stone veneer – $15-$40 per sq. ft. installed
  • Reclaimed wood – $5-$20 per sq. ft. installed
  • Faux tin – $15-$25 per sq. ft. installed
  • Wallpaper – $10-$30 per roll, installed yourself
  • Paint – $30-$70 for paint and supplies, installed yourself

There are budget-friendly options like paint or wallpaper that can give the look of a more expensive backsplash for much less. The trade-off is these options are lower maintenance and may need replacing sooner. Long-lasting materials like glass and metal often recoup their higher cost over time.

6 Questions to Ask Before Choosing a Backsplash Other Than Tile

Deciding what to use instead of a traditional tile backsplash depends on several factors:

1. What is your design style and aesthetic goals?

Consider your overall kitchen or bath style – modern, farmhouse, industrial etc. Then think about what backsplash can enhance that look. Faux tin fits well in industrial spaces while wallpaper offers lots of options for modern, graphic appeal.

2. How durable and water-resistant does your backsplash need to be?

Look at how the space is used. A sink backsplash needs maximum water protection. Behind a stove can get away with less moisture resistance. Glass and metal backsplashes are most waterproof.

3. What is your budget for this project?

Tile alternatives range widely in cost from DIY paint to high-end etched glass. Set a budget to help narrow choices to affordable options.

4. How important is easy maintenance and cleanup?

Some backsplashes like wood or wallpaper require careful, gentle cleaning. Tile, glass, and metal are virtually maintenance free.

5. Do you want a permanent or temporary solution?

Paint, wallpaper, and wood are great temporary upgrades. Tile, glass, and metal backsplashes are designed to last many years.

6. Will you install it yourself or hire help?

If hiring out, materials that require special cutting like metal or glass are logical since installation expertise is already there. Easy DIY options include paint, peel-and-stick wallpaper or backsplash panels.

Trending Alternatives to Tile Backsplash

Some of the most popular backsplash options right now beyond traditional tile include:

  • Textured or 3D tile – Adds depth and interest.
  • Geometric shapes – Triangle, hexagon, fishscale tile patterns.
  • Subway tile – Classic simple rectangles for clean look.
  • Bold colors – Deep hues like navy, emerald, or black.
  • Handpainted tile – Unique artistic touches.
  • Moroccan fish scale – Overlapping tile in a circular pattern.
  • Mixed textures – Combining stone, glass, and metal tile.
  • Brick veneer – Rustic, natural red brick backsplash sheets.
  • Black stainless steel – Dramatic darkened metal tiles.
  • Mosaic peel-and-stick – Pre-assembled mosaic sheets for easy installation.

Combining Different Backsplash Materials

It’s simple to use two or more backsplash materials together for extra visual interest. Blend materials that complement each other. Some examples:

  • Glass + metal – Glass tile inside a metal frame or border
  • Stone + wood – Mix stone and reclaimed wood together
  • Tile + tin – Faux tin sheets with a decorative tile border
  • Paint + wallpaper – Paint inside wallpaper frame or alternating sections
  • Mirrors + stone – Mirror squares combined with marble or travertine

Using multiple backsplash materials adds more texture and dimension. It allows you to get creative and use different materials in ways that highlight their unique properties. Combining materials that share qualities like shine, matte textures, or muted tones results in the most cohesive look.

Backsplash Ideas to Match Specific Design Styles

Here are backsplash suggestions tailored to popular kitchen and bath design aesthetics:

Contemporary style – Etched glass, multi-colored glass mosaic, metallic stone tiles, black wood planks

Farmhouse style – Subway tile, reclaimed wood planks, brick veneer, wallpaper with vintage illustrations

Modern style – Glossy ceramic mosaic, boldgraphic wallpaper, polished concrete panels

Rustic style – Any stone like travertine or slate, reclaimed barn wood, corrugated tin

Industrial style – Exposed brick, streaked metals like zinc or copper, concrete, black pipe shelving

Midcentury style – Retro wallpaper prints, handpainted tile, earth tone stone like sandstone

Coastal style – Glass tile in soft blues and greens, ceramic fish scale patterns, weathered wood

Matching your backsplash material and colors to your overall kitchen or bath design style creates a cohesive, pulled-together look. Use combinations of materials and accents that align with the mood you want to create.

Popular Backsplash Ideas Without Using Tile

Here are some creative ways to get a beautiful, functional backsplash without using any tile:

  • Stainless steel herringbone pattern
  • Clear glass with gold trim
  • Faux brick panels painted white
  • Rustic wood planks alternating horizontal and vertical
  • Weathered tin ceiling tiles in navy blue
  • White marble slab backsplash with gray veining
  • Mirror squares separated by wood strips
  • Wallpaper with tropical print and lemon accents
  • Painted faux subway tile pattern using tape
  • Recycled barn wood in natural wood tones

With all the backsplash materials and designs available today, it’s easy to find eye-catching options beyond basic tile. Get creative with patterns, textures, colors and materials to make your backsplash stand out.

Enhance Beauty and Function with Alternative Backsplash Materials

Tile may be the tried and true traditional backsplash choice, but it’s not the only option. From gleaming metal to eco-friendly reclaimed wood, backsplashes today can be whatever you want them to be.

Moving beyond basic tile opens up tons of possibilities. You can find or create backsplashes with unique textures, colors, and designs. Combining materials blends the benefits of each.

Alternative backsplash materials have varying features when it comes to water-resistance, durability, ease of cleaning and installation. Evaluate your needs and style goals first when deciding what to use instead of tile.

With a little planning and creativity, switching out tile for another material can completely transform the look of your kitchen or bathroom. Turn your backsplash into a beautiful focal point and enjoy the benefits of easier upkeep and greater design flexibility.

Frequently Asked Questions About Backsplash Alternatives to Tile (FAQs)

Here are answers to some common questions about using materials other than tile for backsplash:

How difficult is it to install a backsplash without using tile?

Installing alternative backsplash materials is often comparable in difficulty to tile or sometimes easier. Many materials like glass panels, wallpaper, or metal sheets simply adhere directly to the wall with construction adhesive. Basic tools and fewer specialized skills are needed than when grouting and cutting tile.

What are the most waterproof backsplash options other than tile?

Glass and metal backsplashes are highly water-resistant and the most durable and moisture proof alternatives. They require minimal maintenance and resist warping or damage from moisture.

Can you put wood behind a stove as a backsplash?

Yes, wood can work behind a stove as heat and splatters are less constant. Use a highly water-resistant finish on the wood. Hardwoods like teak will hold up best. Frequently reseal the wood to protect it.

What is the cheapest backsplash option?

Painting the wall with high-quality latex paint is the most budget-friendly backsplash solution. Pre-cut peel and stick wallpaper or plastic wall panels are also very affordable. These options likely won’t last as long as more expensive materials.

Is wallpaper an effective backsplash alternative to tile?

Yes, using wallpaper as a backsplash is a great way to add color, patterns, and texture. Choose vinyl wallpaper over paper versions and use caulk and sealant to make the material as water repellent as possible.


Tile may be the go-to backsplash choice, but exploring alternative materials opens up your design possibilities. Options like gleaming glass, rustic wood planks, industrial metal and faux brick provide visual interest, unique textures and easier installation.

Combining materials allows you to maximize strengths of each. Assess your needs and style goals first when deciding what to use instead of tile. With creativity and smart preparation, backsplashes in any material can become a stunning focal point full of character.